Here at Shiny Shelf we’ve come up with the wheeze of doing a sort of reviews advent calendar, building up to the festive period by writing about a Christmassy movie or TV episode for each day of advent… What’s that you say? Why didn’t we do a cool animation in Flash or something of a little window opening, with the article underneath? Because Jon’s too busy and he’s the only one who knows how to do that sort of thing, that’s why. Jesus, you people are hard to please. Next you’ll be demanding that a little chocolate pops out of the screen, like in Willy Wonka.
Anyway, we start this series with one of the few things that I make a point of watching each and every Christmas, ever since the Shelf’s Jim Smith furnished me with a copy: the seasonal episode of ‘Nightingales’. This year will be the first time I’ve been able to watch it on DVD – and indeed the first time it’s been remotely reasonable for me to suggest it to all and sundry as Christmas viewing, what with it now being commercially available for the first time ever.
‘Silent Night’ is as good an entry point to this sitcom-as-absurdist-theatre as any, concerning the squabbling security guards’ encounter with a heavily pregnant woman by the name of Mary. Carter (Robert Lindsay) immediately suspects she’s trying to do an allegory – although the fourth wall is never broken, he’s effectively worried that the episode is going to turn into a schmaltzy message about the true meaning of Christmas. Which, despite his best efforts, it does – but in the typical tradition of ‘Nightingales’, there’s not a hint of sincerity in the whole thing. That’s what’s so great about this show – everything they do is in pursuit of a joke. ‘No hugging, no learning,’ as they used to say on ‘Seinfeld’.