|Index||8 reviews in total|
I was quite surprised to come on here and see bad reviews... but I
guess if you watch this program expecting it to be a thoughtful satire
of Dickens then you might be a little disappointed. This program is, in
a word, silly- and it is fantastic at being silly! Someone mentioned
that it has the 'usual suspects' of the Beeb getting together-
something they saw as a bad thing. Now, I am a fan of Mitchell, Webb,
Fry etc, but putting that aside- this program seemed to me like a group
of people getting together and having a laugh. So yes, the actors seem
to be typecast... but they're playing the roles they love to play.
I don't think they were trying to be clever or make a new classic, they're just having fun. There are lots of shout-outs to Dickens (and our modern conceptions/interpretations of Dickens- Mitchell's character literally swelling with joy being a good example).
No, there's not much substance. There's a hearty nod to the Dickensian plot, a liberal smattering of caricatures and a mob of cannibalistic urchins. There are false moustaches and clockwork hats. There are silly ideas, and clever ideas (the three clocks).
Don't watch this expecting a serious film. Get some popcorn, relax and enjoy an hour of pastiche. You'll get to see Webb in a leading role, and you can play 'spot the comedian' with the supporting cast. Stephen Fry makes a fun villain with a stunning selection of hats. Robert Webb gets cooked with onions and arrested for not being manly. Parkinson gets addicted to treacle. Watch it, you'll enjoy it. ;)
I don't know if it's just the vast wasteland of American TV that makes my opinion so different from the last two reviewers, but I thought this was pretty gently funny and fairly clever. The cgi effects were lovely, the actors may be old hat to the Brits, but are delightful for those of us across the pond to watch. And I just love Stephen Fry. I found it family entertainment for anyone whose kids have passed 9th grade English. It was a lot like the recent Terry Pratchett specials (Color of Magic and Hogfather). Not hilarious, not award- winning writing, but an enjoyable effort, and well worth a cup of hot chocolate and a few laughs.
I thought it a smashing success in so far as it managed to uncover our expectations towards these oldy-timey-feely Christmas programs and build up a not-altogether-unpleasant-to-the-eye caricature or formula of the whole business. In our silly and trusting ways, we incline towards taking that, which is portrayed in a more serious manner, as trustworthy representation of actual fact, or indeed merely more likely to convey 'the way it really-really was', the selling of dodo-crisps or what have you is perfect in so far as it exposes the core of the genre (and of the entire medium, while we're on the subject) as something that is wholly constructed and artificial. One wasn't 'sucked in' as with films that are more tightly woven, but the characters, albeit superficial, were still entirely charming on an as-is basis and as the unnaturalness disturbed the viewer, it also set off a thought process thereby also including the them, which is something that these mini-holidays usually don't succeed in doing. So nods to Messrs Mitchell, Webb and Fry.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A tutor - Miss Tightclench tells her pupil's mother; "She will be
starched to rigidity!". If like me, you find this clever and amusing
then you will enjoy The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff. If you don't, then you
I loved the referencing, the visual imagery, the casting to a man, I found the diction especially enjoyable - I've never read any Dickens but if the general opinion that this is a nod to him is anything to go by, I am sorely tempted.
My only criticism would be that the writers held back a little, maybe thinking their comedy wasn't mainstream enough. If they make any more then hopefully they will really let rip!
