With seven series and numerous Christmas specials, this gem of a Britcom, which ran for over 20 years (1981-2003) is–at least in my opinion–one of of the best ever made, and it’s release on DVD is long, long overdue.
The series revolves around two brothers who sell “hooky” goods down at the local market. Perhaps the taxes are owing or the goods have entered the country illegally–elder brother Del finds it best not to be too curious about their origin, his usual line being that they’ve “fallen off the back of a lorry”! Whatever there origin, they are invariably substandard (if not downright rejects!) and tacky to say the least. The closing theme song sums it up: “No income tax, no VAT, no money back, no guarantee.”
Derek “Del Boy” Trotter (the signature role for veteran comedy actor David Jason (A Touch of Frost, The Darling Buds of May, Open All Hours, Micawber)) is the street-smart, smooth-talking, self-confident, self-important “brains” of the business (and I use the term loosely!). To his credit, he knows the ropes, is capable of looking after himself, and has enough savvy to actually sell some of his dodgy rubbish. Where Del hilariously falls short, however, is in thinking he has taste and culture, in thinking he’s god’s gift to women (he wears and abundance of gold jewellery and cheap scent and, in fairness, is attractive to, well, a certain kind of woman!), and in believing himself to be a knowledgeable and informed man-of-the-world–a real mover and a shaker. His pet expression is “Next time this year we’ll be millionaires”, yet somehow the Trotters always manage to be living pretty much hand-to-mouth, as they drive about in Del’s run-down three-wheeled van.
Del lives in a council flat with his younger brother Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst (The Piglet Files, Butterflies)). Rodney hasn’t half the street-smarts as Del; as a result, he makes some nearly fatal errors in judgement–like asking a police woman out on a date (he has a thing for women in uniforms!), or falling asleep while he’s on duty as “lookout” while Del flogs the goods. Though he may be an idiot (a “plonker” as Del calls him), he is actually the more intelligent, knowledgeable and cultured of the two (though strictly by comparison!).
The brothers live with their frail old Grandad (Lennard Pearce, who sadly died, aged 69, of heart failure in 1984), whose missing a marble or two himself. Two other regulars are Del’s half-witted friend Trigger (Roger Lloyd Pack–The Vicar of Dibley’s farmer Owen), who insists on calling Rodney “Dave”; and Boycie, a pompous, shady businessman who enjoys thumbing his nose at Del.
The DVD boxed set contains the complete first three series (twenty 30-minute episodes) which date from 1981 to 1983. Special features include three half-hour Christmas specials (one to follow each of the series), an enjoyable 70-minute behind-the-scenes special entitled “The Story of Only Fools and Horses”, a Photo Gallery, the Peckham Concise Trotter Dictionary, and Cast Bios (both text-based).
In conclusion, I highly and unconditionally recommend this outstanding series to anyone who enjoys the very best in British comedy. This is one series, however, that I strongly recommend taking the plunge and getting BOTH boxed sets, as many people (myself included) seem to think the second set is even funnier. At any rate, I know I’m not alone in hoping the BBC will soon release the rest of this classic series!
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From reading the previous reviews, it is obvious that Only Fools is a hit among the British that grew up with Del Boy and Rodney’s antics. My wife is one of those…in fact my wife, her mother, father, brother and the rest of their family…I however, shall speak for the Yanks. Being an American married to an expat, I can definetely say that the humor reaches its way across the Pond. Although the accents are strong and I sometimes miss the nuiances of the slang, the humor and the writing always hit home. I can thank Amazon for the sixty odd dollars that I spent on this collection that turned into $1500 in airline tickets for us to fly home so my wife can watch the Only Fools Christmas specials on her old Telly.
Seeing that the British manage their sitcoms correctly by writing six or so good shows a season instead of in the States where they pump out maybe 22 a season. The result is incredible. The stories are so strongly written that they draw you in and then have you on the floor laughing.
The point to all of this is that if you like Blackadder, Fawlty Towers and the rest, you will like Only Fools…even if you are an American…
Hey BBC…hurry up and get the rest of the Series put out in the States. I can guarantee that there is room for more on our shelf.
I first discovered “Only Fools and Horses” many years ago when my local public television affiliate ran this series at 11pm. David Jason as Del Boy is the consummate loveable rascal as he conjures up one hairbrained scheme after the next, always with the promise that “this time next year we’ll be millionaires”!
Rodders (Rodney, or Dave, as Trigger [one of their pub pals] calls him; played by Nicholas Lyndhurst) is Del’s younger brother and, usually, a reluctant sidekick to Del’s nutty ideas. The first few years also featured Granddad, a dim, blandly benevolent figure who was removed with the death of Lennard Pearce, the actor who played him. Buster Merryfield joined the Trotters as their Uncle Albert, a retired seaman who never ceases to regale listeners with tales of his high seas adventures.
I cannot imagine anyone not finding these characters and their situations tremendously amusing. Oftentimes I truly hoped Del would, somehow, land a trick that worked — but then, the series could never have lasted near as long if they’d really become millionaires! As an American I’ve only seen so much of this series and, like many other reviewers, am keen on having the entire set released on DVD. Anyone who fancies British comedy will enjoy them…”don’t be a plonker all your life”, make a visit to the boys down Peckham way and I assure you it’ll be “lovely jubbly”!