I have not seen this series except for some clips on YouTube – Netflix thinks I’ll love it, I guess. The humor seems kinda rough for a vicar. She makes fun of her loopy friend’s intelligence, and she complains about her loopy neighbors’ behavior. Is the whole series like this? Why make it about a vicar if they want to write it this way? It just seems like she could have had any profession, if it’s really about a “plucky single gal” who is overweight (so her social life is limited to church or charity activities, the book club, etc.) and who is the only sane person in a small town full of eccentrics.
Oh, and the fantasy sequences! The last season involves her getting a boyfriend and getting married. I gather that they meet in the first episode and get married in the last episode. There’s a misunderstanding and she thinks he’s marrying some beautiful blonde. There’s one fantasy sequence when she stands up to them in church during the wedding ceremony, bawling them out in song and then punching them both out!! There’s another when she sees them approaching down a country lane and has nowhere to hide, so she jumps into a mud puddle and disappears underwater! Then after they’ve passed, she re-emerges, covered in mud and feeling very sorry for herself. And then in the last episode she marries the boyfriend and, as they leave the church, she is so happy that she runs and her feet leave the ground and she flies away! Whaaa?
Well, it’s pretty much standard sitcom stuff in a fairly realistic setting; there are very few fantasy scenes. A lot of it’s going to be whether you like Dawn French or not. I myself found it sufficiently entertaining that I watched the whole series.
I love the series! She doesn’t meet her future husband in the first episode actually, but in the very last season. The show is about a small village that is stagnating until their vicar (an elderly man) dies during a church service one day and is replaced by this incredibly vivacious woman who brings life, laughter, and a newfound appreciation of god to the people who live there. Her social life is not limited by her weight but by the fact that this is a village of about 600 people, most of whom are very eccentric, but she comes to think of them as family. The insults and things are never meant to be serious at all. Think of her being a vicar the same way you think about Ardal O’Hanlon being a priest in Father Ted…yeah, it is her job but it doesn’t stop her from being kind of zany and a bit of a sinner just like everyone else.
If you have NetFlix, much of VoD is available on Watch Instantly. My wife is a huge fan, and I find it enjoyable.
The Vicar is not just a saucy single gal. I think they very effectively show that she’s both a Vicar and a saucy single gal… the conflicts between the two are part of the humor, but you can see that she’s also sincere about each part - the show is partly making a point that church-folk need to be less stuffy, boring and rigid and more authentic, honest and willing to admit their foibles.
I own the series on DVD. It is really cute and entertaining. Much of it is just standard sit-com fare, but French’s charisma and unique identity give it real strength. Toward the end I think the writers started to run out of coal and fell into lazy writing. Nevertheless it is worth giving it a try. It has a certain honesty and empathy common in Brit-coms that American sit-coms lack.
Also, I don’t know much about small-village England, but I can’t imagine a profession that would draw a woman like Geraldine into such a place other than a vicarage. It seems to fit well.
To add a little to what has been said, when the show was first made, the question of the Church of England allowing women to be vicars was hugely controversial not only within the CoE, but in the popular press. The character of David Horton in early season 1 embodies some of the sort of opposition faced in very toned down form. So yeah, the show was made in that context, not only as a plea for acceptance and yup, as others have ably pointed out, that the CoE and the wider community could benefit from the fresh perspective.
I will however swim against the tide and add that for all the noble intentions, I never really liked the show itself that much. I always thought it was a show that seemed hugely pleased with itself about how tolerant, enlightened and delightfully eccentric it was being. (I always liked the chap who played David though, hilarious). Actually, I think in general that if you like Richard Curtis’ movies you’d really like this show. If you happen to find them hugely smug, then its unlikely you’re going to be a fan.
The Vicar of Dibley is one of those British sitcoms, along with Keeping Up Appearances and Last of the Summer Wine, that would improve immensely if the bad canned laugh track were to be removed. The show really isn’t that funny to be honest, and the laugh track feels like it’s trying to force you to laugh. If it were removed, the show would feel more real.
For some reason everytime I watch The Vicar of Dibley I laugh myself silly. I have no idea why. Her husband Lenny Henry’s show, Chef! is something I find just about equally hysterically hilarious. Again I’m not sure why.
I dunno. I’m not feelin’ this show. I’ve seen one episode (the second one after the pilot, where the religious TV programme comes to town to film a sermon and the Vicar gets a ridiculous crush on the producer) and the twee quotient was extremely high. Quirky, eccentric yet apparently lovable neighbors. Precious little town. Plucky vicar. Even the requisite cute li’l old lady who makes naughty comments. Heck even the video itself has a diffuse glow as thick as a coat of Vaseline, as if all the sticky treacle in the air was coating the camera lens. (And I might add, the TV producer wasn’t even that lovely to explain why Dawn was going so apeshit over him.)
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind sweet, gentle shows that flirt with tweeness. I’m a big fan of All Creatures Great and Small and Kingdom, and one of my two favorite British sitcoms is The Good Life. Also, I’m a big fan of Dawn French in other things. I always try to give tv series two or three episodes before I make a final decision to stick with 'em or give up.
Truth is, I didn’t laugh once, and for a comedy that’s kind of important to me. But I’ll stick with it a couple more episodes, because it seems to be a fairly well received, innocuous series and I’d like to give it a chance.
How did you end up feeling about it? I know it’s been a while since you posted here, but can you remember? Do you now love the show? Has it played a big part in your life? I’ve always thought it a bit pedestrian. Slow, and never getting enough traction to make me laugh. Except for the Christmas lunch episode! Classic