So, the BBC have made a new adaptation of Blandings, a series of books by great British genius P.G. Wodehouse. Allow me to share my favourite line from the Blandings canon:
"Oof!", said Bill.That line, when I first beheld it, caused me to laugh for forty-five minutes. Damn good stuff. "Oof!", said Bill.
Thing is that it's all about context; that line is the climax of a whole book of really quite outrageous silliness involving false beards, missing pigs and angry aunts. I really did laugh for forty-five minutes, just from the release of comic tension built up.
So, my review of this new series of Blandings is this: I wish the episodes were longer. Much longer. I don't like to draw the inevitable comparison, but the Jeeves and Wooster episodes were 50 minutes each, allowing 20 minutes extra of plot and character development.
I'm enjoying it a lot - it's really hitting its stride now, in the third episode - and the actors are winning me over. I thought at first that Timothy Spall was not fragile enough to play Emsworth, and that Mark Williams was insufficiently rake-thin and disapproving to play Beech, but they're doing a good job with good material. Jennifer Saunders could, I think, be more terrifying as Connie, but it's well within her range as an actress and I have high hopes for the future.
I just wish there was more time. Episode three introduced four new characters - four! - a lovelorn couple, a wonderful wife to Freddie, and a German dance tutor; in 30 short minutes two relationships changed status and there was business with dancing. This being Wodehouse, there was sneaking around houses at midnight, singing outside people's windows (and getting the wrong window, of course), an awful lot of slapstick which culminates in a priest punching an Earl in a lake with the best of intentions... A little reference to Charlie's Aunt thrown in as well. Well written! Densely packed fun!
Two tiny criticisms:
*The pig sound effect in the opening titles first came to my attention when it was used in Warcraft II, released in 1995, and every bloody thing involving pigs since. Please, please, let them get a new pig sound effect.
*Tiny slapstick sound effects occasionally. A honky horn when something gets knocked over. Not necessary. Suggest removing them.