Sunday, May 18, 2008

“Drink your coffee.”

I’ll say this much for Georgia Public Broadcasting: you sort of have to keep a close eye on them because sometimes they’ll surprise you and shake up their Saturday night viewing schedule…if only a tad. They’ve removed the Judi Dench-Michael Williams Britcom A Fine Romance (1981-84; a show so boring even my mother hated it…and she’s quite the Dench fan) and replaced it with one of my very favorite Britcoms, Last of the Summer Wine. I’ve talked about Wine on the blog in the past, noting that while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea (no pun intended) I’ve fallen for its irresistible quirky charm. The great thing about this new (well, new to me anyway) run of Wine is that they’ve started with Series 20 (1999), allowing me to get a glimpse of Frank Thornton’s Herbert “Truly” Truelove (Truly of the Yard!), the retired police detective who replaced Brian Wilde’s ex-military codger Walter “Foggy” Dewhurst.

Still, I must confess that I’m also saddened in a way because if GPB follows this with Series 21 that means “Just a Small Funeral”—the farewell to William “Compo” Simmonite, played by Bill Owen—will be in the rotation and I’m certain to have a moistness in the eyes during that episode. (I’ve only seen a few clips of it, spotlighted in the 2003 documentary 30 Years of “Last of the Summer Wine” which is available on the Region 1 DVD Last of the Summer Wine: Vintage 1995.) I have to say, I’m both puzzled and encouraged by the fact that Warner Home Video has been releasing several series of Wine to Region 1; in addition to Last of the Summer Wine: Vintage 1976, released this past March, a new collection (Vintage 1977) is scheduled to hit stores in September, according to TVShowsOnDVD.com.

The other nice surprise that I discovered on GPB is that they’ve been showcasing some classic outings of The Jack Benny Program at 11:00pm—many of which have been culled from Jack’s weekly series that ran from 1960-65. Two weeks ago, they showed one of the funniest episodes, “Jack and Bob Hope in Vaudeville” (12/04/62)—and while I knew the punch lines to most of the jokes (the show had been done previously on February 24, 1957—and for that telecast Benny’s writers dusted off a radio script from 01/15/50 that “tells” how Jack and Fred Allen met) watching Jack and Bob perform together (and Hope cracking Benny up with his ad-libs) was like a hot fudge sundae. My favorite exchange: Jack tells secretary Iris Adrian who he and Hope are, asking: “Don’t you recognize us?” Adrian’s acerbic reply: “Why, is there a reward?

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