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Wodehouse Playhouse: Complete Collection

4.6 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Based on the stories by P.G. Wodehouse

“Delightful” —Daily Mail (U.K.)

Starring John Alderton and Pauline Collins

“An engaging tribute to the master of polished, joyous foolishness” —The Guardian (U.K.)

A deft writer of daft protagonists, P.G. Wodehouse has delighted fans with his razor-sharp wit and marvelously madcap plots for over a century. This sparkling BBC series brings 20 of his hilarious tales to life with Oscar® nominee Pauline Collins (Shirley Valentine) and real-life husband John Alderton (Upstairs, Downstairs) playing Wodehouse’s uproarious eccentrics. The celebrated writer—still twinkling with comic mischief in his 90s—offers introductions to the first seven stories.

The Truth about George
Romance at Droitgate Spa
Portrait of a Disciplinarian
Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court
The Rise of Minna Nordstrom
Rodney Fails to Qualify
A Voice from the Past
Anselm Gets His Chance
Mr. Potter Takes a Rest Cure
Strychnine in the Soup
Feet of Clay
The Nodder
The Code of the Mulliners
The Smile That Wins
Trouble down at Tudsleigh
Tangled Hearts
The Luck of the Stiffhams
The Editor Regrets
Big Business
Mulliner’s Buck-U-Uppo

Special Features

BONUS Photo galleries, P.G. Wodehouse biography, and insert with background notes about the stories and characters

English subtitles

Previously released on DVD

Due to the age of these programs and the improved resolution that DVD provides, you may notice occasional flaws in the image and audio on this DVD presentation that were beyond our ability to correct from the original materials.

Product Details

  • Actors: Pauline Collins, John Alderton
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Full Screen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: January 29, 2013
  • Run Time: 628 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00A0HT9HI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,911 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 25, 2004
Format: DVD
P.G. Wodehouse wrote a staggering number of plays, short stories and novels over the course of his life. And while the stories about dim peer Bertie Wooster and his genius manservant Jeeves are the best known, the short films by husband-and-wife team Pauline Collins and John Alderton are enormous fun.

Among the kooky stories: Romance between a pair of ethereal young poets are threatened by a family curse -- which causes an urge to hunt animals. A stammering Mulliner struggles to overcome his "slight hesitance," so he can tell the girl he loves that he loves her. Mischievous Bobbie Wickham spins a web of lies to get rid of a dorky suitor. A young interior decorator finds that the only thing standing between him and his beloved is her very imposing mother... unless he can use her mystery novel against her, and several other stories of love, misunderstandings, and shooting elderly men with airguns.

If the author himself introduces each first-season episode, you can tell that it's a solid adaptation. And P.G. Wodehouse did introduce every episode from the first season -- with a big smile. Not only are the stories very funny, but also very faithful to the original stories.

The writing borders on gut-splittingly funny. "You will marry me, won't you?" "Yes of course I will, Mr... I'm sorry, I didn't catch the name." Not the mention the bloodthirsty poem that an enspelled animal lover writes: "When cares attack and life seems black/how sweet it is to pot a yak..." Yet despite all the absurdity, it's all done with a more or less straight face -- in Wodehouse's world, this is all perfectly normal.
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Format: DVD
The third major British Wodehouse television series consisted of twenty stories developed to half-hour form as Wodehouse Playhouse. Most of the source material were the Mulliner stories, with a few others of Golf and the Drones club. The series was broadcast in the United States over Public Television, and subsequently syndicated to many local PBS stations well into the 1980s, before finally appearing in home video in 2003.

The television screen naturally opened up new storytelling possibilities not available in prose. For instance, "Big Business" was able to use a recording of Paul Robeson singing "Ol' Man River" when Reginald Mulliner is supposed to have been sad enough to express it with the proper emotion, adding a new layer of comedy to what could only be hinted at in the original story. However, even when elaborating on the original, David Climie's scripts frequently used dialogue and scenes directly from the stories, and managed to create a near-seamless whole.

The first two series of Wodehouse Playhouse, of seven episodes in 1975, and another six in 1976, starred the husband-and-wife team of Pauline Collins and John Alderton, but the final series of seven episodes in 1978 featured only Alderton. Some in the British audience quibbled with the casting as reflecting the wrong accents and class sensibilities, but American audiences were oblivious to such details. There was overacting in many of the episodes, however, and Collins and especially Alderton played different types of roles, which, while commendable as an acting challenge, robbed the series of continuity in character types. His often secondary part outshined the ostensible romantic lead.
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Format: DVD
At first glance this would appear to be yet another result of the current revival of British humorist P.G. Wodehouse, who, to put it lightly, is a worldwide phenomenon. Given the stellar treatment of his most popular duo in Granada Television's four season series, Jeeves and Wooster, one might think this the small screen follow-on of his other characters and books. In fact, these BBC shows date from the mid- '70s, and only recently made their DVD debut in the U.S.

"Playhouse" here is used in the old sense to mean minimal sets and staging, with an ensemble troupe consisting primarily of John Alderton and Pauline Collins, both known from "Upstairs, Downstairs", an early presentation in the U.S. on "Masterpiece Theater", as well as in numerous British shows. Both are also known to SF fans also, Alderton from the cult film Zardoz, and Collins from Dr. Who.

There have been numerous attempts to bring Wodehouse to the big screen, to radio, and in a limited way, to TV, many of which are not generally known in the states. When this series came out, however, Wodehouse was over 90 years of age. He gave the Playhouse his stamp of approval, and makes a brief cameo with voiceover at the beginning of each thirty minute show. Each DVD contains three shows, and they are available in three sets of two slipcased DVDs each, as well as in this complete collection.

What a longtime Wodehouse reader would want to know, of course, is how the shows stack up to the books. I tend to say, some better than others. "Anselm Gets His Chance", from set two (and included in this collection), is to my mind a small masterpiece. Others sent me back to the books to reread the stories, which, after all, might be the whole idea.
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