23 May 2011 | pae-61-930207
By the same writer as the wonderful "People Like Us," the shows are riproaringly funny and daringly satirical without being the least bit nasty. Recommended for everyone, whether interested in the Olympics or not. The humor is deadpan; you have to listen and look closely. You have simultaneously the experience of being trapped in a very familiar world and the sense that the camera and narrator give you some breathing room from it. The characters are recognizable types and yet individuals; their actions deplorable and yet forgivable. Characters with extremely limited screen time make indelible impressions, and even characters with no screen time at all. Real people are invoked and sometimes appear (e.g., Sebastian Coe); the sets and location shots also give a documentary feel. Two generations of Americans have gotten a enormous kick out of watching a few episodes and look forward to seeing the rest. Everything is done impeccably---in contrast to the fiction!