REVEIW: Dad’s Army – 2016 reboot

Posted on September 4, 2016

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I am an unashamed fan of the old Dad’s Army British sit com. It was very successful and only came to an end after nine series because the cast were quite literally dieing off. As one of stars of the program, Arthur Lowe, pointed out, a number of the cast had already passed away, perhaps ironically the first being the second youngest of the cast, James Beck.

Captain Mainwaring

Captain Mainwaring

One of the reasons that the program worked so well was because the actors were not just playing parts, they were in many respects playing themselves. Arthur Lowe was the pompous Captain Mainwaring. And as the sole still living member of Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard unit, Ian Lavender, recalled in interview several years ago, dear Arthur was actually just as pompous in Mainwaring in real life.

Sergeant Wilson

Sergeant Wilson

Similarly, the mannerisms of Sergeant Wilson were pretty much just the way that John Le Mesurier spoke and acted in real life. And so on through much of the regular cast. And that gave the program an edge, even in soft comedy of that type.

What also helped the cast was the wealth of experience they were able to draw upon. Arthur Lowe, for example, was a very experienced actor in both stage and screen including comedy. In a later interview, Ian Lavender remarked that when he told Lowe he was nervous at the start of the first filming, Lowe told Lavender to stick by him. And that Lavender did. Whenever you saw Captain Mainwaring being crowded by others, once you knew what to look for you usually saw Lavender step in close between Lowe and the camera. With Lavender playing cover, Lowe would quickly pull his glasses awry and his cap to one side, producing a disheveled comic effect when next seen on the screen.

maxresdefaultWhen I first learned that Dad’s Army was being remade in a second film – the first was in 1971 with the original cast – I was dubious. Could the same results be achieved by a new cast of actors, trying to realise the same degree of on-screen relationships achieved by the original crew?

In the end I skipped seeing the new version at the cinema. And I am glad that I did.

The new cast had clearly worked hard at trying to recreate not just their characters but also the actors they were taking over from. But in my opinion, that rarely works terribly well. And I was right. It simply did not work in the manner intended.

One of the problems in trying to turn a half-hour sitcom (which only has about 22 minutes actual on-screen story after you deduct time for opening and closing credits etc) is that it is very difficult to turn that 22 minutes format into 90 minutes while trying to maintain the same comedic stylings. But those comedic tensions very rarely translate into the longer form. And the actual narrative for the new film definitely does not realise those necessary tensions. The actual plot of the story did have some potential but frankly it was not realised. For those of us who have continued to watch original episodes over the years, you soon noticed where in developing the new script, the responsible parties had also managed to change parts of the original narrative originally developed over a decade.

Unfortunately, it is only two stars from me.

star2

 

 

Ross sig

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