TV Review: The Vicar of Dibley: The Christmas Lunch Incident

Posted: December 21, 2009 in Holiday, Reviews
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The Vicar of Dibley: The Christmas Lunch Incident

Quickly for those who haven’t seen it, this show is about one of the first female vicars assigned to a small country community full of interesting characters. This show is much more a regular sitcom than say Chef is. This is the first Christmas episode to come from this program, I think there are three now. This show has an interesting history. See, after the first 6 episodes, a couple of years passed then there were then a couple of holiday specials another special and then after that a truncated second series of three episodes. A couple of years later they made a third series and then even later they threw in a few more special episodes. I guess the stars and writer just kept wanting to come back for one more go. The show started in 1994 and in 2007 the latest episode aired. So in 13 years they’ve managed 20 episodes and four little skits for Comic Relief.


I’m warning you, touch any one of my chocolates and I’ll cut ya!

This particular one is the first Christmas Special they made. Now it takes a little while for the plot to get going, which involves Gerry invited to three separate Christmas lunches. Her plans had actually involved sitting around watching Jurassic Park, opening one of her 30 advent calendars and listening to the Queen’s speech. As is often the case in one of these shows, that one wish is the one that will in no way be fulfilled. First two of the older gentlemen ask her for lunch, then a prominent citizen, and then poor Alice asks her.


While young Hugo distracted her, the elders discussed setting the vicar on fire for the sacrifice.

Now, if you’ve never watched the show, Alice is a bit of a sad case. She’s far too shy and geeky to have any real hope of ever being anything like normal. For the most part Gerry keeps her around out of pity. Alice has no real friends beyond Gerry so even though she’s promised to two other lunches poor Gerry just can’t turn down sad pathetic, child like Alice. Such a sweet creature is out Geraldine


I think people should go around with vest like this with my picture on it every August the 15th.

Overeating is clearly an issue during the holidays, and even more so if you have a plus sized actor. I actually like how they did this episode because it’s not really played like a fat joke. It’s more that because the main character is large everyone expects her to just wolf down as much food as she can, so each meal is frigging enormous. The first meal consists of turkey and 16 varieties of vegetable. They then each consume a whole Christmas pudding each.


You know, most people would have stopped at 12… but it’s CHRISTMAS!

The second meal piles on the over eating gag by having a multi course, involving pasta, fish and then turkey. The meal is then followed by a competition to see who can eat the most sprouts. See the father and son have a yearly bet to see if the guest or the father can eat more and the son is despondent about loosing each and every year. Gerry, a kind heart, stuffs herself to dangerous capacity to help the nice lad win. In many ways this whole episode is an example of selflessness since everything Gerry does is to prevent someone from feeling bad. After the two huge meals she then comes finally to her pal’s house. Alice’s house is the shortest visit of the group. We just see Alice and her family, who are just an insane gang of nutcases.


The fight is ON! Two enter, only one leaves.

At this point, poor Gerry is so stuffed to the gills that she takes a car to get from Alice’s house to her own house, even though they only live across the street from each other. She collapses in through her front door and lays on the floor when Owen, yet another of her friends, comes to ask her for lunch as well. His offer comes with a lot of passive aggressive talk about being so alone and miserable. How kind Gerry is, even when she’s presented with tripe as the main course. Then there is a minor tragedy when someone Gerry has a huge crush on ask if she’s marry him and then find out he means would she perform the ceremony to marry him to a lovely young woman. This is a massive disappointment and our hero is finally left alone.


The happy, severely deranged, family.

Perhaps the most poignant moment in this entire program comes right after that disappointment, when our vicar is feeling a bit lonely. Poor Gerry is in fact left all alone sitting in her flannel pajamas and listening to Fairytale of New York, which is possibly the single most depressing song about Christmas ever written. Clearly, now being alone with her thoughts, she is faced with the depression that can come with a holiday. When the door bell rings she merely heaves a heavy sigh and rolls off the couch to answer the it.


Yet another meal. Good, because… good.

At the door is our friend Alice, who completely redeems her silly scatter brained character by telling Gerry how she has improved everything in the village in her opinion. Then the rest of the cast shows up to tell her how much they love her. Unfortunately they bring food, and one bite sends the poor vicar towards the bathroom. Then after the credits you get the same gag you always get where Gerry tells Alice a joke and Alice doesn’t get it because she’s so innocent/stupid.


Alice desperately tried to explain how the aliens had sucked the brain out of her head to no avail.

All in all, this is a typical BBC Christmas special and all that being one entails. That means that for the most part it’s harmless fun but can sometimes get a little overlong and occasionally pulls cheep tricks to pull at your heart strings. It also means that it was defiantly a special and not part of the regular series. I have come to learn over the years that TV studios HATE any holiday episode that isn’t a one shot special. You never really know when a show will actually be broadcast unless it’s one of the big American networks, so it causes problems if they have to specially position something. This is really a problem with anything syndicated or like the BBC where shows only last 6 weeks at a time. This is why one shot specials are so much better. They’re not sold as part of the regular season and can be held back and used to replace normal shows as part of special programming.

Official Score:
5 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

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