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directed by Douglas Argent and Sydney Lotterby
UK 1972

 

"Whats got four legs, walks peculiar, talks with all the choicest words? What's got four arms, loves to grab you? Answer is: two Liver Birds!" So goes the theme song by Liverpool trio Scaffold of the Britcom created by Carla Lane (better known stateside for the Wendy Craig/Geoffrey Palmer series BUTTERFLIES) and Myra Taylor (BLESS THIS HOUSE). The pilot and first series (believed lost along with many BBC classic TV treasures) began with Liverpudlian working class roommates "salt of the earth" Beryl (Polly James) and Dawn (Pauline Collins). Collins would be replaced by Nerys Hughes as the posh Sandra when the second series was commissioned (Collins was on UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS at this point), and Hughes would stick around for the remainder of the series (while James would be replaced by EMMERDALE's Elizabeth Estensen from series five onwards). One of the many "Britcoms" that did not make it stateside by way of PBS, THE LIVER BIRDS may not have been broad enough or possibly seemed dated in the eighties (even next to re-runs of MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS and THE BENNY HILL SHOW), but viewers do not really need a history lesson to appreciate the series as comedy. The show was cheeky rather than raunchy (with some rather tame innuendo eliciting the same sort of reactions from the audience as Mrs. Slocombe's "pussy" a few years later), portraying its heroines as fun-loving and social while modest in keeping with their Protestant and Catholic upbringings on their modesty (likely accurate but possibly also a television standards concession). "Women's lib" - and its relation to the concept of femininity ("Emancipated! She's like a fella with knickers on.") - and other social issues of the sixties and seventies were addressed lightly, couched within traditional sitcom antic (an approach that Lane would refine with the later aforementioned BUTTERFLIES.).

 

In the first episode of the third series "One's a Crowd", Sandra and Beryl move into a new flat and take a stand against a busybody who disapproves of a "coloured" neighbor, while in "Birds on the Dole" out-of-work Sandy and Beryl nearly end their friendship over a brawl at the employment agency (this episode introducers ARE YOU BEING SERVED?'s Mollie Sugden as Sandra's snobby mother). In "Good Little Girls Should Be in Bed", Beryl tries to protect her virtue from more than her boyfriend Robert (Colin Bell) when he so eloquently expresses his wish to have breakfast with her in the morning, while Beryl may have to miss a date with the latest love of her life and possibly lose her job to speak for the workers in "Birds on Strike". Beryl tries to have an intimate date with Robert in the sitting room while providing tea and sympathy to lovelorn Sandra and her own pregnant sister Gloria in "Fella-A-Day Girl", while Sandra's horoscope prediction of an impending marriage proposal gets her in trouble with a handsome department store detective in "Birds and Bottom Drawers". When Beryl's sister and her husband ('ALLO, 'ALLO's Sam Kelly) decide on an Anglican christening, Sandra and an amorous vicar are left holding the baby in "The Christening". Social climbing Sandra is being courted by dashing Giles (Timothy Carlton) but ends up with a horse bound for the slaughterhouse (years before 2 BROKE GIRLS) in "Birds on Horseback" while Beryl's "Valentine's Day" depression may lead to utter devastation over a blind date (if she can stay awake, that is). Sandra's "vital statistics" take a hit when she competes in her boyfriend's rugby league Miss Hot Pants competition in "Birds in the Club" while Beryl inadvertently and repeatedly maims hers and Sandra's boyfriends (respectively, YES, MINISTER writer/CLUE director Jonathan Lynn and POLDARK's Clive Francis) while trying to pass "The Driving Test". The battle of the sexes takes an interesting turn when Beryl forms a women's football team to take on Sandra's boyfriend (CORONATION STREET's Bill Kenwright) in "Liverpool or Everton" while "The Parrot" isn't the only uninvited guest when Beryl gets a wrong number call from a suicidal transcendentalist (Christopher Sandford, DIE SCREAMING, MARIANNE) and invites him over for a cup of tea.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 11 February 1972 - 12 May 1972 (UK TV - Series Three)

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DVD Review: Acorn Media/BBC - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Acorn Media/BBC

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 6:14:12
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.83 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English HoH, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Acorn Media/BBC

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• 13 Episodes on Two Discs:
• - 3.01: 'One's a Crowd' (4:3; 28:46)
• - 3.02: 'Birds on the Dole' (4:3; 26:52)
• - 3.03: 'Good Little Girls Should Be in Bed' (4:3; 29:15)
• - 3.04: 'Birds on Strike' (4:3; 27:01)
• - 3.05: 'Fella-A-Day Girl' (4:3; 28:52)
• - 3.06: 'Birds and Bottom Drawers' (4:3; 27:15)
• - 3.07: 'The Christening' (4:3; 29:03)
• - 3.08: 'Birds on Horseback' (4:3; 29:38)
• - 3.09: 'Valentine's Day' (4:3; 29:24)
• - 3.10: 'Birds in the Club' (4:3; 28:22)
• - 3.11: 'The Driving Test' (4:3; 30:07)
• - 3.12: 'Liverpool or Everton' (4:3; 29:09)
• - 3.13: 'The Parrot' (4:3; 30:34)
• Biographies, Text Essay, and Picture Gallery

DVD Release Date: July 7th, 2014
Amaray

Chapters 78

 

Comments

THE LIVER BIRDS: COLLECTION TWO comprises the complete third series. The pilot and first series (four episodes) appear to no longer exist (presumably wiped like a number of BBC's earlier series), so the first collection featured only the second series of 12 episodes. Image quality is what you would expect from a seventies show with filmed exteriors and video interiors while the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio is also as good as the original live studio recording (which includes audience noise over the opening credits as well). Optional English subtitles are helpful when it comes to ferreting out some of the Northern England slang ("Ta-ra", "shirrup", and all).

 

Extras are rather light, including biographies for the two leads, a text essay on the series, and a still gallery.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Acorn Media/BBC

Region 2 - PAL

 



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