Are You Being Served...what can you tell me about it?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by CraigF, Sep 6, 2004.

  1. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    [Sorry if there's a thread on this, but I can't get it to show up.]

    What could you compare it to (British)? I've only seen the trailers on other BBC discs. When did the best seasons finish i.e. when did it "jump the shark" like most long-running series here do?

    I keep hearing the name of this series, and now see the complete collection is released here (damn pricey too). Thanks.
     
  2. Jonathan Kaye

    Jonathan Kaye Second Unit

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    I always think of "Are You Being Served?" in the same vein as the other great ensemble sitcoms of the 70's & 80's, such as "It Ain't Half Hot, Mum", "Dad's Army" and "Hi-De-Hi". Of course, each is unique, and "Are You Being Served?" is probably the most risqué of these; constant references to Mrs Slocombe's pussy (as in cat!) and the incredibly camp character of Mr Humphries ("I'm free!") are the stand-out examples.

    I always used to like the doddery old Young Mr Grace, who'd be wheeled down by his busty young nurse to proclaim "You've all done very well!".
     
  3. Brian Thibodeau

    Brian Thibodeau Supporting Actor

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    As for it "jumping the shark," I tend to lean toward the replacement of Mr. Lucas (Trevor Bannister) with Mr. Spooner (Mike Berry) around 1981 and, to an equal extent, the replacement of Mr. Grainger (Arthur Brough) with Mr. Goldberg (Alfie Bass) in 1979. The departure of handyman Mr. Mash (Larry Martyn) was also felt. As a result, the first 7 series are probably the ones most worth watching.
     
  4. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    Perhaps a good idea would be for you to buy the first boxset, which contains the first five series. These are all of the "Grainger" seasons (Grainger was replaced in series 6, not 7, by Mr. Tebbs, who himself was replaced in series 7 by Mr. Goldberg) and will contain what many feel to be the majority of the best episodes.

    The later shows are good, too, but not as highly regarded as the earlier episodes.
     
  5. Tory

    Tory -The Snappy Sneezer- -Red Huck-

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    ‘Allo 'Allo was made by the same people, think similar humor in a less soap operaish world. Also the Carry On films may provide a source for comparison, but ever so slightly. Doubly entendres run rampant in this classic series, it is worth getting. I think amazon has the best deal on the box. The spin off series, being billed as Are You Being Served Again but originally called Grace and Favour features the primary cast about 10 years after the original series ended living on a farm/hotel in the country is being released in a separate collection about the price of a regular solo DVD.
     
  6. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    ARE YOU BEING SERVED? = FUNNY[​IMG]
     
  7. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    Thanks for the info. I shouldn't have said it "jumped the shark" as I didn't know if it did, it just seems to happen so often when a series goes on.
     
  8. Rob P S

    Rob P S Cinematographer

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    Yes, I would agree with this. The later years are still funny, but it's not the same. I never cared for Grace and Favour (AKA Are You Being Served...Again) - and I am unanimous in that! [​IMG]
     
  9. David Williams

    David Williams Cinematographer

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    Spooner wasn't Mr. Lucas (in the way that Mr. Tebbs et al wasn't Mr. Grainger), but he had a certain charm... his funniest episode, imho, is the one that ends the series... where he sings Chanson 'D'Amour (The Pop Star). Another great Spooner ep from series 10 is "The Holdup"... classic AYBS? humor! [​IMG]

    I may be in the minority on this (but unanimity is claimed! [​IMG]) , but I far prefered Mr. Harman to Mr. Mash. The series held up far better than most over the long run... I can't really say it had a "Jump the Shark" moment, as almost every series can be pointed to for stand out episodes.
     
  10. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    Much as I love AYBS?, I much preferred Grace and Favour. Mr. Moulterd is perhaps the funniest character to appear in either show.
     
  11. Tory

    Tory -The Snappy Sneezer- -Red Huck-

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    I agree with the last Spooner episode, it is widely believed that had the series continued from that point the quality would have improved. It seemed that they had finally worked out their problems. Still I prefer Lucas but even the worst episodes of this series are great. As for Mash, I liked him but Mr. Harman was a better fit.
     
  12. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Very funny series. I've watched the first box and purchased the second but not watched it yet. Probably my second favorite Britcom after "Keeping Up Appearances." I purchased the 2-disc set of "Carry On Laughing" and watched a bit of that but really didn't like it at all so I'm not sure how closely that compares to AYBS which I love.

    I think my favorite is always the display machines that go haywire. I remember especially in the Christmas episode a mechanical Santa that said something like, "Ho Ho Ho, Hi little boy, have I got something for you," then proceeds to open its coat/robe like a flasher. Mr. Humpheries expression is priceless...and hysterical. [​IMG]

    You may want to check prices at Deep Discount DVD. That's where I got both my sets during their 20% off sales. But their regular price should be competitive as well.
     
  13. Mark Lx

    Mark Lx Second Unit

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    There are dozens of reasons why AYBS went from being a very good show to a very bad one. No store hierarchy, no youthful Mr. Lucus, no cranky Mr. Granger, no Mr. Mash, too much Mr. Harmond, no in-store comedy, too much dressing up and putting on shows, basically out of writing ideas. In the first season (or 2), Mr. Humphreys was a more secondary character. He was flippant, aloof, slightly disturbing, and very funny. Later, the cast was just a collection of old middle aged pals (including Harmond?). No tension for the comedy to come out of.

    I bought the first 5 seasons on DVD a couple years ago and I'm happy. I wouldn't mind also picking up Volume 9 with "The Apartment", which I quite like. I do have 10 year old off-air tapes of all but one episode. To sample the show, I would pick up a single disk, one of Volume 1 to 4. BTW, PBS Detroit has had AYBS on daily for 15 years.
     
