Acorn Media // 1984 // 294 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 20th, 2011
A British couple's empty nest adventures.
Acorn continues to build its reputation as the most prolific studio bringing Brit content from across the pond -- even if you've never heard of any of it.
Such as Fresh Fields a production that has thus far completely escaped my radar. And after sitting through its charms for 12 episodes worth I can safely say that the studio doesn't care if I like it or not. This isn't a show geared towards me; it's for my parents.
Originally airing in 1984, the series received some burn stateside on PBS, a perfect home for it. The show follows the low-key, yet sporadically spunky adventures of married couple Hester (Julia McKenzie) and William (Anton Rodgers) Fields. They've been hitched for twenty years and their kids have grown up and gotten out of Dodge, leaving them to their own devices. This typically involves free-spirited and oft-bored Hester seeking out and participating in all manners of diversions: fencing, painting, cooking, acting. William is an uptight, wry accountant and he almost always gets involuntarily sucked into these exploits. And it's that juxtaposition from which Fresh Fields draws much of its humor.
Did I laugh? Nah. It's not my cup of...er, tea. But I can objectively recognize the charm and the wit, and McKenize and Rodgers have a warm, easygoing chemistry. They both know what they have to do to generate laughs and slip into those roles effortlessly. Hester is the primary driver of the comic entanglements but William's deadpan, exasperated reaction to the shenanigans that often engulf him proved to be the most rewarding in my eyes. Also, he wears glasses the size of satellite dishes, sort of like mine from junior high, so I have to support a brother in fashion.
The synopsis on the back of the disc case describes Fresh Fields as a "genial British sitcom" and I think that the poorly paid intern who was given a pittance to come up with that line gets it exactly right: it's not uproarious or innovative and groundbreaking, but it's comfortable, likable, and warm, like a well-knitted afghan or a leopard-print Snuggie.
Two discs, twelve episodes, housing both Series 1 and Series 2. Episodes are transferred in full frame, 2.0 stereo with text filmographies of the two leads the only extras.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 294 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Not Rated