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on May 23, 2007
OK, this is based off the UK release, so I can't give you any details on features, etc. Instead, I'll focus on the series.

First, if you don't already know, A Bit of Fry and Laurie is a collection of sketches divided by mock interviews with the "British public" (always Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie). At times these sketches are of characters, whilst other times they are of the stars as themselves.

Vox pops abound in every series of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, but there is a lack of regular, recurring characters (unless you count Fry and Laurie), unlike in Little Britain. In series one and two, there are Tony and Control of MI6, and the promotors of Uttoxeter, and the like, but if you've seen those two series, you'll understand why they were dropped from three and four. (I won't go into too much detail on one and two; I'll assume you've already seen them.)

Series three introduces Mr Music (Hugh Laurie) who plays out the credits as Stephen Fry mixes up a strange, often disturbing, concoction. This bit, thankfully survives in the final series. Series three also marks a spike in music sketches (even Fry contributes his bit, as frightening as it seems in "You, You, You", etc.), including the popular "There Ain't But One Way", in which Laurie plays a Johnnie Cash-like singer with his brother Oren. I don't think you'll ever see Stephen Fry in a more unsophisticated role. By and large, this is my absolute favourite series, and my friends agree. Three hours just flew by.

Series four is... a tad awkward. Apparently, the programme was moved from BBC2 to the more restrained BBC1 (I may be wrong on the channels), where creative control was hampered by the station. They introduced (often) unnecessary guest stars who did not do much -- most of the funny sketches were done without them. Thankfully, Mr Music and Fry's disturbing concoctions are back, and even more disturbing than before. And for you fans of Hugh Laurie, he does a music sketch every episode, including "Little Girl" and the "Be Nice" rap.

All in all, this is a must for fans of Fry and Laurie, and an excellent introduction for new fans who are just discovering their comedy.
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on July 23, 2007
In retrospect this DVD collection is the purchase I wish I had made. Having shelled out for all 4 series of 'A Bit of Fry & Laurie' individually, each one more hilarious than the last, I recommend that comedy fans simply invest in this 4 in 1 pack.

Throughout these fantastic series, Stephen Fry's wit and Hugh Laurie's whimsy never fail to hit the spot. The pairing like to mock everything that the eighties held dear including ruthless black hearted capitalism, vulgar fashion sense and the incumbent Tory government. Allied to the ruthless satire is the pair's amusing habit of toying with and manipulating the English language in a hilarious manner. Far from trying to escape their upper class, Oxbridge backgrounds, they instead choose to embrace them as fully as possible.

Many American viewers will have come to Hugh Laurie through his part in the series 'House' and possibly could have come to Stephen Fry through the part he played in the American series 'Bones'. To these Americans I say that it is an absolute must for you to look through all the past works of these two comic masters. As well as this series check out 'Jeeves & Wooster', 'Blackadder' and the many books that Stephen Fry has published. As far as this series goes, don't hesitate, make this all in one box set your one 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie' purchase.
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A BIT OF FRY AND LAURIE was a sketch comedy programme that ran on the BBC between 1989-95 for four series (seasons in American terminology) marked by eccentric humour. It's a tiring trope to hear any British comedy programme compared to Monty Python, but I think in this case that can give you some idea of what to expect. But Fry and Laurie throw in quite a bit of highbrow or outright intellectual humour, with sketches referencing everything from De Saussure's distinction of "langue" and "parole" in linguistics to Plato's notion of forms and the commonplaces of the Tolkien-style fantasy genre. Sometimes we find metacomedy, where a sketch is interrupted halfway through, and the comedians address the camera, or we even cut to another sketch where Fry and Laurie play critics analysing the last. The comedic dynamic is based on the opposition of these two comedians, with Laurie the often scatterbrained funny guy and Fry the prim straight man. Both Fry and Laurie are quite talented in imitating other English accents, from Australian to Scottish, although only Laurie successfully manages American and working class UK accents. With many of the sketches are perennial, others are very much if its time, capturing the political polemics, celebrity scandals, "Yuppie" phenomenon and popular music of the time. Far from making it unpleasantly dated, in my experience these facets only add to the humour.

