This classic british sitcom was actually considered unlikely to succeed initially, but it soon became hugely popular and even now enjoys repeats, largely due to Michael Crawford's starring role as the hopelessly inept Frank Spencer. Although well-meaning and almost childishly innocent, Frank was utterly unable to cope with even the simplest of things, with every attempt to do so invariably ending in absolute disaster. With his voice and mannerisms which can only be described as camp of the highest order, along with his trademark clothing (tank top, beret and beige mac), Frank Spencer soon became a legend of british comedy.

Each episode had the hapless and bewildered Frank trying to accomplish some relatively simple task, only to get muddled and confused over some minor point, which of course then caused him to panic and mess things up further. His bumbling disaster-prone ineptitude always ended either in some mass destruction of property (both his own and that of others), or with his infuriating whoever he happened to be dealing with almost to the point of psychosis. In short, anything or anyone unfortunate enough to be near Frank Spencer for any length of time was destined for nothing but misfortune and disaster.

The only person Frank really had in his pitiful life was his long-suffering girlfriend, and later wife, Betty, played by Michele Dotrice. Often exasperated by Frank's nervous and indecisive idiocy, she also served to calm him down and point him in the right direction on those frequent occasions when he had no real idea what to do.

A typical example of Frank's behaviour can be seen in the episode dealing with Betty's pregnancy. Having already enraged the doctor by rushing into the hospital five times during the previous week (three false alarms, two "trial runs"), Frank is thrown into a panic one night when the baby is finally on the way for real. In his panicked attempts to rush her safely to hospital he has within minutes managed to lock them in the house and has catapulted the phone through the kitchen window. He is then forced to squeeze through the window to unlock the door from the outside, and all this just to get into the car which he then parked half on the pavement and half on the ambulance's emergency stop outside the hospital, running over a signpost in the process.

Another running joke was Frank's DIY disasters; in a later episode when they moved house, Frank shuts their front door for the last time and drives away. What he doesn't see is the door handle dropping off, followed by the letter box, then the door itself falling off. One by one, everything either broke or disintegrated until eventually the entire house collapsed into ruins.

The series consisted of nineteen half-hour episodes and three fifty minute specials, which ran from February 1973 until the Christmas special on Christmas 1978. Crawford insisted on doing his own stunts in many of the disastrous and life-threatening situations, and his proficiency at these showcased his talents as an actor, even impressing those who held the show to be immature and childish.

Although he spent six years as Frank Spencer, Michael Crawford is perhaps now better known for his crooning and his being an established musical star both in Broadway and the West End. The legacy of Frank Spencer, however, will no doubt live on for years to come.

Sometimes a series is so good and so memorable that the lead role typecasts the actor for decades to come. In the case of Michael Crawford's "Frank Spencer", the hero of this series - it required a total change of career track, namely starring as the first Phantom of the Opera to get his career restarted.

It was a type of comedy that had been lost somehow in the transition from radio comedy to television comedy, and in the invention of the sitcom. If Benny Hill had brought back elements of vaudeville to television and the hyperviolent Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson reinvented slapstick, Michael Crawford brought back a Buster Keaton-era series of amazing stunt-based sight gags and kinetic comedy that had been missing for decades.

The essence of any drama or story or narrative is conflict. And the essence of any comedy is discomfort. Laughter is a natural reaction to something going wrong and acts as a relief valve for the kinds of feelings that would lead us to kil ourselves. It's why comedy is often found in that which is taboo or uncomfortable and there is often a fine line between stress relief and offense.

Ostensibly, each episode involves Frank either trying to get a job, or retain a job, or do some form of good deed around the house or with the community, with a literal disaster area evolving in his wake. In one memorable episode, they check into a hotel and in a series of mishaps he goes from trying to avoid paying for a small amount of damage by "making some adjustments" to destroying the room entirely, including making a giant hole in the floor, through which they escape at two o clock in the morning. 

And the essence of this program is the fact that Frank is a supremely likeable character. Heterosexual but clearly almost uncomfortable with it (he's a very devout Roman Catholic whose priest wishes he wasn't), he's constantly acting as if someone's going to hit him, with a nervous, apologetic tic and defensive, submissive mannerisms. From his sudden horrified "ooooohhhhhs" in response to disaster or shying away from using any kind of vulgarity - referring to what the cat did in his beret in revenge as a "whoopsie", he's an inoffensive, kind and gentle man who is clearly being targeted by the universe, and a victim of his own ineptitude. And the conflict comes from the fact that given he's so innately likeable, especially to his long suffering wife Betty, we want to cheer for him and we want to see him succeed, but know full well that exercising common sense would involve running the other way. 

A common throwaway gag is Frank trying to do some home improvement around the house, only he's more dangerous with a set of tools than Tim Taylor of Home Improvement. One of his catchphrases was to say "it just needs a little adjustment", for example when he repairs a pedal-operated garbage can whose new spring now throws the lid across the room. Frank tries so hard to be masculine: to hold down a job, to be a handyman, to do right by his wife, and yet he's in no way capable of doing any of the above. And given we love him so much, it hits us right in the feels.

There are in essence three kinds of humor woven in to the stories. Frank is a very camp character who is extremely prudish and yet who reads all manner of double entendres into things, leading to visible discomfort and "oooh"ing, for example doing an Army aptitude test. "My name is Harold. I have one, and you have one, but Betty doesn't." (the answer he was looking for was the letter "A") The conflict between Frank wanting to please the examiner but only coming to one unacceptable conclusion is horrifyingly fascinating to watch, especially as Frank asks gently if there are any other questions he can answer instead. He also makes others come to different conclusions: informing his priest (he drops in for confession every time he visits the fish shop next door, in other words a few times a week) that he had an "impure thought" about the priest's housekeeper, the priest finally asks him the nature of the thought, to which Frank answers he thought she'd stolen his haddock.

The second is the clear conflict that people around him love him and want him to succeed, and he obviously has no malicious bone in his body, but everything he does leads to complete failure. One can do nothing but sympathize for Betty, especially as she defends her decision to be with Frank to her mother. The mother likes Frank as well but cannot but not want to see her daughter not be with a clear conduit of chaos with no hope for the future, and as Betty is doing so Frank inadvertently starts a vacuum cleaner which chases him down the stairs, causing him to simultaneously roll himself up in the stairs carpet and destroy every bannister on the way down.

And that brings us to the third: Michael Crawford is an actor and comedian but no stuntman- however he did do a series of amazingly dangerous stunts in order to get the laughs. Whether being hauled several stories up on a rope with no net in place, to hanging from the axle of a car over a cliff (with no net) for twenty minutes straight (more, when you consider multiple takes) to piloting a motorcycle whose throttle was stuck (in other words, driving without brakes through traffic and obstacles) or in one of the most famous scenes in British comedy, him (on rollerskates) flying out through the side door of a roller skating rink, going down some spiral staircases, hanging off the back of a passing bus,  ending up going down a steep hill causing almost two traffic accidents, ducking under an articulated truck, and finally coming to rest by smashing through a pane of glass and somersaulting into a crib in a maternity store, with two bookcases crashing down upon him. It's literally miraculous that Frank survives many episodes intact, never mind an entire series.

After two seasons, they decided to call it quits because they wanted to go out while they were ahead. One of the best things British television does is to plan for two or three years, execute the story arc, and then quit. However, they did end up doing a third series in the late 1970s to appeal to audiences demanding more. 

It's also notable for its theme song, comprised of a piccolo/flute trio playing a bizarre harmonized melody with a peculiar cadence - which turns out to be the show's title in morse code.

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