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S01.E01: Wake

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Freddie and Stuart are hosting a wake to mark the passing of an old friend. As they are joined by their small circle of elderly chums, the couple manage to create a toe-curlingly awkward evening with very little food but plenty of bitchy insults. Their new young upstairs neighbour Ash - whose sexuality becomes a point of great debate - spends the evening attempting to be the perfect guest, while fending off the advances of Freddie and Stuart's best friend Violet.

 

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I loved it (premiere on PBS). My favorites are tied Zac Efron and the opening of the shades bit. So, a bitchy Magneto is in a long-term relationship with I Claudius with Ramsay Snow as an upstairs neighbor. Or Gandalf and Professor Yana are neighbors with Simon Bellamy.

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And they are best friends with Madame Olympe Maxime/Mrs Lintott!

I loved it! Seeing Ian and Derek together is awesome. Heh especially the scene when Ash opened the curtain.

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The "Violet is too ugly to rape" jokes were appalling however.

So much of the show was appalling, I thought. And yet, like a car wreck, I couldn't look away. Why are Sirs McKellen and Jacobi shouting every line like they needed to heard in the balcony at the Theater Royal Drury Lane? How does the set look expensive and cheap at the same time? Wait, is this a parody of 70s Britcoms? Is this performance art? Do I smell ham?

 

Still, I did laugh. Occasionally. Usually, at anything Frances de la Tour, Patron Saint of Impeccable Timing, said. And Iwan Rheon must have wet himself working with McKellen, Jacobi and de la Tour. I would have.

 

Props to PBS for scheduling this after "Last Tango in Halifax," giving us the chance to see Jacobi shapeshift from gentle Yorkshire farmer to, well, Vicious Old Queen.

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I found this show really disappointing. The cast is marvelous, the writing clever and the delivery of lines spot-on, but the whole thing felt dated, like something from the 1970s when it would have been edgy and daring. I found myself getting bored about 20 minutes in, and when a show can't even hold my interest for 30 minutes, that's not a good sign.

Still, the opening of the drapes was almost worth watching the entire show.

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I absolutely adored the first episode!  Funny writing, beautiful set, wonderful actors.  I loved the fact that they screamed/punctuated their lines just as on a stage. Shockingly good!

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I also found it a bit over the top as the "boys" did seem to be yelling to the back row.

 

I wondered what it would be like to see these two amazing actors pull off the camp. I have seen McKellan on SNL and I know he has a pretty good sense of it. Jacobi, however is a guy I don't believe I've ever seen in anything but drama. I don't even think I've seen him be interviewed so I don't know his personality. Is it flamboyant? Is it reserved? Is he shy?

The portrayals were a bit too stereotypical. Lots of  affectation. 

 

That being said, the show was pretty funny and yeah, the curtain gag was hilarious!!!  I did not like the rape jokes and was quite surprised at it. Also not cool showing the elderly woman as completely dazed and confused. 

 

I'll watch the next episodes. We may never get another shot at the two of them together.  

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I'll keep watching because of the rare chance to see these legends work together, but I didn't adore the pilot. I assume the 70s-sitcom feel was by design. And I generally hate sitcoms, so this could be tough going for me.

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At times I think Derek Jacobi was channeling Mr Humphreys from  Are You Being Served ,esp when taking to his mum.

Edited by sheetmoss
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I got an email from PBS about new stuff that is coming on and this show was one that was highlighted, so I clicked the link to check out the trailer. It was good enough to make me want to check out the show and I was pleasantly surprised. I laughed more than I expected to(I usually don't care for British sitcoms because anytime I watched,I never thought they were very funny) I was watching with my 93 year old dad and even he was laughing, and he is usually particular about sitcoms.   But I quite enjoyed Vicious and will be in for the long haul...well...short haul since it's only six eps...which is fine by me and my short attention span brain. So far, I like lecherous Violet the best. She had some great lines in the opener and I love her delivery. (agreed, the Zac Efron person or place gag was a highlight!) Facially, she kind of reminds me of an older,haggared Allison Janney.

 

I also found it a bit over the top as the "boys" did seem to be yelling to the back row.

 

  I didn't mind it much because my dad can't hear too well(but HE doesn't think he has a problem, oy!) so at least he could hear what they were saying with the yelling!

Nice to see there's a forum here for Vicious!

On the topic of British shows, was there ever a forum here for Luther? I couldn't find one and I so wanted to read other fans thoughts,since I am one ep away from finishing there series.

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At times I think Derek Jacobi was channeling Mr Humphreys from  Are You Being Served ,esp when taking to his mum.

 

I thought the exact same thing, I half expected him to say, "I'm FREE!"

 

When they opened the door to see Iwan Rheon, I may have yelled, "EVIL!" But nobody was around to confirm it. I loved how uncomfortable Ash was at Violet hitting on him.

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I didn't love this, though I love the actors. I only lasted five minutes, but I will try another episode.

Edited by SeriousPurrs

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I absolutely adored the first episode!  Funny writing, beautiful set, wonderful actors.  I loved the fact that they screamed/punctuated their lines just as on a stage. Shockingly good!

 

I agree right down the line. The stage comparison is good. McKellen, Jacobi and de la Tour are superbly trained stage actors, and at times I found myself imagining seeing this on a stage and loving it. Not much comedy on TV rises to the level of wit required to make an actual theater audience laugh uproariously, but this, had it been put on the stage, would have.

Edited by Milburn Stone

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There are actually 7 episodes in season 1.  I bought the season through PBS.  The shows get more hilarious as it goes on.  Season 2 is filming now.  Hurray!

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Why are Sirs McKellen and Jacobi shouting every line like they needed to heard in the balcony at the Theater Royal Drury Lane?

I just watched the "Extras" segment, and it's mentioned that Vicious was filmed in front of an audience of over 400, so that may have something to do with it. Sitcoms generally don't have live audiences that size - that's more of a medium-sized live theater audience.

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I just watched the "Extras" segment, and it's mentioned that Vicious was filmed in front of an audience of over 400, so that may have something to do with it. Sitcoms generally don't have live audiences that size - that's more of a medium-sized live theater audience.

 

Aha. That explains the (IMO) delicious theatricality of the show. More than once through the series I had the thought in the back of my mind, "I can totally see this as a comedy in the West End." Now I know why. It's the intention.

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