Black Books (TV Series 2000–2004) Poster

(2000–2004)

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Pessimistic, Sarcastic, Ironic & witty!
kerry-coupe19 August 2004
I totally disagree with the other review. Black Books couldn't be funnier. It's one of a kind that takes on board other people's sense of humour, instead of sticking to the same dull and predictable jokes of programmes like Friends and Will & Grace. To say that it tries too hard to be funny, is unfeasible! Some of its most clever jokes almost go unnoticed, and without the aid of canned laughter! Whilst I am a fan of both, when I saw Black Books, I loved it! It's easy to empathise with the pessimistic Bernard, particularly if you're a similar type of person and to sympathies with the gradually stupider Manny. Everyone knows a Bernard or a Manny in their lives, which makes Black Books hilarious! Watch it!
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10/10
"Whores will have their trinkets"
nichkeiy7 March 2003
How could the owner of a book shop who says "Enjoy. It's dreadful but it's quite short" not be anything short of hilarious. This is so funny, every line is funny. No boring minutes, no fake action, just plain comedy in a style i find very appealing. Crazily funny lines like "Is space hot?" "Of course it is, where else do you think we get pineapples from?" are acted so perfectly making it spectacularly entertaining. A must see. My favorite show for sure.
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"Which one of you bitches wants to dance?"
OrigamiDoug7 June 2002
I see I'm the first American to write a review of this show, so I'll try to do a good job at representing my country. Quite simply, Black Books is the funniest show I've seen in years, if not the funniest I've ever seen. When I heard Bernard spout the line above to a group of skinheads outside his bookshop, I laughed so hard that I missed the rest of the scene. Thanks to Comedy Central for airing the first series of this show (and the second coming up in August), for I would probably have never seen it if they had not. Most British sitcoms (Britcoms?) I've seen have been funny, but I usually forget about them rather quick (probably due to the cultural differences) but Black Books stuck with me so much that I was forced to buy a bootleg VHS of the first series. Luckily, the tapes included the outtakes and running commentary for each episode on a separate tape so I wouldn't have to buy a region-free DVD player to see them (which I probably would have done!). I fear that I'm rambling now, so I'll just conclude by saying that if you have not seen this great series, then see it!
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Black Books proves that the UK is still the best breeding ground for humoristic series
Philip Van der Veken11 November 2004
I always have been a big fan of Fawlty Towers, Father Ted and Blackadder. So when I knew about this series, I just had to see it. Now that I have seen it, there is only one thing I can say about it: Black books is absolutely great and hilarious. It proves that the UK is still the best breeding ground for humoristic series.

Bernard Black - an anti-social, boozing and smoking sarcastic pessimist - runs his own book store. He doesn't like people who buy books and hates his customers. He has one employee: Manny. Manny looks more like a bum, never stands up for himself when he is the target of Bernard's sarcasm and is always full of stress. Next door to Bernard's shop is the Nifty Gifty gift shop run by Fran, probably the only friend Bernard has.

The humor is perhaps not to everybody's taste. I guess not everybody will understand and appreciate the sarcasm and surrealism in this series, but I loved it. I would give this series a 10/10 if we could vote on it.
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Funniest show ever
Satinewannabe17 April 2003
"Black Books" is hysterical and one can easily watch each episode over and over and over again and laugh just as hard. All the actors are very authentic which makes it so funny. If you haven't seen it, try to. Otherwise you're really missing out.
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"Leave town with an orange and pretend you're laughing at it"
marnie.davidson8 December 2002
It's a crime in my opinion that each season is only six episodes long. Then again I suppose I'm used to American sitcoms and their 'spew out 22 episodes and they'll lap it up' method. Limiting it to just six episodes makes the comedy concentrated and instead of having a few good moments in an episode, the whole episode is memorable.

In real life Bernard Black (Dylan Moran) the owner of his own book shop would be horrible. He'd be hated the world over, but in this natty little sitcom he's thigh-slapping hilarious. Most of the time Manny (Bill Bailey) doesn't need to say anything, his facial expressions are enough to have you rolling on the floor with tears of laughter. I once saw Bill Bailey doing stand up and thought he was great so I'm pleased to see him in something like this. Fran (Tamsin Grieg) is almost the straight man of the group. She's not as cranky as Bernard and she's not as out there as Manny, she's a nice blend. The episode in which she did yoga and declared she was 'so relaxed you could pour me into a bowl' was a definite highlight.

