Video Virgil: "Yes, Minister"

If you have read this before, apologies. I am moving Video Virgil into the main weblog, because Virgil does not like being sidelined. After the first couple of postings we will move into new territory.

If this political season is making you feel a bit cynical, then I have just the thing for you. If you like smart cynicism instead of dumb, and don't mind being reminded of the comic helplessness of elected officials pitted against the vast bureaucracy of the modern state, then by all means rent the terrific British TV series "Yes, Minister." It is witty, insightful, occasionally side-splitting, and (except for certain references and some appalling 1980s eyeglasses) as timely as tomorrow's op-eds.

Two tips: Ignore the ugly animated drawings that precede each episode, and ignore the clumsiness of the opening episode, in which newly minted Minister for Administrative Affairs Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington) first encounters his nemesis, Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby (the incomparable Nigel Hawthorne) and Sir Humphrey's earnest apprentice in the art of house-training new ministers, Bernard Woolley (Derek Fowlds).

Once the situation and characters are established, the comedy starts to simmer. Then it bubbles, and by some miracle performed by the writers, Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, it keeps boiling for nigh unto four full discs. I never tired of it, even though the joke remains pretty much the same throughout. Who would have thought that so much hilarity could  be brought forth from the proposition that government exists not to do anything but to perpetuate itself?

August 3, 2004 11:00 AM |

Categories:

Soundtrax

PRC Pop 

The Chinese pop music scene is like no other ...

Remembering Elvis 

The best part of him will never leave the building ...

Beyond Country 

Like all chart categories, "country" is an arbitrary heading under which one finds the ridiculous, the sublime, and everything in between. On the sublime end, a track that I have been listening to over and over for the last six months: Wynnona Judd's version of "She Is His Only Need." The way she sings it, irony is not a color or even a set of contrasting colors; it is iridescence.

Miles the Rock Star? 

Does Miles Davis belong in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame? Here's my take on his career ...

Essay Contest 

Attention, high school jazz listeners ...

more trax

Me Elsewhere

Edward Hopper 

Painter of light (and darkness) ...

Dissed in Translation 

Here's my best shot at taking Scorcese down a few pegs ...

Henri Rousseau Revisited 

"Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris" appeared at the National Gallery of Art in Washington this fall ...

Paul Klee's Art 

Paul Klee was not childish, despite frequent comparisons between his art and that of children...

Our Art Belongs to Dada 

Rent my "Dadioguide" tour of the Dada show (before it moves to MoMA) ...

more picks

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by published on August 3, 2004 11:00 AM.

I'd Walk A Mile For This One was the previous entry in this blog.

Video Virgil: "Phone Booth" is the next entry in this blog.

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