Joyfully disregarding the lowest common denominator. Give me more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was at first not sure whether I would want to watch this, but at the same time it had a great cast, and I heard that it wasn't based on any one particular story from the famous writer, so I did eventually watch it. Basically this is a spoof of many of the stories from the famous Victorian period writer Charles Dickens, taking bits and pieces from his finest and most revered works, and turning it on its head, the title drawing on Bleak House and The Old Curiosity Shop. Basically Jedrington Secret-Past (Robert Webb) is the owner of The Old Shop of Stuff, selling random knickknacks and things you won't find anywhere else, and he has a happy life with his family, wife Conceptiva (The IT Crowd's Katherine Parkinson) and their children Victor (Finley Christie) and Victoria (Ambra Lily Keegan). However their happiness is to be taken away from the by lawyer Skulkingworm (Stephen Fry), who is apparently representing a client, and Jedrington owes lots in debts that he inherited from missing relatives. Looking unable to pay this debt, and his children and wife taken away from him as his property, Jedrington tries to find a way to raise the money he badly needs. The children are being watched upon by Jolliforth Jollington (David Mitchell), who despite working for the villain is willing to help the children, he also has the habit to swell thinking happy things, but deflate when depressed. Conceptiva is being indulged into the overpowering taste of treacle and binging on it thanks to the persuasive and fiendish crone Maggoty (Father Ted's Pauline McLynn). Jedrington does get some help in the form of pickpockets and street living people, like The Artful Codger (Johnny Vegas), and he eventually finds out that he is owed a fortune, being the long lost son of never married Miss Christmasham (Celia Imrie), separated from husband to be Martin Christmasham (Terrence Hardiman). So Skulkington has his plan foiled by the marriage, and Jedrington is able to buy back his shop and his family and all things in general can return to the way they were before. Also starring Joshua McGuire as Fearshiver, Richard Johnson as Uncle Writes Prompt Thank You Cards, Worzel Gummidge's Una Stubbs as Aunt Good Spelling, Judy Parfitt as Aunt Chastity, Phyllida Law as Aunt Sobriety, Calum MacPherson as Lumbering Geoff, Jude Wright as Archie and Dave Lamb as Ghost of Christmas Past. Webb is fantastic as the upbeat but downtrodden everyman, Fry is good as a mean money grabbing and bully like villain, and other cast members do really well also. It is knowingly silly, it reminds you of the stupidity of characters in films like Airplane! You can definitely recognise the obvious references to the best Dickens tales as well, such as The Old Curiosity Shop, Bleak House, David Copperfield, (The Life and Adventures of) Martin Chuzzlewit, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol, it was broadcast at Christmas, quite appropriately, it is something all the family can enjoy, if you like old fashioned costume period programmes, or a mock up of them, then this is a fine choice, a funny Dickensian style comedy. Very good!
1. Think of a wacky and innovative new idea for a sitcom based in
Victorian England. 2. Knock together 6 half hour long scripts
containing witty dialogue which can instigate genuine reactions of
laughter from an audience. 3. Assemble a cast of experienced successful
comedians and comedy actors and some new faces. 4. Hand them scripts
and ask them to act out the scenes in full costume.
Sounds like a perfect plan.
Until you watch the show and realise that the Emperor has no clothes.
Will it improve and become more coherent as the episodes accumulate? One can only hope so.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Absolute stinker of a supposed what? Comedy, spoof, homage, tribute. If so it failed on all accounts. Great idea, great cast. What went wrong? What on earth possessed any of these actors to get involved in such dross. Totally lame jokes, wild over-acting by Robert Webb. An old 60's episode of Coronation St would look more Dickensian than this. It seemed like a load of "luvvies" got together and decided to make a meaningful Dickens program. "A Muppet Christmas Carol" is more authentic, and that is funny and has great tunes to boot. Lamest joke has to be the bag of sheep dung, and that is about the highest level of wit on show. Apparently there are supposed to be more on the way. God help us.
Normally I'm a great fan of surreal humour, but someone please tell
Mitchell and Webb that they're not funny, and that Stephen Fry always
plays himself (at least not since Jeeves and Wooster). This was mostly
a bunch of random, and not very funny lines strung together.
Oh, and it's riddled with cheap CGI too.
This was a great opportunity for sending up Dickens, but it went down like a lead balloon. I watched "Rev" and "Life's Too Short" not long afterwards - and was stunned by the contrast in writing, acting etc. This programme was written and acted by people who are incredibly self- satisfied, and think they're cleverer and funnier than they actually are.
All the usual suspects turn up on this programme - you know the ones always on QI, Have I got News for You, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Mock the Week. All of these shows are quite good, but you have to ask exactly why the BBC is hiring these same folk repeatedly, or using the same production companies/agencies. Bit of a closed shop really.
I give this show two stars for one reason, Johnny Vegas is its saving grace as the Artful Codger. Definitely one to avoid...
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