As a reviewer said before - the more you watch it the funnier it gets! My friend and I regularly have email conversations during the day just consisting of Black Books quotes and who can remember the funniest ones! A little obsessive I'll admit, but the show deserves such a following!
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"I ate all your bees!"
Roisin Moriarty15 April 2002
That's just one of the many classically surreal lines from the brilliant "Black Books". In fact, there are so many more that practically every other line is another bizarre comment that'll have you giggling into your dry white wine (as long as it's not Chardonnay). From the first episode of the first series (Bernard mincing up to a bunch of thuggish looking Millwall supporters and asking "Which one of you bitches wants to dance?") to the last episode of the second series (a restaurant where they have no vegetables and all the meat dishes are served up complete with little tombstones), "Black Books" deals in the sort of off-kilter humour that frequently defies any kind of logic and always manages to be unfailingly hilarious.

If you can, get hold of the DVD of the first series. Apart from the wonderful out-takes, there's also a running commentary from all three of the excellent actors involved. Their insights into the series will make you appreciate this unique show all the more.
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Superb, where's the next series?
Haruman-213 October 2003
The funniest thing on British TV since Father Ted. The dialogue is wonderfully clever, the bohemian irascibility of Dylan Moran is judged to perfection, and the addition of musical comedian and bearded surrealist Bill Bailey is a touch of genius. Give us more!
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Clever, funny and imaginative - eat your heart out Friends!
bob the moo18 January 2002
Bernard Black runs his own bookshop even though he doesn't much like people who buy books and hates having customers. Next door to Bernard's shop is the Nifty Gifty gift shop run by Fran, probably Bernard's only friend in the world. When Bernard's accountant goes on the run Bernard employs stress victim, Manny to help in his shop. This leads to a series of surreal adventures around the shop.

This series (soon to return for a second series!) was poorly promoted by channel 4 (usually so good at getting great little comedies recognised - Spaced, Father Ted etc), and didn't get seen by anywhere near the audience it deserved. The storylines are always pretty wild - Manny absorbing the Little Book of Calm into his system in the first show - and never set in reality, ever. However they are never stupid because they are so wildly funny! The surreal adventures of Bernard and Manny are excellent - full of movie references, full of great dialogue and surreal action. As a sitcom it just sparkles with ideas, energy and imagination - for the first showing Ch 4 had it following Friends and it totally showed Friends up to be mass-produced, thoughtless entertainment. Sure, BB doesn't have the gloss of Friends and can feel a bit rough round the edges but you can't beat the fact that it feels fresh and new compared to all that gloss.

The chemistry between Bernard and Manny is great - even if their dialogue is mad at times. Bill Bailey is very funny doing stand-up and here he is really suited to Manny. Moran as Bernard is also great as the abusive drunk Irishman and is just so manically funny - not manic like Phoebe in Friends but manic like Jack in Father Ted. Tamsin Greig is also good as Fran, despite being a smaller character.

Overall this is a flagship for all that is good about channel 4 comedies - British, clever, imaginative, daring and very funny. Well done channel 4!
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You can find work and sort out your life at any time. The pub closes in five hours
TheNorthernMonkee4 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS We've all been there. Some dank and gloomy book shop in the outskirts of London with an owner you can describe as "that miserable Irish b**tard". Obviously so has comedian Dylan Moran. An award winning comedian, Moran made his television debut in 1999's "How Do You Want Me?", but it would be this hilarious series in 2000 which would get him the most attention. At three series and 18 episodes long, "Black Books" is often hilarious. Dropping in standard slightly during it's second series, the show will be remembered for some killer lines in it's first and final runs. Welcome, to "Black Books".

Manny Bianco (Bill Bailey) is a kind hearted accountant with a stress problem. After accidentally swallowing 'The Little Book of Calm', Manny wanders aimlessly into a London book shop. Meeting eccentric, miserable Bernard L Black (Moran), Manny begins a new and infinitely more torturous life. Teaming up with Bernard's old friend Fran Katzenjammer (Tamsin Greig), the two spend their days hanging around the shop, getting drunk and above all else, trying not to sell books.

From the first moments of the opening episode through to the last moment of season three, nothing prepares you for the wit and visual humour of this series. Often ridiculing the types of people you see on the street, Moran's series has always thrived on it's dark character.

Led by a brilliant performance by Moran himself, the series is well stocked with performances by British televisions finest sitcom comedians. Graham Linehan, Simon Pegg, Martin Freeman, David Walliams and Kevin Eldon, all wonderful comedians in their own rights, all make cameo appearances throughout the series. Ultimately though, we watch it to see how Manny will suffer next and how Bernand will respond to a perfectly harmless comment. Bernard L Black is an anti-hero of the finest calibre.

