Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Blackadder's Neighbour's House

For those of you who are unaware of the TV show House, what is the exact address of the rock under which you live I'd like to send you a copy of the last ten years. To the rest of you, you're probably aware that the frankly outstanding medical mystery drama is soon to come to a close and this has put me the mood for reflection. Powerful story-telling has a way of getting into your brain in a way that little else can and I'm fairly certain that in a thirty years time our entire generation will still associate limping and being an a colossal chuzzle-cunt with unlimited medical genius. We will also assume that any time a doctor has trouble figuring out what's wrong with us we'll automatically distrust the first three diagnoses. However it is in this spirit of reflection that I want to look back at the work of two of the fine actors in this frankly magnificent show, but not actually the work they did in this show. No, I want to talk about Blackadder and Neighbours.

I know I went another way there didn't I, sorry for that Hugh.

All my British readers are already are already nodding at this point because if you were a nineties kid those were two of the most important telly shows of your formative years. If you're not British then you may need a bit more information. Blackadder is one of the all time greatest comedy shows ever made. Starring Rowan 'Mr Bean' Atkinson in the titular role of Edmund Blackadder it is one of the smartest and funniest things ever committed to the small screen. If you only know Mr Atkinson from his mute performance as the bumbling twat of Bean then you have missed out on one of the best things that has ever happened. The series followed the increasingly poor fortunes of the Blackadder family through four generations. The first series sucks. The second, third and fourth are absolutely masterful employing as they do an almost Shakespearean use of the English language. It was in the last two seasons that Hugh 'Mother-fucking House, YO!' Laurie joined the regular cast alongside his long time comedy partner Mr Stephen Fry.

Pictured: A titan of british culture... dressed
as a woman... it's just something we do here

Now I'm not here to gush about the merits of classic british comedy shows I'm here to explain why that show is a huge part of what makes my brain pistons fire in the way that they do. The main reason is that the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, the fourth series set in the trenches of the Great War, was constantly being shown in school. It was the moment when I realised that serious proper grown-ups thought comedy was important. Not as important as textbooks and all that but important enough that I was able to get an A on a history exam that I ended with a quote from the show. You see when questioned about the reasons for the start of the war any attempted answer will be long, rambling and ultimately fruitless because the only real reason is to quote Captain Blackadder “It was a lot less effort than not having a war.” That's not the quote I went with by the way I quoted Private Baldrick “So, that poor ostrich died for nothing.” If you don't get that just download Blackadder and watch... but be forewarned that it gets dramatically better in season 2. If you're an American I should also say that each series is only six episodes so you haven't really got an excuse.

If just looking at this image doesn't give you a lump in your
throat you've not watched it... This shit is heartbreaking

Now on to Neighbours. Neighbours is an incredibly long running australian soap opera that for reeasons that no-one has ever been able to fully explain was one of the most culturally important television shows for british school-children from the mid-eighties to the mid-noughties. Only school-children by the way. The show aired at half past five, just after Blue Peter, as I recall and is such a massive part of that groups psyche that you can go up to the most disparate group of people from this country and just say the words Harold Bishop an people will light the fuck up. Jesse Spencer made his first impact on my psyche in this strangely addictive drama as the youngest son of the Doctor Carl Kennedy and Susan 'MILF' Kennedy. Everyone had a soft spot for his older sister Libby but the main reason everyone remembers Billy Kennedy is because of the fact that he was the best-friend with Jared 'Toad-Fish' Rebekki who was the fictional character that taught me value of shenanigans. Even if Billy did break his arm falling from the zip-line off of the school roof. That show also taught me about the dangers of amnesia, to never drive into the bush whilst pregnant and always head to the coffee shop in a disaster... coffee shop be invincible and shit.

For reasons that no-one can fully explain this man was considered
the coolest mother-fucker alive by everyone I knew at school.

Weirdly though the strangest thing I learned from Neighbours was the importance of story and good writing. You see while it may have been a fun bit of throwaway soap fluff but I can still remember key events ten years after I stopped watching it. I remember tiny intricacies of character, I remember Billy having real trouble carving the wooden grapes into an ornate bedstead during his early days as a carpenter. I remember Drew getting trampled to death by that horse whilst acting as a rodeo clown. Most of all I remember the exact scene when Helen went into the Salvation Army shop and saw Harold, who had been believed dead for about a year after that wave had whipped him out to sea leaving only his glasses in that rock pool. All of this stuff stuck with me because for all it's bush-fires and amnesia Neighbour's at it's best was all about character. Characters who spent years developing into the full fledged people you came to know and love... Until they killed Dee right after she married Toady by having them drive off that cliff. That was stupid, plus I got a job and couldn't watch it anymore... I've just checked there is no box-set available, which is a crying shame. Oh and if you like Home and Away, yeah it had a better theme tune but other than that just fuck off.

Also Dr Carl Kennedy is the primary reason that
anyone I went to school with wanted to be a doctor

So I would like to offer a small 2.1 gun salute to Doctors House and Chase for there previous incarnations for being such an unexpectedly huge impact on my young self and for continuing that on into one of my favourite current TV shows. You will be missed and I hope to high heaven that the actors who portrayed these fine characters go on to have the brilliant careers they both deserve.

eddie <I would kill an old person for a full Neighbours boxset>   

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