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The Vicar of Dibley

January 20, 2010

To my loyal readers (all 4 of you), apologies for being so long in posting, I’ve been (gasp!) working.  Shame.  I know.

As you all know, the tragedy in Haiti is coming to light, one day at a time.  From a lack of water, collapsed hospitals, mislabeled orphans, and overall chaos, Haiti is a country that needs help, and a lot of it.  I gave money, and you should too.  There are a lot of worthy charities doing good work down in Haiti, covering health care to water to food to general relief.  What they don’t need, however, are pampered, rich, white men telling them that they are cursed because “they made a pact with a devil.”  Or whatever diatribe of racist hate dribbles out of Rush Limbaugh’s pie hole.

The idea of a “man of God” condemning a whole island because of his own misguided and racist ideals makes my stomach turn.  I’m glad to see the blowback make Pat Robertson persona non grata to the religious right and his golden children in the formerly Grand Old Party.  Or maybe not.  Thanks heaps Virginia.  And Creighton Deeds. 

If you want to see a real “man of God” I suggest picking up (or Netflixing) the BBC series The Vicar of Dibley

Dawn French plays Geraldine Granger, the new vicar in the tiny English town of Dibley.  Full of the maddest set of villagers this side of The Wicker Man, without the weird scariness, the Vicar of Dibley is one of my top 5 television shows of all time.  The Vicar, suffering from initial prejudices of the townspeople against women vicars, works to overcome small town pettiness and winds up bringing an unanticipated joy to their lives. 

If you pick up the Vicar, and you’re thinking to yourself, where have I seen that actor before? — here’s a tip sheet.

Hugo, played by James Fleet, is also known as Tom from Four Weddings and a Funeral as well as John Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility (more Jane Austen references to follow).  That’s right . . . “wow, lightning!”

Roger Lloyd Pack plays the inimitable Owen – special photographer of page 3, page 4, and even page 5 girls.  He also plays Mr. Crouch in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  It’s a brief appearance mind you, so you’ll have to look fast, but that’s him.

Liz Smith features in the first 7 episodes as Leticia Cropley, the cordon bleech of the kitchen.  With the memory of an elephant that’s lost its memory, and the most excellent laugh, Lettie “Always lets you park your boat in her jetty” Cropley is a hoot and a holler.  She also plays a dottering grandma in the Johnny Depp Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Yup, Grandma Georgina, “I love grapes”, is one and the same as the Chippendales fan of Dibley.

Ah, the lovely Alice, direct descendent of Jesus Christ himself and verger of the church of St. Barnabas.  Alice is possibly my favorite character in the Vicar, the joke dialogues at the end of each episode – how she keeps a straight face . . . well, she’s an actress but damn that’s funny stuff.  She also plays the lovely Honey from Notting Hill.  Honey, who doesn’t have hair, instead she has feathers.  Obsessed with Anna Scott, and with the best line of the whole film:  “Oh holy fuck!”

And for the true connoisseur of obscure English shows, please note the “Stranger” at the end of the Animals episode, Moray Watson.  You may remember him from the ever excellent 1980 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice where he played the curmudgeonly yet warm (I know, quite the contrast) Mr. Bennett.  And that production of Pride and Prejudice features David Rintoul as the dark and proud Mr. Darcy.  “I am grieved.”  Excellent stuff.

So when supposed “men of God” make your stomach turn, as sadly they so often these days (hello Catholic priest scandal), I suggest taking up a viewing of the Vicar of Dibley.  Twenty-four episodes that were made when Richard Curtis (yep, that Richard Curtis) had a show to make rather than a quota of episodes to fill makes for some damn fine television.  I guarantee a cup of hot coco with a hint of the peppermint schnapps plus the fine folks of Dibley will make any evening better.

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