- TV Series
In France during World War II, René Artois runs a small café where Resistance fighters, Gestapo men, German Army officers and escaped Allied POWs interact daily, ignorant of one another's tr... Read allIn France during World War II, René Artois runs a small café where Resistance fighters, Gestapo men, German Army officers and escaped Allied POWs interact daily, ignorant of one another's true identity or presence, exasperating René.In France during World War II, René Artois runs a small café where Resistance fighters, Gestapo men, German Army officers and escaped Allied POWs interact daily, ignorant of one another's true identity or presence, exasperating René.
Hilarious British comedy
I'm not certain I've watched every episode of this show, but it sure is not for a lack of trying. The Brits have a tendency of(and a talent for) turning unpleasant historical events into the subject of satirical shows. The BlackAdder series covered many of Britain's greatest blunders through the last thousand years or so. This deals with WWII, using the setting of a small, occupied town in France, and spoofing basically any kind of person you might meet there... all the people and all the nationalities are covered. You'll meet Frenchmen, Brits, Germans, Russians, yes, even an Italian or two(actually... make that one). The humor is a good mix between the typically crude and silly humor of Benny Hill(complete with ending some episodes with people chasing each other in a farcical manner), and the more witty, verbal humor of shows such as the aforementioned BlackAdder series. There's even a tad of black comedy, mostly delivered by the undertaker, Monsieur Alfonse. It steers almost entirely clear of gross-out comedy, something that turned up in last-mentioned show(even if it didn't become terribly apparent before the last two seasons). The characters are well-written(if somewhat thin) and humorous. Though most of them are clichés, they are surprisingly easy to tell apart... their particular gag, their "schtick" is uniquely theirs. And though they are repeated throughout the series, the jokes hold up exceptionally well. You find yourself quoting characters years after you saw the episode where the line appeared, and some scenes stick in your mind for ages. The reason the stereotypical jokes work is that they hit the mark... every single one of them. You have the somewhat whiny German officers who didn't really *want* to be officers, but, as one remarks, "It's Hitler... he's a very demanding man." You have the small-time café owner who just wants to stay in business, but still lights up some at the thought of fighting for his countrymen, of being considered "the bravest man in all of France." We have Arthur Bostrom as the British undercover agent who couldn't speak French to save his life(parodying the difficulty of learning that language) is always fun, even if his lines and jokes are mostly derived from his mispronunciation, and therefore can hardly be claimed to be anything but silly(though there are moments of clever puns). Richard Gibson, as the eternally stiff, never-affected-emotionally Gestapo officer(who just happens to contain parts of various famous German officers, and even Hitler himself) is my personal favorite, in the role that always begets laughter. And Guy Siner must be mentioned... never has one character begotten so many jokes about sexuality. German discipline, French passion, Italian flashiness and British cheeriness are all expertly spoofed. The verbal comedy is masterful. Anyone not from Britain(and even there, it's not just anyone) needs an excellent grip on the British language. On that note... with how many different approaches there are to handling different languages(ignoring it, having the actors do accents, subbing and dubbing), I think this takes the cake, at least for me. No word of anything but English is spoken here. To distinguish, they simply have the (British) actors put on an accent according to which language they're supposed to be speaking(no H at the beginning of any word for the French, Z's instead of S's for the Germans, and A at the end of various words for the Italian, etc.). This is established in the very pilot, where both the Brits and the Frenchmen determine that they don't understand a word of what the other group is speaking. The British is all exaggerated British, as well... imitating the way the Brits sound to anyone who don't hear them too often. They're making an effort to help the viewer tell the nationalities apart, whilst flaunting the fact that they all speak the same language. Marvelous. The plot lines are intricate(but never overly complicated), and always filled with mix-ups and sitcom-like mishaps. The great thing is that in every episode(at least to my knowledge), you are treated to a minute or two of a character(typically René, the lead) explaining the current situation, complete with mix-ups. You can join the show at any point(though it's always the best to watch them in the right order, and as many as you can get near). The rich scenery of many episodes is quite a high-point, as well... BlackAdder, from the second season and onwards was always on sets, occasionally average-at-best ones. They flaunt that fact, similarly to how this flaunts the language difference(or lack thereof). Only the first season of BlackAdder had outdoor scenes(and let's face it, no matter how you look at it, the cinematography wasn't exactly brilliant). This has many outdoor scenes, complete with vehicles and surroundings that fit the time it is set in. That helps sell the setting and time period very well. The wide character gallery helps for variety, and some credibility is attained(and the tone is kept from being overly goofy) in part through authentic details and occurrences that seem realistic. This was a great show that almost attained excellence, were it not for a few bugging points... the occasional overdone or overly repeated gag, the few episodes which just aren't that funny, one or two characters that were somewhat one-note jokes(and not all that good ones, at that), and such. And replacing Gibson... even for the last few episodes... that, in my opinion, was a very big mistake. However, if you do catch this show and find it funny, I definitely suggest watching the whole thing through. Not only is the vast majority of episodes excellent, but the very ending, the last few minutes of the finale are marvelous. Perfect way to end the show. I recommend this to any fan of British humor, both verbal and the Benny Hill variation, as well as black comedy, and anyone looking to laugh at the second World War. Priceless entertainment. 8/10
- Oct 4, 2006
Contribute to this page
Suggest an edit or add missing content