British Black Books. Australian white Ninja
Thu, 2 November 2006
by: Australian Ninja
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Black Books sits upon the shoulders of British comedy giants. For decades the British has produced show after show infused with great writing and big laughs. Monty Python, The Young Ones, Fawlty Towers, Black Adder, Red Dwarf, Father Ted and dozens of other great shows. Then there was a dry spell in the land of Her Majesty, it seemed that the reign of the British comedy TV series may be coming to an end. But then along came Black Books.
Taking a formula that goes something along the lines of lovable characters, fantastic writing, absurd but strangely believable scenarios and a healthy dose of sheer lunacy.
Put it all together and the result is Black Books. A show that can appeal to the young, the old, the drunk and the surly people of the world.
Clever, funny and addictive are the qualities that have me watching all three series of Black Books yet again. Is it the fourth or fifth time I've watched them? I really don't know. But I feel Black Books is well deserving of all the good attention it gets. And I'm confident it's a series that the fun loving intelligent Buttonhole audience wants to hear about.
So what's it all about? Well in short Bernard Black runs a small second hand bookshop called "Black Books." His female friend Fran hangs around and they drink wine and together they bitch about people and the outside world.
Bernard is a miserable, unkempt and often drunk deviant. But he's loveable in his own drunken eccentric surly way.
The other main character, Manny, meets Bernard entirely by chance in the first episode. He is running late for work and goes in to buy the "Little Book of Calm." He then swallows the book by accident and ends up in the hospital.
|"Bernard... Bernard...I ATE ALL YOUR BEES!" |
By the end of the first episode Bernard has encouraged some skin heads to beat him up [to avoid doing his tax return] and so Manny helps him out. In the second episode Bernard accidentally hires Manny. Manny becomes Bernard's assistant, employee and slave in the bookshop.
"The Little Book of Calm - I've swallowed the Little Book of Calm!"
The first series has so much happening that you have to watch all the episodes a second time just to appreciate their greatness. While the laughs are good the first time, the second time round they are hysterical. So far, each time I watch this series, at least once I've ended up lying on the floor clutching my belly literally paralysed with laughter and struggling to breathe. Not many shows can generate those kinds of belly laughs.
Some of the highlights from the first series?
The Big Lock-Out
"There was a little man, in his hair, a little man"
The shop gets a new security door. Bernard gets locked out and Manny gets locked in overnight. Manny camps inside the shop, drinks alcohol instead of water, finds some food that turns out to shoes wrapped in tin foil from the fridge and eats dead bees from the window sill.
Bernard watches a cinema movie with nothing on the screen for two hours, hangs out in a porno video store, gets a job at a takeaway joint (until the rain stops) and borrows phone money from a homeless man.
He's Leaving Home
Manny runs away from home. He leaves a note for Bernard and calls from a pay phone to check that Bernard got the note. Bernard is too lazy to read it, so Manny reads it to him from the pay-phone. "By the time you read this, you will never hear my voice again…"
Later on the streets Manny gets picked up by a greasy Greek man who takes photos of him for "Big 'n Beardy" magazine, dresses Manny in women's clothing and tries to send him on a date with a Japanese businessman to a casino.
Grapes of Wrath
"The place is a complete mess! Right now I'm eating scrambled egg, on a comb, from a shoe!"
A professional cleaner is hired to clean the shop after Manny gets fed up with Bernard and his dirty habits of rubbing cigarette ash into his clothing, storing jam toast on the ceiling, and cleaning himself by throwing water on his face. The cleaner asks them to leave the shop as it such a big job.
Manny and Bernard then agree to house sit for a friend. The friend has a large collection of wine, some cheap bottles to drink; others are decades old bottles that are almost priceless. Of course they drink the wrong bottles of wine [one bottle is worth seven thousand pounds] getting totally smashed in the process. Then they decide to replace it all by making their own home made wine in homage to Frankenstein with Bernard as the madman and Manny the poor wretched servant.
"Look at me; I'm a prostitute robot from the future!"
|"It's my last case, I'm retiring - I've had a...one hundred percent success rate." |
Manny stays up all night drinking coffee and watching cop movies. Manny later chases after a purse thief in the street and accidentally ends up at the police station working on interrogating a criminal after he is mistaken for a real police officer. He also manages to hurt himself by sitting on his own privates not once but twice.
Bernard offends some friends at a dinner party by turning up drunk escorted by a police officer and later uses a wicker basket as a toilet.
So what are you waiting for? Get moving and watch this brilliant show already.
by: Australian Ninja
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More articles by Australian Ninja
Truly the Best of British comedy. A triumph of laugh-ology.