Saturday, March 23, 2013

Black Books

Title: Black Books

Genre: Comedy
Created By: Dylan Moran
Starring: Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey, Tamsin Greig
TV Run: September 29, 2000 - April 15, 2004 (Channel 4)
Seasons: 3, Episodes: 18

Available on Netflix

Oh here we go, don't you watch anything other than British TV shows?

Sorry, sorry. I have a huge affinity for British comedy and Black Books fits right in there. I actually found this show tangent with The IT Crowd. How are they connected? The brilliant Graham Linehan (@Glinner for you Twitter heads) is a writer for both of these series. So what's the story?

Image from Channel 4.
So you have this fellow, Bernard (played by Dylan Moran) who owns a book shop. Oh great, sounds fun. Well, he's about as indulgent as they come. Drinking, smoking, saying what's on his mind, bullying, being surly, and so on. His store is pretty run down and he doesn't really care about people actually buying anything.

I love how the Channel 4 character page describes Bernard, "The easiest way to describe Bernard would probably be: a smoking, drinking Irishman." (Channel 4)

Image from Channel 4.
Then you have his friend, Fran (played by Tamsin Greig). She runs a very two-sided character. On the one hand, she seems to be about the female equivalent of Bernard in terms of liking to smoke and being obnoxious when she drinks, but then she (I suppose when she's sober) she also puts on an air of being righteous and good.

Image from Channel 4.
Lovable Manny (played by Bill Bailey). The third main character. How do I explain Manny. He's a kind hearted guy, kind of slow on the uptake, tends to be a bit of a doormat, and has a (generally) positive view on the world. He is Bernard's favorite bully target throughout the series. He comes off as somewhat childish as well.


I have to admit one thing about this show. The first time I watched it I liked it.. However! The second time I watched it I actually enjoyed it more than the first time I watched it. What does that mean? 

For me this show ended up being what I call a phoenix show. Oh great here we go with the random analogies again. A phoenix show is a show that does alright the first time around, then you kind of forget about it. Suddenly, you decided to watch it again (perhaps out of boredom or spite or whatever) and the show shines much better the second time around. Sometimes this is associated with not appreciating everything the first time around, and going through a second time you are able to gloss over some of the lesser parts and focus on some of the more subtle humor. I don't know, but I liked it more the  second time around.

The humor is very in line with what you would expect from a British comedy series. It is witty, often dry, sometimes obnoxious, sometimes intelligent, and sometimes pretty deadpan. As I said earlier, Graham Linehan is a writer for this series so if you enjoyed The IT Crowd, you'll likely enjoy the type of humor in this show as well.

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