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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Losing your mind was never meant to be this funny. A tribute to Ruth Cracknell!

Author: Old Joe from Hamilton, Australia
14 May 2002

As frustrating as old people can be, Mother and Son gives a very funny look at what it is like to ‘lose your memory' as Maggie Beare says. I can only imagine what is like to grow old, yet with a grandma like Maggie, I think she would put me in the grave for how frustrating she really can be. This would have to be one Australian TV's funniest comedies, with Ruth Cracknell at her brilliant best.

Arthur Beare is a 40 something son still living at home after getting a divorce from his first wife, but in the bargain gets to take care of his senile mother Maggie, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. However no matter what Arthur does, he cannot seem to get ahead and is always coming unstuck. Robert on the other hand cannot put a foot wrong in his mother's eyes, where all he is after is his mother's hidden money and assets.

This TV series was a very simple set up, but boy was it funny. Having a 40 something son taking care of his mother would in most cases not seem to most people to be that funny. Yet with the very funny Ruth Cracknell anything and everything is going to be hilarious. With the catch cry of "Oh Arthur", you knew that something totally crazy was about to happen. I mean in some of the episodes of this show, we get to see Maggie play with her late husband's ashes in the garden, buying oranges going on the way to a funeral, washing strawberries with detergent and blowing up the kitchen. Look there is probably more things, but I can not remember them. In fact this review is making me want to watch the whole series all over again.

This show also had some great male actors. Garry McDonald is another Australian icon, who is probably well known as the funny Norman Gunston. Yet as Arthur Beare audiences must have felt sorry for him. Looking after his mother, who does not appreciate him, ruining his social and working life. All this in addition to the worry she causes at home between Arthur and herself. McDonald is a great actor, with a minor role in the big movie, Moulin Rouge as the eccentric doctor. The devious brother Robert in Mother and Son, was played by Henri Szeps. He makes out on the outside that he has his mother's best intentions at heart, yet deep down he is waiting for his mother to pass away, so he can reap all the rewards of her will. Henri was perfect in this role. Judy Morris also brings another interesting character to this show. Judy plays Robert's wife Liz, and with her sarcasm and cynical outlook on both her husband and her mother-in-law making the show even funnier at times, as she knows what her husband is truly up to.

The writer of this show, Geoffrey Atherdon, had a wonderful story, with Mother and Son. I really felt that he was original in what he wrote in his scripts, making it all the funnier show. Throw in director Geoff Portman who must have had one of the best jobs in Australian TV for 11 years, also put some very funny touches to this classic Australian comedy.

This review is a tribute to a brilliant actress, who had a wonderful career. Sure most people we only remember her in this very funny TV comedy, yet Ruth Cracknell is so much more. I am disappointed that I did not see her in more acting roles, whether it was on stage, TV or cinema. In a funny way she is the reason we love Australian TV today. This a big loss for the Australian TV industry, but I am sure that it will recover from it. I believe we were blessed to have a ‘silly old dot' like Ruth Cracknell for all those years on TV screens as the annoying Maggie Beare. I am sure Ruth would rather us celebrate her life, than mourn it. This review is for you RUTH!!!

Ruth Cracknell (1925-2002)

Rest In Peace RUTH!!

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Excellent, Excellent Show

Author: Owen L. from Newcastle, Australia
26 November 1999

This show has got to be one of the best Australian comedies that has ever been made. Ruth Cracknell gives an outstanding performance as Maggie Beare, an elderly woman who is slowly declining but is still extremely feisty, strong-minded and manipulative. Gary McDonald also contributes some excellent acting as Arthur Beare, the son who does so much for his mother but never gets appreciated for his efforts. Henri Szeps puts in a convincing and excellent performance as Robert Beare, an occassionally well-meaning but extremely self-centered dentist who is "mummy's little boy". Judy Morris also shines as Liz Beare and her sarcasm and cynical outlook on both her husband and her mother-in-law enhances the show greatly. This is a series not to be missed

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A great comedy

Author: rooboy84 from Australia
13 May 2002

I watched this when I was young and it was one of the best comedies i'd seen. Its got wit and its well directed with a great cast. Sadly, Ruth Cracknell who played Maggie died of Respiratory complications on the 13th of May, in Australia, just last night. A great actress who'll be remembered for a long time.

Rest in peace, Ruth.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Why is this series never played on PBS anymore?

Author: amirsberger from United States
6 October 2006

I fully agree with the person that wrote that it's not understandable why this series "Mother and Son" hasn't been played on PBS since the 1980's. I live in Milwaukee and it was the same here. There are 42 episodes - more than enough to keep PBS viewers happy for months to come! I am lucky enough to have a friend in Germany, who sent me all the episodes that were played on German TV, but watching this show dubbed into German is not the same (the lack of Australian accents is disturbing - the accents really add to the genius of the show). Ruth Cracknell was indeed an Australian national treasure (not to take away from her other excellent actor co-stars) and it's really a shame that she never really got any exposure on American TV. I was lucky enough to also get her film "Spider and Rose" from my German friend - such things play on European TV, but here never! I can only hope that someday somebody will wake up here and look around for something different to play on our TV or sell in our video stores.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Still hoping to own the DVD's before I end up like Maggie!

