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Any newcomers to the writing of P.G. Wodehouse should bear in mind the
i) Wodehouse was a highly prodigious writer ii) All of his stories feature upper class idiots iii)There is always a happy ending iv) The plots are never plausible v) None of the first four points will prevent you from enjoying his work vi) Wodehouse is one of the greatest ever writers of English prose.
A surprising variety of humourists have been influenced by Wodehouse, including Peter Cook, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Ben Elton, Spike Milligan, Woody Allen and even Billy Connolly.
Television and film adaptations are rarely as good as the original book, but this production is about as good as it gets. Apart from Stephen Fry being rather too young at the time to play Jeeves, the casting is nearly perfect, particularly Hugh Laurie as Wooster.
There are time constraints on television programmes that books are not limited by. There is also the problem that Wodehouse was at his best in narrative passages rather than with dialogue. Nevertheless, this programme will still make you laugh out loud. Great music too.
Better still, read the books. Not just the Jeeves and Wooster titles, but also the Blandings series, Psmith, Mr. Mulliner and Ukridge books.
Whatever your taste in comedy, The Fast Show or Last Of The Summer Wine, Dad's Army or Monty Python, the chances are that PG Wodehouse will make you laugh.
'Jeeves and Wooster' still crops up on satellite and cable channels. It is well worth a look.
Long before he achieved stardom in the U.S. for playing the tortured, acid-tongued title character on "House, M.D.", Hugh Laurie played Dr. House's polar opposite, Bertie Wooster, on the British TV series "Jeeves and Wooster" from 1990 to 1993. With the help of his frequent co-star Stephen Fry, Laurie brought P.G. Wodehouse's beloved characters from the classic "Jeeves" series vividly to life. The TV series follows the misadventures of dapper, doltish young millionaire Bertie Wooster, and his indispensable, saintly valet Jeeves (played to poker faced perfection by Fry). Every story was convoluted and gloriously silly, with Bertie being tangled in one ridiculous situation after the other (usually of his own doing), but always coming out on the right side of it... and always with help from the relentlessly patient Jeeves. Many familiar characters are here, from cranky, meddling Aunt Agatha to Bertie's brainless chum Bingo Little. But Laurie and Fry are the real reasons to watch. Laurie somehow makes the foppish, clumsy Bertie truly lovable, and his rubber-faced mugging could put Jim Carrey to shame. Fry somehow keeps Jeeves from being bland and dull, and he is almost an omniscient being, the way he never fails at bailing his fatuous master out of trouble. Plus, he never gets annoyed at Bertie's constant mangling of popular songs while playing the piano (check out the pilot, where Bertie attempts Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher", complete with the hi-de-ho chorus). So, is this a splendid little series worth checking out on DVD? As Jeeves would say, "Indeed, sir."
"Jeeves and Wooster" is a wonderful showcase for Hugh Laurie and Steven
Fry, two of my favorite comedians. Their performances carry the series
even when the writing starts to falter in the final season.
But the original P.G. Wodehouse books are, it should go without saying, better. Bertie Wooster's narration of his own adventures is hilarious, and much of his bizarre "wit" is inevitably lost in translation to TV. Thankfully, though, Clive Exton's scripts do retain an enormous amount of Wodehouse's original dialogue, which really can't be beat.
All the plots are the same, of course; Wooster is either helping a friend get married, or trying to avoid getting hitched himself. Somehow, though, this repetition doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the series; in fact, it's sort of a wacky bonus. I find that, if anything irks me, it's that some of Wooster's friends are total jerks or weeds who really don't deserve his help - though I suppose that's part of the joke. The oily Gussy Finklenottle drives me absolutely nuts, especially in the first two seasons!
The production values are surprisingly lavish, especially for British TV (though there is a rather lame recreation of the Empire State Building in one episode). The period detail is impressive, and the music is great. The casting is mostly spot-on, too, though some of the guest actors perform a little too grotesquely, and certain very important characters are re-cast midway through the series. It's quite distracting when a major character like Madeline Basset is suddenly played by a new actress, especially when the original Madeline later shows up playing another character, Florence. Thankfully, some of the best cast members stay the course.
