Mention “Are You Being Served?” to someone, and their eyes will light up. Mention “Allo Allo!”, and you’ll probably be hit with a quizzical look. This has been my overall experience, and it has always been a frustrating one. I link the two series, because both are brainchilds of Britcom comedic masters Jeremy Lloyd & David Croft. Both are absolutely hilarious. But it seems as though “Allo Allo!” has taken the shorter end of the popularity stick here in the US, but with this release of its first season on DVD, I hope that can change somewhat.
The first 7 episodes of the classic Britcom are featured on this collection, and they are the start to a most wonderful, long-running show. The story starts during WWII, when France is being occupied by Germany. Our protagonist is Rene Artois, who runs a cafe. He is the (mostly) sane center to a storm of off the wall characters. Rene’s wife, Edith, is older than he is, and is a terrible singer. The local Gestapo agent, Herr Flick, is a psycho with a limp. The German officers are all nutty, and one of them even fancies Rene. The women of the French Resistance are always sneaking into the cafe to cajole Rene into daring missions for France, and then there are also the British airmen — shot down over France, and now in hiding at Rene’s cafe. They don’t speak the language, and their appearances in each episode are always good for a laugh. Rene is also quite keen on his bar maids, Yvette and Maria. It is a secret he must keep from the ever-suspicious Edith.
All of this, I’m sure, sounds like a lot of information to take in. And it is. “Allo Allo!” rarely slows down the pace, and this eventually leads to Rene opening every episode talking to the audience, bringing them up to speed on the previous episode’s events. The storylines flow from one show to the next, and over the years we are treated to a host of madcap adventures. I think it takes until Series 3 before “Allo Allo!” really finds its groove, but Series 1 is still a solid start to a truly great television show.
Once the disc is over, I’m sure you’ll want to see more. And it only gets better. There are many more episodes of “Allo Allo!” to come. I hope that we get to see the rest of them released on DVD someday. The show deserves it.
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British sitcoms are the best sitcoms. The better American sitcoms — Cheers, Sanford and Son, All in the Family and others — all had their start over in the motherland. In British sitcoms, the sets are usually minimal, but the acting and especially the writing are all first rate. I could draw up a large list of my favorite British sitcoms (though be warned, there are some bad ones out there — just watch the BBC America channel some time) off the top of my head. At the very top of that list would sit ALLO, ALLO. Fans of the show don’t need to be told any of this, and the show’s setting and plot summaries have been well covered by other reviews, so here is my point in writing this… FANS OF BRITISH SITCOMS: LET’S ALL GET TOGETHER AND PRE-ORDER THE ALLO, ALLO SERIES ONE DVD’s. That way the BBC will hopefully get busy and rush (HA!)the other TWELVE (I think) fabulous series of this wonderful show out on DVD. ALLO, ALLO deserves to be seen in a high quality format.
Without a doubt, Allo Allo is one of the funniest sitcoms I have ever seen..I have pretty well all episodes on aging and bad quality VHS tapes….I only hope that all the episodes will be released. If one wants to watch some good old fashioned sarcastic and hilarious humor I can only recommend this show highly. I am actually laughing while I am typing, thinking about the show.Kurt