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A 1970's Britcom Classic--Finally Released on DVD!
on December 3, 2005
Rising Damp is a classic 1970's British Comedy starring the talented and comical late Leonard Rossiter (The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin--who died of heart failure in 1984, aged 58) as Rigsby, the crotchety, self-important, and highly-strung live-in landlord of a run-down boarding-house-style apartment. Rigsby is constantly scheming to attract the attention and affection of his tenant, Ruth Jones (Frances de la Tour). But Rigsby is hopelessly inept, and although Ruth tries to be polite, it is obvious (at least to the viewer) that Rigsby doesn't stand a chance. Furthermore, Ruth has her eye on another tenant, Philip (Don Warrington), a young black African college student. Philip, however, is about as interested in Ruth as Ruth is in Rigsby.
Philip shares a room with Alan (the late Richard Beckinsale (of Porridge) who tragically died of heart failure in 1979; he was only 31), an open-minded young medical student. Rigsby has a very low opinion of both Alan and Philip and is constantly insulting them. Rigsby takes his jabs where he can find them. With Alan, they're aimed at his long hair and tight trousers; with Philip, they're directed at his tribal African ancestry. Though hardly politically correct, Rigsby's jabs at Philip are counterbalanced by the fact that Philip is so obviously Rigsby's superior in every way, be it intellectually, socially, culturally, financially, or romantically. Actually, one cannot help feeling a little sorry for Rigsby. He's so critical of everyone else (save Ruth, who can do no wrong in his eyes), yet he is completely oblivious to his own shortcomings.
Four series were made in all (1974-1978), and this dvd set consists of the entire first series plus the pilot (1974-75) for a total of seven 25-minute episodes. It is a series that our family has really enjoyed, and we've rewatched it a few times now (on VHS). It is also a series which, like so many britcoms, only gets better as it goes on.
Though this was NOT the britcom that spawned America's All in the Family, ironically it is closer in tone to All in the Family than Till Death Us Do Part (the series that actually did spawn All in the Family)--at least that's my impression from the few episodes of Till Death that I've seen.
In short, it's high time this series was released on dvd. If you're a fan of British comedy in general (particularly the older britcoms--which I personally would take any day over the vast majority of new BBC Britcoms that have popped up since 2000) and are looking for a show which is considered to be a classic of that genre, you may want to check this one out.