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on June 9, 2007
If I could scream from the top of the tallest Virginia mountain and have others hear me, I would. I would scream my heart out if only those sitting in New York comfy chairs would acknowledge the fact that the BBC continually, at times without effort, creates amazing television series with what seems like the least amount of effort. With the new shows coming out on American television lately we either need to have big budgets coupled with big explosions or special effects, big names to topple the ratings, or convoluted plots that keep us guessing till the very ending and still give us nothing - alas, the BBC continues to prove that theory wrong. Using a small set, justified plots, and big names - but combined efforts, the group from across the pond continues to impress me. This time, it was with a small, probably unheard dramedy, entitled, "Clatterford".

Inspired by the same minds that brought us "Ab Fab" and the team of French and Saunders tone it down a bit and bring the country into your own living room. With a subdued beginning episode that may bring a tear to your eye, it also brings us closer to this small town residence - half "Vicar of Dibly" half "Northern Exposure" and part "Gilmore Girls" lifestyle. What drew me into this show were the individual stories, the powerfully exemplified characters, and the simplicity of each episode. You don't go into "Clatterford" expecting Jack Bauer to pop out behind these ladies, which is a whole new level of watching television. "Clatterford" uses lackluster technology, beautiful scenery, and female swagger to tell a story that can be relatable to anyone, even if you live in a big city surrounding. I should mention, that isn't a show for your average male. Not that I am being negative about this, but the female to male ratio in this program is low - this isn't "24" hours in the life of a village, this is reaction vs. consequences coupled by togetherness. Sounding odd? These shouldn't seem like random encounters. This is about a village sustaining what we, as Americans, have forgotten about - our own people. The village in "Clatterford", albeit focused quite a bit on the local church organization, but surprisingly worked together. There is one episode dedicated to showing how this little gathering supports the little village. These women may not encounter each other if it weren't for this little group - and it is the gatherings and events that bring us, the audience, as well as these pivotal ladies together.

Oh, and did I mention this show was not just sincere - but also very, very funny. While I had trouble laughing at Dawn French's character of Rosie (because she is mentally unstable), she provided a small slice of enjoyment as the rest of the cast equally contributed. Of course, there is one stand out - which is the the central focus of some episodes, but it isn't overbearing. When I finished the series, I cared about each of the characters individually, which is hard to do with most modern American television series. Not to be negative about our television, but "Clatterford" far exceeds much of what I have seen here in the states. It is subtle, not everyone will get the intelligent humor, and it is rich in character development - bringing together an entire village to capture our hearts.

Overall, I would have trouble suggesting this television series to everyone, because it can get depressing, it can get involved, and it can get emotional (sans the explosions), all without the help of beefy men. Sounds impossible doesn't it? I know most will not get the humor of this program, but for me "Clatterford" was a simple show, complex emotion, and well-rounded individuals that bring humanity to a new level. I loved it. I could watch this short series again (especially the episode with the Christmas Pantomime). I will support this show, alas, I just don't think it will see the audience that it needs to in America.

Sign me up for two whole cases of these ladies' jam.

Grade: ***** out of *****
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on March 12, 2007
I saw the English broadcast of this series and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a heartwarming view of small village life complete with all of the quirky types of characters you might expect. Think Calendar Girls, with its focus on the local Women's Institute (called the Women's Guild in Clatterford). I read one review that aptly compared it to Northern Exposure. The BBC has done the series as much harm as good by promoting it as "by the creator of Absolutely Fabulous," Jennifer Saunders. This is not AbFab and one shouldn't expect anything like that. But Jennifer Saunders continues to be a master at taking common events, situations, or conversations and embellishing them to the brink of absurdity. This series can provide plenty of smiles, but don't expect hilarity. It wasn't written that way.
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on May 16, 2007
"Clatterford" is an intoxicating program with so much going on in the background, repeated viewings never bore. The characterizations are a tribute to the fine acting, but none of that would be possible without the brilliant writing of Jennifer Saunders.

"Clatterford" demonstrates the multi-tasking of women in the myriads of characters and their interactions, often all taking place at the same time. Beneath the eccentricity and idiosyncratic behaviour lurks a sweetness and kindness as well as a family born of their proximity and communal life.

