Black Books (2000) is a sitcom created by Dylan Moran and starring Moran, Bill Bailey, and Tamsin Greig. Graham Linehan co-wrote the first season. Moran plays a crotchety bookstore owner who loves books but hates customers. There are three seasons, 18 episodes in total. Black Books is available on Netflix, Amazon Instant, iTunes, Hulu, and Vudu. There’s also a region 1/NTSC box DVD box set available. You can rent discs for season 1-2 from Facets.
When you want to be left alone, don’t you wish you could shout through a megaphone and usher people out with a broom handle? When doing taxes gets too hard, don’t you wish you could turn your accounts into a rather smart casual jacket? On scorching summer days, don’t you wish you could pop a bottle in the freezer and have yourself a giant wine lolly? Well then, meet Bernard Black (Moran), a protagonist held together by cigarette smoke, wine corks, and dust. He is the embodiment of everything you wish you could do in polite society. He owns Black Books bookshop in London.
Enter best friend Fran (Grieg), the girl next door (literally, she owns the new age doodad shop next door) who caters to Bernard’s vices, and Manny (Bailey), the shop’s hapless accountant who succumbs to Bernard’s every whim, whether it’s alphabetizing the books or making a tower out of soup. Together, they brave polite society–enduring the follies of dating (or in Bernard’s case, stalking with an accordion), distant relatives, weddings, parties, shopping conglomerates, and gangsters–only to hole up back at Black Books at the end of the night and drown out polite society with jam sandwiches and toxic liquors. Black Books is your outlet to enjoy all the effects of your restrained rebellion, and if you’re just a little bit brave, it will arm you with all the witty retorts you need to start flipping off the real world.
as Fran Katzenjammer
In terms of accessibility for Americans, if you’re looking for an entryway into modern British comedy, this is the ideal gateway program.
Jaime Pond is the editor of Anglonerd. She lives and works in NYC. Her favorite Black Books episode is Grapes of Wrath where Bernard and Manny get plastered while house sitting, accidentally drink the Pope’s wine and try to reconstruct it using ingredients they find in the kitchen and front yard. Follow Jaime on Twitter.
Originally posted Jan. 17, 2014