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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Adder gets medieval
Black Adder stars Rowan Atkinson, an absolute comic genius who is also the star of Mr. Bean. The screenplays were written by Richard Curtis (Mr. Bean, Not the nine o'clock news) and Ben Elton - possibly one of the funniest modern writers.
In the first series, Rowan Atkinson plays a weak chinned, effeminate heir to Richard, Duke of York. Set in medieval England, we...
Published on April 24, 2001 by SH in Tampa

versus
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Horrible Video Quality, No Subtitles
We all know how funny Black Adder is; we've usually seen them countless times before deciding to own the set, but I was stunned by the shoddy video quality BBC Video came out with, and only the cheapest of DVDs these days are produced with no subtitle function at all. Very disappointing; I will probably return II and III, which haven't been opened. I regretted that their...
Published on September 9, 2008 by harrier47


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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Adder gets medieval, April 24, 2001
This review is from: The Black Adder (DVD)
Black Adder stars Rowan Atkinson, an absolute comic genius who is also the star of Mr. Bean. The screenplays were written by Richard Curtis (Mr. Bean, Not the nine o'clock news) and Ben Elton - possibly one of the funniest modern writers.
In the first series, Rowan Atkinson plays a weak chinned, effeminate heir to Richard, Duke of York. Set in medieval England, we are introduced to two of the most often recurring characters in Black Adders live(s) - Percy and Baldrick. Lord Percy is an eager to please, high strung dolt. Baldrick, an filthy peasant that is under qualified to be the village idiot, acts as Black Adder's golfer.
There are six episodes in the first series:
1. The Foretelling - a lone horseman, cursed with a bad haircut and a large codpiece, races to battle after sleeping in. After three cases of mistaken identity, the wrong king is crowned, the enemy escapes and three witches fortell of Black Adder's rise to the crown.
2. Born to be a King - the cowardly Black Adder must plot against a barbaric Scottish cousin in order to keep his holdings amidst a cast of leaping rabbi's, a eunch's feast and the death of a pharaoh.
3. The Archbishop - Archbishops die fast and often in Medieval England. So it is perfect obvious to Black Adder that his pious brother, and rival to the throne, desparately needs the job
4. The Queen of Spain's Beard - international treachery gives Black Adder a chance to press his shriveled little body against some of Europe's most eligible princesses.
5. Witchmeller Pursuivant - a bit of black death is in the air, but that's not what is threatening to kill Edmund Black Adder
6. The Black Seal - thwarted for the last time, Edmund sets forth to find seven evil men and fulfill the witches prophecy
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He has a cunning Medieval Plan, December 29, 2003
This review is from: The Black Adder (DVD)
Rowan Atkinson is one of Britain's most beloved comedians, but it is with the tales of the BlackAdder he shines most. This is the first series of tales that start in Medieval times and correct the "mistaken point of history", such as who really killed Richard III. This is the complete Medieval arc with all 6 tales.
The Foretelling tells how Richard III did not really die on Bosworth field, and Edmund Blackadder's father rising to be King. However, three witches mistakenly tell Edmund he will one day be King, so he set off to make this happen.
In the second episode - Born to be King - he plots to expose his brother Harry as being born out of wedlock, believing his father is already dead and he will then be crowned king. Instead, of exposing his brother, he finds out there is a question about his own birth.
In Episode 3 (one of the most hilarious) - The Archbishop - the King decides he need someone as Archbishop to stop people from leaving their worldly wealth to the church. He figures Edmund is just the person to be his handpuppet. Only, two Knights Templar over hear a conversation about Becket and think the King was Edmund killed.
Episode 4 - another riot called - The Queen of Spain's Beard - The king decides Edmund, no longer of use as ex-archbishop, he can marry a foreign princess in order to strengthen England's alliance. She is far from idea in Edmunds eyes and he goes to various extremes trying to rid himself of her.
Episode 5 is called - Witchmeller Pursuivant - The plague is start to rear it's head, and with it the Burning Times. And Edmund instead of being closer to the throne is suddenly accused of witchcraft - and his horse, too.
The series closes with the last episode - The Black Seal - In a last determined effort, Edmund does what he must to be crown king....
They are so funny with a super supporting cast. They are British Comedy at it's best.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant demented history!, March 13, 2005
This review is from: The Black Adder (DVD)
Rowan Atkinson is charmingly evil in the lead role. Somehow twisting his face to look a human rat, he plots and schemes his way to his own destruction in his quest to become the king. (Which he does, albeit for a few seconds.) Being a BBC production, it's rather like watching a goofy version of I, Claudius. It's a tribute to Atkinson's skills as a performer, that even after all his dire deeds, he is still a pathetic figure at the end. Wonderful program!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raving Lunatics with Cunning Plans!, January 11, 2005
This review is from: The Black Adder (DVD)
I caught Black Adder during its first run on BBC when I was visiting relatives in England as a teenager. Even as an American with VERY little British history knowledge to back up the story lines, I was rolling on the floors with every episode. Between Black Adder's lunacy (care of Rowan Atkinson), his assistant Baldrick's cunning plans (and inability to go back to being a dung shoveler, seeing as it took him years to get to that status level before befriending Black Adder), and Lord Percy's unbelievable naivety, you'll be rolling on the floor too. And I haven't even mentioned the other main characters (like the king, played very well by Brian Blessed) and guest stars (although most are only well known in England). Side-splittingly funny. Unfortunately, I had to leave the UK before seeing the final episode - which really whet my apetite when it showed up on PBS back here in the US. And I was not dissapointed at all!

