Why I Read It: Binge-watched the show on Netflix and fell in love.
Summary: Three decades on, where are the cast members now? What's the show's legacy?
My Thoughts: When I was a kid, it was M*A*S*H and the Three Stooges. Later it was Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond. I've always had a background track running in my life.
It's not that I necessarily watch every second of every show. I've always been a multi-tasker, perfectly comfortable to put on a TV show in the background as I do everything but write. I even read with the TV on. In a weird way, the cast members become members of my family. They're the comforting background noise to my life as I go about my work.
And so it came to be with 'Allo 'Allo! Except this time it was a bit different. While I've watched the others on TV, I binged this show on my Kindle on the elliptical. Two episodes per day got me easily through each day's workout. I focused more strongly on the show than I typically do.
Why did I choose it? A few reasons. First, I love British comedy, from Monty Python's Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers, and Are You Being Served? to One Foot in the Grave and even listening to the audio versions of Dad's Army, All Gas and Gaiters and more. They go places American shows just won't. Second, the Jeremy Lloyd/David Croft combination is always worth a shot. As co-creators and writers they just had the magic touch. Third, the setting was fantastic to me: occupied France during World War II. The familiar themes of the war played out in a French cafe frequented by Germans under whose noses escaping British airmen hid, sometimes in plain sight.
But that's the TV show. As for the book, it's wonderful, exactly the type of follow-up one wishes for when reaching the end of a run. The author recaptures the series year-by-year giving behind-the-scenes stories told by the players themselves. We learn of the practical jokes, the special relationships the formed because of the show and the small jealousies that arose as well. Each of the lead actors is profiled, and even some of the lesser lights. It's, of course, sad to know who is no longer with us, but also very interesting to know who has done what since. Yes, IMDB can coldly tell us that, but the book lets the actors tell us the details through the words of the actors themselves.
The book becomes a reference guide to the show, one to be pulled off the shelf when the questions arise about specific episodes. When did General Von Klinkerhoffen lose his mind? When was Herr Flick hit with the poison dart? When did the Communist Resistance first appear? What was Officer Crabtree's catchphrase? It's all there.
And, thanks to digitization, so is the show. May its legacy last long into the future.