16 October 2002 | glgioia
"We Are Very Amused"
Attention Monty Python fans, this series if you've never seen it, will make you feel as if you've uncovered a hidden cache of British Comedy Treasure. Absolutely brilliant early 80s sitcom that chronicles the subsurface machinations of high level government. Eddington plays a cabinet minister who is the perfect embodiment of the modern politician. High in ideals, but forever made human by ambition, partisan backbiting, concession making and opinion poll obsession. His antagonist is the Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey, played by Hawthorne, who IS Machiavelli in 20th century apparel. Fowlds plays the foil and serves mostly as the tennis net to the two men, and their conflicting goals. The writing just cant be praised enough, and in true British fashion, derives most of the laughs when it dissects, and deftly rearranges the English language. Eddington is incredible as the bumbling minister. I've heard John Cleese say that what makes good comedy is not necessarily the joke, or situation, but how the fingered character reacts to his circumstance. This show illustrates the concept expertly. Eddington produces genuine belly laughs simply from facial contortions and incoherent ejaculations. Think how often that doesn't work and how rarely its even attempted any longer. Hawthorne is good but not as, he sometimes flails with the material and completely hams the comedy. His character is at its best when it deadpans irony. There's a zillion of these shows and in my viewing thus far, I've barely scratched the surface. Yet each I've seen is phenomenal.