A few favorites are Tip's efforts to force the doctor to rehire his mother as nurse for the surgery by confronting him with having to do a pelvic exam, or "smear" of his old head mistress who is quite a randy woman; Queenie, an elderly member of the Women's Guild and verger at the local vicarage as well as crossing guard, studiously trying to find traffic, even to the point of asking if anyone has seen traffic.

Characters such as Tash, Kate and the Vicar, who annoy almost to the point of screaming, inevitably redeem themselves as we see more of their depth of character.

It is slightly disappointing, and inconvenient, not to have the episode list identified on either disc or the case.

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on April 28, 2007
Jennifer Saunders is not only one of the finest comedy writers of our time, she is, as "Clatterford" proves yet again, a master of character and dialog. The women of Clatterford are complex and textured so you can't watch an episode just once to fully appreciate them. And you'll want to watch again just to be in their company. The humor is subtle and wonderful. The show warm and engaging. Somehow Saunders is able to make seemingly simple storylines as lush and colored as the countryside in which they have been filmed. You won't regret being in the company of this women's guild. The chemistry of this cast is a once-in-a-lifetime combination. And do give them some time to sink in. The characters are richly detailed and very human; worth taking the time to get to know. Hats off to Jennifer Saunders for another brilliant comedy, and a fabulously different piece of television.
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on March 17, 2007
Well, I laughed just as hard as at Ab Fab. However, perhaps it's a bit closer to the Vicar of Dibley....certainly, for me, it feels closer to the Vicar, than it does to Calendar Girls.

It's a very warm, very caring kind of humor; the characters may very well remind you of people you know and love. I'm looking forward to more episodes.

If it's from French and/or Saunders, I know I'm in for a great time.
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on April 22, 2007
I wasn't an AbFab watcher, but luckily picked up on the good reviews for "Clatterford" before it premiered on BBCA, and haven't missed an episode (thanks, TiVo). I love this show as much as I loved "Northern Exposure", which says alot, and have watched every episode at least twice, in part to decipher it (Brit-speak, you know), but mostly because on re-viewing, the background action in every scene provides new delights. I'm pre-ordering Season One as a birthday gift to myself. Let's hope we get to at least Season Five with this series.
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on May 27, 2007
Just like another reviewer said, "do not expect AbFab". Even though I knew this I still ordered the series expecting a silly, funny show, much like AbFab. However, although the show is nothing like I thought it would be and really hardly features our 2 main girls from AbFab, it grows on you at an alarming rate and is impossible not to enjoy! The characters are so interesting and they are able to weave a wonderful, real life like story of mostly just everyday things. Sure, there are moments of true silliness, but this series seems to be reaching deeper then most of the more "comedy" style series coming from the BBC as of late. You will love this, just don't expect AbFab, and you'll be sad that there are so few episodes.
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on August 7, 2007
I think a better comparison for this comedy of eccentric characters in the dales is not "Absolutely Fabulous" but James Herriot's long-running series. Both rely on subtle understatement, occasional laugh-out-loud situations and a fondness for the foibles of the human condition. There are characters-a-plenty in Clatterford, from a vainglorious vicar to a multiple-personality simpleton to a wannabe hippie whose yurt goes mouldy. Everybody copes with everyone else the best they can, which is a marvelous lesson for us all. The cast really inhabit their roles, and you'll remember the characters they bring to life long after the gossamer plots have dissolved in your brain.
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on May 12, 2007
First of all, I must admit that I am a huge French & Saunders/Absolutely Fabulous fan, that being said however Clatterford is the most charming series I've seen in years. Written by the amazing Jennifer Saunders it follows the daily village life of the eclectic members of Clatterford's Ladies' Guild, with touching and hilarious insight. It is an instant classic, that no fan should be without. After all it's not all jam and Jerusalem.
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on July 8, 2007
Well written and well acted series focused on life in an English village as seen through the eyes of the women in the Guild. Some absolutely laugh out loud moments in this funny and touching series.

Created by the women who created Ab Fab. The characters in this show can be just as outrageous. Gives you live in a small town where everyone is accepted with their foibles.
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