For Fridays in June, we are taking a break from film and instead bingeing television, specifically four British televisions shows (with the caveat they are complete series that have ended). Yes, yes, I know it's summer, but with warmer weather comes sunburns and afternoon rain, both in turn lead to some indoor time.
Last week, we took a look at my favorite medical show, Green Wing, a full hour sitcom that takes place in a hospital but avoids the medical storylines and instead focuses on the ridiculous antics of its doctors, nurses, and administrative staff. Today, we carry similar themes as we pivot from one dysfunctional workplace to another, Black Books (2000-2004).
Black Books was created by the lead Dylan Moran and Graham Linehan (of IT Crowd and Father Ted) and is about the interactions between three individuals and a small, independent bookshop, eponymously named Black Books.
There is Bernard Black (Moran), the misanthropic Irish proprietor of Black Books, who spends more time drinking, smoking, and insulting customers and everyone else in sight, instead of selling books. Fran Katzenjammer (Tamsin Greig - yes from Green Wing), is Bernard's best (and for a long time only) friend whose career and romantic life twists and turns but always leaves time for a cig and a glass of wine at the bookshop. Lastly, there is Manny Bianco (Bill Bailey), the cheerful and helpful shop assistant who continues to stick around despite Bernard's surly abuse and eccentricities.
Why do I adore this show? Maybe it's my misanthropic tendencies, but you have to factor in the writing. Despite the toxic elements of the dysfunctional characters, they will have you laughing and enjoying those unexpected redeeming moments that happen in a flash before life resumes to normal (meaning booze, insults, and self-absorbed tendencies). Not to mention the humor and the over-the-top moments are perfectly in sync with not only each episode, but the entire series.
The show also has a list of guest stars you will enjoy, from Martin Freeman, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jessica Hynes, Peter Serafinowicz, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Nina Conti, Lucy Davis, and Rob Brydon to name a few.
Here are five clips spanning the three seasons of Black Books (six episodes a season make this show a very quick binge). Plus, all three seasons are currently available on Hulu for free. Enjoy and check back next Friday for number three in Brits to Binge.