British humor isn't for everyone. Let's face it, in the US the average Joe who watches Two and a Half Men isn't going to enjoy Spaced, Black Adder or the British version of The Office. However, there are legions of fans who swear by Britcoms and I'm one of them. Waiting For God is a show I've been waiting to see on DVD for some time. Now that the first season has finally been released in the US, I hope it lives up to the hype.
Waiting For God follows the misadventures of Tom Ballard (Graham Crowden) and Diana Trent (Stephanie Cole) at the Bayview Retirement Village. Tom has recently moved into Bayview and soon finds himself living next to the resident troublemaker, Diana. Diana is witty, outspoken, cynical and bitter to the core. Tom on the other hand is charismatic, optimistic, friendly and a daydreamer. Despite their different personalities, the two soon become friends and before long the pair tackles the Bayview staff, the perils of growing old and pesky relatives.
Harvey Baines (Daniel Hill) is the Bayview head administrator and "bad guy" of Waiting For God. He's a shyster at best and is always looking to increase Bayview's profits, irregardless of the ramifications to the residents. Since Tom arrived, he and Diana have made Baines' job more and more difficult. Subsequently, Baines is always plotting against them to regain the upper hand at Bayview. The other main character of the show is Jane Edwards (Janine Duvitski) who is the Harvey's right hand man (er woman in this case). She is ignorant beyond belief, has a heart of gold and just so happens to be in love with Harvey Baines. Rounding out the cast is Tom's son Geoffry (Andrew Tourell) and his weasel of a wife, Marion (Sandra Payne). The two visit Tom quite often and that usually results in mutual hostility between Marion and Tom/Diana. That's of course when the Tom and Diana aren't romping around in a Porsche or Helicopter.
Waiting For God has all the elements that make an amazingly good sitcom. The acting is superb, the writing is top notch, the production is solid and the shows setting is excellent. Graham Crowden and Stephanie Cole do fabulous jobs brining their characters to life. Stephanie Cole spits out her well written lines with ease and brings the character of Diana to life. Graham Crowden on the other hand unleashes wonderful energy on the small screen both physically and verbally. When paired onscreen, the two work brilliantly together and create one of the best duos to ever grace British television. Not to be outdone is the wonderful actress Janine Duvitski. She manages to make the character of Jane one of the most lovingly dim characters I've seen portrayed on TV. Her character compliments Diana's and Tom's perfectly, pitting low-brow humor against high-brow hilarity. Also to be commended is Daniel Hill's portrayal of Harvey Baines. Hill walks a fine line of making Baines seem half-way intelligent, but yet half-way incompetent.
Below are brief summaries for each Waiting For God Season One Episode (as per DVD cover):
- (06/28/90) WELCOME TO BAYVIEW - Tom is new to Bayview Retirement Village, and is quickly labeled a troublemaker when he is takes action against the appalling food.
- (07/05/90) A TRIP TO BRIGHTON - When Diana takes Tom on a joy ride to Brighton, the police are soon at their heels.
- (07/12/90) CHEERING UP TOM - When Diana's attempts to bring Tom out of a depression fail, she dreams up the perfect solution.
- (07/19/06) THE CHRISTENING - The pair are invited to a christening, but can they be trusted to behave? Meanwhile Tom discovers that Diana's stay at Bayview is in jeopardy.
- (07/26/06) FRAULEIN MUELLER - There's a new matron at Bayview. Diana doesn't like the changes being instigated, and even Tom's loyalty is under suspicion.
- (08/02/06) THE PSYCHIATRIST - Harvey Bains thinks Tom and Diana are certifiable, and their relations are tempted to agree, but it'll take more than a psychiatrist to catch these two out.
- (08/09/06) THE HELICOPTER - Diana's past experience as a photojournalist comes in useful once again as the pair take up aerial photography.
Video: Waiting For God: S1 is presented in it's original broadcast ratio of 1.33:1. The transfer looks typical of British TV shows from the early 90's. Colors are muted, the picture looks somewhat soft and there isn't a great deal of detail. The majority of the scenes have some mild video noise present and edge enhancement varies from scene to scene. When scenes were shot outside on location, the picture would vary from very good to poor.
Sound: The sole audio track on the DVD is in 2.0 Dolby Digital. Dialogue makes up the majority of every episode and it does a good job. Occasionally there is some background hissing, but it's not very noticeable.
Extras: Not much to see here. There are Cast Biographies and a Trailer Page which has various trailers for other BBC programs.
Waiting For God is simply one of the funniest shows to come out of the UK in the last 20 years. Like I mentioned before, this show won't be for everyone. But those of you out there who enjoy smart, intelligent comedy will enjoy every minute of Waiting For God. I can't wait to get a hold of the Second Season of Waiting For God on DVD. Hopefully the wait won't be quite as long this time around. Even though the DVD is lacking Extras, the episodes are very rewatchable. Most Highly Recommended.