Saturday, January 16, 2010

As Time Goes By

By Lorna

Astimegoesbyseries7 For years I've occasionally tuned in to our local PBS station on a Saturday night to see the odd episode of As Time Goes By starring Dame Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer.  (I'd first seen Palmer in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and loved that series, so I was willing to give As Time Goes By a chance.)  For background on the series, check out this Wikipedia entry.

I guess I vaguely knew that Palmer's character, Lionel, was a writer, but it never sank in until my husband gave me the entire series on DVD as a Christmas gift.  He'd never liked the show--until he started watching it with me beginning with episode #1.  Now he's as big a fan as me.

What's so striking is the fictional life of a writer as portrayed on the show.  Lionel needs a secretary to write his book.  He dictated it and this dolly-bird (Daisy) typed it for him.  His editor, Alistair, falls over backward to help Lionel get the manuscript into shape--although we do find out later that Alistair's father owed Lionel's father a favor, and that favor was the publication of Lionel's rather dry memoir "My Life In Kenya."

Boy, that must have been some owed favor!

Lionel and Alistair Alistair arranges for a photo shoot for the cover, a book tour, and even though the book is a commercial flop, he arranges for Lionel to write a mini series for American television.  (Did I mention this was a British import--and with some very unflattering takes on the American TV audience.  Mostly true, but unflattering nonetheless.)

Not only was the book a flop, it was soon remaindered, with Alistair saying it was a way for the publisher to recoup costs--with no mention that remainders bring no income to the author.

We're at the three-quarters point in the DVDs, so I'm not sure if Lionel has a literary success, all I know is, much as I admire my editor, I want Alistair to step up to the plate and take care of my career. His publishing company seems to have extremely deep pockets, paying for Jean and Lionel to head out to Hollywood to strike the deal for TV, and then later flying the Concord to New York (with Jean's daughter and secretary) to watch the mini series sink like a stone.  I'm sure my editor would love to have Alistair's expense account.

But then, this is fiction, isn't it?

And what's your favorite British television import?

28 comments:

Heather Webber said...

I love, love, love As Time Goes By. The dry humor, the chemistry--everything. It's an amazing show.

Alistair can fund my tours, too. That'd be nice. :)

Laura (in PA) said...

I also adore As Time Goes By. I don't have all the seasons, but I have several on DVD, and I still watch it whenever I can catch it on PBS. I am a huge fan of Judi Dench, and I love the characters of Jean and Lionel on this show. The portrayal of a writer might be off the mark, but the scenes when they were filming the miniseries at Lionel's and his father's country home are awesome.

Lorna Barrett said...

Laura, I also love the scenes at the country house. We have a summer cottage, but no Mrs. Bale to serve us tea, make dinner, or tell us the wind speed on Lake Ontario.

Bummer!

Mason Canyon said...

The only British show that comes to mind - The Benny Hill Show. It was good to help cheer you up on those really bad days. I'm sure there are some others, but just can't think of them right now.
This one sounds interesting.

Lorna Barrett said...

I haven't seen Benny Hill in years! We always said the little guy who got his head patted so much looked like my Grandfather!

Hubby also gave me a bunch of Midsomer Mystery DVDs for Christmas. They're up next on the list. (But I was still bummed I didn't get The Fall and Rise of Reginal Perrin. I think when the next royalty check comes I may have to treat myself.)

jbstanley said...

I've always loved the name Alistair. With a name like that, you just seem like a millionaire.

I just rented the British show Wives and Daughters to take to Miami. My mom and I will watch them on my laptop next week - will let you know if they're any good!

Shannon said...

Primeval---modern day scientists discover portals that allow travel from/to prehistoric times (i.e. dinosaurs loose in London)...corny, I know, but the kids like it and there are some likeable characters.
I would be remiss if I did not mention The Office. Although, I much prefer the American remake.

Knit Twit said...

For me it's The Young Ones, thanks to growing up in the 80s and MTV, lol. They were my first introduction to British humor. I still watch the episode "Summer Holiday" on YouTube every year on my birthday.

And of course Monty Python. Imagine the world without the Dead Parrot sketch or my all time favorite, the Lumberjack sketch. *Grin*

Kaye said...

Any show with Judi Dench in it is wonderful as far as I am concerned. I like Keeping up Appearances with Patricia Rutledge. Poor Richard, her hen pecked hubby. I'd like to see Sheldon, her son. He's so fond of his Mummy, you know; calls her frequently on her white slimline princess phone. That show is a hoot!

Laura (in PA) said...

