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This show was a staple in Saturday night entertainment here in Norway
from the mid 1980's and up into the late 1990's, and considering most
of them were re-runs, I in the end felt almost persecuted by this show
(would they EVER stop sending that show on Saturday??). It was funny
but never THAT funny, or at least so I thought, because when I got into
my twenties and the show vanished from Norwegian television - low and
behold - I went and ordered the 3 first seasons of the internet! So I
guess I was more addicted to it than I cared to admit at first :)
The basic idea of making fun of Nazis never seem to grow old, or in the case of this show: making fun of the Gestapo. The rest of the Germans come off as almost sympathetic and lovable at times, but I mean: how can anyone hate the closet-gay officer Lt. Gruber and his "little tank"? The show is really classic comedy, especially in the way that much of the laughs rely heavily on the fun of repeated catchphrases ("It is I, Leclerc!" - "Good moaning!" "Listen carefully, I shall say this only once" etc) and some truly crazy antics. It IS at times *very* funny and some of the goings-on in this German occupied French village really has to be seen to be believed!
One of my favorite characters is Officer Crabtree, a British undercover-agent posing as a French police-officer, which is quite impressive considering his French makes Inspector Closeau sound like a professor in linguistics. One of his lines that has followed me since I was about 14 was "The French pissants are hiding in the German shiteu" (you figure it out).
So there you have it, if you like the subject of WWII and British comedy "Allo Allo" should be your 'cap of toe' (as Officer Crabtree probably would call it).
If you like Britcoms, then you'll love this series. Every line is a
joke, and they're all hilarious. Lots of double entendres/sexual
innuendoes and a ridiculous amount of zany one-liners.
The episodes are similar, with some running gags that appear every episode, every time with a different twist. As expected with the British playing Frenchmen, the sarcasm is biting, but almost turned around: the English policeman (bobby) who keeps trying to speak french, with the horrible pronunciation and accent makes tears come to the eyes.
This series is excellent, and missed greatly. Buy it if you can.
Allo Allo may not be offensive as it sounds. I even watched this show in Poland. A sitcom about WWII, Germans, French, British, in a small French town at a small cafe, Renee's. He owns it with his idiot wife, Edith, who helps her ailing, bedridden mother, and hides 2 British airman in her wardrobe/closet. Renee has enough on his plate with his constant infidelity relationships to his servant girls. He always comes up with an excuse to have them in his arms at one time or another. The French resistance and the French communist resistance only complicates Renee's already complicated life. Despite the fact, that the leader of the communist resistance is also in love with Renee too. Michele of the French resistance always says "Now listen very carefully, I shall say this only once." There's plenty of laughs to watch and enjoy on this show. Don't miss it.
David Croft has to be seen as one of the greatest British comedy writers ever. He was the writer for 'Dad's Army', 'It Ain't Half Hot, Mum' and 'Are You Being Served?'. Although not as good as 'Dad's Army', 'Allo 'Allo' is a fine piece of work. Set in war-time France, this show made use of stereotypes of Germans, Frenchmen and Brits. Gorden Kaye gave a tremendous portrayal of unwilling hero, Rene, but the fine cast doesn't stop there. Carmen Silvera (Edith), Guy Siner (Gruber) and the fantastic Arthur Bostrom (Crabtree) also played their parts well. The show was 'Carry On'-esque, unashamedly camp and full of sexual innuendo. I think it is impossible not to hear Crabtree with his customary greeting of 'Good Moaning!', without laughing. Demand from the American market saw the series stretched a bit further than it could manage, but 'Allo 'Allo recovered. The repeats are certainly worth watching.
Words can't explain how much I love this show, it's just amazing. It's extremely funny, but the only downside is that it's not easy to find on tv these days... In the 80's and early 90's it was very well known and loved, but then disappeared into nowhere... A small town in War time France makes a great setting for this wonderful tv show, and the language barrier is easily fixed... everyone speaks in English, but the British have British accents, the French, French accents, the Germans, German accents etc. Th storyline follows on from the previous episodes, with Rene explaining what happened in the last episode. Watch it, you won't regret it.
