A series of self contained TV films starring performers from London's "Comic Strip" comedy club and their friends. Noted for a high sense of parody of previous films, literature, and generally everyone in sight.
A rather naive, middle-class man is admitted to a hospital ward and finds that he is sharing it with a working-class layabout and an upper-class hypochondriac. All three of them cause headaches for the hospital staff.
In the never ending, high tech war against crime, Detective Constables Bob Louis and David Briggs are the Scud missiles of the police arsenal of intuition, hunches and inspired guesses... ... See full summary »
Gordon Brittas is the manager of the Whitbury-Newtown Leisure Centre. Despite his ambition and good intentions, everything seems to go wrong when he's around, despite the best efforts of ... See full summary »
The Liverpool-based Boswell family are experts at exploiting the system to get by in life. Despite the fact that none of the Boswells are officially employed, they manage to live a fairly ... See full summary »
BBC sketch show that while continuing to show the misadventures of a series of popular characters now also introduces a slew of new oddballs and misfits for us to enjoy including Tory Boy and The Lovely Wobbly Randy Old Ladies.
Mel Smith and Griff Rhys-Jones present a series of short (often tasteless, always scathing) sketches about modern life and the stupidity and gullibility of those who believe in it. Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
After Not the Nine O'Clock News ceased production, Rowan Atkinson got bitten by the Black Adder, while Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones continued with their own sketch show. Less declamatory about politics and social issues (well at least there were no "let's drop the bomb on the leaders" songs), Alas Smith & Jones became a solid sketch show that could be clever and poignant, but was more often downright cheeky and rude. At best, it could be both (how about an advertisement for rectal cream directed in the style of Ingmar Bergman, or a documentary about a life-swap between an unemployed Northerner and a prosperous Southern cow?). Solid is the word: it broke little new ground in the way that The Black Adder did, for example, but it held the already occupied territories with gusto. Its decline during the final series was almost symptomatic of the general stagnation creeping in on Britcom during the late Nineties.
As these kinds of shows do, Alas Smith & Jones depended on the talents of its performers even more than on its material, and the portly Southerner Smith and the thin Welshman Jones were a perfect match in this respect. While they had enough range to create a lot of memorable types, they were at best in doing their stage show-derived "talks" and banter. Here Smith would style himself a faux-bohemian man of the world against Jones' neurotically reserved, stiff-upper-lip stage persona. Their takes on various issues, whether advertising, transmigration or the perceived tallness of Danny DeVito, were frequently hilarious.
Some of their best running sketches came at the start of the 1990s, including "Olympus", a brilliant soap-opera parody which put all the clichés of the Dynasties and Dallases to work on ancient Greek mythology. At the time their regular guests included Chris Langham and Brenda Blethyn, both featured in the "After Dark" talk-show parody where they added a general dimwit and a radical feminist-lesbian-vegetarian to Smith's Sun-reading yobbo and Jones' so-middle-class-hasn't-farted-in-twenty-years snob to complete the set of deliciously employed stereotypes. Other rising comediennes to pass through their ranks included Sarah Alexander and Sally Phillips.
It worked splendidly on the small screen but never translated well into the big one, as shown by the limp Wilt and the messy Morons from Outer Space. Here in Finland they were popular enough to be commissioned to star in a promotional video by the Finnish Foreign Ministry called Finland for Adults. That was not their finest hour either...
Viewed today, some of the stuff is unavoidably dated (mostly those bits dealing with the issues of the day), but most of it is still highly enjoyable. Watch it if you get the chance.
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