Author: kbcoltergeist from Washington State, USA
2 November 2004

I LOVE this Mother and Son sitcom! I first discovered it on a PBS station back in the mid-upper 80's. I love BBC comedy sitcoms, but THIS "Australian" sitcom (1984-1994) is BETTER (or equal) to any I've seen. (I own dozens) I cant stop thinking about it, and I can't wait till they release it in DVD for USA. WHATS THE HOLD-UP? Its been TEN YEARS now since the sitcom was over. And I haven't seen a single episode since the 80's. I'm always checking for future release info. as well as other searches and I come up empty. Do we all have to rally and send a petition or something to the writer/creator to get the 42 episodes released or what??

Anybody else have a clue? Its kind of the same situation for a very funny BBC sitcom called "One Foot In The Grave" (check it out) Thanks, Karla

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Living with senility

Author: Chris Fleming from Memphis, TN
12 September 1998

"A comedy about dementia" For anyone who has had to cope with a parent or grandparent who is 'losing it', this series of half-hour episodes will certainly lighten their burden.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The greatest Australian comedy!

Author: sirfire from Australia
31 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Thank god I have Australian foxtel as I get to watch re-runs of one of the best comedy shows ever made, it is just a Shame that it hasn't had much of a airing outside Europe or Australasia. . For those who haven't had the pleasure I suggest you buy the videos and send me a thank you letter cause you wont be disappointed. The story is unique, intelligent and amazing funny when you consider that the topic is about a 40 something guy living with his dementia aging mother who seems to remember things as if it was in the 1950's but just when you think you have her all figured out you really are way off base. Ruth Cracknell is simply brilliant as the aging mother who will go to any length to have Arthur her son to herself. Gary McDonald is a brilliant Australian actor who can play a wide of variety roles who just doesn't seem to get the recognition that many other Aussie stars get. So in short if you like smart witty and original humor that even your kids will enjoy then this show is for you.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

one of the best Aussie series ever made.

Author: OZ-Fox-39 from the deep caverns of the underground
22 July 2010

* timeless classic * Ruth Cracknell is brilliant as Maggie, ageing mother to Arthur (Garry McDonald) who says he is 35 and still living with his mother. Sad? not when his grey haired widowed mother can't look after herself by herself. It's only sad if Arthur does NOT help his mum.

* basic synopsis * Arthur gives up almost everything including a social life since his divorce to take care of his mum, with minimal thanks from her. Meanwhile his selfish, manipulative brother Robert (Henri Szeps), tries to get him offside with his mother, while making himself look stupid in front of his wife Liz (Judy Morris). Liz doesn't believe the stories Robert spins her about his dental nurse and so-called affairs, sparking marital rows between them, as well as implying he's a lousy husband and a bad influence on their kids.

Deep down, Arthur loves his mother, but he soon loses patience with her dementia, mainly because he truly believes there's nothing wrong with her, that she's just putting on an act to gain sympathy. He tries to put her in a nursing home, but she won't go, she won't leave her deceased husband, Leo (his ashes are mentioned being buried under a rose bush in the front garden).

* general opinion * All in all, a classic Aussie series for its time, well written, and I still like it today. It was released as a complete DVD set in 2007 on ABC DVD. It predates widescreen productions, back when studios used high-grade digital videotape on super high grade commercial Beta video decks, and worth keeping in your DVD library. Worth seeing time and time again.

My rating: 8/10 (excellent)

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2 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Within the stifling confines of genteel middle-class Australian suburbia, a selfish tyrannical widow bullies her neurotic and spineless stay-at-home son.

Author: BOUF
25 June 2009

This is a well written series, whose potential seems to me to be almost completely ruined by its tone and its central performances. Could it have been the writer's intention to create such a depressing sitcom, and the director's intention to have it played out in such mournfully bland surroundings by such unsympathetic actors? As written, the characterisations are interesting, and the situations inventive, but there's a general lack of fun, or joy or even amusement (for me), because the lead characters give such depressing readings. The mother (Cracknell) is unrelentingly cold, bullying and negative, and the son (McDonald) is a constantly anxious and negative loser. There's almost no relief. Every now and then there's some cute or farcical business, and I suspend my overall feeling of how unpleasant and pathetic these people are. Occasionally the other son (Szeps) appears. He's an overly confident dentist, with one of the most annoying personalities ever broadcast (and not funny annoying, just annoying.) The series has been very successful.

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