Monday, January 28, 2008

Quick, start this thing!

In 2005, I started a LiveJournal thing and that lasted, like, a week before I was distracted by such delicious things as work or "Gilmore Girls". I always meant to get it going again, but my children can't be fed on intentions. No, I'm lying - I don't have kids. Anyway, so here I am posting about whatever. And today, I shall begin by posting about Black Books, which is a terrifically awesome upbeat joyous celebration of hygiene and friends. Actually, no, I was lying again. I'm sorry, blog, sometimes I do that. It's a television show starring Dylan Moran as Bernard Black, owner of the eponymous Black Books, a dingy disgusting cluttered bookstore. He lives with his employee, Manny, and hangs out with his friend Fran, played by the stupendously nasal and eternally same-coiffed Tamsin Greig, who's also on Green Wing, a medical farce, a forthcoming blogpost I don't mind admitting (spoiler alert for my blog!) It's completely misanthropic and absurd and uses quite a bit of sparkling wordplay. The main character is a loathsome, grumpy, drunk and mean man who spends ample time berating his friend and employee Manny, played by Bill Bailey, who is essentially playing Bill Bailey.

It ran for three series of six episodes each, which is a very common number for British sitcoms, but completely unheard of in the US, where shows throttle you with 22 or 24 episodes a season, languishing and jumping a multitude of sharks like some sort of leather jacket wearing Evel Knieval.

This is a rare television show that gets plenty of hearty chortles and a bewildering amount of guffaws. I also laugh a lot.

Possibly the biggest laugh I have had at this show is in the final episode, which does not play out like a "finale" in which characters move on, reminisce, hug and bow to the audience. This episode plays like any other episode of Black Books, but with a different ending. It's called "The Party".

It's Friday night and Bernard, Fran and Manny are going to do something instead of sit around the shop drinking cheap wine that Napoleon wouldn't touch and hurling insults at each other. Instead, Manny suggests a party. Fran has just had her hair done, although even a firearm in my nostril wouldn't save me from saying it looks the same as always:

So she's keen on the party. They trick Bernard into going by hiding the wine. Manny really wants to go because there's a girl he wants to meet. Bernard reluctantly agrees to go (although he doesn't approve of Manny "seeing other girls - I mean people").

Just before they depart, Manny shouts, "Let's pa-"

Bernard turns around and roars, "Don't you dare use the word 'party' as a verb in my shop!"

At point, I am guilty of numerous "lols" and whatnots.

Anyway, they go to the party, and when we see them again, it's dawn and they are drunk as skunks, with both Fran and Bernard singing songs and dancing to Motorhead's Ace of Spades.

Manny is not in a great mood as he didn't want to leave the party that early. He accuses Bernard of not being able to love and he screams about Bernard having a shard of ice instead of a heart. Bernard reveals quietly that he had a girlfriend and that she's dead. Manny instantly offers the booze he had just been selfishly hoarding.

Once Bernard leaves to go make tea, Fran reveals the girl, Emily, is still alive and faked her death to get out of an engagement. She never let Bernard in on this factoid to spare him (and Fran) the messy explosion of anger and blame. She demands that Manny doesn't tell.

Bernard comes out with Monopoly and as soon as the board is down, Manny shouts, "She's alive! She's alive! Okay, so house rules, all fines in the centre."

Bernard doesn't believe her so Fran offers proof, all from her purse she carries. Here's the next best laugh in the entire series' run. This is perfect example of the absurd humour. She shows him Emily's phone number on her cellphone. He doesn't believe her. She shows him a photo of her and Emily at Emily's last birthday "of which she will be having many more. Because she's alive". He doesn't believe her. Fran pulls out Emily's dental records. He doesn't believe her. She offers him Emily's birth certificate and a photo of Emily is yesterday's newspaper and a t-shirt saying "I love Life!"

Bernard and Fran start revealing secrets about each other and fighting, when the girl from the party comes in. Manny awkwardly offers her tea, and they both scurry to the bedroom and mass giggling ensues.

Fran goes to sleep on the couch in the middle of the shop and Bernard steals her cellphone to call Emily. He claims he's dead and haunting her, but she hangs up on Bernard, causing him to shout, "You can't hang up on the undead!"

He sits down in his familiar chair at his familiar desk, and that's the end of the episode. In my summary, I left out some of the other bits such as Manny's excuse for calling the girl, and the reason for the girl's appearance, which is tied to Manny's excuse.

This is a terrific show about terrible people - grrrreat!

In other news, this week features, among other things, the final issue of "Y The Last Man", which is one of my favourite comics out there. I have only read up to the end of the last trade, so I'm about six issues behind. I may find some -ahem- perfectly legal ways of reading the final issues so that I don't have to wait six months for the final trade. The whole interwebs will be cracked in half by the finale, and I don't want to avoid my favourite blogs to stay spoiler free!

Seacrest Out.

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