Judge Clark Douglas keeps waiting for Edith to give Rene a good smack on the head with a frying pan. Alas, it never happens.
"You stupid woman!"
"Good moaning…I have a massage from Michelle."—Officer Crabtree
Facts of the Case
When we meet up with French café owner Rene Artois (Gordon Kaye) again, things seem to be going quite well. The end of World War II is near. Rene has finally managed to help those British airmen escape, the Italians have been defeated, and the Germans don't seem to be doing very well at all. However, Rene's momentary happiness is deflated when Yvette announces that she is pregnant…and Rene is the father. Normally, this wouldn't be a huge problem. Rene could just marry Yvette, and all scandal would be prevented. Unfortunately, Rene is still married to Edith (Carmen Silvera)…well, sort of. In a previous season, Rene faked his death, and is now considered legally dead. So, he is no longer technically married to Edith, and Edith has legal ownership of Rene's café. Despite this, Rene still runs the café. However, if he were to marry someone else, Edith would undoubtedly become very angry and take the café away from him. Oh, what a messy predicament! Meanwhile, the German army is quite troubled. The famous painting entitled "Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies" is suddenly missing one booby. If they don't get the missing booby back, everything is lost!
Eight episodes are spread across two discs in a rather unusual manner. The first disc only features the first episode, and the second disc features the other seven.
In his fine review of 'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Seven, Judge John Floyd wondered how British comedy managed to successfully recycle catchphrases and old gags for seven seasons without getting stale. A good question, but I suspect that Judge Floyd may have gotten the last good slice of the loaf. Season Eight of this tired old staple of British comedy is very stale indeed, relying on an increasingly predictable series of wacky situations and endless catchphrases to supply the comic meat of each half-hour episode. I don't necessarily dislike the series as a whole; I've caught 'Allo 'Allo! numerous times on PBS and found it to be diverting fun at times. However, this season feels far too much like an ungainly marriage between Hogan's Heroes and Ricky Gervais' fictional Extras sitcom, When the Whistle Blows.
The series never resists any opportunity to provide cheap sexual innuendo. It replaces clever wit with childish sex jokes and can never seem to find any situation that avoids easy sex-related gags. For instance, the verbally-challenged Officer Crabtree (Arthur Bostrom) keeps mispronouncing the words "bells" and "bulls" as "balls." So, we get gems like "those balls are angry," "ring my balls," and so on. The German characters in this program make similar characters from Hogan's Heroes seem Shakespearean. They are nothing more than idiotic cornball stereotypes, each supplied with their own unique idiotic trait. Surprisingly, we spend at least as much time with them as we do with the lead characters. Many of the scenes featuring the German characters are a bit problematic, as we are asked to sympathize with these poor, foolish Nazis. Oh, they may be murdering millions of innocent people, but those lovable goofballs mean well, right? Ah…I'm still not laughing.
Performances are broad and simple across the board. Carmen Silvera is reasonably good playing the most clueless woman in sitcom history. Vicki Michelle is charming enough in the role of the clingy Yvette. Arthur Bostrom does occasionally manage to create some inventive verbal manglings, and Gordon Kaye holds everything together nicely as Rene. Still, any attributes that the actors bring to the proceedings are overwhelmed by the ceaseless catchphrases and familiar mannerisms that severely limit their behavior and dialogue.
The show looks okay, though not exactly exceptional. The occasional scratch appears here and there, and the picture quality is rather flat. The audio tends to crank the laugh track a little too loud on a regular basis, though otherwise it is fine. The only DVD extra is a 40-minute special that examines the careers of the cast since the end of the series. There are some interviews and comments here, fans of the show are sure to like it.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Occasionally a sparkle of light will shimmer through the cracks. For every dozen tired gags, there's one that manages to supply a genuine chuckle. I particularly enjoyed a routine in "Awful Wedded Wife" involving a large pile of money.
If you've stuck with the show this long, I suppose there's no reason to stop now. As much as I'd like to contrast this series with the other seasons of the show, I can only report on what I've seen. 'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Eight is tired sitcom material that ranks pretty low on the scale of British comedy.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
• "Comedy Connections: 'Allo 'Allo!"
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