On July 19th, Acorn Media will release Reggie Perrin Set 1 on DVD. From original series and book creator David Nobbs, Reggie Perrin is an update by the author of a story told before both on screen and in print. Simon Nye (Men Behaving Badly) assists in this newest version. However, a quick browse of Wikipedia exposes major differences between Reggie Perrin and the earlier incarnations, so whether you enjoyed the original, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, or are discovering the character for the first time, Reggie Perrin offers an enjoyable, unpredictable time.
Reggin Perrin is a funny sitcom about a man who is dissatisfied with his life, after ten years working as Head of Disposable Razors for a grooming products company. Every day he rides the same train full of the same crowded people, and is always 27 minutes late to work, for various reasons. Once there, he deals with the same droll people and tasks. Reggie determines it is time to attempt to do something about the boredom, but his efforts begin randomly and without a plan, so they fail.
Martin Clunes (Doc Martin, Demob, Kipper) stars as the titular character, and, as usual, he is brilliant. Clunes is a master of comedy, usually achieved by acting grumpily and smarmily towards everyone around him, who he considers less intelligent. They often are, but that doesn’t mean they deserve his treatment of them. It’s hard to pull off this superior attitude without being unlikeable, but Clunes does it again here. The entire series rises and falls on his performance, as the sole star, and he handles it more than capably. After viewing Reggie Perrin, one may want to see Clunes in anything else he chooses to do.
The focus of series one is to introduce the characters, and set up the situation. Reggie is tired of the banality of his job, and frustrated by his co-workers. He seeks to shake things up, but doesn’t quite know how. He frequently fantasizes about things he’d like to do, and those fantasy moments are shown on screen, but doesn’t act on them. He considers having an affair with interested co-worker Jasmine (Lucy Liemann, Moving Wallpaper, The Bourne Ultimatum), but the love Reggie still has for his wife, Nicola (Fay Ripley, Cold Feet, Meg and Meg), proves an obstacle. Reggie soon realizes the only thing he can do is create waves at his job, which, of course, doesn’t quite go according to the way he’d like it to.
Series two kicks things up a notch, as Reggie becomes more and more involved in things he doesn’t enjoy. He searches for his passion, and how to make his life better. Unfortunately, his new obsessions lead Nicola to feel lonely, and she considers straying herself with new neighbor, David (Alexander Armstrong, The Sarah Jane Adventures). There are some really interesting, deeply impacting twists, which I will not spoil, but it’s a really strong series, and definitely worth watching.
Besides Clunes, Liemann, and Ripley, the cast is supported by Reggie’s employees, Anthony (Jim Howick, The Armstrong and Miller Show) and Steve (Nick Mohammed, Horne & Corden), Reggie’s secretary, Vicky (Kerry Howard, Him & Her), boss Chris (Neil Stuke, The Bill), and wellness expert Sue (Susan Earl, Hardware). Although each is dim in a different way, the actors make their characters sympathetic and unique, rather than being interchangeable drones. Nicola’s father, William (Geoffrey Whitehead, The Worst Week of My Life), and Reggie’s mother, Marion (Wendy Craig, The Royal), assure the main man finds no peace at home, either, with their own antics.
Set 1 may actually contain the complete run of Reggie Perrin, as no third series has been ordered as of yet, and ratings have not been high. This would be quite a shame, as not only is there some very funny material present, but the second series adds a layer of deep emotional drama to raise the level several notches. Reggie Perrin is finding its stride, and it would be gratifying to see what happens next to the character.
The DVD release includes two discs, featuring all twelve episodes of Series 1 and Series 2, as well as a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, the lone bonus feature on the set. Reggie Perrin Set 1 will be released on July 19th. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.