About 20 years later, I now know a little more about about British history - and it makes the series even funnier. What's more, my appreciation of Shakespeare has increased, and this show is riddled with snide comedic references to it throughout. Just wait 'til you see the end of the first episode (make sure to keep watching until the end of the credits!) - you'll just about burst from laughing.

Well worth the purchase, especially for anyone with any level of interest in British history and/or literature. The only negative I can come up with is that the first episode MIGHT be too violent for very young children to watch (not to mention the lewdness in some subsequent episodes). But this isn't a show that young children would enjoy anyway.

If you're up for a good laugh, I've a cunning plan for you: Buy this DVD.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious Show that Begs for More Episodes ..., January 6, 2012
Blackadder is a British comedy that follows the lives of the royal "Blackadder" line, a lineage that seems to produce nothing but sniveling cowards who are always trying to shirk duty and avoid all sense of obligation. Produced in four seasons, with each season taking place at a specific time in history, the series commences in season one with the life of Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson), a son of the English King (Brian Blessed) in the 15th century. As the seasons progress, we move forward in time until ultimately arriving in season four with a certain "Captain Blackadder" in the trenches in World War I. The premise of the show, then, is to watch the machinations of the current Blackadder as he squirms his way through each threatening situation while continuing his quest to wiggle ever higher up in life, whether that be to become King (as in season one) or to escape the trenches of World War I (as in season four). The show is one of the most successful comedies to ever come out of the BBC.

The character of Edmund Blackadder begins in season one as the Duke of Edinburgh (his accidental killing of Richard III over the misappropriation of a horse seems to cause him some serious difficulties about this time, with a little help from Shakespeare), and episodes revolve around Blackadder either attempting to seize control of the throne or, in the other cases, trying to keep from being executed due to his shenanigans. Without giving any of the story lines away, we can say that each season sees Blackadder incarnated in the form of one of the descendants of the Blackadder line, and so Edmund's character shows up, first in the Middle Ages, then in the Renaissance, and finally, in World War I. Over this span of some 600 years (specifically, 1485 - 1917), we see that for one to be a "Blackadder" carries a whole series of connotations with it, this being the underlying theme of the show in all its contorted situations and events.

Edmund Blackadder is not the only recurring character throughout the seasons. His dogsbody is Baldrick (Tony Robinson), who is also present in every episode in the entire series. Other actors (including Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, and Tim McInnerny) who appear as key characters in one season will frequently appear as different characters other seasons. Each of the supporting actors is outstanding, and although Blackadder is clearly Atkinson's show, all the actors work together to pull the effort off seamlessly. Many of the special characters are famous British actors and/or comedians, but it is not necessary to know that as you watch the episodes.

