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Yes, Prime Minister: The Complete Collection
DVD | Box Set
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Yes, Prime Minister: The Complete Collection (DVD)]]>
Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn's superb sitcom Yes, Prime Minister entered 10 Downing Street with Jim Hacker now Prime Minister of Britain, following a campaign to "Save the British Sausage." Whether tackling defense ("The Grand Design"), local government ("Power to the People"), or the National Education Service, all of Jim Hacker's bold plans for reform generally come to nothing, thanks to the machinations of Nigel Hawthorne's complacent Cabinet Secretary Sir Humphrey (Jeeves to Hacker's Wooster) who opposes any action of any sort on the part of the PM altogether. This is usually achieved by discreet horse-trading. In "One of Us," for instance, Hacker relents from implementing defense cuts when he is presented with the embarrassingly large bill he ran up in a vote-catching mission to rescue a stray dog on an army firing range. Only in "The Tangled Web," the final episode of series 2, does the PM at last turn the tables on Sir Humphrey. Paul Eddington is a joy as Hacker, whether in mock-Churchillian mode or visibly cowering whenever he is congratulated on a "courageous" idea. Jay and Lynn's script, meanwhile, is a dazzlingly Byzantine exercise in wordplay, wittily reflecting the verbiage-to-substance ratio of politics. Ironically, Yes, Prime Minister is an accurate depiction of practically all political eras except its own, the 1980s, when Thatcher successfully carried out a radical program regardless of harrumphing senior civil servants. --David Stubbs
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Top Customer Reviews
How unfortunate then that the Home Secretary should have been pulled over for drunken driving.
No, it couldn't be hushed up because he drove his car into a lorry (truck) loaded with nuclear waste, right before the eyes of a news reporter.
So he had to resign.
Then, with his hated enemy, the Home Secretary out of the way, the prime minister announces his retirement.
The civil servants, Sir Humphrey and Sir Arnold plot to place Jim Hacker into "Number Ten".
Jim has the attribute they want. He can be easily manipulated.
So Jim becomes Prime Minister and the series "Yes Prime Minister" is born. This series is a masterpiece of humour and satire. Take it from me. You will love it.
Which is to say, this (and its predecessor, "Yes Minister") is the best comedy show I have ever seen. Ever. Brilliantly funny, with crack performances from the entire cast, razor sharp but deliciously understated wit, and, of course, Sir Humphrey, the villain you can't help but love - whilst waiting with bated breath for his next speech.
The stories are simple enough in and of themselves - a sometimes less than efficient, but always well-meaning, Prime Minister who must always battle his underlings for each and every change he hopes to make. But don't let that fool you. This is comedy that will cause you to laugh out loud - and make you feel like your IQ went up ten points every time Humphrey opens his mouth. ;-) The only downside to this show is that the "politics" behind politics depicted herein rings so true of "politics" in general that one can only get the distinct sense...*ahem* Nevermind...you'll see what I mean when you watch it - and I strongly encourage you to do so! This really is the best of the best.
10/5 stars for this one!
"Party Games" finds Hacker, to his own surprise, in the running to become the next Prime Minister when the current one resigns and the civil service finds the leading two candidates for the job too independent-minded for their taste. Sir Humphrey is appointed Secretary to the Cabinet, replacing Sir Arnold (John Nettleton), and uses his position to maneuver the malleable Jim Hacker into Number 10. As PM, Hacker confronts issues such as Britain's nuclear deterrent, budget cuts, a complacent Foreign Office, appointing a Bishop, covering up a Soviet mole in MI5 during the Cold War, unemployment, bailing out an investment bank, making local government accountable, and coping with an potential international incident involving a puppy that France is using for leverage.
The funniest episodes are often the backroom power struggles, as when Sir Humphrey and the PM's sharp political advisor Dorothy Wainwright (Deborah Norton) fight over office space and influence, or when Sir Humphrey and Permanent Secretary of the Treasury Sir Frank (Peter Cellier) compete to be head of the civil service, or when the preceding PM makes unkind comments about Hacker in his memoirs. Writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn felt that the series would be too predictable if Sir Humphrey was always able to outwit Hacker, so, in "Yes, Prime Minister", Hacker sometimes uses the weight of his office to beat Humphrey at his own game. Out of 17 episodes, I observed that Sir Humphrey takes the day in 8 and the PM in 6. In the others, their interests are aligned.
This back-and-forth works well, not only because it is unpredictable, but because Jim Hacker is transformed from a hapless, well-intentioned MP to a pompous, self-important PM. The position has gone to his head. He's convinced that anything that might embarrass him will undermine the fabric of government. He is more frank, cynical, and interested in preserving the status quo than he was as an MP. In a way, this is not as funny, but, curiously, it posits that the PM may not have much power, after all, as he is more vulnerable to public opinion. For those who loved Sir Arnold in "Yes, Minister", he is back for 5 episodes. Sir Frank features in a few episodes. And Dorothy Wainwright is frequently the source of the PM's better ideas. Worth buying so you can watch it more than once.
The DVDs (BBC Warner 2003): This is a 3-disc set. My one complaint is that the volume must be turned unusually high to hear the dialogue clearly, as the laugh track is too loud in comparison. There are 7 bonus features. "Funny Turns: Paul Eddington: A Life Well-Lived" (26 min) is a BBC special about Eddington's life and career, made after his death in 1995, that interviews his wife Patricia and his closest colleagues about his long career and his final illness. "Christmas at the Ministry" (2 min) is a short sketch that aired on BBC-1 in 1982. "Cabinet Minister Sound Bytes/Jonathan Lynn Interview" (12 min) is an excerpt of a BBC program that interviewed Lynn and a number of former MPs in 1986 on the debut of the new series. "Paul Eddington Interview" (9 min) was done by his friend the actress Felicity Kendal in 1986. "No, Prime Minister" is a text review by Sir Humphrey of Hacker's diaries. There are text bios and filmographies for the writers and 16 members of the cast. No subtitles.