'Vicious - The Complete Second Season'
(Ian McKellan, Derek Jacobi, Frances de la Tour, Iwan Rheon, et al / DVD / NR / 2015 / 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 (relatively) 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. Throughout the first, quite brilliant season, Jacobi (Stuart) hadn't told his mother he is gay, but always spoke 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 once! 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?!
With the duo rounded out, and into a quartet, with the returning Frances de la Tour, as their old friend Violet, and Iwan Rheon, as their young neighbor Ash, the first episode opens - as always - with the still-always-great-to-hear Communards track 'Never Can Say Goodbye.' The new titles are great also, very vibrant, and as we open on our beloved pair walking down the street, Freddie (McKellan) gets the tone of the entire series off and running immediately with: "What's wrong with the world?".
And soon the OTT camp fest quickly fires into action as together with the memory-failing Penelope (Marcia Warren), the two Covent Garden flat-living men - who never open their living room curtains for fear of the daylight - start spit balling the barbed jabs at not just themselves, but their "friends" also: "For God's sake, Violet. Nobody wants to rape you," says Freddie. "What a horrible thing to say," she responds!
Sure, 'Vicious' isn't what one would expect to see on television these days. It's definitely hammy and over the top, but I think that's what I liked about it most. It's ridiculous and I think the ridiculousness is what makes it so brilliant. Plus both Ian McKellan and Derek Jacobi are seasoned TV, film and stage actors, so there isn't a foot to be put wrong here between them.
In the first episode 1, "Sister," Violet panics when her wealthy sister Lillian, whom she hasn’t seen in years, announces a visit. In "Gym," feeling unfit, Freddie and Stuart join Ash at his gym, where a young fitness instructor persuades the pair to sign up for an expensive membership. In "Ballroom," the gang joins Ash and Jess at a ballroom dancing class. In "Stag Do," finding themselves both single, Violet and Ash consider dating new people. In "Flatmates," Freddie and Stuart have a falling out, and finally in "Wedding," The appearance of an unexpected guest becomes a potential disaster! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of The Making of Season 2 - Interviews with Cast and Crew Featurette.