To make my life easier in the inside of the boxset case there is a brief description of each of the characters;
'Meet Bernard Black a foul tempered, drink fuelled and eccentric bookshop owner who loves his books and hates his customers.'
Bernard Black is played by comedian Dylan Moran, and I may be biased somewhat but... I think he plays it to perfection, how he keeps a straight face I will never know. He has the perfect face for it too and a very young looking one in Series 1.
'Manny, Bernard's long haired and long suffering assistant, a breath of fresh air in the musty confines of the bookshop and an antidote to Bernard.'
Manny is played by comedian Bill Bailey, and I may be biased somewhat but...he is perfect in this role alongside Dylan Moran. I love Bill Bailey and he is hilariously funny, on comedy shows where he is just being himself he is funny, he is very intelligent and a talented musician to boot. No-one can make me laugh as easily as this man. There should be more men like him just to keep me entertained. I may have a small crush on him and yes, as he says himself, he does look like a Klingon.
'Fran struggles to find her inner karma in between trying to find her cigarettes and making excuses to have another drink.'
Fran is played by Tamsin Grieg, and I may be biased somewhat but...she is great in this role, and I have been a fan of hers since seeing her in Black Books. The most recent show being Friday Night Dinner that is written and stars one of the inbetweeners.
Not only did/does Black Books have a great permanent cast but guest stars some very familiar faces, who were lesser known 12 years ago, and as we work through the series we shall discover who.
So...starting with Series 1, episode 1, entitled 'Cooking the Books'
Each episode was divided into five parts;
i. Real Leather
ii. The Accountant
iii. Shape Up
iv. Chances Of Survival
v. Break My Legs
As you would expect with the first episode of anything it introduces the main characters and shows us (the viewer) how they are all connected.
Bernard Black is the owner of a second hand book shop and this is the main setting, in this first episode his accountant runs off (assumably dodgy dealings as the police are after him) and Bernard is left to do his own taxes which is the last thing that he wants to do. He procrastinates by pairing socks and entertaining Jehovah Witnesses (although this is never stated that they are) and discovers a clause in the tax return form that says he can delay submitting it should he suffer from a severe disability so he decides to try and get his legs broken.
Manny has a job in an accountancy firm and is stressed by it all, he buys and then accidentally swallows the little book of calm which he bought from Bernards shop, and then ends up in a trance outside the shop where some thugs threaten to beat him up, seeing this Bernard thins its as a perfect opportunity to get his legs broken. Manny thinks Bernard has saved him from an attack and offers to do his taxes for him.
Fran is in her shop (next door to Bernards) which sells knick knacks and gimmick items sort of, and she gets distracted trying to work out what one of the items is, and misses the birth of her friends baby whom she was the birthing partner for.
I think the best line in the episode comes at the very beginning when Bernard is talking to a customer who wants to know if some books he is selling are leather bound, because everything in his house is real leather, the customer then offers Bernard £200 and Bernards response is;
"Are those leather bound pounds? because I need leather bound pounds to go with my wallet'
The guest actor in this episode is none other than Martin Freeman (aka the young Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit) who plays a doctor who tells Manny about the little book of calm that is trapped in his digestive system.
I think it is a good introduction to the characters as it gives the viewer just enough of a story, and also lets you learn a bit about each of their characters.
In the following mini-reviews there will be an episode recap, funniest moment/line, and overall opinion. Please feel free to add your tuppence worth/review on the episodes in the comments section.