Friday, 20 February 2015

Get Carteret or No Place Like Home - again

I may as well give in and admit to myself that these entries on the 80s sitcom No Place Like Home, currently being repeated in the UK on the Drama Channel, are starting to become a diary. If you want to look over my shoulder at the entries, feel free, although other diversions are but a click away.

Unfortunately my PVR did not record No Place Like Home on Thursday but I did manage to watch Episode 3 of Series 4 today.

Again, most odd compared to the approach of earlier series. The episode was sparsely populated, with the new Nigel established as being the only one now living at home, and the story centred around trying to get a new lady friend for Trevor. Beryl and Arthur thought the object of his fancy was the matronly florist but oh, SPOILER ALERT, it turned out to be the much younger part timer - oh dear - but then she took umbrage at Trevor's not being married, so problem solved. But then Trevor got a new girlfriend, a rather butch policewoman, so Bravo, I say. Which is the sort of weak half-pun Jon Watkins has often included in the show in the past. I do hope they will return. (Maybe there'll be a spin-off series about Trevor's pursuit of his new love called Get Carteret?)

But as with the first episode the emptiness of that formerly heaving home really hit me. It can't have been much fun for the younger actors in the earlier series, often with little to say, but as I've said earlier the crowd effect helped create a frantic, confused speedy jumble, and the actors and script seem more exposed now. The new Nigel was given far more lines than Martin Clunes had ever been given, though I couldn't help wondering how Mr Clunes would have delivered them.

Raymond was absent, which was a hole, but I know he will be back later, as will Liz Crowther's character. Her character is wonderfully dopey, and clearly besotted with Raymond.

I shall watch the next episode with interest but I would dearly love to know the rationale behind this slimmed-down group of Crabtrees. Was it a cost-cutting exercise or had the new director ideas about revivifying the show by concentrating on key characters?

Which reminds me of the end of an episode from the densely populated era. Arthur, Trevor and Raymond are going off fishing. As they drive away, Raymond frantically squealing with delight like a five year old ("Me and Dad are going fishing!"), the family, who have all come out to see the trio off, walk back to the house in the evening sunshine, Vera peeling off to spend a lonely Trevorless night in her place. Then Beryl signals to her, and Vera opens her arms with joy to be escorted into the Crabtrees' home by the two sons. 

It's not particularly funny, indeed it's not funny, but it's a moment which helps explain why this often silly and unambitious and outdated comedy still has an impact - on me, at least. There's a heart which makes you forgive it a lot. So I shall stick with it, and continue to bring back bulletins from the frontline - or, if you will, my crumb-infested sofa. You deserve nothing less.

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