I also want to get the DVDs of Jeeves and Wooster, both because I love Wodehouse, and to see Hugh Laurie speak like a Brit instead of an American. They're supposed to be hilarious.

signlady217 said...

I like the Inspector Lewis series. I'm a sucker for a good cop show, and this being British and set in Oxford gives it a whole different vibe than American cop shows. Haven't seen the Inspector Morse series, but will try to some day; I know a lot of people liked that one, too.

Dru said...

I loved The Avengers with Patrick macNee and Diana Rigg. I also enjoyed "Lovejoy" with Ian McShane.

Lindy said...

My favorite of the "Brit Wit" shows is "Last of the Summer Wine." This show follows the antics of a trio of child-like retired men whose lives center around a quaint village. They just competed their 31st season, and the main characters have changed through the years. My favorite was Compo. When Bill Owen, who played Compo, died about 10 years ago, his death was written into the script (I guess it would have to be), and I laughed and cried though the most beautiful, funny, and poignant tribute to a truly memorable character.

Jessica said...

man, it seems I've missed all the fun this morning! LOL I like the young ones too but Kids in the Hall really cracks me up...

Jeanine said...

As Time Goes By is my favorite, with The Vicar of Dibley coming in as a close second.

Tori Lennox said...

I love British shows! As Time Goes By is one of my favorite comedies. I used to get a lot of giggles from Are You Being Served?, too. Now I watch Last of the Summer Wine every evening as I get ready for bed. It's much more fun than the 10:00 news. :)

And I adore Midsomer Murders and am so beyond annoyed that A&E/Biography no longer carry them.

Sheery said...

I LOVE As Time Goes By. I haven't seen all of the episodes but when I catch it - I am always drawn into it. I also love Are You Being Served. I watched these a lot while in college and it drove my roommate crazy. I don't know why exactly, but it did. Oh well, I still love both shows.

Katie said...

Jeeves and Wooster and I also enjoyed another series that had to do with a Monk solving mysteries, it was on PBS years ago I think and my in laws introduced me to it.

Lorna Barrett said...

Katie, that would be the always wonderful Derek Jacobi and the Brother Cadfael mysteries.

Sheery said...

Oh yeah, Keeping Up Appearances is great also. I couldn't remember the name of that one. The poor husband. Lord, the things he went through to accomodate his wife. Hysterical, but often had me shaking my head. There's NO WAY my husband would put up with me being like that. We are the family with the blanket in the window and the half-painted pink wall, after all. :)

Laura said...

Love almost all Brit comedies! One to try to find is "Butterflies". Geoffrey Palmer was in that show also. It was very funny. Fawlty Towers is another fave, I wish they'd made more episodes but divorce got in the way.
If you can find Butterflies anywhere, I just know you'd enjoy it!

Helen Kiker said...

There are so many that I like - As Time Goes By is one of them. Others are Fawlty Towers, Vicar of Dibly, Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister, Cranford, both Derek Jacobi series, Jeeves & Wooster, Upstairs, Downstairs, the Helen Miren inspector series (title escapes me at the moment) and all the epic shows like Victoria.

Helen

Leann Sweeney said...

I love British mysteries. I can list a bunch, but my favorites--can cut it to 2--are Wire in the Blood and Midsommer Murders. One very violent and one very cozy--and both based on excellent series by British writers.

Laura (in PA) said...

Ooh - I forgot Vicar of Dibley! I love that show!

Lover of Books said...

I love Brother Caedfal and Monty Python.

Maggie Sefton said...

Ohhhhhh, the list is too long. Starting with those wonderful, wonderful Masterpiece Theatre presentations like "Lilly Langtry." And, the Jeremy Irons Sherlock Holmes series. Of course, Upstairs, Downstairs. Ages ago, The Avengers with Diana Rigg looking so cool in that black leather jumpsuit. Brother Cadfael, definitely. And--our family's personal fave Monty Python. I'm still liable to quote some of our favorite lines: "I'm not quite dead yet." In fact, I've got a tee shirt with that on it which daughter Melissa bought for me when she saw "Spamalot" last year.

Bookworm Princess said...

I am not a fan of British humor but I still let my husband drag me to a live performance of Spamalot. It was the worst 2 hours of my life up to this point. The things we do for love, right?

THE KNITORIOUS MRS. B said...

Nothing made me laugh more than Ab Fab! Going back a few years, I know, but that show was outrageous! Also a big fan of the Vicar Of Dibly, As Time Goes By, Appearances, Dr. Who, and Are You Being Served?

Ultimate Favorite:Prime Suspect!!!!