Boasting a virtuoso comic performance from Leonard Rossiter The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1976-79) remains one of the greatest of all television sitcoms. Writer David Nobbs combined the surrealist absurdity of Monty Python with an on-going story line that unfolded through each of the three seasons with a clear beginning, middle and end; a ground-breaking development in 70s TV comedy. The first and best season charts middle-aged, middle-management executive Reginald Perrin as he breaks-down under the stress of middle-class life until he informs the world that... half the parking meters in London have Dutch Parking Meter Disease. He fakes suicide and returns to court his wife Elizabeth (Pauline Yates) in disguise, a plot development that formed the entire basis of Mrs Doubtfire (1993). Series Two is broader, the rapid-fire dialogue still razor sharp and loaded with caustic wit and ingenious silliness, as a now sane Reggie takes on the madness of the business world by opening a chain of shops selling rubbish. The third season, set in a health farm, is routine, the edge blunted by routine sitcom conventions. At its best The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin is hilarious and moving, its depiction of English middle-class life spot on, its satire prophetic. Reggie's visual fantasies hark back to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) and Billy Liar (1963), and look forward to Ally McBeal (1997-2002) and are the icing on the cake of a fine, original and highly imaginative show. On the DVD: Reginald Perrin's discs contain one complete seven episode season. There are no extras. The sound is good mono and the 4:3 picture is generally fine, though some of the exterior shot-on-film scenes have deteriorated and there are occasional signs of minor damage to the original video masters. Even so, for a 1970s sitcom shot on video the picture is excellent and far superior to the original broadcasts. --Gary S Dalkin [show more]
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