BLACK ADDER REMASTERED: The Ultimate Edition DVD Review

     November 11, 2009

Black Adder image (2).jpg

I am an anglophile.  I will own up to that straight out of the gate.  I grew up watching every BBC program offered by my local PBS station.  That’s how I came to start my lifelong relationship with Monty Python.  That’s where my fascination with Red Dwarf began.  That’s how I came across Rowan Atkinson’s gem of a series Black Adder.  Brit humor fans click to find more after the jump.

Black Adder image (1).jpgI was shocked, utterly dismayed actually, by the number of my friends who consider themselves pop culture princes and princesses and yet weren’t familiar with the masterpiece that is Black Adder.  For those similarly uninitiated, Black Adder encompasses four series, each series containing six episodes a piece.  Each series is set in a specific time period and follows the Blackadder that lives during that age.  While the exact characters differ between series the actor and name stays consistent.  With me so far?

The Black Adder finds Edmund Blackadder, in the time of the War of the Roses, beheading King Richard the Third and setting into events that lead his father, the lesser known, Richard IV to the throne.   This season was written by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson.

Blackadder II finds us following Edmund, Lord Blackadder, a nobleman in Queen Elizabeth I’s court.  Competition comes in the form of Lord Melchett, but mostly, Blackadder tries to keep his head by keeping Elizabeth pleased.  This season and those that follow are written by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton.

Blackadder the Third finds Blackadder as a servant to a pompous, ineffectual Prince Regent George.  Blackadder tries to keep his pockets full and that entails keeping his boss in power.

Blackadder Goes Forth finds Captain Edmund Blackadder in World War I in a trench as he works to spoil any plans for going over the top and leading his men to the inevitable slaughter that would be.

Black Adder image (3).jpgThe cast is ridiculously talented and headed by the constant performances of Black Adder Rowan Atkinson and his dim sidekick, Tony Robinson’s Baldrick.  Rowan Atkinson is commonly known to American audiences as Bean and to a lesser degree the best part of the film Rat Race and the titular Johnny English.  Foils to the duo are Stephen Fry’s (V for Vendetta) Melchett, Hugh Laurie’s (House) George, and Tim McInnerny’s Darling. Miranda Richardson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Sleepy Hollow) leant the female touch to the series in the form of recurring Elizabeths.  Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon) gives boisterous life to Richard IV in The Black Adder.  Rik Mayall (Drop Dead Fred, The Young Ones) literally steals the show in the first episode of Blackadder II as Flashpants.

AUDIO/VIDEO/EXTRAS

The entire series comes packaged on six DVDs.  Discs One through Four contain the four seasons of Black Adder.  Each disc has episode and scene selection, Play All functionality, optional subtitles and “Footnotes to History” (also on Disc Five).  The “Footnotes to History” help place each incarnation of Blackadder into a historical context.  This is especially helpful as an ignorant American viewer.

Disc One

Commercial for the collected Black Adder, Are You Being Served?, Fawlty Towers and Keeping Up Appearances

Commercial for BBC America

Disc Two

Commercial for “Little Britain” on DVD

Commentary on “Bells” by Ben Elton, Richard Curtis and John Lloyd

Commentary on “Money” by Tony Robinson and Tim McInnerny

Commentary on “Chains” by Stephen Fry

Disc Three

Commercial for “Clatterford” on DVD

Commentary on “Ink and Incapability” by Rowan Atkinson and John Lloyd

Commentary on “Amy and Amiability” by Ben Elton, Richard Curtis and John Lloyd

Commentary on “Duel and Duality” by Stephen Fry

Black Adder image.jpgDisc Four

Commercial for “Father Ted” on DVD

Commentary on “Major Star” by Tony Robinson and Tim McInnerny

Commentary on “Goodbyeee” by Rowan Atkinson and John Lloyd

Disc Five

Commercial for “The League of Gentlemen” on DVD

“Blackadder’s Christmas Carol” — the forty-five minute special follows the kindhearted Ebenezer Blackadder as well as Christmas with the Blackadders through the years out into the far future. The moral from the original is twisted to indicate that being bad will ultimately benefit the Blackadder line.  Jim Broadbent and Robbie Coltrane join the regular recurring cast.