To a certain extent, "Blackadder" defies categorization as a TV show. It certainly is a comedy, and a sardonic, cynical one at that. However, the series is so vested in British history that one almost feels you are receiving a series of lessons on British history rather than just watching a comedy show. And while it is not necessary to be fully aware of the major events of British history in order to enjoy the show, it certainly helps to bring a richer enjoyment to the experience, and you also won't miss the numerous history-oriented "asides," "caricatures," and allusions that fill the show. The other side of the coin, so to speak, is that by watching the entire series, you can get a "mini" British history lesson on an almost subconscious level.

The show is indeed extremely funny, but this is a distinctively "British" show. If you are an American viewer and are not familiar with this type of humor, there may be a short period of adjustment, but after one or two episodes, understanding the humor becomes second-nature. True, there is much similarity in Rowan Atkinson's style of humor and the type of humor commonly seen in America, but there is certainly also that little added "twist" that may take typical American viewers a little time to absorb. Once you do, it is straight laughs all the way. And it is not all high-brow: there are sight gags, physical humor, and yes, even occasional crassness. This is history for people who don't take history all too seriously, and Blackadder in a way epitomizes all that we average people feel as we go through life, regardless of the historical backdrop operating during our lives.

Some viewers may be aware of Atkinson's other very famous and popular series, "Mr. Bean." Let's be clear and explain that there is virtually no relationship between these two shows, which have different premises, a different comedic approach, and are generally aimed at different audiences. To think that Rowan Atkinson successfully completed an engineering degree at Oxford and ended up playing Edmund Blackadder is a stretch, at best. And yet, once you see him in action, you can easily see how this came about. He is like a little kid in class, always wishing to pull the string on the person's clothes sitting next to him, or perhaps placing the proverbial whoopee cushion under the teacher's chair. In a very real way, it all seems a natural, un-acted role for him.

Blackadder season four was voted in 2000 by the British Film Institute as the 16th best British TV series in all the BBC's history. The previous three seasons are every bit as good, and it is likely that the strong political themes underpinning season four played into the rating. Let's just say that, in spite of its occasional crudity and offensiveness (yes, we may be offended at a few things here and there - the show is an equal opportunity lancet), Blackadder must be easily rated as one of the BBC's master productions. It's fun to watch, helps us learn, and perhaps even more, makes us think. But it is simply sheer comedic entertainment that begs for another season. Purchase all the seasons together in this single, remastered set. It will save you a few pounds from buying them one season at a time!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Adder, Black Adder, you horrid little man, August 14, 2009
This review is from: The Black Adder Remastered (DVD)
Who knew the War of the Roses was so funny?

Or at least, the first season of "Black Adder" was, as it chronicled an erased era in English history, and the life story of the slimiest, creepiest, least impressive prince ever. Rowan Atkinson brings the legendary Black Adder to life, with plenty of slapstick and bawdy humour -- too bad it doesn't quite measure up to its sequel series.

On the day of the Battle of Bosworth Field, the Duke of York (Brian Blessed) and his son Harry (Robert East) accompanied the king (Peter Cook) into battle. His second son Edmund (Atkinson) hopes to come along, but he oversleeps. The battle is practically over when he arrives, but he succeeds in beheading a knight who tried to take his horse. Unfortunately, it was the king.

His friends Baldrick (Tony Robinson) and Lord Percy Percy (Tim McInnerny) help him cover it up, and to Edmund's delight, his father is made king. He dubs himself the "Black Adder" and decides to one day become king of England... too bad nobody likes him, and the ghost of the late king has decided to play some mind games with him.

But being the Duke of Edinburgh has its own problems. Edmund soon has to deal with a Scottish laird getting his lands, being made the endangered Archbishop of Canterbury, an engagement to an unattractive Infanta, and being accused of witchcraft. Finally, when all his titles but Lord Warden of the Royal Privies are seized, he decides to usurp the throne himself... but unfortunately gets into the grasp of the evillest men in England on the way.

