Fans of British television (Angtelophiles? Britubeniks?) have been mourning the passing of the Britcoms "Good Neighbors" and "To the Manor Born" from their Sunday night slots on Channel 26. Their grief will be ameliorated but not assuaged by the advent of "Butterflies," tomorrow at 10. (When you're talking about British TV, you can use words like "ameliorated," "assuaged" and "advent.")
It is often mildly but never wildly funny. Ria Parkinson, nicely played by Wendy Craig, is a housewife much put upon by her dentist-lout of a husband and her two teen-age sons. She wants romance. She has to settle for complaints about her spectacularly bad cooking, and complaining, herself, about her sons' spectacularly shabby car.
Then she meets Leonard. Hearts go pit-a-pat. A luncheon rendezvous is arranged. At the last moment, in a fit of virtue, she rushes back to Loutland, where her husband is working on his butterfly collection. Surely, Leonard will reappear in the next episode, as will the constant use of the butterfly as a metaphor for love. The word "metaphor" even makes an appearance in the dialogue, thus accomplishing the requisite flattery of the Britubenik intelligence.
Well, you might say, it's better than most of the trash on TV. The problem is that it is based on the same conflicts that fuel American sitcoms -- sex, boredom, family squabbles. What the English are so good at is class conflict, and comedy of manners -- witness the humor on "Good Neighbors" and "To the Manor Born." Britubeniks being of the class-conscious class, that's what they like. "Butterflies" doesn't supply it.
Also: if British television is the best in the world, as is said,why don't they stop jarring the hell ouf of the flow of things by switching from tape to film every time the scene moves outdoors? There. I've said it.