New Nonfiction (with commentary): 4 May 2015
What would you send with a friend to read in the doctor's office?*

British Television: As Time Goes By

Before she was M in the latest reboot of the James Bond franchise, Judi Dench OWNED the role of Jean Pargetter on the long-running British TV series As Time Goes By.

Of course Dame Judi did many acting gigs before this show, both in theater and on television. But I'll always like her best for her role on this show. The premise was a bit meet-cute: Mature adults Jean and Lionel, who met and fell in love during the Korean War, were separated when Lionel went to Korea and a letter from Lionel to Jean went astray. Not hearing from Lionel, Jean assumed the affair was over, and went on to marry and have a daughter. When they meet again years later in London, Jean is a widow with a successful business of her own, and Lionel is a divorced man just returned from a coffee plantation he ran in Kenya (and who has just written a book on the subject).

This program ran for ten seasons, between 1992 and 2002. Episodes were half an hour, and were a nice mix of a bit of drama mixed with mostly comedy. I totally, totally enjoyed Judi Dench* and Geoffrey Palmer (wonderfully dry as Lionel), but I also enjoyed the supporting cast in this show. Lionel's publisher, Alistair Deacon, also has a long-running romantic subplot with Jean's daughter Judith. SPOILER ALERT: all the romances end satisfactorily, which I enjoy in my lighthearted romantic comedies.

The first few episodes are a bit ridiculous, with the younger set, Judith and Alistair, romantically pursuing the older set of Lionel and Jean, but once you get past that, the series settles into a very comforting slice of British life. I don't know where they filmed this one, and perhaps to British people the setting doesn't ring true, but to me the houses, sidewalks, and other locations look just like London should look.

I have seen this series so many times that I can practically say the dialogue along with any episode, which is very sad, I know. My local PBS station still airs it on Saturday nights (and have done for many years--which is where I watched it for the very first time) and if I happen to be flipping through stations at that time, I'll always leave it on, which makes Mr. CR cry, as he can't understand how I can possibly stand to BE WATCHING IT AGAIN.

He just doesn't get a good old-fashioned Anglophile BBC TV addiction. Give it a try. You'll get addicted too.

*I also think Judi Dench is the most gorgeous older woman ever. I love her short sassy hair.