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'Hallelujah! The Complete Collection'
(Thora Hird, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / (1983) 2009 / Acorn Media)

Overview: Beloved actress Thora Hird - honored for lifetime achievement by the British National Comedy Awards - stars as Emily Ridley, a feisty Salvation Army captain who refuses to go gently into retirement.

DVD Verdict: Dame Thora Hird, who died aged 91 (2003), was so popular in the UK for her character acting and this show was no swan song - close re: TV popularity/ratings, but not image wise. Indeed, it has always been said that Hird starred in one of her own personal favorite roles in 'Hallelujah!' - portaying a Salvation Army lady!

The simplistic storyline goes that due to a lack of monetary income, the quaintly known-as Sally Army are in need of some, well, salvation themselves! And, as expected, that is exactly where Captain Emily Ridley (Hird) comes in and steps up to the collective plate!

But, after 32 years service, her superiors want her to retire. But our Captain Emily has other plans and when she expresses her reluctance to do so, she's transferred to a series of (as they put it) "quieter postings" in various small Yorkshire towns. But once settled within the dales, alongside her recent-enlistee niece, Sister Alice Meredith (Patsy Rowlands), she soon gets to work on all the new postings, quietly (at first) proving that there's life in the old gal yet!

Sure 'Hallelujah' isn't a rip-roaring, laugh out loud comedy, and might not even seem an obvious choice for grooming re: comedic fodder!, but it builds, it allows you to feel your way around it during the 2 series, 15 episode run from back in the mid '80s. And the fact that Hird had a real life soft spot for the Salvation Army thru her entire life shows the devotion to the role also - a role that, some say was created especially for her.

Looking back on it now, even as a mid-40's Englishman myself, I am very surprised by the amount of references to local places in Yorkshire. I guess back in the day UK TV didn't expect/anticipate the feed into the US, and the millions of Americans that would then watch this show and not understand vast chunks of the references! I mean, I know it's where it's set, but considering it was broadcast nationally some of the references/jokes have not only been well lost in the mists of TV time, but will be completely, 100% lost on American 'newcomers' to the show - so, beware, sorry.

But regardless, and with her tambourine clasped firmly in hand, the so-named dotty Captain Emily Ridley takes Yorkshire by the scruff of its modern day Sodom and Gomorrah necks and sets out to bring order to a community of Dales that, well, upon overview seems okay. But as we all know, looks can be deceptive sometimes! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the following Special Features:

History of the Salvation Army