I think the first season is the strongest, and then the quality progressively declines. From the second season everything seems too glossy and contrived, with the beginning episodes had a sort of amateur charm to them. We get too many of Hugh Laurie's musical sketches, some of which aren't even comedic anymore. In the final series, guests appear on each episode, which pushes Fry and Laurie out of their own programme. Therein lies a conundrum, for I cannot recommand the complete DVD set to just anyone, because they may not enjoy all or even most of it. However, I cannot recommend just getting the set of the first series because then, if you like it and want to see more, it'll cost so much more to get the complete set. However, this programme is floating around out there, and I think if you previewed it first you'd have a better idea of whether the complete set or even just the release of the first series is worth it.
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on September 25, 2012
If you are a fan of Stephen Fry and/or Hugh Laurie, you will love seeing them together in their earlier & younger days; although I still think "Jeeves & Wooster" & the various "Blackadder" series are better in general, there is still something worth watching here in seeing Fry & Laurie evolve & grow & finding their footing as a comedy team through the various seasons. The sketches themselves can be hit or miss overall, but there are still a couple of real gems-- my favorite is a short but incredibly funny bit in the last season, in which Stephen Fry is chopping vegetables & attempting to make a salad while trying to pleasantly discuss his evening of going to the theater with the viewer-- I won't spoil the fun, but he gets unexpectedly & explosively angry out of the blue, then smoothly goes back & forth between the outbursts of anger & his more quiet & polite theater-talk mode. This sketch is my favorite Stephen Fry bit of all time, outside of his "General Meltchett" harangues in "Blackadder IV" (and of course his incredibly loud & abusive Gen. Nelson in "Blackadder III", in which he got to slap Hugh Laurie around!). The last season is probably the best-- also love it when Hugh Laurie does his Python-esque "pepper-pot"-ish drag character,interfering with the man-on-the-street (or should I say, "woman"-on-the-street) interview with a pre-"Mrs. Stephen Fry" character (Fry's alter-ego on Twitter as his fictional beleaguered wife & inept mother of their fictional children-- see "Mrs. Stephen Fry's Diary", which was published in book form as a collection of his/"her" collected tweets! Very funny stuff!). Recommended!
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on March 2, 2008
Overall, this show is very enjoyable. Some sketches are really silly and so absured (Derek Nippl-e, anyone?!), that you laugh quite hard watching them. My favourite parts of the show were the musical numbers with Hugh Laurie, and the endings of the last two series with Stephen Fry mixing up cocktails and dancing hilariously as Laurie plays the piano.

As far as my ratings go: Even though I'm a huge fan of British comedy, and that's basically all I buy in way of DVD collections, I found this one a bit hard to understand being a Yank and all. This show was on air when I was about six years old as well, so I'm not sure if it's a cultural or time-lapse difference that makes certain sketches go over my head.

For a collection of four DVDs, the price is quite heafty as well. For about the same price, you can find the 8-disk Jeeves & Wooster series in Amazon's "new & used" section. What would have made the boxed set worth the price would have been a collection packed with extras (left-over sketches, bloopers, behind-the-scenes stuff, etc). Though, the one extra this set did have was the Cambridge University Footlights Review Special that aired on the BBC featuring early works by Fry & Laurie. This special is quite hilarious, and Stephen Fry shines, in my opinion, during a seven-minute monologue simply titled, "The Letter". Very witty stuff, indeed!
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on April 18, 2014
Overall, a very entertaining series; despite an increasing reliance on scatological "humor" as it progresses. The songs, whether performed by Fry and Laurie as "The Bishop and The Warlord", or solos by Laurie satirizing specific stars or styles of music were particularly enjoyable; likewise the "man/woman on the street" bits. Not quite as absurdist as Monty Python, a bit more pop-culture-linked than "Not Only...But Also"; but definitely good value for your British humor entertainment expenditure. If you liked them in "Jeeves and Wooster", you'll like them in this; and if you haven't seen them in "Jeeves and Wooster", you'll need to add that to your list of things to see.
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on April 25, 2012
Two of the best comedians joined forces and the resulting shows are brilliant! Hugh Laurie is known best for "House" in the US, however, his earlier work in the UK is outstanding. His portrayal of Bertie Wooster to Stephen Fry's Jeeves in the series Jeeves and Wooster [P.G. Wodehouse's books]is another gem.

I feel I am getting "two for one" in A Bit of Fry and Laurie. If what you are looking for is good writing, great acting and wonderful laughs, this is the collection for you.
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on May 24, 2016
I knew this show very well before purchasing so I would highly recommend the show to anyone who is a fan of British humor. Now the price of this box set is usually listed insanely high. Now I didn't realize unfortunately when I bought it even at a hugely discounted price, but all for seasons are available individually at a much cheaper price. The real reason why I give this such a low rating though is because when I opened the set to watch it, both season one and three will not read (I did manage to get season three to read one on my laptop after repeatedly inserting and ejecting the disc). Unfortunately by the time I had a chance to try the discs it was pass the return window that Amazon had. So if you are interested in purchasing this series check the individual seasons for a better price and try them as soon as you receive them in case the discs don't read (I've seen others comparing about bad discs)
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on February 24, 2014
Okay, maybe not EVERY bit, but overall absolutely delightful. The wit and the amazingly talented verbal onslaughts of Stephen Fry, coupled with the musical skills of Hugh Laurie - mix in their theatrical gifts - and you have entertainment only the British can provide. Not for everyone, that's for sure. But if you love the Monty Python genre, you will be drawn into this circus of comedy. An added benefit for an American like me: subtitles!! It definitely helps to catch all the nuances that would otherwise be missed.
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on November 9, 2007
I cant see how a comedy fan, especially of cutting edge British humour can avoid these two clowns. At their best they are just supremely silly and possess a Python Silliness Reciprocal Coefficient Constant (PSRCC) of 0.987 which is the 3rd highest rating recorded in this part of the milky way since the early 17th century. For this achievement alone these two little rascals should be knighted and put in cold storage for further medical examination. We must as a species, find out what exactly this genetic abnormality is in a philosophical and sexual sense and how to harness its potential to combat the looming crisis of global warming. Its the only hope we have left to us now...............
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