Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black Adder: Complete Collector's Set

Black Adder: Complete Collector's Set

Black Adder was a series of short-run British comedy series, each of which focuses on the exploits of a different member of the nefarious Black Adder family, each portrayed by comic actor Rowan Atkinson (Mister Bean). Each six-episode series is set in a different era of British history, and Atkinson is able to apply his acerbic wit at poking fun at various conventions of being British. The first series -- The Black Adder -- is set in the late 1400s, during the Middle Ages, and this particular "Black Adder" is Edmund, the Duke of Edinburgh -- something of a dolt. In the second series -- Black Adder II -- Edmund Blackadder is a toady of Queen Elizabeth in the 1500s, and is a smart, scornful, manipulative (but somewhat unlucky) man -- the type of character he'll remain in all the remaining series. In the third series -- Black Adder the Third -- E. Blackadder is butler to the Prince of Wales (a pre-House Hugh Laurie) in the Regency era. The fourth series -- Black Adder Goes Forth -- is set on the Western front during WWI, and featurese Captain Blackadder trying to avoid being killed. This boxed set also includes three specials -- Blackadder: The Cavalier Years, A Blackadder Christmas Carol, and Blackadder: Back and Forth (in which we time-travel through the various different eras of Blackadder's history). The humor in all of these is very biting, with a tinge of nastiness. The supporting casts for the various series feature hilarious performances from such noteworthy actors as Brian Blessed, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, and Miranda Richardson. Tony Robinson co-stars in most episodes as Blackadder's right-hand man throughout the ages, Baldrick -- a repulsive, filthy, generally thick-headed and idiotic manservant. Black Adder: Complete Collector's Set can be an acquired taste for many, but if you like this type of dark humor, you shouldn't miss this complete set of all the Black Adder episodes. My personal favorites are from the second and third series, when the actors really started to hit their stride...particularly the episode "Potato", which parodied the grand and noble idea of exploring the world via sailing vessels. One quirky note: Each Black Adder character is presumed to be a descendant of the Black Adders portrayed in earlier series -- somewhat difficult since all the characters die in messy ways in the final episode of each season!

[ Wikipedia entry for these series ]

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