Timeless TV with As Time Goes By; Series Three


Third in a series of posts about my favorite British comedy show-As Time Goes By. For general thoughts and favorites from series one, click here. For series two favorites, click here.

In series three, our lovers Jean and Lionel continue their rekindled romance. A lot happens this series, as they attend a happy event, take two trips abroad, and manage their separate professional lives. Their relationship also takes a leap forward as they decide to live together! It takes several episodes and a bit of drama to accomplish that, and I must say it is not my favorite storyline. Of course I’m happy when they finally settle in, however, the crossed wires and cross words we endure to get them there are not included in this piece. My three favorite episodes (out of ten in this series) move the story along while also revealing important bits about them and their loved ones.

So on to the episodes!

Episode one takes the lovers to Paris as they finally have that dirty weekend they dreamed about 38 years before. Although Jean would like to see the weekend go as planned all those years ago, and Lionel is immediately making concessions for his (their) age, at the end of the day it is Lionel that hasn’t changed, and Jean that has embraced the present.

In summation, Jean and Lionel meet a honeymoon couple divided by an argument in bed. They encounter the woman first, and Jean immediately takes her in hand.

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Her reaction to the girl’s distress reminds one that Jean helped her own daughter through two divorces, and that even now her motherly instinct comes out in lumps, as it is just that, an instinct. As Lionel is impatient with Jean’s meddling into her own daughter’s life at home, you can imagine his frustration at the interruption of their weekend in Paris by her involvement in a strange young couple’s honeymoon row. Jean slips right into the motherly role, but when Lionel encounters the young man, he does not act like a father, but like a mate, and this frustrates Jean.

In the end, even Jean loses patience with the couple and their argument (which turns out to be extremely silly), and leaves them to sort things out for themselves, which of course they do. The episode closes with the happy honeymoon couple inviting Lionel and Jean to dinner, and Lionel refusing as he has a romantic carriage ride and dinner overlooking a flood-lit Notre Dame planned for Jean.

All’s well that ends well. This episode is full of funny moments and cross purposes, and includes some cheeky run-ins with Parisian hotel staff (Jean speaks beautiful French, btw) and is a fun bit on the surface, but also has an undercurrent that demonstrates the very different paths our protagonists have taken since their estrangement 38 years before.

Episode two in the series involves a happy event; that is, the wedding of Lionel’s father Rocky to his long time love, Madge. Rocky and Madge are an eccentric but lovable pair, and Lionel’s reaction in series two to the news of their marriage demonstrated just how different is he from his father. Lionel carries his unfavorable opinion of their marriage into this episode, as he continually mocks the whole idea, to Jean’s annoyance. She thinks the fact that Rocky and Madge are tying the knot is lovely, no matter what their age or physical condition, and is clearly upset and puzzled by Lionel’s distinct foot-dragging in proposing to her, although she successfully keeps this from Lionel.

Lionel’s envy of his father’s ease and good nature is apparent in London, when Rocky turns up and joins Lionel, Jean, Judith and Alistair on an evening out with Sandy to cheer her up after a break-up with her boyfriend Nick. Rocky endears himself to everyone, and before he leaves he invites all of them to the wedding. Jean is involved already as a bridesmaid, and Lionel will give the bride away.

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Some wedding day snafus ensure that Lionel ends up as best man, with Alistair walking down the aisle with Madge. Lionel thinks this is a travesty; this is his opinion of all the proceedings, and he cuts a gloomy figure throughout, although one can see that underneath the grumbling he is happy to be included.

The wedding goes off without incident, but Jean is worried about Lionel’s speaking duties as best man-what will he say about the newlyweds when he stands up at the reception? But something happens behind the scenes to change Lionel’s perspective on the nuptials and the newlyweds, and to Jean’s surprise, the speech comes out a wonderful tribute to the ageless qualities of faith and love. Eventually Lionel tells Jean what precipitated his reversal, and her heart melts towards him a bit, even after all the frustration and impatience of the day.

