Monday, 28 December 2015

Only Fools and Horses: Christmas Special I, II, III

Only Fools and Horses: Christmas Special I, II, III; comedy series, UK, 1981 / 1982 / 1983; D: Bernard Thompson, Ray Butt, S: David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Lennard Pearce, Peter Woodthorpe, Nora Connolly

Three episodes of the Trotter family set during Christmas. In the first, grandad fries the potatoes and undercookes the turkey, leaving Delboy and Rodney hungry, so they go out to a pub. There, they wait for too long to talk to two ladies, who go dancing with two other guys... Delboy falls in love with Heather, a single mother whose husband left her. Delboy puts a lot of effort into trying to play with her kid, while Rodney and grandad are suspicious. When her husband returns, Heather dumps Delboy who proposed her... Delboy and Rodney are shocked when their father returns to their home for Christmas after being absent for 18 years. Rodney, who was five when he left, tries to mend fences. He claims to have a hereditory blood disease, and tasks Delboy and Rodney to make a blood test. Dad causes a rift when he writes that Delboy's blood group is AB, instead of A, and insinuates that he is an illegitimate child. However, when it turns out that dad just robbed a hospital and wanted somewhere to hide, they throw him out.

The three Christmas specials of the mega popular "Only Fools and Horses" comedy series vary from episode to episode: the 1st one is not special at all, the last advanced into a small jewel whereas the middle episode situated its quality, accordingly, somewhere between those two. The only constant are the three enthusiastic performances by the reoccurring actors David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Lennard Pearce. The '81 instalment is set during Christmas, yet feels strangely out of place otherwise and gives the impression as if the holiday subplot was hastily added in the already written material: it has a few good jokes, a few corny ones, que end credits. The best joke is when grandad serves an undercooked, almost raw turkey on the table, and Rodney cannot resist but to express the snickering remark that the turkey is so underdone that "a kiss of life would revive it". Unfortunately, the remainder of the episode is wasted on the overstretched, contrived sequence where Rodney and Delboy are talking for way too long if they should approach two ladies in the pub, which is a weak second act. The 2nd special, "Diamonds are for Heather", shows signs of improvement, though it is still not as well written and versatile as one would hope for. Delboy's relationship with Heather could have provided for more potentials, though there is a delicious joke where the hero is so in love with her that he wrote the name "Del" and "Heather" on the windshield of his car, with Rodney remarking that he henceforth does not want to sit on the driver's seat with the "Heather" sign over him. The 3rd special, "Thicker than Water", is easily the best, featuring a great plot where dad returns into the lives of the Trotter family after 18 years on Christmas: you know it is going to be a great episode when Delboy reacts upon encountering him with: "We see Halley's comet more often than him!" Writer John Sullivan had several inspired lines in this one, and even gave a few touching moment which were not obtrusive.

Grade;++

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