I'm not certain I've watched every episode of this show, but it sure is not for a lack of trying. The Brits have a tendency of(and a talent for) turning unpleasant historical events into the subject of satirical shows. The BlackAdder series covered many of Britain's greatest blunders through the last thousand years or so. This deals with WWII, using the setting of a small, occupied town in France, and spoofing basically any kind of person you might meet there... all the people and all the nationalities are covered. You'll meet Frenchmen, Brits, Germans, Russians, yes, even an Italian or two(actually... make that one). The humor is a good mix between the typically crude and silly humor of Benny Hill(complete with ending some episodes with people chasing each other in a farcical manner), and the more witty, verbal humor of shows such as the aforementioned BlackAdder series. There's even a tad of black comedy, mostly delivered by the undertaker, Monsieur Alfonse. It steers almost entirely clear of gross-out comedy, something that turned up in last-mentioned show(even if it didn't become terribly apparent before the last two seasons). The characters are well-written(if somewhat thin) and humorous. Though most of them are clichés, they are surprisingly easy to tell apart... their particular gag, their "schtick" is uniquely theirs. And though they are repeated throughout the series, the jokes hold up exceptionally well. You find yourself quoting characters years after you saw the episode where the line appeared, and some scenes stick in your mind for ages. The reason the stereotypical jokes work is that they hit the mark... every single one of them. You have the somewhat whiny German officers who didn't really *want* to be officers, but, as one remarks, "It's Hitler... he's a very demanding man." You have the small-time café owner who just wants to stay in business, but still lights up some at the thought of fighting for his countrymen, of being considered "the bravest man in all of France." We have Arthur Bostrom as the British undercover agent who couldn't speak French to save his life(parodying the difficulty of learning that language) is always fun, even if his lines and jokes are mostly derived from his mispronunciation, and therefore can hardly be claimed to be anything but silly(though there are moments of clever puns). Richard Gibson, as the eternally stiff, never-affected-emotionally Gestapo officer(who just happens to contain parts of various famous German officers, and even Hitler himself) is my personal favorite, in the role that always begets laughter. And Guy Siner must be mentioned... never has one character begotten so many jokes about sexuality. German discipline, French passion, Italian flashiness and British cheeriness are all expertly spoofed. The verbal comedy is masterful. Anyone not from Britain(and even there, it's not just anyone) needs an excellent grip on the British language. On that note... with how many different approaches there are to handling different languages(ignoring it, having the actors do accents, subbing and dubbing), I think this takes the cake, at least for me. No word of anything but English is spoken here. To distinguish, they simply have the (British) actors put on an accent according to which language they're supposed to be speaking(no H at the beginning of any word for the French, Z's instead of S's for the Germans, and A at the end of various words for the Italian, etc.). This is established in the very pilot, where both the Brits and the Frenchmen determine that they don't understand a word of what the other group is speaking. The British is all exaggerated British, as well... imitating the way the Brits sound to anyone who don't hear them too often. They're making an effort to help the viewer tell the nationalities apart, whilst flaunting the fact that they all speak the same language. Marvelous. The plot lines are intricate(but never overly complicated), and always filled with mix-ups and sitcom-like mishaps. The great thing is that in every episode(at least to my knowledge), you are treated to a minute or two of a character(typically René, the lead) explaining the current situation, complete with mix-ups. You can join the show at any point(though it's always the best to watch them in the right order, and as many as you can get near). The rich scenery of many episodes is quite a high-point, as well... BlackAdder, from the second season and onwards was always on sets, occasionally average-at-best ones. They flaunt that fact, similarly to how this flaunts the language difference(or lack thereof). Only the first season of BlackAdder had outdoor scenes(and let's face it, no matter how you look at it, the cinematography wasn't exactly brilliant). This has many outdoor scenes, complete with vehicles and surroundings that fit the time it is set in. That helps sell the setting and time period very well. The wide character gallery helps for variety, and some credibility is attained(and the tone is kept from being overly goofy) in part through authentic details and occurrences that seem realistic. This was a great show that almost attained excellence, were it not for a few bugging points... the occasional overdone or overly repeated gag, the few episodes which just aren't that funny, one or two characters that were somewhat one-note jokes(and not all that good ones, at that), and such. And replacing Gibson... even for the last few episodes... that, in my opinion, was a very big mistake. However, if you do catch this show and find it funny, I definitely suggest watching the whole thing through. Not only is the vast majority of episodes excellent, but the very ending, the last few minutes of the finale are marvelous. Perfect way to end the show. I recommend this to any fan of British humor, both verbal and the Benny Hill variation, as well as black comedy, and anyone looking to laugh at the second World War. Priceless entertainment. 8/10
I have little to add to this what the other have written here. Accept that what few people seem to know. This brilliant series is a parody on another very good series, Secret Army, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075579/ The cafe, The Gestapo officers, the singing wife, even the characters look the spitting image. But, in all fairness, I think the parody is more brilliant than the original series. Strange, but true. I Think that this is one of the few cases where the parody is better know than the original, and a true red herring in that it is also better. I cannot think of one where this is also the case, although there are more parodies better known then the original (Airport-Airplane to mention one).