The series is self contained as well. A fan of "Fawlty Towers", Dylan Moran has suggested that the series would follow that route and finish on a high. So with no more episodes after the known 18, it's possible to examine "Black Books" as a completed article.

Every comedy series does have it's low points, and sadly "Black Books" is no exception. Just like the later series of "Red Dwarf" or the final few years of "Allo Allo", this wonderful comedy dropped a bit in it's standards during it's middle season. With a group of episodes that, while occasionally funny, were mostly badly thought out, the second series is a permanent blip on this masterful series.

Luckily for fans however, unlike those series which do get increasingly worse after a cut off point, Moran released a third series of "Black Books" which was admittedly different in tone to it's predecessors, but which is rejuvenated and fresh. Beginning with a masterful episode called "Manny Come Home", series three gets off to a brilliant start and rides the waves to an equally hilarious conclusion.

Overall, "Black Books" is mostly hilarious. With plots which dipped during the second series, it still managed to keep the humour throughout. This is mostly due to a masterful performance by Dylan Moran as the miserable and alcoholic Bernard L Black. Supported by excellent performances by Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig, Moran thrives in the dank and dirty world of "Black Books". Whether this series will last as long as other classic British comedy remains unknown, but for now it's absolutely wonderful.
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9/10
Very Funny
rava-130 May 2006
I just rented the Black Books series on DVD, knowing nothing at all about it. By the third episode, I had to rewind because I was laughing so hard I actually missed the rest of the scene. Tonight, I will tie my room mate to a chair and force her to become a fan as well. I would say the show is more for people who enjoyed Absolutely Fabulous and The Young Ones than fans of shows like Are You Being Served? It has a great deal of energy and runs off in many directions at once.

Black Books is a bizarre mix of comedic styles, but the whole thing somehow manages to work together. All three main characters have great chemistry and that is probably the real secret. From the commentary and outtakes on the DVDs, they seem to really have fun being silly together.

Black Books is a great deal of fun and well-worth renting. Here's hoping that this comedic team keeps on creating work of this caliber.
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10/10
best TV show of all time!!
biglogan1 December 2006
I discovered this show quite by accident while checking out "Father Ted". a website rated them in the same "top 10 britcoms". I love father Ted, i Love Monty Python, Are you being served, Black Adder, all the classic britcoms, but this one is by far the best. The Brits make the best TV in the world and this is, in my opinion, their penultimate achievement. The cast is perfect and work incredibly well together, their chemistry and timing is impeccable. the sets, while limited are so perfectly lit and dressed you almost feel like you're in the shop. And, of course, the writing is genius, i cant think of a better way of putting i (not being a writer myself of course), its just genius. I am continuously amazed at how the British can make hilarious and entertaining television on a limited budget with a very small cast and a single set (maybe two), compared to American sitcoms that have huge budgets, ridiculous casts, expansive sets, and still manage to be barely giggle worthy. If you don't like the dry British humor then don't bother, but if you're what I like call "inteligent and worth talking to" then you will love this show, and be doing yourself a great disservice by not checking it out. Enjoy!
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I laughed so hard I missed bits!
Chris10057510 March 2004
I was introduced to Black Books by my father-in-law who knew I liked Bill Bailey. I watched the whole first series in one sitting and ordered the DVD this morning!

This is one of the funniest shows I've seen in a long time, and, in my opinion, ranks alongside Spaced. The humour is brilliantly surreal, the first episode featuring Bernard picking a fight with a group of skinheads to avoid filling out his tax returns "Which one of you bitches wants to dance?", and Manny accidentally swallowing and absorbing "The Little Book of Calm". This leaves him wandering the streets in a peaced-out fugue, wearing a hospital gown and sandals.

It's only a shame I missed the first two series when they were broadcast, as the third series is about to start and I've not seen the second.
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10/10
Black Book's is a true fall-out-of-your-chair-laughing show
jap_baker29 May 2002
Believe me, I have done that more than once while watching it (even re-runs), and I've been given funny look's by people who see me laughing at it.

The cast is grate, the character superb and the script is first rate. Going from satire to insane in the time it take to drink bottle (or ten) of wine.

