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Reviewed in the United States on September 9, 2013
I understand that this show is an icon for a period of television, and it's part of people's personal history. However, as an American watching it 30 years later, it seems slow and dated. Interesting to be able to view it!
Reviewed in the United States on February 13, 2015
For the people who cannot read that it says European, that means it plays only UK (PAL) or Standard European (SECAM). Television in North America us NTSC'
Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) and his hapless cellmate Lennie (Richard Beckinsdale) was doing time -Porridge- in Slade Prison. Fetch has a give test stretch to do.
The fun happens when the prisoners try to get over on Mr. Mackay (Fulton Mackay). Doing Porridge meant a lot of time in your hands and getting Mr. Mackay in an uproar passed the hours.
Ronnie Barker is tremendous as Fletcher. His good nature combined with his desire for some of the finer things available in prison, legal or not, made for great viewing. Porridge, for those with multisystem DVD players and televisions is well worth the price
All six episodes from Series One: New Faces, Old Hands; The Hustler; A Night In; A Day Out; Ways and Means; and Men Without Women.
Veteran Ronnie Barker plays Fletch who considers prison "just another bump in the road." He finds himself sharing a cell with first-time offender Godber, played by Richard Beckinsale of "Rising Damp" fame. Beckinsale filmed this series at the same time as "Rising Damp" and was forced to wear a wig for the early episodes of "Rising Damp" since his student character required long hair and his prison character required shorter hair (although his prison character's hair is nowhere near short).
Fletch's "wise guy with a heart" reminds me of Phil Silvers' Seargeant Bilko, always playing an angle, but a decent sort underneath. Beckinsale plays pretty much the same character he played in "Rising Damp" in different circumstances. Overall, worth a look if you're looking for a different kind of Britcom.
I do not like humour based on sexual innuendo, and I did not realise that Porridge was of this type, or at least the first film on this DVD. My memory played a trick on me, or maybe as I get older, I have become more critical of that type of humour, and I'm afraid it is not my cup of tea.
Two things struck me about this old favourite. It's not quite as funny as I remember it, and it's actually more serious and poignant. It doesn't glamourise prison life. It is great fun, but you're never allowed to forget that these men have lost their right to freedom. This delicate balance means that the programme resonates in my mind for longer than the laughter. I'm always amazed when I watch Ronnie Barker in Porridge. I have to constantly remind myself that he is Ronnie Barker, the very same Ronnie Barker of The two Ronnies and Open all hours. Such is the mark of the actor. Not only a top, top comedian. The supporting cast is also top class.
Enjoyed all 6 episodes so much I immediately went back into Amazon and bought series 2, 3 and the Christmas specials. Have now watched all 3 series and really looking forward to the specials - A must see for anyone with a sense of humour, Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale, and David Jason, how could you go wrong! Enjoy!