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 comes from 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
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 Jones) 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 beer 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 bus home, he takes the four hour drive to
The rest of the first season deals with Gavin and Stacey's whirlwind romance, the reaction of Gavin's parents, his prone to overreaction mother Pam (Alison Steadman) and level-headed father Mick (Larry Lamb) and Stacey's relatives, her sweet omelet-cooking widowed mother (Melanie Walters) 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 ready for even if she is, and in the third season Gavin and Stacey find themselves 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 that 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 into 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 Nessa 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 bathroom.
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 has wonderful short anecdotes about her past. When Pam notices her reading The Satanic Verses and asks what it's about, Nessa looks up and in that calm voice of hers says "I can't even tell 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 gorgeous people... it makes the show more realistic) but the supporting characters steal 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 what he said hilarious, as when he was giving Stacey a security device before she went to meet Gavin for the first time: "If I show you how to use the rape alarm and you go to
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 someone 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 back and 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 along with 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 Page (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 with co-creators Ruth Jones and James Corden that's included with each season. In this the two sit down and talk about the way the genesis of the show and certain story lines, the things that they think worked and the problems of following up a successful season of a show. It's a nice behind-the-scenes look at the show.
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 Recommended.