BY CITIZEN MOM It took a good five years after its debut on BBC2 for “The Young Ones” to make it all the way across the pond, to where a kid in Philly could finally watch. And even then, it was work — these were the days before the city had cable, necessitating a VCR deal with the kid who sat next to me in homeroom and got MTV at his house in Lafayette Hill. But dammit, I’d been reading about the British comedy series for years in the import Smash Hits magazines I bought on South Street, and it was time to see what all the fuss was about.
See, there were musical guests, but the show proceeded around them. Sometimes, as in this turn by Madness, they’re central to the plot (they’re performing in a pub where Vyvyan runs into his long-lost mother, who’s a barmaid there). I mean, I grew up on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” reruns on Channel 12, and thought I had a pretty good grip on absurdist sketch comedy. “The Young Ones” had the absurdist thing down cold, but the action took place in the present-day, real-life world, not within a sketch on a sound stage. I’m not sure exactly what could have prepared me for the show’s overall mindset, which seemed to be that yes, life and the act of living is just that absurd and fucked up, and don’t even bother trying to make sense of it all. There was no Ministry of Silly Walks, but there might be a middle-class anarchist who worships Cliff Richard. No dead parrots, but a crazy landlord of sketchy Eastern European extraction. A special shout-out here for Alexei Sayle, who played a whole passel of different parts — including, in one episode, Benito Mussolini singing Italy’s Eurovision Song Contest entry, “Stupid Noises” — but is most memorable as landlord Jerzy Balowsky, a sort of bald proto-Borat. The episode “Nasty,” in which the guys try to watch a porn video but end up being chased by a vampire posing as a South African driving instructor (Sayle) was maybe my favorite. YES, we’ve got a video!
This is the kind of thing I could go on about all day, but the clips are all out there on YouTube for you to check out. This fall marks 25 years since “The Young Ones.” Definitely a source of many memorable musical moments. MORE
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