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Rising Damp season one episode reviews

PhotobucketEpisode 1. "Rooksby" is a classic. Considered by many (including me) to be The Best ITV Sit-Com this opening episode is pitch perfect. Phillip isn't quite as nice as I remember, but everyone else is the same. Rigsby is my favourite Leonard Rossiter character and this episode is a positive showcase for his quirks. I love the part where he laughs at Alan's skeleton joke (thus showing that he's not really all that bad) and I love all his scenes with Miss Jones. Underneath the laughs is the quite desperation of lonliness. Which, of course, is part of the genius of this show. All of the characters are unhappy. Particularly Rigsby himself. Not that that detracts from the laughs.

Episode 2. "Black Magic" Phillip is a bit nicer now to Alan, which is how I remember things. They appear to be more of a team now (united against their small-minded landlord) although Alan is still bombarding Phillip with pointless questions. The actual plot revolves around Phillip's 'magic powers' and Eric Chappell generates many laughs from the simple idea that Miss Jones is waiting for a knock on the floor to tell her to come up. It's great.

Episode 3. "Charisma" contains one of my all-time favourite funny moments. Ever. Phillip has told Rigsby that one sure way to win Miss Jones' heart is to "burn love wood". He then breaks off a piece of the wardrobe and gives it to Rigsby to use. Not knowing what it is the landlord sets it alight and approaches the object of his affections - a clearly bewildered Miss Jones - waving the smoking stick around like a mad-man. It cracks me up every time I see it. Classic comedy. Wonderful.

Episode 4. "A Night Out" The gang get dressed up and take Miss Jones out for her birthday. As always, while the laughs flow freely, the undercurrent of lonliness and poverty is never far from the surface. The dynamic between the characters is fully in place at that stage. The boys may tease Rigsby and he is superficially mean to them, but they all get on very well. It's obvious (by now) that Rigsby isn't a bad person, just a man who has experienced very little. My favourite part of this episode comes in the last scene, when Rigsby and Alan are kicked out and decide to head off themselves for a bag of chips.

Episode 5. "All Our Yesterdays" A very simple idea (one of the tenants is playing his radio too loud and annoying everyone) is used to great effect and produces a lot of laughs as the regulars gather together and try and convince themselves that they are not afraid to challenge their unpleasant co-tenant: Spooner the wrestler.

Episode 6. "The Prowler" is a classic. One of the best and funniest episodes of Rising Damp. Miss Jones sees a prowler. While Rigsby checks the house, a policeman shows up and starts to question everyone. Is the 'prowler', in fact, someone inside the house? Great fun watching everyone get a grilling. It's a chance to see how innocent Alan really is, and a chance to see Rigsby rant and rave when he becomes the number one suspect. Frances de la Tour gets some of the biggest laughs in this one, as we can see that Miss Jones has some very mixed feelings about the 'unwanted' attentions of a strange man.

Episode 7. "Stand Up and Be Counted" The first season of Rising Damp comes to a close with this superb episode which has everybody obsessed with the upcoming local elections. Eric Chappell has created such wonderful characters that all he has to do (again) is drop one strong idea into the mix and let them react to it. Rigsby and Alan each take opposing sides and Miss Jones is caught in the middle. It's perfect. As is the ending where Rigsby abruptly changes sides and gets into a shouting match with one of the candidates.

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