Acorn Media is currently releasing a number of British television shows on DVD in the United States. One of the latest releases, which went on sale this past week, is Demob. The title refers to Demobilized, meaning, it is about a couple of soldiers who have just gotten home from World War II and are released back into the general population. Both have a hard time coping with their new life, and suffer a number of setbacks. While set in the 1940’s, the show aired in the fall of 1993, and the DVD release contains all six episodes.
The two discharged soldiers are Ian Deasey (Griff Rhys Jones, Alas Smith and Jones) and Dick Dobson (Martin Clunes, Doc Martin). Deasey has a job and a family to come home to, while Dobson would like to avoid going back to his father’s farm, and does, for awhile. Deasey and Dobson were entertainers in the army, often delivering jokes and songs for the men. Once home, Deasey has little desire to continue to work his boring job, while Dobson is a roll-with-the-punches kind of guy, floating along. Both have a hard time adjusting, and end up going through a series of adventures together while they seek a life post-war.
The series raises a number of issues about those demobbed boys. They are now used to a very different life than the one they have at home, and so struggle to fit into society. What happens is a restlessness. Dobson gets involved in shady deals, mainly at the behest of Rudy (James Faulkner, Bridget Jones’s Diary), who is, more than anyone, the villain of the show. Dobson drags Deasey into the messes with him. Deasey, meanwhile, seeks a career in show business, of a sort, whether it be theater or radio. They are often joined in these endeavors by the lovely Hedda (Samantha Womack, EastEnders), who has a delightful voice, and is eventually a love interest for Deasey,
Each episode finds the trio in a slightly different line of work, as they bounce from job to job. There are some really interesting twists, including a big one for one of the leads at the end of episode five, that is unexpected and changes the entire game. I will not spoil the surprises, even though the series aired nearly two decades ago, but the ending is realistic, not contrived, and not at all what is expected.
Also in the cast are Deasey’s wife, Janet (Amanda Redman, New Trick, Little Dorrit). She is not at all pleased with Ian’s mid-life crisis, expecting the same man she fell in love with to return. When he doesn’t, she throws him out of the house and seeks comfort in an engaged doctor’s arms. Both Janet and Ian are different people from when they parted, and there is definitely the need to get to know each other all over again after years spent separate.
The DVD set has no extras at all, but that should not discourage you from purchasing it. Unlike more modern shows, and those that were made in the U.S., Demob is not readily available in reruns, so this DVD may be the best chance you have to watch it. And watch it, you should. There is humor and heart, and a large dose of authenticity that makes it a special treat, well worth the time and money.
Buy Demob, now available on DVD.