There's a definite change in tone after the first two seasons. The show gradually becomes weirder, and when you get to the later episodes Wooster is suddenly getting shot at, jumping off boats, etc. But there's plenty of great material throughout the whole run, and I highly recommend picking up the whole set on DVD. I don't even mind the American characters, who seem to take a lot of heat on this site; aren't the bad accents silly on purpose?
Ultimately, what makes this series so memorable is its offbeat combination of different elements - it's like a comedy of manners, a musical, and a goofy slapstick routine rolled in one. I didn't really get it when I was a kid, but I think it's a hoot now, and Wodehouse's commentary on the laziness of privileged people and the fickleness of love still feels very relevant. Great stuff.
Brilliant P.G.Wodehouse stories lose nothing from transfer to the screen. Of course, some series are better, some are worse, some are real masterpieces. In fact, I like all of them. Adaptation is really wonderful: amusing, dynamic, intelligent and sparkling with wit and humor. Leading actors are awesome. Hugh Laurie gives an unforgettable comic performance, masterfully imitating manners and way of speaking of typical young aristocratic idiot. Stephen Fry seems to be an unparalleled Jeeves. All series are well casted, though performers of several parts change. I especially like Elizabeth Morton as Madeline, Charlotte Attenborough as Stiffy and Richard Garnett as Gussie. The series entertain and cheer you up. As for me, I can't help laughing while watching them.
A wonderful and almost perfect rendition of a classic.
Some people (few people) scoff at this version for being too visual. In fact, they scoff at any visual version for trying to interpret what in essence are novels driven by wonderful narrative. However, the charm comes in the perspective as well as the aesthetic.
Yes it's a beautiful show. It uses locations perfectly and remains diligent to those halls as to their fictitious namesake. You eventually come to know these halls and manors yourself as Bertie once again is called out to Tottley.
The music is a beautiful pastiche of all things 20s. Incidental score, while fairly repetitive (you'll hear the same motifs and themes pop up regularly) just adds to the warm familiar atmosphere. It adds charm and period distinction. The actual songs in the show are fun as well and made for a wonderful soundtrack.
The acting as well is perfect. It characterises the pomp without anyone seeming awkward. The scripts flow and the pace always complements the stories. Fry and Laurie were born for this part and never once slip from character or wither in the spotlight.
But as I was saying, the beauty comes in perspective. Some people have grumbled that Laurie's "Wooster" is too much of a fool compared to the beautiful prose he's meant to have jotted in "his" books, yet I think it adds, as I said, perspective. We all write and dictate experiences from a personal perspective, what the show does is offer similar instances (and they are similar not exact in most cases) from a third party perspective. What we write in hindsight is rare to what objectively happened. This warm hearted Oxford gentlemen is educated, but not over gifted in the sense department. He writes and plays beautifully, but he's not quick and we see that demonstrated perfectly through Laurie.
Fry is masterful as Jeeves. Younger than what some would prefer, nevertheless you don't doubt his presence for a second.
The stories are a mix of accurate rendition and loose interpretation. The final fourth season especially has a couple of episodes which don't really feel quite on the ball as the rest, possibly because the divert too far from Wodehouse's material, nevertheless, the fourth season does sort of tie up the loose ends yet has a finale which keeps Jeeves And Wooster feeling as eternal on the TV screen as it does in book form.
A wonderful compliment to Wodehouse's masterful books. Miss at your peril.
"Jeeves and Wooster" is one of the best pure adaptations I have ever seen in a television show. As a huge fan of the books, I have no problem with any characterizations or plot dramtizations. The best thing about this series is its Britishness. Both Jeeves and Wooster drip with satire. Each episode is laugh out loud funny. It is much better made than many British television offerings, such as the Peter Wimsey series (although I love it, too). I highly recommend a look at this series to anyone who has a British sense of humor or enjoys '20s glamor.
