Everybody loved Lucy in the 1950s. There can be no denying that Lucille Ball was a master at her craft and the preeminent physical comedienne of her day. I was quite certain that we would never see the likes of her again. That was until I was introduced to the work of Patricia Routledge in the hilarious 1990's British sitcom "Keeping Up Appearances" which debuted on many PBS stations around America in the latter part of that decade. I quickly concluded that Lucy Ricardo had met her match. What I found to be even more remarkable was that Patricia Routledge was in her early 60's when she portrayed the insufferably snobbish Hyacinth Bucket (she insists it is pronounced "Bouquet") on this show. And being that she was a rather large woman to boot made the incredible physical prowess she displayed on this series all the more remarkable. Given the grueling demands of her role it is no wonder that only about 8 episodes per season were shot during its five year run and that Patricia Routledge decided to call it quits after the 1995 season. Only 40 regular episodes and 4 additional specials were made. "Keeping Up Appearances: The Full Bouquet/Special Edition" offers up every single one of these memorable episodes along with a boatload of extra features. Longtime fans of the show are certainly going to want to get their hands on this incredible collection while it is still available. To me it was worth every penny!
While Patricia Routledge as Hyacinth was without a doubt the star of the show "Keeping Up Appearances" also featured an incredibly talented supporting ensemble. Clive Swift was just perfect as Hyacinth's henpecked husband Richard. Richard was a rather unassuming guy who just happened to to married to a woman positively obsessed with social status. Just about everything Richard does is wrong in Hyacinth's eyes. Your heart would go out to him in each and every episode. Ditto for the Bucket's next door neighbors Elizabeth (Josephine Tewson) and her recently divorced brother Emmet (David Griffin). Hyacinth had an uncanny ability to make these two otherwise normal human beings quake in their boots at the mere sight of her. Although the scene was repeated with a number of slight variations time and again during the course of the series Hyacinth's seemingly innocous invitation to Elizabeth to join her for a cup of coffee and biscuits would invariably end in disaster for her well meaning neighbor. Each encounter would prove to be nerve-wracking for Elizabeth and always ended with some kind of calamity. And it was always funny....very funny! And then there is Hyacinth's family, You would be hard pressed to find a more disheveled group of individuals anywhere. Most prominent among this group is her sister Daisy (Judy Cornwell) and her chronically unemployed husband Onslow (Geoffrey Hughes) who is if nothing else the consummate slob. Seems like every time Hyacinth is trying to impress someone these two show up unexpectedly to throw a monkey wrench into her plans. Poor Hyacinth! She tries so hard!
As I indicated earlier "Keeping Up Appearances: The Full Bouquet/Special Edition" is a 9 DVD set that features all 40 regular season episodes along with three Christmas specials. As an added treat there is a newly produced feature entitled "Life's Lessons From Onslow". You will also find some very funny outtakes and interviews with cast members Patricia Routledge, Clive Swift and Judy Cornwell. At the end of the day I would have to rank "Keeping Up Appearances" at or near the top of my list of all-time favorite sitcoms. I simply never get tired of watching these shows. This is a collection that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Very highly recommended!
What did you think of this review?