Black Adder: The Complete Collector's Set
DVD | Box Set
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Rowan Atkinson stars as the sniveling, scheming Edmond Blackadder in all of his appalling incarnations: as Richard IV's younger son, as a courtier to Elizabeth I, as Prince George's butler, and as a WWI army captain. 12-hour gift set includes the 4 complete series (1983-89, 24 episodes on 8 cassettes or 5 DVDs) plus a 15-min. special, "The Cavalier Years," never seen in the US. DVD extras include archival interviews, outtakes, Karaoke, cast bios, and more.
- Who's Who in Blackadder
- What's What - Interactive Guide to Historical Figures and Events
- Blackadder's Christmas Carol
- Blackadder in The Cavalier Years
- Archival Richard Curtis Interview
- Blackadder Sing-Along
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The Blackadder series, begun in the 1980s, was a comedic masterpiece set forth by Rowan Atkinson and his comrades. From start to finish, the first series was a masterstroke of wit, irony and comedic styling that fits both the contemporary and medieval situations perfectly. The combination of slapstick and intellectual humour blended well, and the literary types will not miss the occasional credit of William Shakespeare as a collaborating writer on some episodes -- this might well be the kind of comedy Shakespeare would have produced today.
The first series was set in the pre-Tudor royal family, projecting that Richard III won at Bosworth Field, and Richard IV succeeded him, until after many adventures, the entire royal family was done in, and Henry Tudor reworte history thereafter. The first series starred Brian Blessed and Elspet Gray as the King and Queen, and Robert East as their eldest son, the Prince of Wales. Rowan Atkinson played the second son, who with companions Percy and Baldrick (Tim McInnerny and Tony Robinson) create most of the comic scenes. BlackAdder variously becomes the Archbishop of Canterbury, the betrothed of the Spanish Infanta, a witch on trial, and finally, however briefly, King of England. There were six episodes of this series (as would be true for each of succeeding regular series years) - they included many attempts by Blackadder to take power, including the crown itself - something that would repeat in various manner over the subsequent years save the last. Both Tim McInnerny and Tony Robinson will recur as characters in later years; Baldrick is the only consistent major character besides Blackadder - in the first year, however, he is rather more clever than his future generations; indeed, in this first series, Baldrick is probably the most intelligent of the lot (a scary thing indeed!)
The second series sees Percy and Baldrick following a descendent of Blackadder in Elizabethan times; as befits the period, the characters are more vibrant and saucy, particularly Blackadder, who still seeks his fortune as one of the Queen's suitors. Here he variously becomes the royal executioner, a sea-faring discoverer, a bankrupt noble, and finally a traitor to the crown, albeit not without a sense of humour. Miranda Richardson puts in a spectacular performance as Queen Elizabeth, with Stephen Fry and Patsy Byrne in attendance. Stephen Fry will recur throughout the series.
In the third series, Blackadder is still close to the crown, as the butler of the Prince Regent, a despised position to a despised person. Baldrick is still around, and the Prince is played by Hugh Laurie, who will recur in the final series. Done almost as a period comedy, the very titles and situations pay hommage to the day of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Dr. Johnson's dictionary, and the conflict with France. Through an interesting set of circumstances, butler and prince trade places, and the Blackadder finally obtains his intended goal, albeit in the name of someone else.
In the fourth and final series, Blackadder has fallen from a great height, and is an officer in the trenches of World War I. Baldrick is still there, and Percy and the Prince have transformed into fellow field officers, with Stephen Fry playing a bellicose general here as he did Wellington in the third series. The main device of this series is the effort by Blackadder to escape the trenches, by variously becoming an artist, a theatre producer, a chef, but to no avail finally, producing a sombre end to the dynasty.
The DVD includes all four series, as well as the Christmas special, in which a kind-hearted Blackadder is set in Victorian times, an antithesis of Scrooge, who is shown the future, and decides to make radical if untimely changes in his life in response to this version of the ghost of Christmas future.
There are also various pieces of trivia, guides, and a Richard Curtis interview included among the discs. Rowan Atkinson and company are wonderful in their portrayals, perfect comedic timing and situational humour with just the right amount intelligent wit. A treat for all Anglophiles.
I will skip over the virtues of the Blackadder series, because I can't imagine your wanting this set if you are not a fan (and if you aren't a fan, you don't know what you are missing!) They are simply the best historical parodies ever to appear on the small screen, easily the equal of such classic historical comedy films as "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," or "Start the Revolution Without Me."
This DVD set has everything a Blackadder addict could want. Pristine copies of all of the six episodes of each of the four series, each series on an individual disc. In addition, you get the minor Blackadder items, "Blackadder's Christmas Carol," a 45-minute takeoff on you-know-what, "Blackadder in the Cavalier Years," a 15-minute sketch in which Blackadder, a cavalier lord in the English Civil War, makes a bungled attempt to rescue King Charles the First from the block and the half-hour special "Blackadder Back and Forth" a 1999 reunion of the cast for the ultimate Blackadder adventure.
If this weren't enough, each disc has biographical information on the major cast members and historical tidbits related to the episodes, narrated by none other than "Baldrick" himself, Tony Robinson. (Did you know that Rowan Atkinson is an electrical engineer or that Brian Blessed has tried to climb Mt. Everest three times?) Finally, there is an interview with series creator Richard Curtis and a "making of" featurette on the production of "Blackadder Back and Forth."
Finally, the DVD case is a work of art. Although there are 5 DVDs in the set, it has a brilliant design that folds out and takes up no more shelf space than used by 2 normal DVD cases. The DVD "pockets" are decorated with full-color photos from the appropriate series and the folds of the case are embossed with lists of all the series episodes with plot synopses.
Buy this DVD set yourself and you will be as happy as I am, happy as a man who thought a cat had done his business on his pie, but it turned out to be an extra-big blueberry!
Most recent customer reviews
DVD set is in pristine condition, looks unused.Read more