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"You, Me & Them": Series 1 DVD Review

You, Me & Them: Series 1 DVD cover art - buy from Amazon.com You, Me & Them: Series One (2013)
Show & DVD Details

Creator/Writer: Steve Turner / Director: Simon Hynd / Producer: Angela Sinden

Regular Cast: Anthony Head (Ed Walker), Eve Myles (Lauren Grey), Lindsay Duncan (Lydia Walker), Susie Blake (Emma Grey), Jeff Rawle (Clive Grey), Daisy Beaumont (Debs Mason), Marcus Garvey (Keith Mason), Nigel Betts (Alan Walker), Alice Felgate (Ellie Mason), Miller Henderson (Charlie Mason)

Recurring Character: Joshua McGuire (Tim Walker)

Notable Guest Stars: Shobna Gulati (Rachel), Felicity Montagu (Mags), Daniel Lawrence Taylor (Council Employee), Ken Collard (Mike), Annette Badland (Karen), Emma Barton (Natalie), Su Douglas (Mary Mellor), Ewan Bailey (Snooker Referee), Cameron Jack (Brian Galaskinski), James Alexandrou (Phil "Gardener")

Running Time: 186 Minutes (6 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
DVD Release Date: April 29, 2014; Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, single-layered discs (DVD-5s); Black Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Season 1 Airdates: October 23 - November 27, 2013

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One might assume that foreign television series are better than their American counterparts
for the same reason you could conclude that foreign films are superior. We're only highly exposed to the best of foreign works, leaving the average films and shows to their local audiences.

"You, Me & Them" is a decidedly average production. This single-camera, laugh track-free British comedy tells the story of an age gap romance and the large eccentric families united by it. Edward Walker (Anthony Head, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") is 59. Lauren Grey (Eve Myles) is 33. That makes him a member of the same generation as her parents, the buttoned-down Clive (Jeff Rawle) and Emma (Susie Blake). They disapprove of the relationship and from a close distance.

The age gap romance of Ed Walker (Anthony Head) and Lauren Grey (Eve Myles) is at the center of the British sitcom "You, Me & Them."

They're not the ones interfering and passing judgment. Also featuring prominently in every episode is Lauren's sister Debs (Daisy Beaumont), who has her hands full with a lazy husband (Marcus Garvey) and two kids, the accident-prone Charlie (Miller Henderson) and opinionated teenager Ellie (Alice Felgate). Also figuring in the mix is Alan (Nigel Betts), Ed's obese brother who lives with him, Tim (Joshua McGuire), Ed's freeloading college-age grandson, and Lydia (Lindsay Duncan), Ed's ex-wife, an intrusive next-door neighbor who isn't over him.

Most of the British television I review is of the mystery genre and thus emphasizes plot first and foremost. "You, Me & Them" provides a nice contrast by being driven almost entirely by characters. The show does a good job of establishing and developing its many regulars. It helps that the characters run a gamut in age and gender. That variety is welcome and keeps the show watchable, even if its writing is fairly corny. Most of the characters are obnoxious and a number of them so obnoxious you don't enjoy spending any time with them. You're also always a step ahead of the jokes, the show needing a moment to arrive at the punchline you're already awaiting.

Lindsay Duncan plays Lydia Walker, Ed's stalkery ex-wife and next-door neighbor. Alan (Nigel Betts) doesn't realize he's a fat guy in a little coat.

"You, Me & Them" benefits from the UK's short-season model. It's terrifying to think how taxing a standard 24-episode US network order would be on the show's limited creativity supply. Six episodes running a full half-hour and then some on rerun-dominated UK comedy channel Gold are enough
to conclude this isn't a great series destined for a long run with many Christmas specials to follow. At the same time, the show isn't annoying enough not to see through, especially if you've grown fond of the cast from their work on series like "Buffy", "Torchwood", "Doctor Who", "Rome", "Star Stories", and "Emmerdale."

In short, this feels like the equivalent of a mediocre ABC sitcom: harmless, watchable, and soon forgotten.

Since one DVD might have been a little tight on the just over 3 hours of content assembled here, Acorn opts for two discs that have plenty of space to spare. Some suspiciously generic music (sound-alikes of Michael Jackson, Kylie Minogue, and Led Zeppelin) may be replaced for DVD, but I suspect it may have been there from the start on such a presumably low-budget production. The package makes no mention of substitutions.

While the DVD gives episodes the generic titles of "Episode 1", "Episode 2", etc., I've included the more creative and appropriate titles widely found online.