“Back and Forth” — Widescreen — thirty-three minutes — the Blackadder of 1999 shows his friends a time machine and gets them to wager against its authenticity.  It is a scam, but Baldrick had built it precisely off of Da Vinci’s specifications and it proves to be a working example.  Colin Firth as William Shakespeare, Rik Mayall as Robin Hood, Kate Moss as Maid Marian make guest appearances.

“The Cavalier Years” — fifteen minutes of Blackadder set in 1648 with Blackadder and Baldrick in doomed support of King Charles.

“Baldrick’s Video Diary” —  Widescreen — Thirty minutes — documentary shot about the making of “Back and Forth”.  Scenes from “Back and Forth” are interspliced with production footage and interviews.
Disc Six

Commercial for “Men Behaving Badly”

Blackadder Rides Again — a reflective documentary that touches base with the cast and creative’s.  Includes a short clip from the previously never before seen Pilot.  They address everything dealing with the series including how they might have been a bit off-base with the lead character of Blackadder for series one quickly recovering for series two.

Interviews with: Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Fry, Richard Curtis & Ben Elton, Tony Robinson, Miranda Richardson, Hilary Bevan Jones, Hugh Laurie and Rik Mayall.

“Costumes Revisited” — featurette with Miranda Richardson, Tony Robinson, Tim McInnerny and Patsy Byrne (Nursie) go back to the BBC and examine both the costumes and the stage on which “Black Adder” was shot.

FINAL WORDS:

Having this, Black Adder Remastered: The Ultimate Edition, in my hands brings a smile to my face and heart.  It will do the same to yours, newcomer or Adder fan alike.  The series gets better as it goes on and leaves with Black Adder Goes Forth on a high note.  Ample extras make the use of “Ultimate” in the title an apt description.  Now, if only I could get my hands on an Ultimate Red Dwarf

FINAL GRADE: A

Around The Web

Latest News

DHEEPAN Review | Cannes 2015

Jacques Audiard's latest film won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Bad Weekend: The Last 10 Memorial Day Movies, Ranked

It turns out most Memorial Day movies aren’t very good.

AMY Review | Cannes 2015

Asif Kapadia's ('Senna') documentary is a biography of sorts, but also an incredible tribute to her as an artist.

Cannes 2015 Winners: Rooney Mara Best Actress, DHEEPAN the Palme d’Or, More

This year's Cannes jury includes Guillermo del Toro, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Sienna Miller, and is headed up by Joel and Ethan Coen. What were their favorites of the fest?

CHRONIC Review | Cannes 2015

Michel Franco’s 'Chronic' stars Tim Roth as a homecare nurse who gets too involved with his patients.

Box Office: TOMORROWLAND Stays Ahead of PITCH PERFECT 2 with $32.1 Million

Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland’ held in first place for the three-day weekend with an estimated $32.1 million. ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ came in second with $30.3 million. ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ was down 47% in third while the ‘Poltergeist’ reboot opened as expected, in fourth place.

New THE MARTIAN Pictures Further Reveal Ridley Scott’s Sci-Fi Thriller

Matt Damon leads the "'Cast Away' on Mars"-esque film, which also stars Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Kate Mara.

Watch: POLTERGEIST’s Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt Play “Save or Kill”

Which would you save? ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Star Trek’? Han Solo or Indiana Jones? ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Breaking Bad’? Watch as Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt are forced to choose.

ASSASSIN’S CREED and Next BOURNE Movie May Add EX MACHINA’s Alicia Vikander

It looks like she won't star in 'The Circle' opposite Tom Hanks after all.

TOP 5: TOMORROWLAND, First STEVE JOBS Trailer, POLTERGEIST, Cannes 2015

David Letterman's final 'Top Ten' and yet another enthusiastic 'Mad Max: Fury Road' recommendation also play roles in this week's Top 5.

Page 1 of 3,96312345...102030...Last »