Roy Clarke's Open All Hours: The Complete Series
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Open All Hours: Complete Series (DVD)
Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "bouquet") goes to incredible lengths in her quest for perfection. Hers is a spick-and-span house. Her downtrodden husband, Richard, acts as chauffeur in their immaculately kept car. Their permanently absent son has a superior name, Sheridan. Even the empty milk bottles sparkle on the doorstep after their obligatory rinse in the dishwasher. Hyacinth delights in her "candlelit suppers", but her guests live in fear of receiving her invitations. Next-door neighbor Liz is so nervous that she is guaranteed to break or spill something. Her brother Emmet hides every time he sees Hyacinth. And the Buckets' distinguished friend, the Major, and the vicar and his wife all do their best to keep out of her way. In marked contrast to Hyacinth's meticulously ordered life, however, the rest of her family are as common as muck. They live together in a rundown house that looks like a junkyard. Sister Daisy and her husband, Onslow, are out-and-out slobs. Her other sister, Rose, is an aging tart. And her elderly father is a lecherous drunk, given to cycling stark-naked down by the canal, chasing the milkwoman. Whatever Hyacinth does, her family can always be guaranteed to show her up. Can she ever live down the disgrace?]]>
Already old-fashioned when the show was made, Open All Hours now seems like a glimpse into a much earlier world. Ronnie Barker (The Two Ronnies) stars as Arkwright, a tight-fisted middle-aged Doncaster shopkeeper, while David Jason (Only Fools and Horses) as Arkwright's nephew Granville makes deliveries by bicycle in a manner more evocative of the 1930s than the '70s. Barker's relationship with Jason parallels his rapport with Richard Beckinsale in Porridge (1974-78), and while the pair may not be in prison, the confines of the small general dealer's shop often seem like that to Granville. Even though at 36 Jason seems way too old to play the supposedly teenage Granville, he and Barker make a great double act. The dry Northern humor centers mostly on money and sex, the latter interest in Arkwright's case being the buxom charms of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, very well played by Lynda Baron. Like writer Roy Clarke's Last of the Summer Wine, the episodes are more amusing character sketches than stories. The four-disc set includes all four seasons of the original U.K. show, a reasonably detailed text biography of series writer Roy Clarke, and, much more notably, a complete bonus episode--the 1973 series pilot. --Gary S Dalkin
- All four seasons on four discs
- 1973 pilot episode
- Roy Clarke profile
- Due to music clearance issues, certain edits have been made
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I have been waiting a long time for these series to appear on DVD. I remember watching these shows as far back as the 80's. I enjoyed all of the episodes of Open All Hours but I must say I have one issue however about an edit point which has made me refuse to watch the rest of the DVD series disks altogether and that is a cut taken out from the second series "The New Suit" which contained a dancing jig with Granville dancing in the rain outside of Arkwright's shop humming the tune called "Singing in the Rain". Apparently the makers of this series couldn't get clearance to keep this portion in the DVD.
This edited portion was aired by videotape, unedited, on PBS back in the 80's where I live and there was none of this editing out of sections. Why the change now? There was a short melody with humming in it. This isn't the same as playing the actual song which would had been in violation of copyrights. In this case I don't see any copyrights being infringed at all.
The recording industries have gone too far in their censoring of materials. The Gene Kelley tune from the film "Singing in the Rain" that I have seen from uncut versions from this series was a reenactment/interpretation of that tune and not a real representation of the above stated song. There is a name for this type of imitation of a song and I cannot recall it now and it is protected by censorship.
I feel that this DVD series is not complete because of this one edit point and I don't know if there are any other edits since I don't have the pleasure of viewing the rest of the DVDs due to there possibly being more edits of minor little things that I see as not being a big deal because they are interpretations of an act; as in the above case of the tune Granville hums outside the shop. What would be lost by the recording industries if they agreed to include that jig with Granville dancing with the broom and humming "Singing in the Rain"? Nothing at all.
All in All, I have always loved the show but this edited section of "The New Suit" episode has ruined it for me and it ruins the episode more and has prevented me from viewing the rest of the episodes.
A word of caution. Much of the humor is based on the shopkeeper's (Barker) speech impediment. Watching this over and over does make one ask the question - is it fair game to use someone's impediment as the focus of humor? Will it be funny if one uses say Parkinson disease and its tremors as a source of humor? How about a blind person? How about someone having a seizure? My point is this may offend some folks and it is best to be warned before coughing up a significant amount for this product. I have always found that using a person's "handicap" as a source of humor just does not feel right. Why? Because it seems like a desperate attempt to get a laugh when the material is bereft of substance.
I for one find this series somewhat funny but not in the same class of say, "Are You Being Served" and definitely not even half as good as "Yes Prime Minister" and miles below "Last of the Summer Wine".
Ronnie Barker does a magnificent job as shopkeeper Arkwright, a stout, middle-aged proprietor of a small grocery in an unnamed Yorkshire town. After watching about thirty seconds of Episode 1 you will realize that (1) he has an extremely amusing stuttering habit; (2) he is notoriously tightfisted and (3) he lusts after his neighbor, the plain but amply-proportioned Nurse Gladys Emmanuel. What makes the show for me are the wonderful conversations between the--let's be honest here--very horny Arkwright and the resistant Gladys. He's constantly on the offensive, and nurse Gladys, a single woman caring for her invalid mother, puts up a good fight (she's neither naive nor a prude, and though she'd never admit it, she unconsciously welcomes the attention that this aging would-be lover showers upon her). Of course, the parsimonious Arkwright is very reluctant to open up the wallet too wide, even for the nurse. But as you will see, the promise of a kiss and a caress wins out.
This show is at least thirty years old, but it holds up well. The English, and Europeans in general, have long been much more tolerant of race than us Yanks, and also do not seem anywhere near as hung up about sex. Consequently you have in Arkwright and nurse Gladys a couple of physically unspectacular middle-aged people who DO--particularly Arkwright--think about sex and pursue it. In US shows if you are not beautiful and/or extremely young, you have no sex life.
American viewers will have to listen carefully lest they miss some of the absolutely devastating double entendres which come out of the mouth of Arkwright. You'll find yourself saying "Did he just say what I think he said?" over and over again. I wonder how they got some of his utterances past the censors (oh, that's right, this is a British show, not an American!).
Fans of Last of the Summer Wine will be happy to see Kathy Staff (the legendary battle axe, Norma Batty) popping in and out from time to time as a similarly-tempered neighborhood shopper).
The prolific David Jason plays Arkwright's live-in nephew, who himself is pining for romance and adventure, anything to spice up his boring existence. This was years before Jason appeared in If Wishes Were Horses, The Darling Buds of May, the excellent cop series Touch of Frost, and his latest, Diamond Geezer.