Keeping Up Appearances - Collector’s Edition
This British snob-com has been a staple of PBS for two decades, and it still manages to generate audible laughs after years of repeated viewing. Patricia Routledge created an extraordinary comic creation as the overbearing ultra-snob Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "Bouquet"), whose endless attempts at social climbing are inevitably wrecked by her clueless pretensions and the interference of her raucously slovenly family.
This new collection brings together all of the episodes from the series in a newly remastered edition. In viewing the episodes from start to finish, some fun can be seen in how the program morphed from a somewhat mild comedy of manners and social protocol in its earlier episodes to wildly broad slapstick later in its run - complete with extravagant stunts and pratfalls designed to violently puncture Hyacinth's futile attempt to crown herself as the center of her community's social standing.
However, this is probably not the best show to watch in a marathon. The episodes tend to be endless variations of a dozen core jokes, albeit with highly amusing and often inventive variations, but the final spurt of tepid episodes gives the impression that series creator Roy Clarke had more than exhausted all possible story concepts after five seasons.
But the real fun here - especially for fans of the series that can recite the dialogue by heart - is more than 200 minutes of bonus footage, including new interviews with Routledge and Clark. Also included are outtakes from the production, a rarely-seen commercial with Routledge and Josephine Tewson in character as Hyacinth and her beleaguered next-door neighbor Elizabeth, and Routledge's pre-Hyacinth TV triumph as the comically self-righteous Kitty in a series of opinion-thick monologues from the BBC series "Victoria Wood as Seen on TV."
The most curious aspect of this new release, however, is the packaging: a "Gardener's Vest" that, according to the BBC's press notes, comes with "collectible seeds and plant tags." It is a somewhat weak joke that plays on the floral names of the leading female characters - Hyacinth and her sisters Rose, Daisy and Violet - but it is the only off-note aspect of this presentation.
"Keeping Up Appearances: The Collector's Edition"
BBC Home Entertainment
$158.72, 1370 minutes (10-disc)