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YMMV / Yes, Minister

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  • Base-Breaking Character: Dorothy Wainwright from Yes, Prime Minister; fandom is split as to whether she was the strong, politically minded female character that Yes, Minister was sorely missing (Annie, while a fairly strong character overall, was more of an everywoman), or a Creator's Pet who is constantly shown to be right about everything, and is able to quickly reduce senior civil servants to babbling idiots in a way that even the likes of Ludovic Kennedy couldn't manage. Notably Claire Sutton, Dorothy's spiritual successor in the play and 2013 series is considerably less moral and while still brainy makes one or two huge mistakes of her own.
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  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The series was so popular in the Czech Republic that one theatre ordered a play to be written based on the show's premise with the beloved characters. The roles were performed by those actors who dubbed them in the series. The play was a smashing hit and it is still on. In The New '10s.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In "The Writing on the Wall", Humphrey explains to Hacker how the British policy has always been to set its European rivals against each other, but once they formed the EEC and Britain remained outside it, it was no longer possible to do that, so that's why Britain joined the EEC; to break it up from the inside. In the aftermath of Brexit, and the way far-right political parties have become increasingly popular (in the UK, in Europe and indeed the world over), now that the EU looks genuinely shaky, this is no longer quite as funny as Humphrey found it at the time.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In "The Moral Dimension," Bernard tells Hacker that he's got a call from "Mr. Haig" in the communications room they set up in the Qumrani royal palace. While Bernard's message was actually to advise Hacker on the availability of Haig whiskey illicitly smuggled into the palace, it carries an extra layer of hilarity when you consider that the role of Hacker was taken over by David Haig for the stage play and 2013 series.
    • In "The Smoke Screen", Dr. Thorne's proposals to attack smoking by banning all advertising (even at point of purchase), drastically increasing the tax on cigarettes and instituting a ban on smoking in public places is viewed by the other characters as impractically radical and impossible to implement. Pretty much all of his proposals have (in some way, shape or form) since become real-world government policy in Britain and many other places, albeit they've generally been phased in gradually rather than in the large, sweeping manner that Thorne was proposing.
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  • Magnificent Bastard: Humphrey Appleby and Sir Arnold.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: The Yes, Prime Minister computer game from the 80s plays essentially as a choose-your-own-adventure game where you navigate through one week of meetings as Hacker and make policy decisions by picking your responses from a list. As one might expect, a game like this lives or dies on the strength of its writing, which fortunately is very good. So much so that the back of the box features glowing endorsements from Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn themselves (who had no direct involvement with the game).
  • Retroactive Recognition: Younger tropers may recognise Bernard from his role on Heartbeat.
  • The Scrappy: Frank Weisel. Even leaving aside the thematic reasons as to why he didn't work as a character, most fans found him extremely irritating, and he didn't add much to episodes beyond giving exposition (which Annie or Bernard would instead give in later episodes) and a reason for Sir Humphrey to make a Weasel/Weisel joke.
  • Sequelitis: To say that the 2013 Yes, Prime Minister series wasn't as well-received as its forerunner would be a gigantic understatement. Common criticisms included:
    • Flanderization of all three major characters. Hacker became far more bad-tempered and ineffectual than the original version ever was, Sir Humphrey became so corrupt and such a megalomaniac that he seemed to become a posher Expy of Alan B'stard, while Bernard seemed to have degenerated from being idealistic and pedantic to being an outright Manchild.
    • Padding: The series started out as a stage play and retained broadly the same storyline, resulting in a lot of clumsy exposition dumps. In particular, the entirety of the third episode basically consists of just two scenes; firstly Sir Humphrey trying to manipulate Hacker for fraudulent expense claims, and then Hacker trying to do the same to Sir Humphrey for illegal usage of government credit cards.
    • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Granted, classic-style Brit Coms are near-invariably ripped to shreds by television critics regardless of how well (or badly) they're written anyway, but still the series (and even the stage play) was accused of being laughably outdated next to The Thick of It.
  • Tear Jerker: When Bernard makes a serious (if well-intentioned) mistake in 'The Moral Dimension', he seeks Sir Humphrey's advice and is told he must inform the minister. Bernard admits to Jim what he has done, and then they are informed that a journalist is outside, at which point Bernard gives a small cough that could easily be mistaken for a sob. He asks what Jim will do, and when he hears that Jim has no choice but to tell the truth, Bernard is visibly upset. He continues to protest, weakly, but nothing can be done. Fortunately for Bernard, this becomes heartwarming when Sir Humphrey steps in and saves his skin.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: To some viewers, Sarah Harrison from the episode "Equal Opportunities." While the "The Reason You Suck" Speech that she gives to both Sir Humphrey and Hacker at the end of the episode is 100% deserved by both men — the former for his outright sexism, and the latter for trying to get Sarah appointed to a position she had no interest in purely to make himself look progressive — no-one points out that by quitting the civil service just because there are so few other women working there, she's helping create a "chicken and egg" scenario whereby other women won't apply to be civil servants for the exact same reason, and if anything will be further put off by a woman as accomplished as Sarah seemingly admitting defeat and quitting.
  • Values Resonance: it's surprising how relevant some of the political issues explored in the show (though by no means all) still hold true in later decades. For example, one episode deals with upgrading the British nuclear deterrent to Trident, in recent years the issue has been replacing Trident; despite being set in the Cold War, it's portrayed as just as ridiculously pointless as many think it to be now. Other issues including government waste, data-gathering and privacy concerns, Britain's place in Europe... And, whilst it was said to draw more by way of examples from the pre-Thatcher era than its own time (Thatcher taking a much harder line with the Civil Service than Jim Hacker ever dared), it remained a big hit with the then-PM and her cabinet.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: The series has in fact been criticized as being powerful propaganda for the Thatcher administration, as it was written by one of her advisors, despite the show portraying civil servants and politicians as corrupt, the politicians caring only about votes, in spite of the left-leaning sympathies of the show's co-creator, Jonathan Lynn.


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