I for one can put up with a few more series of this.
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9/10
An odd, yet amazingly hilarious, comedy show
ImminentOwl21 July 2013
STORY

The storyline found within Black Books is fairly straight forward, following the lives of three characters: Bernard Black, an alcoholic, short-tempered bookstore owner (the bookshop in question being the show's title, Black Books), Manny, his employee/slave and Fran, a friend of Bernard's that regularly hangs out with them. The show follows of life of Bernard's book-shop, with the series almost exclusively set within or around the bookshop. The various plots revolve around the idea that Bernard is, for all intents and purposes, a cranky alcoholic bastard that treats his only employee, Manny, terribly and expects him to wait on him hand and foot. The group go through life trying to be cool and trying to succeed and this leads to quite a few funny situations.

ACTING

The acting is just superb, in fact after watching this it would be difficult to see Dylan Moran (who plays Bernard) in any other role than a cranky, alcoholic bookshop owner. Bill Bailey's portrayal of Manny is equally amazing, with neither actor breaking character for even a second. The third key character (and, indeed, the only time another character is ever seen they are around for one episode and vanish, giving the whole show the entire focus on just the key characters), that of Fran, is equally played well, though the character herself is not quite as interesting, as such she often comes off as somewhat of a less significant character than the two men.

HUMOUR

The humour found within Black Books is, at times, very odd. In fact, unless you can laugh at the mistreatment of a character to the extent of Manny's suffering or find the constant and never-ending failure of their lives entertaining then you may not find much to laugh about in this show. The main focus on the humour is rather downtrodden, there is rarely any success of joy found in the show and even when there it is inevitably leads to even greater failure. However this is also compelling and actually makes for great comedy, despite how absolutely dull it may seem.

OVERALL

If you are somewhat on the fence about this show then I'd highly suggest watching an episode or two, regardless of in which order as nothing really progresses in an overall sense. The humour can be rather bizarre at times and the overall feeling is that life is depressing, but it somehow combines to make an almost charming comedy about a grumpy bookshop owner and a lively, eager assistant. There is never a moment that feels forced and even when the humour doesn't work it still adds something. I highly recommend this, there is almost no reason not to at least give it a try!

RATING: 9/10- An almost must watch for fans of British comedy.
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Awesome show!
sstricklerr8 October 2004
A couple years back I saw this show on Comedy Central. I laughed my ass off at the show. Just as soon as it aired, it was gone. We didn't get any other seasons. I never forgot the show and wanted to get the DVDs for it but never went out of my way to resolve the DVD's Region 2 setting. I finally bit the bullet and pre-ordered the 3-disc set that JUST came out. I got it in the mail last night and proceeded to watch the whole first season plus the first episode of season 2. With the weak US dollar, 28.5 GBP was a bit steep, but worth it now that I have the DVDs. I was worried after not seeing the show for so long that I had built up the show too much, but I was relieved as soon as I was laughing hysterically at the antics on the show. Absolutely hilarious show and the 3-disc Black Books DVD set is an awesome addition to my DVD collection. HIGHLY recommended.
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10/10
Outstanding British comedy
tr918 August 2014
Black Books is another fine example of just how good British comedy can be. This sitcom is set in a book shop and has 3 main characters. Bernard who is the owner, he is very sarcastic and doesn't like having customers in the shop; he will do anything possible to get rid of them. Then there is his assistant Manny who will do what ever Bernard says. Lastly there is Fran who is always drinking wine and trying to find a relationship.

These 3 characters all compliment each other well and provide the audience with plenty of laughs. Some of the stuff they go through is hilarious as well as something that most can relate to. I would say it's a mix between Bottom and The IT Crowd.

The 1st and 2nd series where extremely funny and it felt like it was a laugh a minute. The 3rd series was also very good apart from 1 or 2 episodes which didn't quite hit the spot for the entire episode. One of my favourite scenes is Manny making toast in the bath! Overall it is a great comedy series with 3 lovable characters who all add something to the show. You can buy all 3 series on DVD for a cheap price so I would highly recommend.

