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When the sixties were about to segue into the seventies, every Dutch household that owned a television set stayed home one Friday a month to watch comedy/musical "'t Schaep Met De 5 Pooten", a series who's legend can never be tarnished thanks to the fact that every episode was wiped and lost forever. Only a compilation of the songs (which have remained popular) survives. Having already made a movie version of that similarly fated sixties icon, "Ja Zuster, Nee Zuster", writer Frank Houtappels and star Loes Luca decided to take the original scripts by Eli Asser, add a couple of touches of their own and lo and behold, 't Schaep is become a hit once more, drawing an average of 1.6 million viewers over the course of 8 weeks. Not an easy task, now facing 10 competing Dutch channels as opposed to one in '69.
Set in an Amsterdam pub by name of 't Schaep Met De 5 Pooten, the program follows owner Kootje de Beer (Pierre Bokma), barman Lukas Blijschap (Marc-Marie Huijbregts) and the laundry lady from across the street, Tante Door Lefèvre (Loes Luca). Of course most of the press focused on Georgina Verbaan, the only regular cast member a decade too young to have seen the original, supporting as sex bomb Lena Braams. Comparisons to the original cast are inevitable, especially since none of the new players are native Amsterdammers. Marc-Marie Huijbregts in particular failed to grasp the local accent and was allowed to speak his own Southern brogue. However, he was soon forgiven for being such a good match for the late Leen Jongewaard. The original 'Tante Door', Adéle Bloemendaal, appeared as one of the many guest stars (a cameo, really) but grumpy old Piet Römer, who used to be so young and strong playing Kootje, was apparently less enthusiastic about noted character actor Pierre Bokma playing his old part. On the other hand, Römer did acknowledge the fact that Shakespeare's plays are performed and updated time and again, so why not Eli Asser's?
Thankfully, they did not update it to modern times and if they did 'reimagine' things, people won't be able to compare the new series to the old anyway. There was a need for more interesting female characters, though, so Houtappels made the character of Opoe Withof a regular (she only appeared in one episode originally). This also meant they could add at least one Amsterdam native in the cast, Carry Tefsen. Also, both of the barfly characters (played by screenwriter Ton Kas and Laus Steenbeke, Luca's pal from "Het Klokhuis") now both had a wife thrown into the mix ('Meisje met de Blauwe Hoed' Jenny Arean and comedienne Bianca Krijgsman).
The original songs (three per episode) have lost none of their charm, though why they had to put a reggae beat on probably the best known number, "Het Zal Je Kind Maar Wezen" (the one featuring the cameo by Adele), beats me. Also, whereas the original series was shot like a stage play, this version features snappy editing and 'dream sequence' musical numbers, the kind made popular in 'Chicago' and the aforementioned 'Ja Zuster, Nee Zuster' movie. An entire street was build on a sound stage featuring the café on one side and the laundrette on the other, with living quarters directly above both of them.
Despite the original series winning the Televizier Ring in 1970, production on a second series fell through when up and coming producer Joop van den Ende tried to snatch Eli Asser to a competing broadcaster. This means there are no more than 8 episodes to remake. That is until they decide to do the semi-sequel "Citroentje Met Suiker". It's true that Eli Asser is still around to write new scripts and lyrics, but without Hoofd Geitenbreier Harrie Bannink composing the music, it would not be the same. Still, if they ever decide to film new versions of Harrie Geelen's "Kunt U Mij De Weg Naar Hamelen Vertellen, Meneer?", let's hope Marc-Marie is available to take a crack at Leen Jongewaard again.
8 out of 10
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