"Black Adder" is in some ways the least polished of the series, since the whole idea is pretty new here. But it's a unique sitcom, and handled with the sort of wonky zaniness that the setting demands ("Why, some people over there aren't fighting! They're just lying down!" "They're dead, my lord").

And while the first episode is a bit jumpy, it quickly gains humorous momentum. Lots of hilarious dialogue ("Dear Enemy, may the Lord hate you and all your kind. May you turn orange in hue, and may your head fall off at an awkward moment") and knotted-up storylines, such as Blackadder doing whatever it takes to avoid marrying the Infanta, or selling fake relics as the Archbishop.

Of course, things always go horribly wrong, and the more Edmund attempts, the more disastrous things turn out for him. The last episode is a glorious mixture of Greek Tragedy, Shakespearean history and madcap comedy with some blood and gore, as well as a hilariously ironic final line.

Atkinson is pretty perfect as the slimy, sniveling, creepy, cowardly, inept, whiny-voiced Edmund, who repulses almost everyone around him with both his appearance and personality. Absolutely sterling. Robinson and McInnerny are equally good as his grubby servant and birdbrained pal, and Brian Blessed is wonderfully bombastic as Richard IV.

The first "Black Adder" series is not the funniest of the overall series, but it is a hilarious, crazily funny little comedy series that just gets better as it goes on.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE FIRST SEASON WILL ALWAYS BE THE BEST......, March 14, 2004
By 
N. N Wahlert "nnwahler" (seattle, wa United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Black Adder (DVD)
The original "Black Adder" is one of the marvels of contemporary TV comedy (actually, it's now 21 years old). Brimming with imagination, intellect, and that irresistible grotesqueness known as British humor, it has everything going for it. For whatever reason, star Rowan Atkinson decided to quit writing his own material after this series (he relinquished that chore to upstart Ben Elton, whose name--at least in my book--will live in infamy as the man whose scathing 1986 critique of the great Benny Hill helped trigger the demise of the latter's classic sketch series.....it's never good form for one comic to criticize another).
But the present DVD's a wholly different ballgame. The premiere episode in particular is itself worth the price: apart from the title character here being almost as mentally inept as his erstwhile assistant Baldrick, it features the incomparable Peter Cook as a murdered nobleman whose severed head comes back to haunt the twerpish Edmund Blackadder; many series fans are turned off by the visual unbearability of the gory humor. MY constitution's robust enough to withstand it. Indeed, it's an awful pity those cheapos at the BBC cut the series' budget after the first year, forcing all episodes to be videotaped on the same set, episode after episode. Here the combination of interior AND exterior shots provide the necessary variety. (Funny thing--great as British comedy is to many of us Americans, it was ironically their style of TV comedy that led to stateside TV comedy's artistic downfall, with loads of visually stagnant fare.)
Never mind: Here's one of the supreme treasures of boob-tube comedy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Adder, Black Adder, you horrid little man, July 15, 2007
This review is from: The Black Adder (DVD)
Who knew the War of the Roses was so funny?

Or at least, the first season of "Black Adder" was, as it chronicled an erased era in English history, and the life story of the slimiest, creepiest, least impressive prince ever. Rowan Atkinson brings the legendary Black Adder to life, with plenty of slapstick and bawdy humour -- too bad it doesn't quite measure up to its sequel series.

On the day of the Battle of Bosworth Field, the Duke of York (Brian Blessed) and his son Harry (Robert East) accompanied the king (Peter Cook) into battle. His second son Edmund (Atkinson) hopes to come along, but he oversleeps. The battle is practically over when he arrives, but he succeeds in beheading a knight who tried to take his horse. Unfortunately, it was the king.

His friends Baldrick (Tony Robinson) and Lord Percy Percy (Tim McInnerny) help him cover it up, and to Edmund's delight, his father is made king. He dubs himself the "Black Adder" and decides to one day become king of England... too bad nobody likes him, and the ghost of the late king has decided to play some mind games with him.