listen very careful, I shall write this only once: simply the best!
Somewhere in France, in Nouvion to be exactly, lives René Artois (played by Gordon Kaye). He owns a cafe, Café René, and his life is going as usual: He cheats his wife Edith (Carmen Silvera) with his two waitresses Yvette and Maria (Vicky Michelle and Francesca Gonshaw) and business goes as usual. The life of Frenchman René is going like he wants it to go, nice and steady. Nothing should change. But one detail will foil this from happening: The second World War. (Or as it is said brilliantly in the series more than once 'There is a war on, you know.') Before he knows what has happened René Artois is hiding two British airman, Fairfax and Carstairs (John D. Collins and Nicolas Frankau) from the nazi's, is he the helper of the French resistant, he has to stay friends with the Germans (they are good for business and for staying alive) and avoid interfering with the Gestapo while he's breaking almost all of the nazi rules and his life is totally disturbed. In the very first episode of the series this is all shown. For the fans of ''Allo 'Allo' this first episode is a must-see.
From now on René has got to do the most crazy, stupid, embarrassing and funny things to try to get the airman back to Britain, with the help of Michelle ''Listen very careful, I will say this only once'' of the resistance (Kirsten Cooke) who always comes up with a plan to avoid the Nazi's in the attempt to get the airman back home. Of course these plans always fail to happen on the most strange and remarkable ways, what keeps Fairfax and Carstairs at 'Café René' in the most miraculous and dumb hiding places.
Luckily the Nazi's aren't the smartest and hardest people in the town of Nouvion. Colonel Von Strohm (Richard Marner) and his assistant Captain Hans Geering (Sam Kelly, later replaced by Captain Alberto Bertorelli, played by Gavin Richards), for instance, never seem to see Michelle of the resistance when she comes in the café 'nondescript', probably 'cause they're to busy having a good time whit waitresses Yvette and Maria (and later on in the series when Maria is gone little Mimi, played by Sue Hodge). Luckily for René he is in a plot with the colonel and the captain about the painting 'The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies' by Van Klomp. The men want to sell it after the war instead of giving it to Hitler and René has to hide the painting in his sausages. So, the colonel and the captain need René.
One of the other nazi's in the little town is Lieutenant Herbert Gruber (Guy Siner).The reason René and his wife and waitresses don't get caught by him is because he fancies René. That's why Gruber is always willing to lend a hand (or more) to help out the café owner. Needless to say the situation between René and Lieutenant Gruber creates a lot of memorable funny scenes, for instance when René, who's always nervous with Gruber around, is dressed like a woman (all part of a plan from Michelle to get the airman back to Britain) and the Lieutenant comes in the café, or when René had just got back from a hospital (again because of a plan from Michelle) late at night and has only a hospital nighty on, one without a back and the lieutenant enters the café. Von Strohm, Geering and Gruber aren't such a problem for the café owner, but the Gestapo on the other hand is something timid René Artois fears even more than he fears his wife Edith finding out about his affairs with the waitresses. Not without reason; Herr Flick (Richard Gibson, in the last season played by David Janson) and his little helper Von Smallhousen (John Louise Mansi) are working all the time to rule out the resistance in Nouvion with René as the prime suspect. They also have a female assistant 'a woman of the opposite sex' named Private Helga Geerhard (Kim Hartman), but what Flick and Von Smallhousen don't know is that she double-crosses the two Gestapo-officers. She helps the colonel and the captain because she knows about their plan with the painting and also wants a part of the money from the 'Fallen Madonna with the big boobies' by Van Klomp. Besides enemy's René also has a lot of friends who are also against the nazi's. The already mentioned Michelle and the two airmen, but there are more: For Instance there is the undertaker Monsieur Alphonse (Kenneth Connor) who fancies Madame Edith but has to much admiration for the brave resistance hero René Artois to take her away from him, Monsieur 'It is I Leqlerc' Leqlerc (Jack Haig) who helps Michelle getting the messages to René. He always has the stupidest disguises to fool the nazi's. Or as René once said it so truly : 'Leqlerc, the man with a thousand faces and they're all the same.' And last but definitely not least there is officer 'Good moaning' Crabtree (Arthur Bostrom), or as Yvette once said: 'That British agent who thinks he speaks our language.' He too is a message-bringing helper from Michelle.
