A Random Blog of Everything I like
My friend told me about this series, she asked me would I like to see a British sit-com about a book shop with hostile owner. I told her to give ALL British sit-com she has to me 😉
Black Books is a sit-com situated in a second hand bookstore with a very annoying owner. For Bernard Black, his bookstore is more like his personal library. He hates it when there are a lot of customers in his bookstore and the hassle to buy more books for stock. He seems to forget the meaning of being nice to customers. Fortunately, Bernard hires a man who is more capable of being a book seller. Manny is not only an employee but also serves as a house maid and often bullied by Bernard. Apart from Bernard and Manny, the shop was frequently visited by their friend, Fran who used to own a shop next to Black Books.
For a book lover like me, the idea of a sit-com about book shop is definitely interesting. I admit that it’s not as funny as The IT Crowd, but it’s still cracking. The joke and the slapstick are enjoyable. I also like the characters, all three of them are the kind of people rejected by the society…they have their own small world together.
Bernard Black, played by Dylan Moran who also acted as the writer, is a book worm. He reads all the time…I guess that’s why he opens a book shop. But he is not the kind of person that can’t be sweet to anyone, he talks as he pleases. He doesn’t really care if his books don’t sell. The first episode clearly shows his inability to socialize nicely to his customer. The customer asks him whether the Dickens book is covered with real leather because all his collections are in real leather. Bernard gets annoyed by him and when the man pays him, he asks him whether the money is real leather because if not it won’t fit to his leather wallet. His ignorance and his love for books is also shown in one episode where he pees in front of a customer while sitting and reading a book.
Not only he is annoying, Bernard is also very dirty. We can see it clearly that is we are around him…he sure smells bad. His kitchen is hellish, there are unknown creatures living there and under his bed. We can see stains on his jacket. He dresses properly but dirty. When Manny left him for a while, the shop turns into a trash dump with moldy books and food spread all around.
Manny Bianco, played by Bill Bailey, is a man who used to have issue with calmness. He is so nervous and can only be calmed down by reading the little book of calm. He changes into a bit normal when he accidentally swallows the book. Bernard asks him to work to work at Black Book. Manny turns into a man Bernard relies so much but Bernard is too arrogant to admit it. Manny works as the book shop employer and the house maid. He provides meals for Bernard and also does the laundry. We can so often see how Bernard somehow treats him like a slave…but Bernard really needs him. He won’t let Manny has many friends and even objects at the idea of him meeting girls. At some episodes, Bernard acts as if Manny belongs only to him.
Fran Katzenjammer, played by Tamsin Greig, often acts as the third party in Bernard-Manny relationship. She is the middle man, or woman in this case. Fran herself is not a saint in this sit-com, she loves drinking as much as Bernard. Fran can also be the object of Bernard’s jealousy when Manny tends to hang out with her more.
The sit-com is mostly about trying to change Bernard into someone more sociable…although it never succeeds.
The series also gives me a nice surprise when 2 of my all time favorite comedians shows up. Nick Frost shows up as an electrician and Simon Pegg as the manager of a book store located exactly next door to Black Books. I like Pegg’s character more than Frost. After I finished watching the series, I decided to rewatch Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz…hehehe all three cast in Black Books also played in one of those two movies.
Black Books won the BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy in 2001 and 2005, and won a Bronze Rose at the Festival Rose d’Or of Montreux in 2001.
Title: Black Books
Episodes: 18 (3 series)
Broadcast period: Series 1 (29 September 2000 – 3 November 2000); Series 2 (1 March 2002 – 5 April 2002); Series 3 (11 March 2004 – 15 April 2004)
Staring: Dylan Moran, Bill Baley, Tamsin Greig
Screenwriters: Dylan Moran, Graham Linehan, Arthur Mathews, Kevin Cecil, Andy Riley
Producers: Nira Park, Julian Meers
Promo for Series 3