27 November 2012

Spotlight on Holiday Classics: "Silly, But It's Fun"

Year: 1977
Network: BBC
Stars: Richard Briers, Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith, Paul Eddington

In this Christmas edition of one of Britain's best-known comedy series, The Good Life, shown here "across the pond" as Good Neighbors, Tom and Barbara Good, who several years before scandalized their conformist suburban neighborhood—especially their social-climbing next door neighbor Margo Leadbetter and her executive husband Jerry (the Goods' best friends)—when Tom chucked his job and the two began to practice self-sufficiency in their sizable back garden, complete with a goat, pigs and chickens along with their vegetables. Plots revolved around the Goods' efforts to survive, whether growing veg for their larder or bartering for goods.

By the time this Christmas special aired, the Goods were well involved in their lifestyle, making simple holiday preparations like newspaper paper chains, a "bonsai Christmas tree" made of a discarded top of a larger tree, a Yule log centerpiece, and Tom's home-made Christmas crackers, wrought with newspaper and a framework of toilet paper rolls. Meanwhile, Margo gets in "high dudgeon" when the Christmas tree she orders is six and one-quarter inches too short and therefore sends back the van with her entire supply of festive supplies: tree, decorations, food and all. When the company won't deliver the correct order on Christmas Day, Margo and Jerry face a bleak day—until the Goods arrive.

Especially if you have seen the series and are invested in the characters, this is a funny and charming story of the two mismatched couples and their holiday preparations and celebration. There's a hilarious exchange with a deliveryman, the dispatching of Jerry's "political chickenpox," the party games (Felicity Kendal and Paul Eddington play so well off each other, as do Richard Briers and Penelope Keith), and the final scene is the perfect capper. The Goods illustrate handily what Christmas should be, not expensive doo-dads and perfunctory parties, but the sharing of good fellowship. A warm and cozy story wrapped up in homemade holiday glow.

Lift a glass of "peapod burgundy" and enjoy!

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