|Index||4 reviews in total|
This series ran for two series of six episodes each and one special in the mid 80's. Victoria Wood is one of the funniest, brightest and most clever comedians today. Her wit and charm come shining through her writing of sketches, songs and short plays. This series established her as one of the leading comedians in Britain and has gone on to perform sell out tours of her one woman show ever since. Further projects included the film 'Pat and Margaret' and the irresistibly charming sitcom 'dinnerladies'(sic). Helped with the talented aid of Julie Walters, Patricia Routledge and the irrepressible Celia Imrie, 'As Seen on TV' will continually delight fans and bring laughter to all those who watch.
This sketch show is second to none. Nearly twenty years after its' first
outing, it stands the test of time. Victoria Wood's writing is instantly
recognisable, and her ear for dialogue has influenced so much that has
after her. Some of the sketches and characters in this series can be
a mile off, and have been imitated endlessly.
The immortal Acorn Antiques, with Victoria Wood and Celia Imrie as the overly made-up Miss Babs and Miss Berta, and Julie Walters as the legendary Mrs Overall, queen of the coconut macaroons and homemade sherry, is the sketch everyone remembers. It's quite possible that Acorn Antiques changed British TV comedy forever, but there are so many other gems in the rest of the series.
Susie Blake's scathing and rude continuity announcer; Patricia Routledge as Kitty, fitting in a quick monologue before rushing back home to Cheadle; Victoria and Julie as hopeless daytime TV presenters ... wonderful.
This series is not to be missed. Victoria Wood's work is guaranteed high-quality stuff, and this is the best thing she has done so far.
I haven't actually seen this movie, although my faith is such that I do
not feel that I need to in order to recommend it. I have, however, seen
Victoria Wood Live. Dinnerladies (Victoria Wood not so live) is the
definitive comedy programme, and this generation can relax knowing
that, despite Norman Foster, we have left something of value behind us.
But Victoria Wood Live has a closing aerobic routine that makes being
born a small price to pay for being in her audience (for both parties).
We are not worthy.
(Embarrassed silence: The sponsors have warned me that concision in these comments is not rewarded, and a minimum of ten lines of text is required. Pithy.)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the midst of the alternative comedy revolution of the '80's, along
came Victoria Wood with this B.B.C.-2 series. I have to admit to not
being the world's biggest fan of Ms.Wood. I well remember her early
television work such as 'That's Life!' in which she ( badly ) performed
over-twee songs about acne and unrequited teenage love. My view of her
changed, however, when she wrote and appeared in a television play with
Julie Walters called 'Talent'. I did not care for the songs but there
were good one-liners. Next up was a short-lived sketch show for Granada
called 'Wood & Walters'. Though it boasted some witty items it was
hampered by a patently obvious laugh track.
'As Seen On T.V.' opened with a cringe-inducing title sequence featuring a 'Camberwick Green'-style version of Wood, whose arm falls off in the middle of her stand-up routine, backed up by a theme tune that sounded like the jingle to a '50's commercial for cocoa, and comic sound effects. It took a superhuman effort on my part not to switch off.
I am glad I did not because then I would have missed what I regard as the best soap opera parody of them all - 'Acorn Antiques'. Obviously based on A.T.V.'s long running 'Crossroads', it skillfully ridiculed all the clichés - the wobbly sets, bad dialogue, actors not knowing their lines properly, cameras coming into shot etc. Even the closing credits in which the actors' names could be seen sliding diagonally into view was mercilessly sent up. So effective was 'Acorn Antiques' that the real 'Crossroads' tried to change its image radically by introducing a new title sequence in which a car was seen driving up to the motel entrance. Wood spoofed that too! I do not know whether 'Acorn Antiques' was instrumental in bringing 'Crossroads' down ( it ended three years after this series debuted ) but its hard to believe it played no part in hastening its demise.
Other good sketches included some spoof documentaries ( one in which Wood played a naive young woman who wanted to swim the Channel turned out not only to be funny but also moving ), and a sharp parody of daytime television.
Wood's supporting cast included Duncan Preston, Celia Imrie, Patricia Routledge ( whose 'Kitty' was the prototype for 'Hyacinth Bucket' ), Susie Blake as a snooty continuity announcer ( how I miss continuity announcers on I.T.V.! ), and of course the priceless Julie Walters. Jim Broadbent and the late Hugh Lloyd made occasional appearances.
Some of the sketches fell flat but there were enough good ones to make this worthwhile. Amongst the hits was a hilarious 'Coronation Street' spoof with Wood as the legendary 'Ena Sharples'.
When 'As Seen On T.V.' debuted on B.B.C.-2, it looked doomed initially. Its main competitor on I.T.V. was an inexplicably popular crime show called 'Dempsey & Makepeace'. Wood's show was trounced in the ratings for the first few weeks, but then an amazing thing happened. As word got out about 'A.S.O.T.', so 'Woopsey & Dingbat' ( as T.V. critic Nina Myskow referred to it ) began to lose viewers. I.T.V. panicked, and it was later moved to a safe Saturday night slot.
In an era where more and more comedians were resorting to swear words and body function jokes to get laughs, 'A.S.O.T.' stood out like a sore thumb. It was funny without being offensive. Not to everyone's taste perhaps, but an enjoyable series all the same.
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