But being the Duke of Edinburgh has its own problems. Edmund soon has to deal with a Scottish laird getting his lands, being made the endangered Archbishop of Canterbury, an engagement to an unattractive Infanta, and being accused of witchcraft. Finally, when all his titles but Lord Warden of the Royal Privies are seized, he decides to usurp the throne himself... but unfortunately gets into the grasp of the evillest men in England on the way.

"Black Adder" is in some ways the least polished of the series, since the whole idea is pretty new here. But it's a unique sitcom, and handled with the sort of wonky zaniness that the setting demands ("Why, some people over there aren't fighting! They're just lying down!" "They're dead, my lord").

And while the first episode is a bit jumpy, it quickly gains humorous momentum. Lots of hilarious dialogue ("Dear Enemy, may the Lord hate you and all your kind. May you turn orange in hue, and may your head fall off at an awkward moment") and knotted-up storylines, such as Blackadder doing whatever it takes to avoid marrying the Infanta, or selling fake relics as the Archbishop.

Of course, things always go horribly wrong, and the more Edmund attempts, the more disastrous things turn out for him. The last episode is a glorious mixture of Greek Tragedy, Shakespearean history and madcap comedy with some blood and gore, as well as a hilariously ironic final line.

Atkinson is pretty perfect as the slimy, sniveling, creepy, cowardly, inept, whiny-voiced Edmund, who repulses almost everyone around him with both his appearance and personality. Absolutely sterling. Robinson and McInnerny are equally good as his grubby servant and birdbrained pal, and Brian Blessed is wonderfully bombastic as Richard IV.

The first "Black Adder" series is not the funniest of the overall series, but it is a hilarious, crazily funny little comedy series that just gets better as it goes on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilariously Funny if you Get the Jokes, December 27, 2008
This review is from: The Black Adder (DVD)
Rowan Atkinson began the Black Adder series set in medieval days, with Edmund Blackadder being a man of few morals and high ambitions. He's heir to the Duke of York and has to deal with a bumbling servant Baldrick as well as the less-than-helpful Percy. Both of these characters follow him through pretty much the entire series.

I find the series to be *incredibly* funny, but there is definitely a difference between what many Americans find to be funny and what British find to be funny. I love British humor. It is often very dry and cynical, and also a lot of times you have to have some education / background to understand it. That is, if you actually know something about British history you'll pick up on a ton of superbly funny in-jokes that might otherwise pass you by.

For example, in one of the episodes a general comment is made about a person being better off dead, and two Knights Templar decide that they should race right off and kill the person. This is based on an actual situation in English history. There are witches cackling around cauldrons giving out messages, another staple in English drama.

Yes, a few of the jokes go towards the slapstick kind of silly versus the more erudite kind. There is something for everyone.

Highly recommend for anyone who loves British comedy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "But carrots don't grow on trees!", March 28, 2007
This review is from: The Black Adder (DVD)
It doesn't matter how you like your humor, straight up, or on the rocks,

the Black Adder is your man. from the "Foretelling", where between

liberal interpretation of W.S. combined with the ruthless, crazy, humor

likened to the Firesign Theater, and a deep well of humor about their

own "bloody" history, to the end of the disc-"The Black Seal", if you

don't laugh for at least 90 minutes of its 180 minute length, and this

goes for the first 3 Black Adder disc's, and come away with a tired

mind, keeping up with all the historical references, fractured or not,

spun off by the excellent writing team of Curtis & Elton, along with a

small cast of veteran Engligh actors, Peter Cook, Brian Blessed, anon,

anon, then I say you better have your funny bone looked after, because

you are in danger of loosing your sense of humor. Also I would suggest

buying a copy of The Black Adder by Penguin Books. It will help, when

the humor comes too fast and is in the kings english, because you do

not want to miss one joke, reference, or twisted tale of this disc.
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The Black Adder Remastered
The Black Adder Remastered by Martin Shardlow (DVD - 2009)
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