After running for twelve years Dawn French (French and Saunders)
and writer Richard Curtis (Notting Hill) have wrapped up their hilarious
comedy series The Vicar of Dibley. Though it had a long run,
there were only 24 episodes produced over the years including a few Comic
Relief specials. The up side to this sluggish production schedule
is that most of the shows are very well thought out and filled with comic
moments. Now BBC Video has release the final two installments of
the show in region one as The Vicar of Dibley: A Holy Wholly Happy
Ending. Unfortunately the first of these is a rather tepid
uninspired episode that plays like a typical sitcom. Luckily the
show gets back into form for the finale with is an excellent and fitting
end to the series.
Geraldine Granger (Dawn French) is the quirky, the Vicar in a small
English town. The village, naturally in a sitcom, is populated with
an assortment oddball, goofy characters that are charming and good-hearted
despite their proclivities. There's Frank, the incredibly boring
older man who always has a long, involved and pointless story to tell,
his friend Jim who stutters, and Owen a lonely farmer who is a little too
friendly with his livestock. The town is rounded out by David Horton,
the rich man of the area and his dim-witted son Hugo and his even dimmer
first episode on this disc is pretty disappointing. It plays like
a typical by-the-numbers sitcom. The Vicar is angry at all of the
Londoners who have been buying up cottages in the village to use as a weekend
getaway. Her attitude changes when she meets the newest "London bastard"
Harry (Richard Armitage), a tall, handsome, man who asks her out to dinner.
A whirlwind romance is the result. Things come to a screeching halt
when Geraldine sees Harry a tall blond. He's holding her hand and
tells her that he loves her. Does she ask him who the woman is?
No, that's what a normal person would do and it would cut the running time
of the show in half. Instead she follows them and does the typical
things that people on TV do in these situations. None of it was funny.
It was also a bit hard to suspend my disbelief. I just couldn't
buy that gorgeous Harry would instantly fall in love with Geraldine who
is short, obese, and a decade older than he is. He doesn't even get
to know her before he proposes, just mutters something about love at first
sight. Yeah, right.
Just when I had decided that the series had jumped the shark, the final
episode revived my love of the program. This last hurrah is a classic,
and terribly funny. When everyone in the village hears that Harry
and Geraldine are going to be married, they pull together and come up with
the perfect gift: They are going to plan and arrange the entire wedding
for her. Of course the vicar doesn't want this assortment of mad
and deranged people to mess up her big day, but they're so sincere that
she can't turn them down.
The plans are coming along well. Frank has decided to read from
the book of Mathew at the ceremony. When Geraldine asks him which
part, he calmly replies "all of it." Owen is going to film the wedding,
in the style of Saving Private Ryan, and Jim has written a song
for the occasion too:
I wish you happiness and joy
And countless years together
And pray that things will never get
As bad as Paul and Heather
While things may have started well,
Many a marriage is made in Hell
With fingers crossed, let's be optimistic.
That yours won't be a divorce statistic
such as Charles and Di
Make us wonder: Weddings? Why!?
At this point she stops them. Of course Alice is the maid of honor
and is also making the wedding dress. Her first idea is to make a
pirate outfit to symbolize Geraldine boarding Harry's ship and stealing
his heart. Of course her outfit is a nice suit, just like David Tennant
wears in Doctor Who, just as if she was a Time Lord and blessing
their union for all eternity. You'll have to see the other bride's
maids to believe them.
This final episode was just great. All of the main characters
had some screen time and they all were hilarious. The show was its
old wacky self, with the over the top characters being just as outrageous
as ever. It was a little sad at the end, knowing that the series
was finished, but you couldn't really ask for a better conclusion.
The show is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, which is perfectly adequate
for this type of show. The dialog was clear with no noticeable hiss
or noise. The music during the credits sounds full and rich.
There did not seem to be many, if any, use of stereo effect. There
are no subtitles.
The 1.78:1 anamorphically enhanced image wasn't awful, but it is not
very good either. The lines are not crisp, and the backgrounds are
not as clear as they should be. Whites that are heavily lighted tend
to bloom, and there's some heavy handed edge enhancement in a few scenes.
A slightly below average presentation.
Unfortunately, they didn't include the Comic Relief special from 2007
which aired three months after the 'final' episode. They do include
The Vicar of Dibley Story, an hour long documentary that looks back
at the history of the show with interviews of the cast and creators.
It's a nice overview of the program that includes some of the best scenes
from the show.
The Vicar of Dibley is a wild and outrageous sitcom that's a
lot of fun. The two final episodes are presented here, and while
the penultimate one is surprisingly uninspired, the last show is filled
with laughs from start to finish. The documentary that's included
with the disc is a nice recap of the whole series with clips from most
of the memorable scenes. A funny show that's worth watching.