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DVD Review: The Complete Jeeves and Wooster

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If you were to take a poll of the funniest British television comedies of all time, Jeeves and Wooster would likely receive a fair share of votes. In my mind, this is probably the funniest comedy I've ever seen. Not only that, but the series remains funny no matter how many times I watch it.

Based on the characters created by legendary British humorist P.G. Wodehouse, the series follows the adventures of Bertie Wooster (Hugh Laurie), a rich young playboy living in 1920s London who has too much time on his hands and an affinity for getting caught up in various sorts of relational predicaments involving friends and family.

In the opening episode, Bertie has had a wild night on the town and ends up hauled off to court to face charges of stealing a policeman's helmet. After paying the fine (and still rather hung over), he returns home only to be rudely awakened by Jeeves (Stephen Fry) who is the new valet sent by the agency to attend to Bertie's needs. Jeeves revives Bertie with a secret recipe hangover cure and is immediately hired. It turns out to be a fortunate decision as Bertie immediately manages to get himself tangled up in an engagement that he doesn't want any part of. Fortunately Jeeves manages to come up with a scheme to extricate Bertie just in the nick of time. Future episodes involve similar precarious circumstances and it will be Jeeves that will come to Bertie's rescue.

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are the perfect choice to play their respective roles. They are great friends and have a very natural chemistry which is absolutely necessary to make the stories work. The scripts are adapted mostly from Wodehouse's numerous short stories and are, for the most part, faithful to the original material. The only major deviation from the source material is to give Bertie Wooster the ability to sing and play the piano which allows Hugh Laurie to show off his musical talents through numerous performances of several comic tunes.

There is also a host of wonderful supporting characters to round out the cast. Unfortunately, the same actors were not always used for the same roles as the series develops causing a little confusion.

But it's all wonderful escapism, a portrait of an England (and America) that never really quite existed except in our imaginations. It's the kind of show you can never get tired of watching. You just wish by the time you reached the end of the series that there was more to come. Unfortunately, there's only 23 episodes. We can hold out hope, can't we?

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