BBC Video // 1991 // 284 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge John Floyd (Retired) // March 12th, 2008
How is it that the British can tell the same jokes over and over again for years and still make me laugh?
In the seventh season of 'Allo, 'Allo!, French café owner René Artois (Gorden Kaye) is still struggling mightily to save his own skin as he harbors two buffoonish British airmen from the equally buffoonish Nazi forces occupying the small town of Nouvion during World War II. Cooperating with the all-female French Resistance more out a desire to get rid of the downed pilots (and to keep the Resistance from shooting him) than a sense of patriotism, René also labors to keep his extramarital affairs with two young waitresses secret from his tone deaf wife, his hard-drinking mother-in-law and her elderly husband, an incompetent Gestapo agent and his diminutive assistant, and a doltish British spy posing as the local constable, whose terrible grasp of French leads him to mispronounce vowel sounds, often with unintentionally vulgar results.
Series Seven is comprised of the following episodes:
* "A Quiet Honeymoon"
* "An Almighty Bang"
* "Fleeing Monks"
* "Up the Crick Without a Piddle"
* "The Gestapo Ruins a Picnic"
* "The Spirit of Nouvion"
* "Leg it to Spain!"
* "Prior Engagements"
* "Soup and Sausage"
* "René of the Gypsies"
If you've ever caught yourself giggling at Molly Sugden's Mrs. Slocombe declaring that she is "unanimous" in something on Are You Being Served? or Benny Hill smacking the back of poor Jackie Wright's bald head on The Benny Hill Show, you should probably check out 'Allo, 'Allo!. Created by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, this raunchy period sitcom combined the manic farce and light satire of both of those classic series. It also borrowed another of trademark of those long-running programs' rigid adherence to formula. 'Allo, 'Allo ran from 1982 to 1992, repeating most of its signature gags in one form or another in all 85 episodes.
We Yanks are used to sitcoms recycling dumb jokes ad nauseum. The difference is that on imported shows like 'Allo, 'Allo! and Are You Being Served? (also by Lloyd and Croft), such repetition doesn't seem to dull the comedic impact of the material. One would think that, by the seventh season, juvenile bits like Captain Crabtree saying in abysmal faux French, "I am mauving in a ginger fashion becerrs my poloceman's pints are full of dinamote!" as he pulls sticks of dynamite from his trousers would have become tiresome, but it simply isn't the case. How many times can Edith catching her philandering husband hugging the sexy Yvette, only to be sternly chastised for being too insensitive and stupid to see the "real" reason (which René has just made up) for the intimate embrace, get a laugh? 85 times, apparently. The double entendres, gay jokes, Italian jokes, catchphrases, and stage accent-derived language barrier mix-ups just keep coming in the series' seventh year, yet they still manage to draw a chuckle each and every time.
Not everything works, of course. As in the previous six years, some of the sex humor is just a bit too obvious and sophomoric to be amusing. Sensitive viewers may take exception to some of the broad ethnic stereotypes, and there are occasions when gags end a bit too abruptly to fully realize their potential. Still, anyone already familiar with the program should be surprised by none of this. Whether you find the show hilarious or just repetitive, it would be hard to argue that it isn't consistent.
Writers Lloyd and Paul Adam (in his first season with the program) do fine work in series seven, but it is the superb cast that makes this show work. The time-tested Green Acres formula of surrounding one reasonably sane man with lunatics and idiots is a perfect showcase for the amiable Kaye, his René a sympathetic figure in spite of his apparent apathy toward the war effort and his frequent marital infidelity. The late Carmen Silvera might have been the gamest actress in the history of British comedy, enduring nine seasons of cruel (but always funny) jokes about her character Edith's aged appearance and dreadful singing voice like a trooper. Similarly, Nicholas Frankau and John D. Collins allow themselves to be sent-up relentlessly as the stereotypical stiff and rather dim English pilots. Richard Marner, Guy Siner, Hilary Minster, Kim Hartman, Richard Gibson, and Louis Mansi are all excellent as the occupying Germans, and Kirsten Cooke and Arthur Bostrom regularly steal scenes as Michelle "of the Resistance" and Captain Crabtree, respectively. Newcomer Roger Kitter assumes the role of the would-be ladies man Captain Alberto Bertorelli from departing Gavin Richards, and acquits himself nicely. Vicki Michelle has great fun spoofing her considerable sex appeal as Yvette.
BBC Video releases are usually loaded with extras, but this set includes only text bios of the cast and crew. None of the actors were available to record a commentary track or two?
'Allo, 'Allo!: The Complete Series Seven is more of the same sexy silliness that regular viewers have come to expect. It may not be particularly sophisticated or innovative, but it will keep you giggling from beginning to end.
Good moaning, 'Allo, 'Allo! detractors! I have some bod nose for you. I have a massage from Ongland. This shoe is very finny. Note goalty! (That's "Not Guilty!" for those readers who don't speak French.)
Review content copyright © 2008 John Floyd; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 284 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Cast & Crew Bios
* DVD Verdict Review - Complete Series Five