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Not as good as I remembered...
on 28 August 2010
This is another of those delayed releases which got better and better in the memory simply because you couldn't get it. Now it's finally available, I have to say that the whole thing looks a bit thin. The late Ralph Bates provides very few laughs, but then he was more of a Hammer film actor than a comedian, and it was his character's job to be poignant and sympathetic. I believe this was Belinda Lang's first major TV role, and again she doesn't have many funny lines, except the put-downs she delivers towards Kirk St Moritz. It was her job basically to be stunningly beautiful, thereby posing the inevitable two questions "How on earth could she be frigid?" and "When is she going to go out with John?".
To my mind, the only reason this series has legs are the great two characterisations of Ralph and Kirk. I hate to think how many times, in the 25 years since this series was first shown, have I used his inappropriate punch-line "That's the kind of guy I am".
It's probably fitting that these DVDs are released so soon after the death of the underrated Peter Denyer, who plays Ralph. He was fantastic as Dennis in 'Please Sir' and 'The Fenn Street Gang', he was good in 'Agony', and he was superb as the bespectacled Ralph in 'Dear John'.
But I have to say that having watched Series 1, I'm in two minds about buying Series 2. The thinness of the material provides a good argument for the team-writing ethos used in US sitcoms such as friends. But John Sullivan was clearly highly rated at the BBC at the time, not too long after his success with 'Citizen Smith', and they even let him write the theme tune, which frankly, though memorable, is also a bit thin.