10/10.
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A near to perfect as a sit-com can be
coolrex1624 February 2006
Everything about this show, the writing, cast and the plots are nothing but gold. The sight gags are second to none, mainly in a well done slapstick way between Bernard and Manny. The manic and neurotic Fran co-stars well also. Every episode from all three series are very re-watchable and never get old. It plays, basically like one of Dylan Moran stand-up performances (which is by no means a bad thing.) Consistently funny and overall just well made. It's easily one of channel 4's best shown er....shows. The writers of Father Ted have done them selves proud here, with a dash of Moran added, it's pure perfection.
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Please, Please, Please
ich_bin_rivithead11 October 2005
When are they going to release Black Books in America! 10 lines of text...I might as well sit on my balls. This is one of the best British comedies since Black Adder, The Young Ones, Monty Python, and AbFab. To not Release this in America would be a crime! Giggity Giggity Giggity. Am I at ten lines yet? Ohh well, I was able to see this show on BBC America. But, they do not play it often. I was not able to record them. I need then on DVD in the worst way. The actors are a credit to situation comedy. Unlike Seinfeld (which did to TV what Jonestown did for Cool-Aid) it is both funny and original. I am at an age where holding your breath till you turn blue doesn't work. So could ya help me out and let me know when they are going to release this incredible show.
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9/10
Funny-plus...
poe42610 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Been there, done that (for three months, anyway). Lost money hand over fist, though I must admit I wasn't trying to. Book stores can be very funny places (think about it this way: you're dealing with people who actually read books, who exercise their brains on a regular basis- as opposed to people whose sole source of enlightenment is a glowing box that they sit and stare at for hours on end) (a glowing box whose images and alleged story lines are crummy Canadian knockoffs). BLACK BOOKS was a breath of fresh air... while it lasted. Unfortunately, like most teevee worth watching, it didn't last long enough. Maybe it's just as well: had it lasted, I would've spent even more time slouched down on the couch, staring unblinkingly into that bright, pulsating light...
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Just brilliant. Hilarious. Buy it on DVD now.
freeform924 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is so bloody good. I was first introduced to it by my older cousin and I now have every series. I'm only 13 so I didn't watch it on Channel 4. It is the best comedy I have ever seen. In my school drama group we did the first episode (Cooking the Books) and I played Bernard so I can quote that whole episode (or Bernards lines at least). Anyway, the characters in this are great.

There's Bernard Black, the owner of a small bookshop in London, a grumpy irish man who loves to drink, smoke and complain about life. He hates customers and his only contact with the world outside is his best friend, Fran Katzenjammer who owns Nifty Gifty, the shop next door (at least, for the first series). Finally there is Manny, Bernards accountant/assistant. He cooks, cleans and does about everything else for Bernard. He is usually happy but is sometimes quite immature (cutting his toast into soldiers and putting them into rank!).

Black Books, aired on Channel 4 (as far as I know) in 2000, followed their hilarious, drunken and stupid adventures in and outside Bernard'd shop. Brilliant.
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Funny quotes
xxcinnamon_spiderxx14 September 2005
My favourite quotes, one from each character that I can think of... Bernard..."Who are you?" A man replies..."I'm a customer" Bernard..."oh yeah"

Manny..."This is lonely soldier.....my co-ordinates are...bookshop!"

Fran..."I do sell a lot of w*** don't I?"

The book-lover...."Hello.....I'd like to buy a book" Bernard..."What book?" The book-lover..."I dunno....I'm just in the mood to buy a book"

Manny..."What's that you're eating?" Bernard..."It's some kind of.. delicious biscuit" Manny..."It's a coaster!" Bernard..."What?!?....Are there any more?"
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The Prohibitive Standards of Hygiene... And All That Dancing!
je010b37833 May 2003
This must be the funniest show on Television. I did not see all the episodes sadly enough, but am looking out for the Videos of both series.

We did manage to tape 2 episodes, and despite the poor quality of the tapes that the kids used to record them, we (me and the older kids) watch them about twice a week!

The 13 year old can imitate Bernard uncannily, and when I am grumpy, he just needs to 'do' the above quote and I fall about laughing.

I hope it comes back for a third run. I saw Dylan Moran at the Edinburgh Festival a few years ago and fell about at his 'stand up' act.

I love Bill Bailey with his innocent look and his flowing hair. And Fran's little cameo pieces are wonderful. By the way, she plays Debbie in 'The Archers' She plays a very different sort of character!

Jean
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2nd series slow to get going.
Andrew Moore9 April 2002
It was welcome to see the return of Black Books. At least the second series got a little bit more hype (due to the BAFTA win). However it's been a little slow to get back on its feet. The first thing of note is that Graham Linehan is no longer writing, Dylan Moran taking the whole task on his own which I think may have contributed to the slowness of pace of the beginning of series 2 as he had to get upto speed on all the characters. But after saying all that, when the 2nd series did hit its stride it did so very well. 'Blood' is THE episode of series 2. I'm not saying that the earlier episodes in the series were without their good points- Manny in the piano with the spoons, the comfy sofa "consuming" a child and what is 'Dave's Syndrome'???

Further good news, series 1 is now out on DVD and video and also a third series has been green-lighted.
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