'Vicious - Season One'
(Ian McKellan, Derek Jacobi, et al / 2-DVD / NR / 2014 / PBS)
Overview: 'Vicious' is a British sitcom shown on ITV. The series stars Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as Freddie and Stuart, an elderly gay couple who have been together for 48 years but endure a love/hate relationship.
DVD Verdict: Telling it like it is, this brand new British comedy is as funny as they come - truly! Set out in the same vein as a Broadway theatre production - sofa facing the audience, one set / room backdrop, quick one-liners so to as not bog the scenes down - 'Vicious' is sharp, witty, sarcastic, and above all other things both fresh and hilariously funny!
'Vicious' is the story of an old gay couple - Ian McKellan and Derek Jacobi - who have been living together, in a relationship for 49 years. Jacobi (Stuart) hasn't told his mother he is gay, but always speaks to her on the phone at the start of each episode (save for episode 6).
McKellan as Freddie is the long in the tooth actor who gets odd working parts here and there re: Downton Abbey, but it seems his continual claim to fame is that he was voted the 10th best baddie in an episode of Dr. WHo one! Indeed, their relationship is held together these days by bantering back and forth with witty, sometimes vicious sarcasm towards one another. Hey, well, isn't that what old 'Queens' are known for?!
As the first episode opens with the brilliant Communards track 'Never Can Say Goodbye,' the OTT camp fest quickly fires into action. Together with the old boys are Iwan Rheon as Ash - their new, young neighbor who's moved in upstairs, their long term friend, the always-reliable Frances de la Tour (as Violet), and the memory-failing Penelope (Marcia Warren).
The two men live together in their Covent Garden flat, never opening the living room curtain for fear of the daylight and throw constant jibes at not only each other but their friends too: "For God's sake, Violet. Nobody wants to rape you," says Freddie. "What a horrible thing to say," she responds!
In this first episode the setting is a tea party after a wake and we learnt he odd couple had had a lot of dogs over the past near-50 years: "This house used to be on a bus route," Freddie explains. In the second episode Ash comes to the guys asking for help in buying a gift for his girlfriend Tracy. Violet and Penelope end up taking him shopping whilst Freddie has a Dr. Who fan club screening scheduled for him re: his one ever episode on the show. "I'm going to see my mother,", Stuart tells Freddie. "Tell her hello and to walk towards the light," he retorts.
In the third episode, and having to constantly check that their aged dog Balthazar is still breathing with a few gently kicks, Freddie auditions for a small role on Downton Abbey. Ash decides he wants to be an actor and gets a role in an indie movie right off. That doesn't sit well with Freddie though.
In the fourth episode, Ash invites the gang to a new club that he's handing out flyers to: "I get paid by the head," he says. "He gets paid to give head?" Freddie turns to Stuart to inquire. Later in the episode, as the two gents dress up for their night on the town, Stuart mentions that he once turned a few heads in his younger days: "And a few stomachs," Freddie snipes back! But the end dance scene is priceless; simply priceless.
In the fifth episode gets a new girlfriend and the guys invite them around for supper. She asks, as they've been together for so long how they have managed it, to which Freddie replies: "I attribute it to him having not left yet!" Violet is in Argentina with her lover, but things take a bad turn and she, well, finds herself in a sticky situation! In the final episode, save for the Christmas one, Freddie and Stuart have a 49th Anniversary party to celebrate their time together - and as Stuart's mum is there she finally is told the gay news. Oh, and look out for a classic Judi Dench moment! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of an Interview with Cast and Crew. Actually, it's just some of the cast members promoting the show - with some scenes included - and it runs just over two minutes!