16 July 2001 | Bobs-9
See it gloriously uncut
Much has been written here about `Black Adder' already, and even if you haven't seen it yet, you probably know whether or not you like the dry, sarcastic style of British comedy that this show typifies. Don't misunderstand, though. It's not all high-toned satirical treatment of British history. There's great low comedy, as well. I found it clever and multifaceted enough so that repeat viewing enhances my appreciation of it. For those not well-educated on the aspects British history and monarchy that this show sends up (as I am not), they also become clearer with repeat viewing. So if it doesn't quite register with you at first, you may want to revisit it again. However, DO NOT base your supposed knowledge of British history on this show, as they make things up for the sake of comedy.
With the recent release of the wonderful `Complete Collector's Set' of Blackadder series on DVD, I had the chance to watch them all again. If you've only ever seen these shows on American TV, you may be surprised at a few of the bits you hadn't seen before. The most striking example of this is the episode in the first series where Edmund Blackadder is named Archbishop of Canterbury. To my surprise, I found an extended version of the scene where Edmund, Percy and Baldrick discuss the marketing of fake religious relics, a scene in which occurs a large and intimidating codpiece known as the `Black Russian,' and of course, the scene wherein Baldrick subdues a troublesome bishop by beating him with a crucifix. Obviously, Satan and his pitchforks hold no fears for the posteriors of Black Adder's producers, while American TV execs still fearfully guard their nether regions, if not from the Devil's minions, at least from religious protesters. Political correctness will be the death of comedy, yet.
Among the special features of the DVDs are brief history lessons on certain historical figures, events, places, and cultural references in the shows, explained by Tony Robinson in Baldrick's wonderful, melodious working-class accent. Also, they cover not just all four series, but every special show and skit associated with Black Adder, making it truly `complete.' The packaging design of the Complete Collector's Set is so cunning, you could brush your teeth with it, though I wouldn't recommend it.