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DVD Review

DVD cover

Dear John...
Series 2


Starring: Ralph Bates, Belinda Lang, Peter Denyer, Peter Blake and Rachel Bell
Acorn Media UK
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 02 August 2010

John Lacey is a haphazard hero who is still suffering the slings and arrows of singledom following his wife’s departure with a good friend, and salving his wounds at the 1-2-1 singles club. In this second series, John’s social life is ever expanding with social events organised by the club. As the members get to know each other, they support one another through a wide variety of crises. Ralph is harassed by Hells Angels, Kirk has a crisis of confidence, John meets a lady, Kate gives up her job to travel around Greece and flirty Louise still insists on grilling anyone she can about their sex life. They are also joined by new members, Sylvia and ex-60s pop star Ricky Fortune...

The second series of Dear John... continues to explore the lives of the single members of the 1-2-1 dating club. It was originally broadcast on the BBC in 1987 and while the show was cancelled after this series I'm surprised that it actually made it to a second series. The writing is not as tight as some of John Sullivan's other shows (Only Fools and Horses, Citizen Smith and Just Good Friends) but it's the limited nature of the setting and characters that is the biggest problem. Once you've pigeonholed each of the divorcees there's not much more you can do with them. In fact Belinda Lang's Kate character disappears for the majority of this series and oddly enough you hardly notice she's absent.

It's a little sad to see that this has aged quite badly. The majority of the jokes you can see coming miles away, but it does have it's moments. What I enjoyed most about this series is the fine balance of comedy and tragedy that is woven through the scripts.

One of the most interesting guest stars is the late Kevin Lloyd (who would later go on to play Tosh in The Bill) who plays Ricky Fortune, a 1-2-1 member who once had a popular music career. However, no one can remember his one and only big hit. What's interesting about this role is that it's allowed to grow over two episodes before he leaves.

There are attempts at creating interlocking story arcs, and one of the most interesting is John's new girlfriend. When John meets someone he thinks everything's too good to be true... and obviously it is as she meets another man while she and John are having a romantic break together, and then spends ages trying to work out which of the two men she should see permanently.

By far the best inclusion in this 2-disc set is the Christmas special which sees Kirk disappearing off the face of the Earth and we soon discover why. Kirk is not the cocky self assured individual we've been led to believe. And in this episode we get to see who Kirk really is. There was also two instances where members of the 1-2-1 club seemed to have forgotten John's name (Louise and Kirk) I didn't really understand that as I'd just watched six episodes where his name wasn't an issue. It could be that in the first series everyone had trouble remembering his name - as he's such a dull, forgettable character - but if that's the case it doesn't make any sense why the writers have resorted to this once again for a cheap laugh. This episode also finally gives us a much better understanding of John's neighbour Mrs Lemenski (Irene Prador). There are a couple or rather touching scenes between the two.

The only extra are text based cast filmographies for Ralph Bates, Peter Blake and Belinda Lang.

So, not as good as I remember, but still worthy of your attention.


Nick Smithson

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