We've had a wave of remakes of beloved old sitcoms recently, Are you being served?, Porridge and a few origin stories for Keeping Up Appearances and Goodnight Sweetheart. As well as a lost sitcom on BBC 4.
Bear in mind that I love some of these shows, and the latter two were a part of me growing up even if I can't stand them now. So I'm looking at these remakes with a certain eye. This is going to be a review of sorts. although I missed the Goodnight Sweetheart reboot so wont cover it.
Are You Being Served?
They've shunted this to the late 80's and somehow drafted Mr Grainger back in even though he retired in the series a long time ago. To be fair he reminds me of Mickey's Grandpa from the Mickeys Miniature grandpa comic strip in Viz though that would liven the show up if he was convinced he was 4 inches tall whenever anyone asked him to do anything, but I digress. To be honest that's the least of their worries as its patchy as fuck, they have a black guy as a Mr Lucas replacement who works really well despite reigning in all borderline sexual harassment scenes with the Milflike Miss Brahms, but it took me almost the whole episode to work out what else was wrong with it. Mr Humphries.
You may remember him as the slender, camp, purveyour of men's fashions, but he's much dumpier in the reboot, its jarring and worse reminds me of the excellent Suit You sketch from the Fast Show.
Boycey (Michael Challis) is spot on as Captain Peacock, and Sherrie Hewson is boss as Mrs Slocombe, notably excellent is Mr Rumbold complete with dolly bird secretary. Like I say it doesn't come off and the humour is a bit too crude, pussy jokes aside. For extra Viz references this feels like a Finbarr Saunders strip made flesh, all innuendo and no climax. For bonus points they really do have a young Mr Grace in this, a Gordon Gecko grandson of the original but as I kept thinking it was Stephen Mulhern throughout I can ignore him and say its good but not the original.
Even though I love Ronnie Barker, I've never really watched the originals, I know Godber was his cellmate and Mchaie was the Scots jailer who caused him mischief, but that's that. I largely got my Ronnie Barker fix through Open All Hours, or the much forgotten Clarence. This updates the original with Fletch's grandson in jail for hacking, it reigns in the jock bashing of the original even though the screw is still Scottish (a Mr Meekie). Weirdly I kept thinking they had teleported Harry Enfield from the 80's turns out its Kevin Bishop as Fletch instead. The plot is some nonsense about changing the parole records of an old lag due out soon, with some heath robinson junk involving a pringles can and a smart phone. Its not bad and as its an all new cast could easily be made to a full series.
Sounds like I missed a cracker with the Goodnight Sweetheart as I slept through an extended Gardener's World instead. Sadly I was up and at 'em for this unfortunately. Its cancer, fucking cancer, just her irritating voice was enough to keep me awake, the upper class twats she worked for and her daft bint sisters kept me shivering. Clock watching, her dad's a pisshead on a bike and they live in a lock keepers cottage. Fuck. Hey Rose is still a tart, is that the joke, the whole joke, jesus fuck no.
I kept wanting it to end, to put me out of my misery, I got out 5 minutes before the end, but not before losing my will to live and sanity.
Alf Garnett Reboot.
This isn't part of Sitcom season as its a recreation of a wiped show from the archive using the original script, next Thursday they'll be doing a Hancocks Half Hour, which promises to be good.
Johnny Speight was another genius in my book, you looked at Alf not as a role model but as a joke. He had no power, not at home, not at anytime, he was a parody of the kind of bigots on the terrace and in the streets.You weren't there to agree with his views they were a piss take pure and simple.
This is a remake with Simon Day as Alf Garnett who is mainly spot on, and the script revolves him not having his dinner due to Else his wife burning it due to her going off to the Pictures with Rita and the Scouse Git. Who ever it was playing Else got her spot on, close your eyes and its her, dead on. Mike's chinese in this but that hardly matters as weirdly it works too. The best thing about this is that though it's dated, it works. They've got a script with bugger all racism in it which is a miracle, and only mildly sexist to boot, largely the phone box scene (told you its dated) where Alf has to phone up Rita in the chippy to order, and there is some young bird in there on the phone to her fella.
Won't spoil it for you but, this is the best thing of the current remakes, its filmed in front of a studio audience and best of all no canned laughter.