The Early Doors DVD box set includes both series 1 and 2 with 6 episodes each. The episodes invite the viewer to take their time to get to know the characters and when they do the rewards are great. Written by Craig Cash, of The Royle Family fame, like The Royle Family, the pace is slow and not a lot actually happens in each episode. This isn’t a problem though, and the real strength of the programme is the characters’ dialogue and their relationship to each other. The programme is based on a simple idea which focuses on the regulars of ‘The Grapes’ who come into the pub at 5.30 pm (early doors) and the landlord Ken, his daughter Melanie and his mother who live upstairs above the bar. As we get to know them over a few episodes, we have a clearer sense of their personalities and how they relate to each other. However, the key thing is that Cash is able to subtly build the improbable so the scenes in the very final episode may not believed, or really understood, without having watched all 12 episodes.
As the narrative progresses, we find the mundane really funny such as conversations about circuses and traffic diversions. James McAvoy played the landlord’s daughter, Melanie’s, boyfriend in the first series and isn’t in the second series. His absence is explained by describing his dumping of Melanie as ‘Shameless’, a clear pun on the reason for McAvoy’s departure from Early Doors. There are other joys such as Phil and Nige the two policemen who become more corrupt as the episodes progress. It all makes sense if you watch it all. I felt that there was a bit of a Harold Pinter influence in Early Doors. There’s every day dialogue, and there are also emotional moments, and moments when all the regulars laugh together. For me that laughter sums up the whole philosophy behind Early Doors, and the importance of community and conversation.
Early Doors Series 1 and 2 DVD Box set. BBC