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Wodehouse Playhouse: Series One

John Alderton , Pauline Collins , David Askey    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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P.G. Wodehouse himself introduces each episode of Wodehouse Playhouse; a ringing endorsement, eh, what? This much-loved 1975 series, a sparkling jewel in the BBC crown, brings to the screen several of Wodehouse's most delightful stories and eccentric characters, as embodied by John Alderton and Pauline Collins, the real-life couple perhaps best known stateside for their endearing series No, Honestly, as well as their stints on Upstairs, Downstairs. Sadly, Jeeves and Wooster are absent in these tales, but the daft Mulliver family is here, in "The Truth About George," "Romance at Droitgate Spa," "Portrait of a Disciplinarian," "Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court," and "A Voice from the Past." "Rodney Fails to Qualify," one of Wodehouse's famed golf stories, is anything but par for the course, as a clueless young man almost loses his beloved golfing partner to a poet. Only the Hollywood tale "The Rise of Minna Nordstrom" is a bit of a letdown, but is redeemed by Collins's considerable charms. This series is faithful to Wodehouse's gentle humor and his nimble use of language ("Dogface, my demon lover, you did not endear yourself," rebukes one woman to her companion in one story). For his devoted readers, or better, for those yet to have the pleasure of his literary company, Wodehouse Playhouse is jolly good! --Donald Liebenson

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars P. G. Wonderful: The Wodehouse Britcoms Nov. 18 2003
I had no idea who PGW was when I stumbled on these shows, which ran as a summer replacement for some other comedy in the US in 1975. One of them was the funniest thing I've ever seen on TV, and I laughed hysterically. After the summer season, the other show returned. I searched in vain for years to find these classics again, having no idea what they were. Just this year I was rewarded, with their appearance on DVD. In the nearly quarter century between that first show and this DVD, I had luckily stumbled onto (and devoured) PGW's books. I'd also had the great good fortune to watch Jeeves and Wooster, all four seasons having recently found their way onto DVD. Volume One of Wodehouse Playhouse includes seven shows drawn from the Mr. Mulliner stories, with John Alderton playing the various Mulliner relations and Pauline Collins playing everyone else. These are very much stark, stripped down Britcoms: part Vaudeville, part comic play, part slapstick craziness, lively, witty dialogue, with the dynamic duo changing hats and playing all the roles--not unlike the cast of Monty Python or Kids in the Hall. Most of the earlier film adaptations of his stories PGW felt missed the mark; these he introduces and gives his seal of approval in what must be his last TV appearances. Avid readers, of course, have their own ideas of what these characters would look like and how they would act. It helps to suspend that critical faculty and just enjoy these shows for what they are: one of many possible takes on some of the comic Master's best bits. An interesting inclusion is a brief history of the Mulliner, Golf and Drones Club stories from which Wodehouse Playhouse was drawn, by Tony Ring, president of the International Wodehouse Association. All in all, Wodehouse Playhouse is a must have for any devoted reader of the Master or lover of Britcoms.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Alderton and Collins at their best Oct. 24 2003
Alderton and Collins (known for their roles in Upstairs, Downstairs and the comedy series No, Honestly) are in to form in this collection of the classic show.
Each half-hour episode stars the pair in a classic P.G. Wodehouse story. The stories help show the range of these talents. Alderton can be a stuttering Milquetoast, swishy poet, a prestidigitator, blustering producer, or even a forceful suitor. Each episode is introduced by P.G. Wodehouse himself.
The Truth About George is about a stutterer trying to overcome his impediment so that he can propose to the woman he loves.
Romance at Droitgate Spa tells of snobbery amongst the ill and a romance beset by a mad magician.
Portrait of a Disciplinarian has to childhood friends visiting their addled but still stern nanny for tea.
Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court has two poets in love overcome by the blood curse of the house full of hunters.
The Rise of Minna Nordstrom tells of how a chambermaid rose to stardom in Hollywood during Prohibition.
Rodney Fails to Qualify has a mild golfer competing for a woman's love with a non-golfing poet.
A Voice from the Past tells of a mix-up with a correspondence course and childhood memories of stern teachers.
Each story is a classic and will be enjoyed by Wodehouse fans (Jeeves & Wooster, Blandings Castle, Mulliner, etc.) and fans of British humor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just buy it! June 27 2003
These episodes are superbly produced, directed, costumed, and especially acted. The stars are a married pair of fine British comic thespians, who were also outstanding in their seriocomic roles in "Upstairs, Downstairs." Supporting casts are uniformly superb.