A lucky Buddha statue creates a rift between Lauren (Eve Myles) and Ed. Debs (Daisy Beaumont) and Keith (Marcus Garvey) try to lay down some ground rules for their children.

Disc 1

1. The Gap (31:04) (Originally aired October 23, 2013)
Ed meets Lauren's family and awkward interactions abound. Alan sees a hypnotherapist with a taste for bigger men.

2. Three Dinners (31:04) (Originally aired October 30, 2013)
We're treated to three awkward dinner dates, as Lydia tags along on Alan's online date for support (i.e. double meals), Tim drives Ellie's parents mad with his lack of ambition, and Ed discovers that he may slept with Lauren's mother back in 1971 following a Rolling Stones concert they both attended.

3. Lucky Buddha (30:08) (Originally aired November 6, 2013)
The dishes pile up as Debs takes up painting again. Lauren moves move of her stuff in to Ed's house including a Buddha statue of meaning to her that accidentally gets tossed.

Annoying little man Mike (Ken Collard) is about to be taught a lesson by Lauren (Eve Myles) at a funeral. Clive (Jeff Rawle) tries to scratch an itch for Ed (Anthony Head) as the two can't help making noise during an uncomfortably quiet snooker match.

Disc 2

4. The Funeral (31:21) (Originally aired November 13, 2013)
At the funeral of Ed's friend, Lauren has a go at Ed's creep "friend" (Ken Collard), Alan contemplates hitting on a mourning relative, and Lydia puts her Facebook stalking knowledge to use, passing it off as a psychic gift. Also, Charlie's grandparents watch him while his parents try to add some excitement to their love life.

5. The Legend of Old McCready (31:05) (Originally aired November 20, 2013)
Ed and Clive attend a snooker match uncomfortably. Alan joins Keith and Charlie's bowling team. Lauren, Debs and Emma fear phone calls from the family's childhood ghost "McCready."

6. The Test (30:54) (Originally aired November 27, 2013)
Ed and Lauren host a barbecue to celebrate her getting her veterinary nurse's degree. Ellie's pregnancy scare starts a rumor that Lauren is expecting, opening a discussion of whether she and Ed both want kids. Alan and Keith try to outeat each other.

The Grey women (Susie Blake, Eve Myles, and Daisy Beaumont) are frightened by a family ghost in "The Legend of Old McCready."

VIDEO and AUDIO

The DVD's picture quality is very good. New television typically makes for a smooth transition to home video and new British comedies pose no greater hurdle than any other contemporaries. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen video won't be mistaken for high definition, but it doesn't exhibit any difficulties within the limits of 720p.

The Dolby stereo 2.0 soundtrack is basic but suitable, presenting the dialogue with clarity and weight. The accents are all mild, making the yellow English SDH subtitles of little use to anyone but the hearing impaired, but all should appreciate their inclusion nonetheless.

Anthony Head and Eve Myles have a laugh in the DVD's bloopers reel. Actor Nigel Betts takes a break from tableting to talk about the show in a hair and make-up trailer interview.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Three short bonus features appear on Disc 2.

A washed-out reel of "Bloopers" (5:04) preserve cast giggles and goofs, profanity and all.

"Interviews" (2:41) collects brief remarks from much of the principal cast about their experiences on the show and characters.

Jeff Rawle and Susie Blake give us a spontaneous tour of Emma and Clive's house while crew members set up. Though Acorn doesn't bother with a scene selection menu, their menus still provide their usual high quality episode synopses.

Finally, "Emma and Clive's House" (4:05)
has actors Susie Blake and Jeff Rawle show us around their house in character while crew members set up and cast members pass the time.

Disc One opens with a general Acorn promo and show-specific trailers for "Blandings" and "Doc Martin": Series 6.

The menu attaches theme music to a 16:9 screen-filling reformat of the cover art. As usual, Acorn includes a synopsis for each episode and it wisely consolidates them into a single episode selection screen.

The plainly slipcovered standard black keepcase uses a swinging tray to hold one of the two discs. An insert promotes Acorn TV and the company's social networking profiles.

Ed (Anthony Head) and Lauren (Eve Myles) pin their future plans on a coin toss at the end of the first series of "You, Me & Them."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"You, Me & Them" isn't hard to watch, but that doesn't mean it's an enjoyable show.
While this broad family comedy juggles its characters and storylines dutifully, it rarely makes you laugh or even smile with obvious jokes you see coming far in advance. Though Acorn's DVD treats the series well, I doubt you'll like the show enough to want more or come back for repeat viewings.

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Reviewed April 21, 2014.



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