I actually have a complaint about "As Time Goes By," the British comedy about a second chance at love and laughter starring Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer. I cannot stand the laugh track. In the opening minute of Episode 1 the laugh track is employed several times and I am wondering what I missed that was so funny. On more than one occasion in my life I have been the only one laughing in a theater at something, and I laugh all the time while watching shows on television alone down here in my little office, so I do not need to be prompted on when to laugh at something. For a while I thought maybe I did not appreciate the British sense of humor as much as I thought I did, but I am pretty sure that is not the case. The bottom line is that "As Time Goes By" does not need the bloody laugh track.
The premise of the show reminds me a bit of "Love Among the Ruins," except that Dench and Palmer are not nearly as old as Katharine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier. During the Korean War a dashing young British Army officer and a lovely student nurse fell in love and then he was shipped off to the war. Lionel and Jean were star crossed, at least as far as the mails were concerned, and for forty years they have been wondering why the other one did not respond to their love letter.
Volume 1 offers up the first three episodes of the series from the 1993 season. Episode 1 has Lionel, now a divorced coffee planter, taking up residence at a London hotel to finish his memoir about his life in Kenya, entitled, "My Life in Kenya." He needs a temporary secretary and hires one from a local agency, never suspecting that it is owned by his former sweetheart, the now widowed Jean. However, Jean's daughter Judith (Moira Brooker) is able to figure out enough to put two and two together. That becomes Jean's primary concern in Episode 2, as she does her best to play matchmaker for her mother and Lionel. At least the two end up actually spending time talking to one another. Episode 3 finds Jean and Lionel spending the day together revisiting the romantic places of their past. Of course, nothing is the same after forty years.
"As Time Goes By" is a romantic comedy where the best comedy comes out of the romance, even if at this point it is simply memories of a romance long past. The supporting characters are mostly comic foils and minor impediments to Lionel and Jean trying to rekindle their old magic. But writer Bob Larbey and Producer/Director Sydney Lotterby are in no hurry to rush this renewed relationship or our enjoyment of it. Do you think that someday if this was put out on a DVD it could have an audio option that would ditch the laugh track?