I found Wodehouse's intros priceless. Even as a nonagenarian, he was worth almost the price of the whole set -- so droll, so amused with appreciation of human folly, so skilled at a twinkly-eyed but not unduly harsh presentation of foibles. Every word he said was both easy (for me) to understand and well worth hearing. How marvelous to have this personal record of a great humorist! I only wish we had seen more of him. What I wouldn't give to see Oscar Wilde or Jane Austen or several others similarly introduce performances of their works!
This set is also a great bargain. Perhaps the sound and picture are not up to today's standards, but they did not distract from my enjoyment in the least. The "Jeeves and Wooster" set is indeed better Wodehouse than this set, only because J&W is perfect while this one is merely close to perfect, but both are worth at least five stars to this picky reviewer. Anyone who does not like Wodehouse and his marvelously framed understated absurdities deserves to spend eternity watching Hollywood potboilers and US sitcoms.
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2.0 out of 5 stars WODEHOUSE BUTCHERED June 2 2003
Breathless with anticipation after reading little but good reviews of these DVDs, we watched the first episode, the 25 minute THE TRUTH ABOUT GEORGE yesterday evening. This story was first published in England in the STRAND magazine in 1926, then in book form (by Herbert Jenkins & Co) in the first collection of Mulliner stories in 1927. It concerns George Mulliner, nephew of the narrator, and his beloved Susan. George and Susan both love crosswords, as well as each other, but being beset by stammering, George is prevented from expressing his devotion (he succeeds in the end). This particular story is one of the weakest in the entire Mulliner canon, but it's still pretty amusing in print. In the BBC version, it's feeble, even though the plot was adhered to fairly rigorously. Stammering as an affliction can be humorous on the written page, in moderation, in the hands of a master such as Wodehouse. I am not squeamish, and am able to watch a Tarantino movie without batting an eye, but the portrayal of the stutterer by Alderton was inexpressibly cruel, and made me squirm. It was like watching a child pull the wings off a fly. There were a few funny moments - this was Wodehouse, after all - but that was it. The chase scene, where George tried to elude his pursuers through the countryside, was painfully dull, since Alderton, a comic actor of some talent (I even remember him in his TV role as the indecisive schoolmaster in PLEASE, SIR, from the late 1960s) is no Jacques Tati, and physical humor is not one of his assets. I am not in principle against adaptation of Wodehouse for TV; the Fry / Laurie series of Jeeves and Wooster, for example, was excellent in every respect. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Engaging for Wodehouse Enthusiasts & the Uninitiated, Too
Alderton and collins are extraordinarily versatile in these Wodehouse adaptations, which sparkle with classic wit and humour, not to mention verbal brilliance. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2012 by Old Anglican
5.0 out of 5 stars Wodehouse in his usual brilliance!!!!
I bought this DVD because of all the Jeeves and Wooster stories I have watched, read, and listened to over the last 18 years. Read more
Published on April 23 2004 by Peter Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolute Pipterina!
I say old thing, I didn't even know about this series until I happened upon it here on Amazon. Once I read all the other great reviews I had to have it. Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2004 by Michelle Bowden
5.0 out of 5 stars British highbrow humor at its finest
It's unfortunate that the first episode involved stuttering. This must be a painful memory for some people, and they can hardly be expected to react favorably. Read more
Published on Oct. 8 2003 by bookloversfriend
5.0 out of 5 stars Sophisticated comedy
I never read any of P.G. Wodehouse's literary works until after I began watching the Wodehouse Playhouse on our local PBS channel in the early 1980's. Read more
Published on June 17 2003 by Robin
2.0 out of 5 stars Funny?
Really unusual people must have written the other reviews. Funny? Did they say funny? This isn't funny . . . Read more
Published on April 14 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Goodbye, my old VHS tapes!
Blessings upon the heads of those at Acorn Media! At last I can retire some of the VHS tapes on which I taped these off the air back in the mid-80s. Read more
Published on March 9 2003 by C. Williamson
5.0 out of 5 stars Wodehouse Playhouse is a classic!
I have been waiting 25 years for this classic BBC series! From the moment I saw the first episode, "Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court", I was hooked on the series. Read more
Published on March 2 2003 by Book Reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mulliners are as funny as the Woosters
You all know how hysterically funny the Bertie Wooster/Jeeves stores are, both on the page and on the screen. Well, P.G. Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2003 by F. Behrens
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