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Chelmsford 123 is one of the great but little known gems from the heyday of British comedy. Set in Romano-Britain in the days when things were still settling in, the show revolves around the interplay between the Roman Governor Aulus Paulinus and the local Celtic Chieftain Badvoc.
With a superb cast, excellent comic timing and a brilliant array of (mostly) original jokes, this show remains as hilarious today as it was back in 1988/90. Some of the cliché jokes are a tad tired perhaps, but they are handled well and the clever humour of the rest of the episode always makes up for it.
Chelmsford is not an over the top pratfall comedy like Faulty Towers, relying more on overacting and miscommunication to pass for humour. The humour here is both visual and linguistic, utilising puns at times, but more often simply clever dialogue and body language to carry the joke, which provides for clever humour, which certainly carries a lot of cultural references, and yet is still easily accessible to anyone. It is similar to the humour of Blackadder IV, yet more restrained.
The sort of comedy it produces can be likened to that of another gem, Maid Marian and her Merry Men, however Chelmsford 123 is not a children's program as it contains many blatant sexual references, some bestial in nature, as well as several sex scenes.
There are some elements of "dramatic necessity" that really make absolutely no sense and the vanishing of Gargamadua (Erica Hoffman) between seasons could use some explanation, but these can be ignored in the face of the laughter.
While some episodes are undoubtedly weaker than others, the final one in particular being rather cliché and disappointing, all episodes contain excellent jokes and most of the series will have you genuinely guffawing.
This series is definitely worth buying to re-watch time and again.
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