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Good Neighbors (AKA The Good Life)

By Laura Mirksy

Good Neighbors (entitled The Good Life in England), a show that brilliantly captures the Zeitgeist of the Super70s. The Goods, who quit the rat race for a life of subsistence farming, are next-door neighbors to the Ledbetters, some of the fastest rat-race runners around. At first, Margot (Penelope Keith) and Jerry Ledbetter (Paul Eddington of Yes Minister fame) are horrified to see Tom (Richard Briers) and Barbara Good (Felicity Kendal) turn their tiny yard into a series of animal pens and vegetable gardens. But by the final episodes, the two couples have learned how to tolerate their differences and are the best of friends. There's an endless source of humor in this classic dichotomy of rich versus poor, snooty versus earthy. "Troglodytes!" the Ledbetters slam the Goods. "Gracious livers!" the Goods retaliate. There is also an abundant supply of silly scenes involving the Goods' suburban menagerie. The episode in which their chicken boards a passing bus goes delightfully over the edge. The British have always had a wonderful knack for poking fun at themselves, and this knack reaches a pinnacle in statuesque comedienne Penelope Keith's (To the Manor Born) indelible creation of the character Margot Ledbetter. She's the quintessential status-obsessed snob, so preposterously genteel that she can wring three syllables out of the word "no." Keith's performance, especially, keeps Good Neighbors as fresh and funny as the day it was made.

 

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Absolutely hilarious! One of the best! This quartet were perfect together. Thanks to the British for knowing how to go out on top, instead of grinding along until nobody cares anymore.

--Oz

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TV TIDBITS

Aired: 1975-1977

Cast: Richard Briers, Felicity Kendal, Paul Eddington, Penelope Keith

Network: BBC, PBS

Genre: Sitcom

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