"It's going to be another stinking hot day today..."
This hilarious sequel to On the Buses follows the further misfortunes of the newly retired Inspector Blake (Stephen Lewis), erstwhile scourge of the Luxton Bus Company Depot.
Dreaming of peace and quiet, sun and senoritas, he's decided to warm up the autumn of his days in a little flat in Spain that the glossy brochures have lured him into buying with his life's savings - so beginning a whole new series of mishaps that could happen only to Blakey. The water's undrinkable, the food's 'orrible, the plumbing's dodgy... and it's full of foreigners!
Also starring Pat Coombs (as Blakey's long-suffering sister Dorothy) and Derek Griffiths, Don't Drink the Water was created by Ronald Wolfe and Donald Chesney - the writing team behind the phenomenally successful On the Buses, whose comedy credits also include Educating Archie, Meet the Wife and The Rag Trade.
This set contains both series, originally screened in 1974 and 1975.
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If you are familiar with the origins of this series you are probably also familiar with the less than glowing write-up it tends to get. Most people say it's for fans only and by that they mean fans of On the Buses or I guess Stephen Lewis, this being the spin-off to that show. In fact it's often rated as one of the worst sitcoms in history and whilst I don't think it deserves that title I certainly think it's a slice of mid 70's cheese reminiscent of the Carry On movies. Does Stephen Lewis do a good job of carrying the show on his own? Well yes I guess he does, his acting is quite over the top but he certainly hasn't lost the touch of playing Blakey. I think the problem lies in the writing itself, often it is lazy and cliched and very predictable. Coupled with the fact it is so openly stereotyping the Spanish culture. Another fault lies in the fact that it is set mostly in Blakey's flat, who has moved with his very irritating sister to Spain. Whilst the plots aren't too bad it is set mostly on this one location, with the cafe, lift and wash-room type location featuring occassionally. This leaves the writer's with not much imagination and whilst you have to respect the fact that this is a studio based sitcom, On the Buses utilised location footage really well. This cannot be done here as it is not filmed in Spain and any inserts of supposedly Spanish coastline are grainy bits of film. Overall though it is an interesting watch and certainly worth checking out for avid On the Buses fans, it is also a reasonable price which may make it a more attractive purchase, although one can't help but wish for a cameo from some of the original On the Buses cast. Is it as good as On the Buses? No. Is it watchable? Yes, but not all at the one time, you couldn't watch episode after episode. Is it brilliant? No. But Stephen Lewis turns in a good performance as the highly irritable and long suffering Blakey, it's good to see him go probably genuinely insane. And who wouldn't with that sister around...
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