The list of great British sitcoms is pretty long, and those
who are keeping track can add Gavin
& Stacey to the list. It had a
short run, only 20 episodes over
three seasons (including a Christmas Special in 2008) but the show was
excellent through the entire run. It's
not a silly or wacky comedy, it's grounded in reality and the humor
the fact that everyone knows someone
exactly like the
characters. It's also a sweet romance
that never gets sappy, and keeps the funny lines flowing.
Now all three seasons of this terrific show
are available in one attractive boxed set.
Gavin Shipman (Mathew Horne) is a clerk in a London
office and his job requires him to talk with Stacey
West (Joanna Page), a secretary in another company located in Wales. As the show opens they've gotten to know each
other and have been talking together on the phone for 11 months, and
ready to take a bus to London
to meet the charming man she's been flirting with.
Each of them brings along their best friend: Smithy
(co-writer/co-creator James Corden)
Gavin's fun-loving overweight pal and Nessa (co-writer/co-creator Ruth
Stacey's heafty friend who has been around the block a few times.
They quartet meets, goes out to a bar for some drinks and Gavin
and Stacey hit it off right away. Smithy
thinks Nessa is repulsive at first, but eventually they both put on
goggles and all four end up in the girl's hotel room that evening. The next morning the two women have to leave,
but Gavin realizes that Stacey is special so after putting her on the
he takes the four hour drive to Wales
to meet her when she gets off. The
terribly romantic gesture pays off, and Stacey runs into his arms.
The rest of the first season deals with Gavin and Stacey's
whirlwind romance, the reaction of Gavin's parents, his prone to
mother Pam (Alison Steadman) and level-headed father Mick (Larry Lamb)
Stacey's relatives, her sweet omelet-cooking widowed mother (Melanie
and loving but slightly odd uncle Bryn (Rob Brydon).
In season two, Smithy discovers that his very infrequent
hook-ups with Nessa have left her with child, something that he's not
even if she is, and in the third season Gavin and Stacey find
wanting to have children.
One of the nice things about this show is that each season
was written as a whole story. In one of
the extras they discuss the actor's first read-through and when they do
they read the entire (six or seven episode) season, not just the first
episode. That means there aren't any
filler episodes or installments where a guest star has to be shoehorned
the plot. Each 'series,' as they say
across the pond, has a beginning, middle, and end.
The humor of the show comes from the interplay of the
believable and very likeable characters.
In the first episode, for example, Gavin, Smithy, Stacey, and
arrive at the girl's hotel room to have sex.
Gavin's really excited until he sees that the two double beds
are in the
same room. No one else seems bothered by
this, and Gavin wants to shag but doesn't want to do it in the same
room as his
best friend. An awkward and funny
situation that's quickly resolved when Smithy takes Nessa into the
This is a character driven show, and it's amazing how every
single one is likeable and funny. It's
hard to pick a favorite. Nessa is
physically unattractive and speaks in a monotone most of the time but
wonderful short anecdotes about her past.
When Pam notices her reading The Satanic Verses and asks what
about, Nessa looks up and in that calm voice of hers says "I can't even
ya. I don't want another fatwa on me."
The actors are all exceedingly good in their roles.
Not only are the people who play the title
roles perfect for the parts (I really like how neither of them are
people... it makes the show more realistic) but the supporting characters
many scenes. I particularly loved Rob
Brydon as Uncle Bryn. He was able to
deliver his sometimes inane lines with a straight face that really made
said hilarious, as when he was giving Stacey a security device before
to meet Gavin for the first time: "If
I show you how to use the rape alarm and you go to London, England
and come back Sunday raped. It's not on my conscience and I'll sleep
night coz' I showed you how to use it."
The previously released season sets are collect into one
nice release. Each season comes in its
own keepcase and the three boxes are housed in a slipcase.
The stereo soundtrack is fine. The dialog
comes through loud and clear,
though I had to turn on the optional subtitles in a few places when
with a thick Welsh accent would speak rapidly.
I'd only miss a word or two, but it was nice to be able to go
catch what they were saying.
The show comes with a nice anamorphic 1.78:1 image.
It's a little soft in places but overall the
picture is clean and the colors are bright.
Each season has a nice collection of extras. There's
nothing extravagant, just some fun
additions that will please fans. There
are commentary tracks featuring creators Ruth Jones and James Corden
director Christine Gernon on Season One episodes 1, 3, and 6. In season two they are joined by the actors
who play Gavin and Stacey and Pam for the entire run (though Joanna
(Stacey) has to leave early).
Each season also has a reel of outtakes, which are
hit-and-miss but the most interesting bonus feature is the interview
co-creators Ruth Jones and James Corden that's included with each
season. In this the two sit down and talk
way the genesis of the show and certain story lines, the things that
worked and the problems of following up a successful season of a show. It's a nice behind-the-scenes look at the
I have to admit I'm sad that this series has ended.
I'd love to see what happens to Gavin, Stacey,
Nessa, Smithy, and the rest of the cast as they age.
In one of the extras, Alison Steadman said
that in a perfect world she'd be able to film 6 more episodes of Gavin and Stacey every year for the rest
of her life. I'd love that too, but I'll
have to settle for these three charming seasons. Highly