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Girls on Top: Four-Play

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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(Feb 11, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This rollicking series isn't for prudes. How could it be when Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, creators of Absolutely Fabulous, co-wrote it and play two of the four "girls" sharing a tiny Chelsea flat? Candice (Tracy Ullman) and Shelley (Ruby Wax) are their zany roommates. An imperious landlady, played to perfection by Joan Greenwood (Tom Jones), tries to keep a lid on the quartet's out-of-bounds adventures. Series 1. About 3 hours on 2 DVDs.

Amazon.com

Before The Tracey Ullman Show and Absolutely Fabulous, the short-lived 1985 Britcom Girls on Top helped launch the careers of Ullman and Jennifer Saunders. This two-DVD set contains seven episodes from the show's two seasons. Girls on Top, like the cult fave The Young Ones, charts the sometimes surreal misadventures of four mismatched roommates. Anchoring the series is Dawn French (Saunders's partner in comedy) as Amanda Ripley, a "decent, solid, and frumpy" feminist (if they ever Americanize this series, Rosie O'Donnell would be a natural as her counterpart). Ullman is brazen blonde bimbo Candice. Transplanted American Ruby Wax (an acquired taste) is brash aspiring actress Shelley. Saunders scores with her signature lumpen slapstick as Jennifer, who is described as having "the mental age of four." Venerable Joan Greenwood (The Importance of Being Ernest, Tom Jones) costars as Lady Carlton, the addled romance writer who lets their apartment, and whose cherished companion is her dead, stuffed dog. Look for Alan Rickman in the first episode. Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid in the Harry Potter films) guest stars as a hapless kidnapper in perhaps the set's funniest episode, "C.O.D." It's not absolutely fabulous, but fans will enjoy this nascent glimpse at four--well, three at any rate-of Britain's funniest women. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Ruby Wax, Tracey Ullman, Joan Greenwood
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Bfs Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 11, 2003
  • Run Time: 175 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006ZLNO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,193 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Girls on Top: Four-Play" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
I thought that overall, this series was worth buying. The sound problem is fixed..for those of you wondering. As for the series, Ruby Wax's character is the only complaint I have..she was a bit irritating, the series is not laugh out loud funny like Ab Fab, but if your a hardcore Ab Fab or French and Saunder's Fan, then you'll want to add this to your collection. The episodes and characters grow on you after you watch them a few times.
It's not completely lacking..more of a "collector's item" but worth having..but just so you know the episodes are not in order..the company that made this dvd (BFS), is not the brightest..
The dvd quality is fine, the sound is fine, but the picture flickers a few times here and there..nothing really noticeable except that the same trivia is on set one and two.
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These women were just beginning to hit their stride as writers performing their own material during this series. I think they really had their characters down, although the plots are sometimes frayed or not completely nailed.
The most difficult aspect of both these sets is that they are not presented in chronological order-- both seasons are all mixed together, and the finale of the series is in Set 1. I really wish BFS would do a better job allowing us here in the U.S. to view these series as they were presented originally.
Interesting that in the Filmographies, neither Jennifer Saunders or Dawn French mention their work in the Young Ones. It'd be nice to get ahold of the older Comic Strip Presents series as well (MTV did show several of those performance pieces.)
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I just can't imagine how this series got away from British television. It's not the smartest sitcom nor does it pretend to be. The rarity is that how many series can count five distinct personalities in 1985 (Tracey Ullman, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Ruby Wax, and Joan Greenwood) played four unlikely roommates and an eccentric landlady. The late Joan Greenwood was terrific as the eccentric Lady Carlton, their landlady in a Chelsea building.

The four roommates have colorful eccentric and even loud personalities. Dawn French's Amanda is the feminist journalist. Ruby Wax's Shelly Dupont is the American aspiring actress in London. Funny how Shelley came from Los Angeles (Hollywood) and didn't stay there where she probably would have been more successful. Shelly has the money. Saunders played the moody heiress. Ullman plays the blonde roommate.

The two discs only feature eight episodes and no features like a recollection of the short-lived series. It is no surprise why the series was panned by critics. It can be a mess sometimes but it's worth watching for light entertainment and to see four of Britain's rising stars in 1985 before they became Absolutely Fabulous and Ruby's career in broadcasting and Tracey Ullman's own success in America.

I enjoyed Ruby Wax despite her Shelly's obnoxious stereotypical American behavior as loud and overbearing. Her Shelly becomes endearing anyway during the short run.
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The series is funny but the writing is dated of course. Great acting and writers. It's great seeing a lot of highly talented people together in one spot at such a young age. Allan Rickman is in the first episode as a sleazy guy. If it hadn't been for his voice and profile, I wouldn't have known. Almost makes me miss the '80's.
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I just want to let you know that these two dvds are great' you get the complete 2 series and although I was worried that the quality was going to be [poor] I can tell you that they are great' they must have sorted out the sound problem that is mentioned in the other reviews' this is a program that I have wanted for ages as I never missed it when it was first shown when I was a kid; all the actresses are well established now and its nice to see them when they where all unknown' anyway they are two dvds that you can buy and if you are a fan then check them out' I highly recomend them (the only problem that I have is that they are not in order but that dont matter they are great and as I said earlier you get all 13 episodes on the two seperate dvds for sale)
The only thing that I dont understand is that they are not avalible in England' this is the only place that I have found them' but who cares Ive got them now.
I hope you enjoy them.
BEN
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Since I'd been hoping to find this show on video or (better) DVD, I was delighted finally to be able to buy the complete series. Other reviews that mention poor quality audio should not concern you: I have both sets and the audio is fine for the age of the program.
Video quality is satisfactory.
If you haven't seen this show, you won't find the sophistication of AbFab, but if you like Rude Girl shows in general this should appeal to you. Ruby Wax is brassy and loud (revealing a lot about her real upbringing, too, if you read her autobiography "How Do You Want Me?"). Dawn French is bossy, and Jennifer Saunders catatonic. My favourite is the perenially shallow Candice, played by Tracey Ullman.
If female comedy is your thing, you won't be disappointed.
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