by Del Harvey
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Now I know where they got the idea for House, M.D. They studied all of Brit comedian Martin Clunes’ TV series and “borrowed” heavily. Reggie Perrin is the type of fellow who says and does all the things we all wish we could in our day-to-day, humdrum lives. The types of things which would get us fired, divorced, or simply a sock in the mouth. And what is most amazing is Clunes’ portrayal. Especially since this is a modern update of a 1970s BBC sitcom titled The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, which had originally starred Leonard Rossiter.
Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) stars in this modern take on the classic British comedy The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. Bored at work, neglected at home, Reggie is having a midlife crisis. He turns for escape to surreal flights of fancy, narrowly escaping disaster and preserving the respectable veneer of a successful businessman in the city – for the moment.
The new series gives a fresh take on the original storyline, with many variations in character, setting and incident. Reginald Perrin is a middle-aged project executive for “Groomtech”, a manufacturer of grooming products, where he is in charge of disposable razors. Although secure in his marriage, with a paid-for house, no children, a car and a comfortable living, he is dissatisfied with the grind of modern living—such as his daily commute by train, often overcrowded and “27 minutes late” due to a plethora of reasons—and undergoing a mid-life crisis, keeping himself entertained by fantasies.
At work, he has to contend with a dim secretary, two fawning but ambitious junior executives, and an overbearing boss, Chris Jackson. Lacking attention from his wife, Nicola, he finds a fantasy distraction in his colleague, Jasmine Strauss.
This distraction comes close to being consummated during a business trip to Finland when Perrin and Strauss are inebriated and Strauss (as with Perrin’s secretary Joan in the 1970s original) removes her blouse to reveal a black brassiere, but Perrin is apparently overcome with feelings for his wife, shortly after which Jackson appears unexpectedly, setting up a potentially embarrassing situation. The first series ended with Reggie considering whether he should fake his own death or actually commit suicide.
Originally shown on public television. Includes Series 1 and 2. 12 episodes, 5 ¾ hrs, 2 DVDs, SDH. Mature audiences.
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Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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