On the way home in the car, Lionel, Jean, Judith, Alistair and Sandy witness Sandy’s  boyfriend Nick’s touching and innovative apology, and she leaves with him, bathing all of them in a romantic glow. While Judith and Alistair are out of the car, Lionel makes a proposal to Jean. Although it is not exactly what she wants to hear, it is a step in the right direction, and the day, and the episode, end happily for all.

My third favorite episode of this series is the ninth, so I’ll skip over several important plot points, including the aforementioned snafu over moving in, the opening and staffing of a new branch of Jean’s secretarial agency, and Alistair’s idea for a new writing project for Lionel- a mini series based on Jean and Lionel’s story 38 years ago. In the eighth episode we see that Lionel is totally against the idea, but he is bored silly doing the ironing and making dinner as Jean goes out to work every day, so he allows himself to be talked into the scheme. His reluctance colors all of this storyline, as you can imagine.

In that same episode Alistair travels to Los Angeles in pursuit of the mini-series deal. The trip is successful and when a Hollywood exec arrives in London for a subsequent meeting with Lionel, Jean, and Alistair, he is enchanted by their story. The ninth episode concerns a trip Lionel and Jean make to Los Angeles to tie up loose ends on the deal.

Although originally Jean is reluctant to accompany Lionel to “the coast”, she embraces the idea and is excited to be there and excited about the deal. Lionel, on the other hand, grumbles throughout, carping on the fact that the Hollywood execs are too young, and will probably tear their story apart to bring it to the small screen. The initial meeting is a bit of a disaster, as Lionel is a belligerent curmudgeon and Jean overcompensates for his behavior by acting overly sweet.

Back in the hotel room, they row about his behavior, and when Lionel goes into the bathroom for a shower, Jean calls home in desperation, looking for Alistair. (Alistair is having a cozy afternoon with Judith at the house, as they are a bit of an item, but that’s another story!)

Jean tries to keep the call from Lionel, but he figures it out, and, to her surprise, is not upset. Even he realizes that Alistair’s cooler head is required for any more Hollywood meetings. Needless to say, Alistair hops on the next Concord and arrives before the next meeting in the morning, and he impresses on Lionel the importance of just agreeing with the exec’s plans, no matter how far off the original story.

Included in the meeting this time are two “creative consultants”, who proceed to butcher Lionel’s story into a jumbled mess of blows to the head causing amnesia, Jean as an orphan, and near-death experiences involving snakes. Lionel and Alistair grit their teeth and agree to the changes just to make the deal, but Jean is incensed and tells them off, insisting that their changes are just a mangled version of several old movie plots, and have nothing whatsoever to do with the real story. Just as all the mouths in the room pop open in surprise at her outburst, a disgruntled writer whose series was cancelled by the exec busts into the room, threatening him with a gun and ordering everyone onto the floor. Lionel and Jean refuse, and Lionel does something brave, saving the day, and Jean’s brand new dress.

Back at the hotel room, we see them packing to light out as soon as possible until Alistair arrives with news of a deal, telling them they are the toast of the town, and inviting them to dinner at his favorite Hollywood spot.

I guess you can tell that I really enjoy the episodes that take Lionel and Jean out of their Holland Park element, and this one is no exception. In the end it is Jean who speaks her mind; and we are left to wonder how events would have transpired had that disgruntled writer not bust in when he did. But in the end, all is well; the Brits go home in triumph, leaving the exec to lick his wounds and the creative consultants screening old movies, and closing out the series with a bang, well the right kind of bang!

Thanks for reading! I hope I have piqued your curiosity. If so, here is the link to the third series on Amazon Instant Video.


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2 Responses to Timeless TV with As Time Goes By; Series Three

  1. Pingback: Timeless TV with As Time Goes By; Series Four | 4redwhiteandyou

  2. Pingback: Timeless TV With As Time Goes By; My Favorites from Series Five | 4redwhiteandyou

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