Friday, February 8, 2013

I don't know what county the family infests

The popular writer P.G. Wodehouse is mostly known for his stories featuring the valet Jeeves, who must constantly rescue his employer, the hapless Bertie Wooster, from numerous entanglements.  In the newly released Wodehouse Playhouse: The Complete Collection, we see the dramatization of some of the other characters created by the prolific author.  This set contains 20 episodes on a 6 DVDs.  These episodes were originally broadcast on PBS between 1975-1978 and feature the husband and wife acting team of John Alderton and Pauline Collins.

The stories on these DVDs are not related in the sense of an on-going story.  However, the same names appear frequently.  There are many characters named "Mulliner" for instance, based on a series of stories featuring a Mr. Mulliner who regaled pub customers with tales of his relatives.

The first series features a brief introduction before each episode by P.G. Wodehouse himself (very elderly at the time).  He seems to be having a good time talking about his characters and the troubles they get into!  The second series features a voice over introduction.  I was a bit disappointed that the versatile Pauline Collins didn't appear in the final season.

The episodes feature many humorous situations, comic mix-ups, and mistaken identities. In one episode, two men are discussing their romantic entanglements in a gentlemen's club, but cannot just sip their drinks -- they must always perform some unusual action beforehand.  It's never mentioned or acknowledged, which makes the situation even funnier.  There are also many amusing lines which pop up from time to time.

My favorite episode, which seems so timely for today, was "Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court."  This story concerned two poets who live in a city and are mutually repulsed by all things involving guns, hunting and animal cruelty (as they perceive it). They go to visit the male poet's family, and are at first appalled at the blood lust displayed by his relatives, but slowly become enthusiastic hunters (of all sorts of creatures!).
The set also contains bonus material in the form of photo galleries, a P.G. Wodehouse biography and an insert with background information about the stories and characters. I didn't realize that Wodehouse became an American citizen after World War II because of the mistaken belief in Britain that he had collaborated with the Nazis during the war. 

Disclaimer:  I received a review copy of Wodehouse Playhouse: The Complete Collection from Acorn Media in exchange for my review
Final Verdict for Wodehouse Playhouse: The Complete Collection: Four Gherkins, for being a hilarious look at the work of a humorous icon

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