Yes, Prime Minister: Season 2, Episode 8

The Tangled Web (28 Jan. 1988)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy
8.5
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 65 users  
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The Prime Minister finds himself in a bit of a pickle when he flatly denies in the House that the government has bugged MP's telephones. It turns out the government was and Sir Humphrey was... See full summary »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Paul Eddington ...
...
Derek Fowlds ...
Ludovic Kennedy ...
Himself
Geoffrey Drew ...
Radio 3 Producer
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Storyline

The Prime Minister finds himself in a bit of a pickle when he flatly denies in the House that the government has bugged MP's telephones. It turns out the government was and Sir Humphrey was aware of it. The PM wants Sir Humphrey to back him, but he refuses to participate in a cover-up. The shoe is on the other foot however when Sir Humphrey makes unwise comments to a radio interviewer thinking that the tape recorder has been turned off. The PM agrees to help him, for a price. Written by garykmcd

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Comedy

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28 January 1988 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Last show of the series. See more »

Goofs

Bernard Wooley retrieves from BBC the tape that incriminated Sir Humphrey Appleby and tells the Prime Minister that he was at Oxford with the producer. Bernard is actually a Cambridge man as revealed by several previous episodes in both YM and YPM. See more »

Quotes

James Hacker: But it wasn't my fault. I didn't know he was being bugged.
Bernard Woolley: Prime Minister, you are deemed to have known. You are ultimately responsible.
James Hacker: Why wasn't I told?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: The Home Secretary might not have felt the need to infrom you.
James Hacker: Why?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Perhaps he didn't know either. Or perhaps he'd been advised that you did not need to know.
James Hacker: Well I did need to know.
Bernard Woolley: Apparently the fact that you needed to know was not known at the time that the now known need to know was known, and therefore those that needed to advise and ...
[...]
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User Reviews

Season 2: Still funny but broader and less sharp than previous outings
23 June 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The second season of Yes Prime Minister was something I was looking forward to watching again for the first time in many years, mainly because the first season had been so good. The cynical plots that led into one another were full of as many barbs as they were broad laughs and the characters were sharply observed and delivered. With this as its base the second (and last) season has much to enjoy but yet falls short of those that have gone before. Part of the problem is that the popularity of the show which had built since Yes, Minister and the love of the characters has meant that the comedy has become much more broad and based on the enjoyment of the characters rather than the cynical plots.

This to me is what happened here because the characters seem to be to the foreground more than ever and they also seem to have been written and played much broader than before. The plots are written in service of this because more often than not there is not great satire at the core of the plots so much as there is the effort to get the characters to play off each other the way the audience love. This is the wrong way round for me because the satirical edge was always the most important thing because, even where the comedy became more accessible, it was this that gave it the winning margin and made it much sharper. It is still funny because these characters are funny, but it loses something for having its teeth dulled.

The cast enjoy themselves and, in their fifth season with these characters, clearly feel comfortable – although at times too comfortable. The broad material hurts their performances at times and there is the odd occasion where they mug it up more than they have before. I still liked them, but they had been better. The cast isn't helped by the addition of side-characters which, although devices mostly required in the plots, they are a distraction from the main event which is the trio of characters at the core of the show.

Season 2 is still very funny and it is still a great piece of comedy but it is weaker than what the show had done before. Accessibility because too broad and the characters become the focus more than the satire. Still entertaining and enjoyable but it loses a lot by how less sharp it is compared to previous seasons.


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