  14. Tory

    Tory -The Snappy Sneezer- -Red Huck-

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    Carry On Laughing is a crudely made spinoff series from the Carry On line of films. While I find the TV series OK, that is mainly due to loyal devotion to the Carry On line and I would not suggest the series to any but hardcore fans and even some of those get annoyed with no Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawltrey appearances. Carry On is a series of about 30 some-odd films featuring more or less the same actors and character types in different situations, sometimes period pieces other times than modern tales. These films tended to lose some quality in the later years, when Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawltrey left and this series is from about that time, not that other actors and actresses were not capable, just the turn of direction the movies take in the last few breaks from the norm that makes the series so great. Forget Carry On Laughing and pick up The Carry On Collection of 13 films from the earlier Carry On days. The rest of their films are not available in the US, but they are in a deluxe boxset in the U.K. and if you can import, they are worth getting as some of their better films are in the U.K. release such as Carry On Camping, Carry On Doctor, and Carry On Matron. While the U.K. release includes late films of the series, it is still worth getting. The U.S. release includes Carry On Cleo, a spoof of Liz Taylor's Cleopatra with the actual set used in the film. The U.S. set also includes Carry On Jack, the first Carry On Sergeant with Dr. Who William Hartnell and Jon Pertwee appears in a few of these. these films do match up with the type of humor found in Are You Being Served that was later evolved into a more mature 'Allo 'Allo which features Kenneth Connor, former Carry On alumni as a mortician. The BBC even calls Are You Being Served a half an hour of sub-Carry On innuendo, sauntering alongside rather than attached to the accompanying plot and they loved it. Also Captain Peacock has a small role in Carry On Screaming in the U.S. box and Miss Brahms has a small role in Carry On Matron in the U.K. box.
     
  15. Tory

    Tory -The Snappy Sneezer- -Red Huck-

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    One more thing, the complete box is about 140 dollars at amazon, and that is cheaper than deep discount dvd, digital eyes, dvd empire, dvd planet, dvd soon, buy, and overstock and bestprices last time I checked. the two sets together will run you a little over 150 at dvd soon, and 180 to 200+ elsewhere, the cheapest 1 set costs is 76ish. I think the complete set is a better bargain right now. Amazon has Are You Being Served
    Again for the cheapest price too, 27.99.
     
  16. Will_C

    Will_C Second Unit

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    Ok guys. I'll admit the first half with Trevor Bannister as Mr. Lucas holds up best. But for the last couple of seasons, can't remember exactly how many, I'll just say two words... Candy Davis!!! [​IMG]
     
  17. andrew markworthy

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    At the risk of being the dissenting voice, I thought the jokes wore thin in this series very quickly.

    To give a bit more background to the series. It's set in a department store of a type that even at the time was becoming a thing of the past. The UK used to have a family-run department store in nearly every big town and city. They used to be charmingly old-fashioned, over-staffed and usually rather expensive, with the result that by the 1970s they were being taken over by larger companies and typically knocked down to make way for mini shopping malls. There is thus an air of living on borrowed time about them (hence why in nearly every episode there is some gimmick for attracting more customers/becoming more efficient). Add on to that class divisions between the various members of staff and the customers, and the occasional dig at the militant unions (represented by the rather unpleasant handyman on a higher salary than the 'posher' members of staff), and you have a microcosm of much that was typical (and unlovely) about 70s Britain.

    The series revolves around the staff in the ladies- and menswear departments in the 'Grace Brothers' store in an unnamed district of London. The principal comedy players were Mrs Slocombe who in every single programme would make an unintentional double entendre about 'her pussy' (she was always referring to her cat - 'my pussy needs a lot of attention' - etc) and Mr Humphreys, who was camper than a row of tents.

    I found the first series amusing, but after that I thought that it was so formulaic that I gave up watching. A typical episode consists of a crazy new scheme to attract customers. This will be unintentionally funny, get the characters into various predicaments before the scheme is abandoned at the end of the episode.

    If you like the same sort of thing repeated again and again (and I grant you, there is a 'comfort food' appeal in this sort of thing) then fine. However, I don't think it's the best that Brit comedy can offer.
     
  18. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Hence the definition of "situation comedy." [​IMG]

    How does the British audience ever get through a full series of 20+ episodes of any American comedy when you can find 6-12 episodes (encompassing two series months apart) of your own tedious?
     
  19. Jonathan Kaye

    Jonathan Kaye Second Unit

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    Er, we manage wuite well, which is why comedies like Friends and Frasier are very popular over here.
     
  20. andrew markworthy

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    Curiously enough, I found myself thinking about this very point after I'd logged off this morning.

    The simple answer is that we generally don't watch US sitcoms for their plots, but for the one liners. With Brit comedies, often the comedy builds from the specific situation in which the characters find themselves (Only Fools and Horses and Fawlty Towers are two cases in point). This only works provided the situations are sufficiently varied or ingenious. In Are You Being Served? they weren't in my personal opinion, and the one-liners to me seemed to be drawn from a rather limited range of permutations.

    Please note I'm expressing a personal opinion, not attacking other folk's views. I guess there are shows I like because to me the one-liners are funny which others will find tired and predictable. E.g. I love Will and Grace for the insults bandied between the characters, but I'm certain a lot of people will find them very predictable. If you folks love AYBS? then great, and, as we say in the UK, more power to your elbow. However, I was just wanting to stress that it isn't something that everyone will automatically like.
     

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