From the creators of the venerable British sitcom “Are You Being Served?” comes this 85-episode collection: the continuing adventures of “humble cafe owner” Rene Artois (Gorden Kaye), who is constantly dragooned into aiding the desperate efforts of Resistance fighters against the Nazis in wartime France. Like “Are You Being Served?,” the scripts are full of double entendres, single entendres, farcical pursuits and intrigues, crazy comedy props, and plenty of verbal and visual jokes, delivered by a solid ensemble cast. In the many bawdy situations where a broader comedian would mug shamelessly, Gorden Kaye’s sheepish subtlety scores every time.
This is a serial, so the episodes must be watched in sequence to follow the insane storyline. Among the plot points running through the series are a frenzied hunt for a missing painting, the equally frenzied concealment of two clueless British airmen, pompous posturing by military officers and Gestapo spies, the tunneling INTO a prisoner-of-war camp, clandestine romances forced upon Rene by anyone in skirts (even the Resistance girls can’t resist Rene, and one of the German officers has eyes for him, too), everybody adopting cross-dressing disguises at one time or another, and any number of wild schemes to harass and hinder German battle plans, involving ridiculous and ingeniously engineered props.
This viewer had seen the first three dozen episodes on public television before the station discontinued the series, so it was great to see so many more episodes. This 19-disc collection presents all 85 half-hours, and there isn’t a lemon in the bunch. Even when the jokes are predictable, it’s the reactions of the various characters that often carry the comedy. The series survived many personnel changes on both sides of the cameras, and viewers will probably become fans who will find their own favorite characters and portrayals.
There are many “Allo, Allo”-related bonus features in the DVD set, including an episode of “Blankety Blank” (the British “Match Game”) and a documentary about the series as a whole (on disc 16 — DON’T watch it until you’ve seen all 19 discs, because the documentary gives the series’ ending away).
Highly recommended for comedy fans, and delightfully habit-forming viewing: we enjoyed watching an episode almost every night for three months.
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Classic British comedy at its finest. Absolutely classic. I wonder if this show could even be made today, in this Politically Correct minefield…? Thank God it *was* made, as this is a true gem of television that is not likely to ever be replicated.
‘Allo ‘Allo! is such a classic comedy – it keeps me laughing…I have a friend who also loves British Comedy…he comes over and we have a “British Comedy Day” and just watch the classics…another favorite is “The Thin Blue Line.”