A Pause That Refreshes: The Last of the Summer Wine

Sometimes I just can’t stand it anymore, this debauched and benighted period of history. And that’s a good time to turn to The Last of the Summer Wine.

This BBC sitcom was one of the longest-running TV series ever, from 1973 through 2010, and only had to stop, finally, because almost everyone involved in it died of old age. Because the main characters were post-middle-aged to begin with, cast members did die out. They kept replacing them as needed, but finally had to call it a day.

Summer Wine is about a few eccentric retired men in a small town in Yorkshire, and their talent for getting themselves into ridiculous situations. And believe me, some of those situations are monumentally ridiculous. The way this show worked, they amble along sedately, creating a tone of mild amusement, and then suddenly spring something on you that’ll cause you to explode with laughter. We were watching an episode the other day in which the comedic climax caught my wife with a mouthful of tea. And I laughed so hard, I couldn’t see for all the tears in my eyes.

Man, I needed that!

Along with the comedy, you get soothing and often witty background music and even more soothing, absolutely beautiful, Yorkshire scenery.

A lot of PBS affiliates carry The Last of the Summer Wine, some episodes are available on youtube video, and you can buy DVDs of whole seasons. I recommend the latter: you’re going to want to see these again and again.

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