The reputation of spin-off videos from TV soap operas was perhaps irredeemably damaged by a Coronation Street special, which was almost immediately screened on TV. Cries of "we want our money back" could loudly be heard and so this Brookside video covered itself with a "not on TV until 2001" sticker.
It didn't say anything about being in the bargain bins in 2000, though, which is where I got it as a £1.98 present for my mother. I'll say one thing for the video - it certainly doesn't scrimp on the product. Whereas soap spin-offs usually run to an hour and have "rip off" written all over them (An Eastenders video using a cheap linking framework to sell old clips), this all-new production is an impressive 124 minutes long, with a four minute "behind the scenes" before the main feature.
This doesn't necessarily mean it's any good, and really this is just an indulgent excuse for cast members of Brookside and Hollyoaks to overact and send themselves up. Everyone is in on the act - Louis Emerick is a jive-talking Antonio Fargos type, while Michael Starke is an egotistical Shakespearean actor. My mum wasn't impressed, but personally I found it fairly amusing. Crammed with in-jokes, you get the feeling the cast had more fun making it than anyone would watching it, and yes, it is overlong, but it's still kind of fun.
Some off-colour gags (a vivisection pamphlet with a dog, caption "I'm too young to smoke") add to the humour. Discussing the "dimensions" of the characters and the challenges of a thrice-weekly soap, this is far from perfect, but still a diverting send-up. Framed covers from Chat and TV Quick adorn the walls, while the cast hopes for something that's "bigger than the Jordache saga." While the mock Brookside scenes - superbly sending up the show's convoluted/depressing plots - are a great touch. Maybe this is why the video wasn't as successful as previous entries, as by making pointed barbs at itself, it effectively bites the hand that feeds it. 5/10.
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