Directed and Produced by: Alan JW Bell
Starring: Bill Owen, Peter Sallis, Brian Wilde
Last of the Summer Wine is the longest running sitcom in the world, which is a bit ironic as the show follows three pensioners passing their days in the quiet West Yorkshire village of Holmfirth. It ran from 1973 to 2010 which somehow comes out to thirty one series and two hundred and ninety five episodes. This DVD contains the six episodes from series thirteen which aired in 1991 and includes the 1991 Christmas Special.
I’ve never been a particularly strong speller, but it doesn’t help when I keep trying to stick an unnecessary “u” in color, or swap an “e” for the “a” in gray, and reversing the “e” and “r” at the end of words. Yes I’m an anglophile. If it’s got an English accent then I’ll watch it and not just stuff like The Office, Doctor Who, and Monty Python I will sit through shows like Are You Being Served and Keeping Up Appearances and enjoy them.
The heart of Last of the Summer Wine is three friends, pensioners passing the days hiking around the little village of Holmfirth getting in and out of trouble. Compo is played by Bill Owen, he’s unshaved rubber boot shod, a bit moth eaten and infatuated with the truck like Nora Batty, an infatuation no one in Holmfirth including Nora Batty can understand. Next up is Foggy, portrayed by Brain Wilde, who fancies himself the brains of the bunch. He’s tall, wields a cane, and loves to regale anyone who he can corner with his military exploits in Burma in 1943. Anchoring the group is Norman Clegg, played by Peter Sallis. Clegg is a bit stout and never seen without his flat cap, he plays straight man to Compo’s and Foggy’s antics.
Each episode introduces some minor crises such as Nora Batty taking in a lodger which Compo takes the wrong way and becomes so upset he won’t eat or drink, which alarms Foggy and Clegg, or Compo’s finances being dire enough that the three try to look up a school bully from their childhood who may possibly owe Compo money, then there is the episode following the three attempting to install a chair lift on a particularly steep hill which might actually be from New Guinea, you’ll just have to watch. The three will wander around the village stopping by the local café or pub and bumping into a full cast of local characters who will inevitably get mixed up in whatever the three have going on. Each episode stands on its own. There aren’t any real story arcs, but there are several running jokes, like Compo’s infatuation with Nora Batty, Howard a local married man who is carrying on a not as clandestine as he thinks affair, the tea party by the village women where they all sit around and complain about the men and take synchronized sips of tea.
The humour, sorry humor, is mild and inoffensive. There is not enough edge to the comedy to cut room temperature butter. There are only a few laugh out loud moments on the whole DVD. The stakes are not that high in the situation comedy bits and the physical humour, humor, is just too broad and predictable to make you break out in guffaws. There is nothing wrong with light humor, humour, no wait I was right the first time, and Last of the Summer Wine has a wonderful heart. It’s not going to inspire knee slapping, but it will put a smile on your face and warm your heart.
The video is presented in the original 4:3 aspect ratio. It looks good for a show from 1991. The image is sharp and the color is good. The interior shots are well lit and all of the exterior shots look good, great when the sun is out. I never noticed any aliasing or moiré or any other kind of digital artifacts.
The audio is presented in the original mono in English only with English subtitles. Ronnie Hazlehurst’s wonderful score, the foley and dialog are competently mixed. The laugh track could be a little farther back in the mix for my taste but it never actually steps on the dialog.
The Packaging and Bonus Materials:
The DVD comes packaged in an Eco Box and the sleeve is printed on paper with at least thirty percent post consumer content if that kind of thing makes a difference for you. The artwork make generous use of production stills that could have used a bit of color correction. There are no bonus features.
Overall (not an average) 7/10
Categorizing the show as a comedy is doing it a disservice actually. You don’t watch Last of the Summer Wine for the laughs, you watch because you want to spend a little time following Compo, Foggy and Clegg around Holmfirth on their second childhood.
The Show 7/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 3/10
Overall (not an average) 7/10