Raphael Pour-Hashemi has reviewed the Region 2 release of I’m Alan Partridge.
One of the greatest comic inventions of recent years, with all the episodes you love. A-ha!
After the very successful spoof-BBC chat show Knowing Me, Knowing You, fronted by Steve Coogan, the Beeb decided that the character of Alan Partridge was too well-constructed to not capitalise on, and so Partridge was given a sitcom of his own.
Fictionally – After his chat show series died a slow death on BBC television, complete ignoramus and bitter sufferer-of-an-inferiority-complex, Alan Partridge, is stuck in the graveyard shift of local Norwich radio. Equipped with only an abundance of delusion and a loyal assistant named Lynn, Alan plots to find any way possible back onto television, and away from his radio hell. As Alan is now homeless due to his impending divorce, he has taken residency in a three-star Linton Travel Tavern, which soon becomes his permanent home. I’m Alan Partridge is not hilarious because of its situations, it’s hilarious because of the ongoing relationships that Alan has with his fellow characters. With his stupidly loyal assistant Lynn, Alan is completely tyrannical and condescending; With his DJ colleague Dave Clifton, Alan is competitive on an absurdly over-the-top level, and prone to unjustly humiliating Dave on air; With the Hotel Manager Susan, Alan attempts charm and a lustful repartee with often misjudged effects; With Michael, the hotel handyman, Alan is often baffled by the Geordie’s strong accent and one-way conversation; With young hotel trainee Sophie, Alan is often insulted by the lack of composure shown by Sophie’s fits of giggles every time Partidge opens his mouth.
It’s these relationships that have already provided I’m Alan Partridge with a strong cult following. The series contained six episodes.
A Room With An Alan
The first episode is an establishing one, with Alan being informed that he will not be getting a second TV series. This causes major disruptions to his plans of buying an expensive house, thus causing Alan to take up residence in a three-star hotel, as his wife has just thrown him out of her house as she is having an affair. A funny introductory episode, with a fantastic highlight of Alan attempting to shove a mound of cheese into the BBC director of programming’s face after being refused a second series. Smell My Cheese!
After Alan’s rejection of a second series, he is faced with firing the whole staff that runs his Peartree Productions, except for the receptionist Jill, who he happens to take a shine to. Being Valentine’s Day, a liaison is sparked, with some sticky, chocolate moments as the headline of the night. Although not the funniest episode of the series, a hysterical moment is providing in the form of Alan trying to woo Jill with an awful rendition of the Carpenter’s Close To You, and then obnoxiously complaining that the backing band are playing the song in the wrong key. No, Jill Will Be Sleeping With Me Tonight!.
Alan is hired to present a promotional video for a waterboat, although danger may lurk in the air after Alan insulted the farming profession on his radio show with some badly thought-out puns. Not a very funny situation, but some classic one-liners fill this episode. Tell Me About The Lady Boys!
Alan becomes bored during the hotel renovations and becomes entangled with the inner workings of a trouser press. Soon Alan and Michael decide to become rebellious and steal traffic cones to kill the time. A particular highlight involves Michael recounting how he threw a psychotic monkey into the sea in his soldier days. This is possibly the weakest episode, with limited situational comedy. To Look At You, You’d Think You Sing Like An Angel, But Actually More Like A Trapped Buoy!
To Kill A Mocking Alan
After Alan’s attempts at rejuvenating his television career continue to fail, he holds ‘An Afternoon With Alan Partridge’ at the Travel inn where he resides. Consistently pestered with bogus calls from such men as Mr. P. Nesshead, and a strange obsessive fan named Jed, Alan inadvertently insults two Irish TV executives who are interested in using his alleged talents. This episode does to Irish people what Fawlty Towers did to Germans, and is by far and away the funniest episode of the series. When Jed the obsessive fan kidnaps Alan, the show actually becomes quite scary, and the ensuing escape is side-splittingly humourous. You’re A Mentalist!.
The beginning of the end of Linton Travel Lodge, as Alan is gleeful of the news that the BBC Director of Television Programming has died, and that his replacement is a big fan of Alan’s. His insensitivity at the funeral is legendary, such as answering his mobile at the reception to discuss a new stereo. Partridge also has to contend with judging a vegetable contest at a village festival, a task Alan devotes his usual ignorance to. The highlight however, is Alan’s futile attempts to keep colleagues and staff away from the knowledge that his bedroom top draw is full to the brim with pornography. A sad episode, that suggests that there may be no more of this classic sitcom. Jurassic Park!
To sum it up, I’m Alan Partridge is a classic sitcom with a flawless performance by Steve Coogan. The exceptionally structured characters and situations, written by Coogan, Armando Iannuci and Peter Baynham, will survive far into the twenty first century, and along with The Office, will be held up to the highest level as the greatest in realistic and satirical comedy.
Although the picture quality is very watchable, the transfer suffers heavily with extreme digitised artefacts and heavy grain on dark visuals and night-time locations. Presented in 4:3 fullscreen.
Presented in 2.0 Stereo, the dialogue is confined to the central well, with the fake, canned laughter given the full surround effect. The audio mix is clearly audible and very acceptable.
Add On Alan: The only worthy extra, twenty minutes of cut footage from the six episodes, edited together in one roll, and included some funny outtakes. This was also included on the VHS version, so BBC had no real choice as to whether to include it or not.
Partridge Family Tree: A brief character guide to the major players in the show.
Alan’s Idea: A small roll of clips featuring all of the stupid ideas that Alan has managed to conjure up within the series. Hard not to be funny, but most of the ground covered here has already featured in the series, so it’s a slightly pointless extra.
Fans of the show will already own this DVD, but it is suggested to newcomers that they should maybe sample I’m Alan Partridge before buying, as he isn’t for everyone. If this type of humour does appeal, then there is no funnier DVD available, and that includes Monty Python and Fawlty Towers.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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