14 December 2000 | GoonerMan
Blackadder becomes a Snake
This was one of the most eagerly awaited television series in British TV history. After the success of the excellent Blackadder II the British public waited with baited breath for the next installment in the Blackadder dynasty.
The series moves the time on to the Regency period with the Blackadder family having fallen on bad times, moving out of the aristocracy and into the lower-classes. Blackadder serves as a butler to the prince regent and as in the first series, Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) has a goal that drives the plot for the series - the obtaining of money. This goal is well chosen as the time-period represented is during the industrial revolution where the common man, for the first time, could become rich.
The character of Blackadder that moved from the slimy incompetent of the first series to the intelligent and dry character of the second successfully, is taken one step further and becomes simply bitter, arrogant and cynical in this series (continuing into the fourth series). Where Blackadder's dryness complemented the comic style of Blackadder II, here it serves as the main thrust of the comedy. Of course he needs a target for his sarcasm and the ever-present Baldrick serves part of this role. Unfortunately, Tim McInnerny's superb Percy character is not present in this series, with the actor making an appearance in only one episode about the Scarlet Pimpernel. His replacement in the stupidity stakes is the inferior character Prince George (Hugh Laurie). George simply represents another target for Blackadder to abuse, made slightly more interesting by the fact that George is the master and therefore Blackadder cannot openly belittle him instead needing to be sly about it. Laurie gives the role a good stab, and at times he pulls it off remarkably well, but at other times his character is a simple and oafish bafoon.
Although the main stories for each episode are reasonable, they are pale comparisons to the previous two series. Somehow, the characters compliment each other less well and the all important atmosphere seems to be missing there simply is less spark.
Blackadder III lacks the subtlety and clever scripting of the first series and the superb characters of the second. The sarcastic humour presented here is developed and honed in the final series Blackadder Goes Forth and therefore Balckadder III seems lost in the middle. Having said that, a poorer Blackadder series is still very funny and superior to most comedy series so it is still worth watching and owning on video. The trouble is, it had a lot to live up to and it will inevitably be compared to the others.