If there's any British actor best suited for playing a foppish hero, it
would be Hugh Laurie. He does an incredibly good job with Bertram "Bertie"
Wooster. I've seen another play that was based on the Woodhouse novels,
the actor playing Mr. Wooster didn't have the same kind of charisma that
Hugh Laurie does. Steven Fry is also a very good Jeeves, the butler always
helping out Wooster of the bad situations he gets himself into.
5 stars, check it out!
I'm not familiar with the P.G. Wodehouse work that was the basis for
this series. Sometimes though, not being familiar with the written
material can help you enjoy the TV-series or movie better. I'm not
certain if it helps here but i did in fact find this very entertaining.
I remember watching this series every Saturday on TV for quite a long time. And my view on both Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry is still marked by this. Both are in my opinion perfect in their parts. Laurie with his rather silly and foppish British looks, his accent and his voice. And of course Stephen Fry who looks every bit the aristocratic manservant.
The stories presented are usually both silly and with little reference to reality. But they are entertaining nevertheless, and why watch something like this if not to be entertained? The silly aristocrat and his wise servant is a classic theme, and rarely is it done better than here.
My father introduced me to the Jeeves stories and I fell in love with them. Adaptation can be a tricky affair but this series is done superbly. Hugh Laurie portrayed Bertie just as I pictured the character. I always thought of Jeeves as being older but Stephen Fry portrayal of Jeeves dispelled that notion. The other characters are done well especially Bingo and Aunt Agatha. If you've read the stories a couple of them are usually combined into one episode. Having great material to start with and maintaining that standard is tough but this series does it brilliantly. So if you enjoy Wodehouse or enjoy good farce I highly recommend this series.
This 'Jeeves and Wooster' series is largely enjoyable, at least in the
first two seasons, beyond which point the casting changes severely
hobble pleasure. Fortunately Hugh Laurie's daffy Bertie Wooster (along
with Stephen Fry's Jeeves) are consistent throughout the entire series,
they are masterful and well-worth the high price of the dvds, available
from Acorn Media in a first-class DVD set.
Sadly some of the best secondary roles are cast with multiple actors and the changes along the way, especially in the third and fourth seasons, are highly inferior to the original actors. Notably, the loss of Mary Winbush's gorgon of an Aunt Agatha is a great loss to the whole series. Also, the 2nd Madelyn Bassett (Diana Blackburn) is much preferable to the TWO other actresses employed to play this all-important nemesis of Bertie's. Blackburn's facial expressions and her low voice are perfect for the vapidly dreamy Madelyn. Her cousin Stiffy, as done by Charlotte Attenborough, is hilarious with her nasty little black Scottie dog, Bartholomew, which is inexplicably changed to a white terrier with the introduction of a blonde actress in another episode, a great loss.
The most grievous cast change is the switch from the perfect Gussie Fink-Nottle of Richard Garnett to someone else for the balance of seasons 3 & 4. This is the final nail in the lid of the coffin as far as comedy goes. In fact this series should have stopped after the second season as the director, Ferdinand Fairfax, does not seem to be able to carry off the dotty humor as well as his predecessors in the first two seasons. The episodes become more slapstick and silly, though not as funny. The stories become repetitive and boring, especially those set in New York.
The New York episodes are severely hobbled by British actors attempting to sound "American" with their over-exaggerated "r"s and attempts at U.S. slang. These performances fall like rocks in a tar pit and become very annoying in the end. I'd skip the third season altogether when viewing. The fourth season is slightly better but a pale shadow to the first two. The last episode is ineffably silly and the ending is just plain stupid.
If you can find seasons one and two on their own grab them.
The best Wodehouse adaption out there right now is 'Heavy Weather' set at Blandings Castle and starring Peter O'Toole as the pig-loving Lord Emsworth and a large cast of brilliant comedians in a masterful adaption of a very funny book.
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