Brittas Empire #4: “Stop Thief!” (1.05, 07/02/1991)

A good lively edition, with a straightforward sitcom situation: Carole loses a fiver hidden in the baby’s cot, Brittas ridiculously overreacts, conflating this supposed crime with a series of trivial property losses. He annoys his team by closing the centre to deal with the matter, then alienates them by clumsily implying that one of the team is the thief (when we know that almost certainly isn’t the case) and in pedantically interrogating their actions around the time of the incident. His belief that in managing the matter this way will result in improved morale is contradicted by the actual results. He then sneakily and ham-fistedly attempts to catch the thief in the act (the views of the staff are made clear by their open knowledge and contempt of his behaviour).

The sub-plot is again about Brittas’ marriage and is nicely done: with her clandestine affair now over, a severely depressed Helen persuades her sceptical doctor to double her medication, by introducing him to Gordon. Overall, the plot is quite busy, the performances are ably lead by Chris Barrie and Pippa Heywood and the production does a good job in keeping things moving along.

The major flaws are the bladder-weakness humour directed around Colin, which is already quite tiresome and repetitive. In these early episodes, Colin is a stooge figure, with his embarrassing personal hygiene and his appearing to prop up Brittas’ schemes. Also the climax is poor, the second straight episode where the story is abruptly rounded off with a silly stunt.

Verdict 3/5.

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