Case Number 12109: Small Claims Court


BBC Video // 1992 // 173 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // September 26th, 2007

The Charge

"Jonathan Hadey. A nice guy. One of the world's good scouts. Governor of his local primary school, Rotarian, chief high coven priest of the Amersham and District's Satanic Abuse Club. An ordinary, decent British citizen."

The Case

In his review of A Bit of Fry and Laurie: Seasons One and Two, Appellete Judge Mike Pinsky provides a thorough background on the duo behind this amusing British comedy series, Hugh Laurie (House) and Stephen Fry (Jeeves And Wooster). So, instead of repeating that here, I'll get straight to the material at hand.

A Bit of Fry and Laurie: Season Three is comprised of six episodes, each slightly less than 30 minutes in length. Highlights from the third season of the sketch comedy series include:
* A couple of bits involving hard-boiled secret agent Alan (Laurie) and his eccentric boss (Fry);
* A gas station run by ex-real estate agents, who try to sell petrol the same way they sold houses;
* Laurie singing There Ain't But One Way, a send-up of patriotic American country music;
* A brothel for people who like to get intimate with footwear;
* A man doesn't think much of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, so he goes to the bookstore to complain.

The episodes are a mix of on-set and pre-recorded sketches. Sprinkled between sketches are brief pre-recorded man-on-the-street interviews: "Is God an Englishman? Well, that's a tricky one. Theologians are pretty much undecided, but I think it is universally accepted that he isn't Welsh." Laurie and Fry appear as a host of eccentric characters, even appearing in drag a number of times. Each episode concludes with the duo bidding farewell to the audience with Laurie playing the piano and imitating a trumpet while Fry mixes a bizarre cocktail (e.g., "A Slow Snog With A Distant Relative").

As noted in Appellate Judge Pinsky's review, the jokes are more witty than hysterical. For me, the twisted wordplay (I advise turning on the subtitles to catch everything) employed by Fry and Laurie provides a fairly consistent stream of laughter:

Fry: How may we serve?
Laurie: Well, I was after a pair of shoes.
Fry: Very well, I shall serve them first.

Of course, it's not all completely innocent. There is plenty of naughty dialogue:

Woman: Look, if we're gonna be working together, we might as well be friends.
Laurie: I work faster alone.
Woman: Perhaps it'd be a good idea if we went to bed together.
Laurie: Like I said, I work faster alone.
Woman: Me, too. Have you got two bedrooms?

Further, borrowing a trick from Monty Python's Flying Circus, some sketches disintegrate into other sketches. For example, a bit about an executive trying to fire an employee cuts to a game show in which a contestant is supposed to guess how the previous scene ends. Then the game show turns on itself and the contestant is asked to guess how the game show sketch will end. Another sketch about an international business deal breaks down into observations on the studio set and the audience.

Not all of the sketches work, especially those that drift from the focus on language. In particular, the prank store and "Tahitian Kitchen" bits are more gross than anything else. Also, some segments require knowledge of British popular culture and politics. However, these problems don't crop up very often.

There are no extras.

Overall, the wordplay doesn't hit the heights of Blackadder and the absurdity doesn't match Monty Python's Flying Circus, but A Bit Of Fry And Laurie: Season Three is still solidly witty, or wittily solid, depending on your preference. Fans of the talented duo, and British comedy more generally, should be satisfied by this offering.

Review content copyright © 2007 Roy Hrab; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 83

Perp Profile
Studio: BBC Video
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* English

Running Time: 173 Minutes
Release Year: 1992
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb

* DVD Verdict Review: A Bit Of Fry And Laurie: Seasons One and Two

* BBC: A Bit of Fry and Laurie