Tuesday, August 2, 2011

BBC Television series: Rosemary & Thyme, Last of the Summer Wine

 Entertain me, don't bruise me

Rosemary Boxer (Felicity Kendall) has just lost her university teaching position and is feeling directionless.

In an age-old, clich√©d because it’s true, dramatic turn of events, Laura Thyme (Pam Ferris) is being divorced by her husband of 2+ decades for a much younger woman.

The two women meet due to, of course, a suspicious murder - which they naturally solve.

They form a friendship and a landscaping design and consultation business. Everywhere they go, a murder happens and they need to solve it.

It sounds like a predictable, dull British television show. It’s not. Netflix accurately describes it as suspenseful and witty.

Rosemary & Thyme is very entertaining. Why? That’s a bit of a mystery in itself.

So is the appeal of Last of the Summer Wine.

It centers around three elderly gentleman who band together to avoid work and nagging women. They take long walks that end in naps in beautiful outdoor scenery. They go to pubs and the local teahouse. They assist their friend Howard in his ‘affair’ that never results in sex with his mistress but gets him into trouble with his wife.

The ladies have tea and talk about men and their lives.

Netflix describes it accurately as goofy, understated and witty.

In both shows, the scenery is part of the attraction. It’s beautiful, lush and soothing.

In both cases, the people are authentic. No perfect plastic-surgeried, botoxed, everyone is thin and sexy, pseudo world.

In fact, in LOTSW, it’s a running joke that Cosmo (one of the elderly gentleman) is mad about Nora Batty. Nora Batty is elderly and not thin. Her looks are severe. She wears weird hats and her stockings are always wrinkled around her ankles.

The comedy is funny but innocent funny. Laughing at the faults and predictability of human kind.

The plots for the murder-solving are complicated but not depraved.

You can sit down to both of these shows and know you will be entertained but not bruised.

That’s the appeal.

At least for me.


  1. These look sweet, and I love the British countryside. (Although, I do like a good bruising, too. Hey, that sounded dirty. ;) )

  2. My mom and grandma watched both of these shows a lot, so I saw them even tho' I didn't have cable. They are cute, but I prefer Rosemary and Thyme. Always excellent mysteries.

  3. Entertained but not bruised -- I like that! I'll have to give these shows a try.

    But you're not getting Mr. Craig out of my basement, even with Tawna's help. ;)

  4. Delia - the potential for dirty was in the title. You just couldn't resist.
    Skye - LOTSW has been on since 1973 in England. That's 38 years and still going.
    Linda - You need to check your basement. I think it's already fait accompli. Tawna has been quiet for a few hours now.

  5. I love both these shows! I think it's the last season of Last of the Summer Wine, actually. And, R&T has been finished for some time. But, they do show on a regular basis here, so I'm super happy with that:) I like to watch them over again:)

    I find I can watch UK shows and be less annoyed. Less botox, bony-ness and age discrimination all around, really. Not that there aren't still double standards, but compare to US tv. Sheesh.

  6. p.s. also, i don't know about you, but i don't go in for crass, raunchy humour, misogynistic humour. a couple of my favorite comedies are Yes, Minister - The Vicar of Dibley - Black Books - Red Dwarf. i'm more of a silly, witty, dark humour girl. also, somebody tried to get me to watch that sitcom about the science nerd guys and the blond girl neighbor, insisting it was awesome because it was SMART. and, all i could think was - where are the smart girls. why is the dumb blond even friends with these boys? and why are the geeks so hopeless? how did they even get this far? again, where are the SMART WOMEN? not funny. not smart. in fact, really insulting - to everyone. and no one even sees it.

  7. evil twit aka Nat - I loved Red Dwarf. Ocassionally I still youtube the toaster episode and it kills me every time.
    I know that Big Bang show is stupid. There are a couple of smart women but they're as street stupid as the nerdy guys.

  8. I've never heard of the Summer Wine one, I'll keep an eye out! I love your "not bruised" expression. :-)

    I don't think the humor on Big Bang is funnier than my fave Brit coms, but my friends and I enjoy it because we're geeks. We identify with all the geek jokes. And because we appreciate that a world that was once uncool--liking sci fi movies, gaming, computers, science--is now going mainstream. (A gaming store just opened on Montreal's chic-est street, for example!)

    And there really are guys like that in this world--socially inept, sexist even because of it, but brilliant at science or computer science, and they spend HOURS of their lives, and thousands of dollars, on Magic or World of Warcraft and other kinds of gaming. They seriously are that "hopeless." But they can go far because you don't need social skills to go far in certain circles like programming or academia. (viz. Social Network)

    I don't know why, by the way, people keep calling Penny dumb. I think she's of average intelligence. But as you mentioned JJJ, they did intro smart women--just as many as there are guys, actually. And Leonard's last girlfriend wasn't even socially inept. And Howard's waitress girlfriend isn't that socially clueless either, really. And she ends up making more money than him. The show probably fails the Bechdel test, though.

    But I agree that I wouldn't call it a "smart show." It's still pitched to a pretty broad audience--it comes, after all, from the same producer as Two and a Half Men. Freaks and Geeks was a much more intelligent, nuanced and touching approach to geekery, but alas, ahead of its time. ;-)