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cast: Simon Pegg, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Sally Phillips, and Darren Boyd

creators: Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews

180 minutes (15) 2007
Fremantle DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by J.C. Hartley
While I am sure that despite growing up in rural Cumbria I was exposed to the sight of many groovy guys, and chicks in ethnic gear, while visiting the urban hub of Carlisle in the 1960s, my earliest and perhaps only abiding memory of the counter-culture was observing a long-haired chap carrying a guitar case knocking at a tiny door in the wall of a back street, whereupon an upstairs window opened and an equally long-haired individual dropped a key down for him to gain entrance; a simple scene, but one that reverberated with unexpressed potential for the naïve youth that I was.

This not spectacularly funny, but often wryly amusing series probably generates more affection because of the good-looking and charming cast of central characters. Watching this, one realises that what the writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews have always done, and particularly Linehan whose writing credits seem to have sturdier legs, is not target small enclaves or groups that are particularly funny, such as priests, hippies, booksellers and IT workers, although they clearly are funny, but take dysfunctional characters who have managed to conceal their misfitery by hiding it within the acknowledged eccentricities of those groups.

Ray Purbbs (Simon Pegg, Shaun Of The Dead, Run Fatboy Run) is the editor of the underground newspaper 'Mouth', with Alex (Julian Rhind-Tutt, Stardust), on/ off girlfriend Jill (Sally Phillips, Churchill: The Hollywood Years), and Hugo (Darren Boyd, Magicians). The six shows in the series re-create an event or mood from the 1960s with a hippy perspective. There is an episode about radical politics following on from the take over by hippies of the David Frost show on TV (original footage of which is appended as an extra). There is an episode about alternative musicals like Hair, one about 'love-ins', one about free festivals, and a couple dealing with underground journalism with the final episode parodying the Oz obscenity trial.

There was no second series because clearly there was nowhere else to go. In the final episode the writers were padding the storyline with bits of business just to complete the run time. That said, the shows seem longer than a half-hour, they often cover a bit of ground, and there are devices such as flashbacks and flash-forwards, for comic effect, which are commonplace now but were not so prevalent then.

Simon Pegg is given the burden of the script; a chain-smoking Julian Rhind-Tutt is his usual laconic self, Sally Phillips is great looking and has superb timing, and Darren Boyd is charming in a role that seems a bit like a younger brother of Neil, out of The Young Ones.

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