I recently learned that Alison had completely managed to avoid Black Books whilst we were at university. Considering that my house had a regular ritual of watching the show and I've likely seen every episode dozens of times, that was both impressive and in immediate need of fixing. I double-checked that our mini-moon accommodation would have a DVD player, and secretly packed the boxset to take with us – which turned out to be the ideal way to wind down at the end of a day 😏
I must admit, I had been a little concerned that the show wouldn't have aged that well, but the pilot is so damn strong that was put to rest immediately. In fact, I'd say my one irritation on rewatch is that the first episode is just too good; they never really meet that standard again. It introduces the characters well, sets up some fun running gags, and the final twist with the Jehovah's Witnesses and Bill Bailey is just *chef's kiss* 👨🍳😘
Which isn't to say the rest of the season isn't still good fun, but that moment is hard to beat. In fact, several of the best episodes are scattered in here, including the Doctor Frankenstein homage and The Big Lock-Out, where Bernard has to survive a night locked out of the shop, whilst Manny is locked in. Overall, though, still a very easy-to-watch comedy, now feeling very much like a slice of a particular era in British television, and hilariously packed with cameos.