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French & Saunders:Ingenue Years [VHS]

3.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews


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Product Details

  • Actors: Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Simon Brint, Rowland Rivron, Patrick Barlow
  • Producers: Emma Cornish
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
  • VHS Release Date: September 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 30 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305036470
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,340 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Longtime comedy partners Jennifer Saunders (of Absolutely Fabulous fame) and Dawn French (who appeared on the AbFab episode "Magazine" as the perky talk-show host Kathy) met at London's Central School of Speech and Drama in the early 1970s and have gone on to collaborate on a number of projects, including the French and Saunders series, from the late 1980s to the 1990s.

The Ingenue Years, one in a group of BBC videotapes collecting the duo's skits, opens with a parody of the famous aperture-view title sequence from the James Bond films, and continues to satirize both popular and high culture for the next 85 minutes. In a recurring skit, "Dawn" and "Jennifer" share a sparsely furnished flat and spend most of their time bickering and trading non sequiturs. (Saunders's persona here seems to be a study for AbFab's Edina.) Two more recurring characters, a couple of overweight, oversexed men, share a much darker and more cluttered flat, drinking beer and fancying themselves as studs. In fact, French and Saunders often use their full figures to play against type--for example, when they make fun of starving, self-obsessed, grammatically challenged ballerinas ("A dancer's feet is her tool"), as well as characters from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in the midst of a succession of Hollywood spoofs that take on the likes of Liza Minnelli and Cyd Charisse. Punctuating the skits are brief, deliberately clumsy attempts to depict dance crazes from flapper jazz to glam rock.

In the most frantic skit, the two comedians poke fun at contemporary art by imitating Gilbert and George in the persons of "Muriel and Maddy." As you watch French's head getting slammed with a leather boot while she's hollering between machine-fed spoonfuls of soup, you realize just how perfectly high and low art can be combined. --Robert Burns Neveldine

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This collection has what is some of the earliest material from any of the French & Saunders DVD collections and some of the best. Whereas the other DVDs rely more of parodies of well-known films, this DVD features some of the ladies' best repeated characters and aggressively bizarre but hilarious scenes (like a profile of two strange performance artists). The scenes, as a result, succeed more as the comedy is not limited to the confines of movie plots or characters that must be lampooned. There are many classics bits here which the girls have kept around for years in live appearances (i.e., a discussion between two schoolgirls - "worldly" Dawn & naive Jennifer - about contraceptive devices). And, as a bonus, the DVD features their early '90s Christmas special which includes guests shots by Adrian Edmondson (Vyvyan of "The Young Ones," Eddie of "Bottom," and Jennifer Saunder's husband) and Christopher Ryan (Mike of "The Young Ones," Dave Hedgehog of "Bottom," and Marshall of "Absolutely Fabulous"). Also, look for Dawn French's husband, comedian Lenny Henry, in a fine Dinner Party sketch. Other highlights: a history of dance crazes and the absurd conversations which take place in Jennifer's sparse flat. Great stuff!
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Format: VHS Tape
Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders prodigious talents are evident here in one of their earlier works. This humor is subtle and actually rather serious and deep if you really think about what points they are trying to make (honed, later to perfection, in AbFab.) For anyone interested in the rough and tough business of making people laugh, these videos (and the 3 others) should be your bible.
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Format: VHS Tape
For true lovers of British wit, French & Saunders are always the source of the real belly laugh... no canned laughter here masking inadequate writing and acting! This show fulfills all of one's comedic expectations, and if you can control your laughing you may just catch half of the jokes!
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Format: VHS Tape
This video is drawn from the first shows the brilliant British comedy team French and Saunders did for the BBC--and it's much less polished, and much louder and in-your-face, than their later work. As such its not quite as good--but still, these were the skits that first introduced me to French and Saunders (years before the world had heard of them through ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS and THE VICAR OF DIBLEY) and made me fall in love with them. If you ever hear someone saying a propos of nothing, in a loud accusatory voice, "She can't DRAW FINGERS!" you'll know they've seen the famous skit they do here sending up the performance artists Gilbert and George--for one of their performance art pieces, French at one point is chained to a wall and has a wrecking ball smash into her (Here's Saunders on the event in retrospect: "It was colossal, really, but I could never do it again...") This show also features their great parody of ballet-dancers, where they explain what's the proper age to have your hair stapled in a bun to your head ("The best part of being a prima ballerina," Saunders explains, "is having a pudding named after you"). The bits with them as loud overweight men are pretty obnoxious and dislikable, but this gives you a chance to see these two masters of comedy in utero.
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These are the two funniest people ever. However, this DVD is from an early, formative time and the material is little uneven. That said, it's still French and Saunders, and there's nothing better.
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By spacedog on February 22, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
i too think this is a great F&S DVD. this doesn't have any real movie parodies which may explain others' less-than-positive reactions, but you won't miss them at all. (the exception is an absolutely fantastic rip of the piano, and there are some parodies of movie stars inc. jennifer as a great loopy liza minelli and a short bit w/ dawn as elizabeth taylor on cat on a hot tin roof). there are some really classic moments here, inc. a series of sketches where the two are schoolgirls, some of the best living room sketches, and some great 80's parodies inc. a kid's TV show called "it's great!" and a pet shop boys and bangles parody. there are some misses, like the bits w/ the two lechers gets a bit old, but overall this is a very worthwhile collection.
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By S. Loftin on September 26, 2009
Format: DVD
I bought this DVD because my wife and I enjoy Dawn French in the Vicar of Dibley, and they advertised these DVDs on the Vicar of Dibley DVDs. They are pretty funny and I would recommend them if you like Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, or British humor in general. Two caveats though. First, there are no subtitles on the DVD. Our 50-year-old hearing is not as good as it used to be and especially with non-American accents, we like to have the subtitles on the screen to help us with the dialog. No luck here. Second, some of the humor, just like in the Vicar of Dibley, refers to British people that are unfamiliar to most Americans, politicians and such. So some of the humor goes right over our heads. That aside, the DVD is an enjoyable watch.
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Just wanted to say how much I enjoy watching these French and
Saunders videos.
These are quite obviously two of the brightest people on the planet.
Just such funny concepts with such a poignant ring of truth.
Thank Heaven above for such hilarity !
So talented......so creative....sooooooo funny.
It's the perfect antidote for what ails you.
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