Thursday, May 21, 2015
'Dad' S1 DVD: The Life of Brian
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Australian-made DVD set requires either a Region 4 or international DVD player; it will NOT play in a standard U.S. player.]
The fruits of the initial exploration of the awesome catalog of Australian DVD producer/distributor Madman Entertainment includes the 1997-99 two series (my people call them seasons) BBC Britcon "Dad." This review is of the first season; a review of the second season is scheduled for late May 2015.
The many nice things about "Dad," which revolves around the efforts of middle-aged Alan Hook to relate to his 18 year-old son and his elderly father, include that is supports the theory that foreign shows generally are much better than the American programs that they inspire. In this case, "Dad" is the precursor of the recent Seth Green Fox failedcom "Dads."
A typical episode has either the titular well-meaning but oblivious parent Brian Hook as the instigator by initiating a project that inevitably leaves Alan both physically and psychologically injured or depicts the efforts of Alan to be a better father to son Vincent than Alan perceives that Brian was to him to fail comically miserably. The inevitable collision of the two themes makes the good humor in the show even better.
The pilot titled "Dadism" starts out strong with a delighted Vincent regaling his mother with a list of things that are uncool only to have Alan prove the point on entering the room a moment later. This scene leading to Alan intentionally raising the expectation of Vincent for a spectacular gift for his 18th birthday only to have those hopes almost immediately dashed.
All of this relates to a hilarious flashback to '70s England in which Alan goes to great (but futile) lengths to avoid Brian embarrassing him on his own 18th birthday.
Alan then visiting Brian for one of their very regular visits leads to a wonderful series of mishaps related to the impact on the former of the well-meaning actions of the latter. These include slapstick involving a mannequin.
The episode titled "Dadcipline" arguably best illustrates the concept of the show. The manner in which worlds collide in this outing that involves hilarious mishaps regarding Alan painting Brian's house relates to strict discipline by Brian during the adolescence of Alan strongly impairing an effort by Alan to be part of an important aspect of the live of Vincent.
Another episode in which Brian is largely responsible for a cat becoming glued to Alan and that incident mortifying Vincent is one of the most hilarious things seen on television in several years.
The "Holidad" season finale also wonderfully ties in the great elements of the show by having the group take a typically horrible family outing. Watching the clan navigate via a series of road directions from 1962 is almost as hilarious as the aforementioned scene with the cat.
Very prolific British actor Kevin McNally, who arguably is best known to American audiences through his work on the "The Pirates of the Caribbean" films, plays middle-class mid-level bureaucrat everyman Alan very well.
Equally prolific British actor George Cole brings the good natured cluelessness of Brian to life; he makes it very hard to get angry at him despite antics that are very at home in a Looney Tunes cartoon.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Dad" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.