Overall viewed René is in a tight spot with dumb plans, evil enemies, a wife he cheats which she may not find out, naturally, a painting in a sausage, dumb helpers and a nazi who fancies him. In an other film or series this all could be ingredients for a very dramatic story, but not in 'Allo 'Allo, where everything is idiotic or at least odd.
For instance, in the series there is a big difference between English with a French accent (this is spoken by René, Edith and the waitresses and all the other French people) and English spoken with a British accent (spoken by the Fairfax and Carstairs). So when the two airman want to say something to for instance René they don't understand each other, even though they are all speaking English for the public understands. This might look very unfunny, but it's actually quite good and always good for a little smile.
Also the whole storyline about the painting in a sausage provides a lot of funny (sometimes to predictable, but always enthusiast played) scenes. This also counts for the scenes between Gruber and René, always played with passion by Guy Siner and a kind of caution by Gordon Kaye. A little bit overacted, but that is in the whole series, that's one of the reasons it's such delight to watch, I think.
There are few TV comedy shows that I can watch the same episodes repeatedly and still enjoy them as much as I did the first time. The US show Seinfeld, and the British import Faulty Towers are two of these. Allo, Allo! ranks with those as the three best. Zany and insane are mild ways of describing this slapstick and very entertaining comedy. You can genuinely fall in love with its silly characters, even the evil Herr Flick. I can't wait for another run of episodes on PBS. Thank you UK and Croft.
This series has been on for years and I have many episodes on DVD. It is
extremely funny as it mocks accents and people from different countries. As
it is in the English language, but with different accents used to indicate
the nationalities of people, the humor cannot be transferred to other
countries so I am surprised whether the series would be successful outside
the UK. It's certainly generally unknown in France though it may have at one
time or other been aired on one of the cable channels and many or the plays
on words/accents etc would be untranslateable into French. That said, I work
for a Dutch company and many of my colleagues in Holland love the series
which appears on their TV. But the Dutch tend to speak much better English
than the French and from what I can gather, their humour is more akin to
that of the UK, all of which could explain their being attracted to this
series, plus the fact that they don't like the Germans too much.
On a negative side, one may reproach the series as being too repetitive with the punch lines etc etc. I think that this is true to a certain extent but as the script is so lively, this is somewhat compensated. On the subject of the humour itself, I wonder really if anyone outside the UK could laugh at the "painting of the falled Madonna with the big boobies". There are all sorts of funny repeated detail which are hallmarks of the series ( Leclerc, "tis I, Carmen Silvera trying to sing, the policeman massacring the English language with French pronunciation etc etc ) but you have to be a real fan to appreciate. It's as typically English as Monty Python. I have yet to see a comedy serial on French television about the German occupation and would be even more surprised if there was one on German TV. The closest I have seen would be the French film "La Grande Vadrouille" starring BOurvil and Louis de Funès.
The serial is set in what I had thought to be the mythical village of Nouvion. In fact, Nouvion does exist, in the Pas-de-Calais department in Northern France, just north of Abbeville and east of St Valery sur Somme. Whether the authors of the series were aware of this, I have absolutely no idea!
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