Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Black Adder

From what I have gathered from various sources, the British comedy series "Blackadder" isn't very widely known outside Britain (I know it mainly because a German-French culture station called "arte" aired it a long time ago - and I now own the DVDs). That's too bad, because it shows Rowan Atkinson can do much more than just play stupid (as he does in "Mr. Bean").

The series can be split into four parts, each of them showing six episodes out of the life of one member of the Blackadder family (all of them called Edmund). The first Edmund Blackadder is the younger son of a British king and always (in vain) trying to get on the throne. The second Edmund Blackadder is an advisor to Queen Elisabeth I. of England (played by Miranda Richardson, these days better known as Rita Skeeter in "Harry Potter 4" or the evil stepmother in "Sleepy Hollow"). The third Blackadder is the butler of prince regent George of England (played by Hugh Laurie, these days better known as Dr. Gregory House) and the fourth Edmund Blackadder is a soldier during World War I (or II, I'm not sure).

I personally prefer "Blackadder the Third" - because the way butler Edmund deals with his admittedly rather stupid master is so funny (and because Rowan Atkinson looked rather good in those eighteen-century-clothes - or at least better than in his other costumes in the series). Among the six episodes I like "Sense and Senility" (in which the prince regent wants to learn how to deliver a public speech from two actors) and "Amy and Amiability" (where a marriage seems to be the only way of solving the prince regent's money troubles) best (the last is featuring Miranda Richardson as well, this time playing a supposedly soft-hearted girl who turns out to be a dashing highwayman at night).

In addition to the series (with about 30 minutes per episode) there's a Christmas Special called "Blackadder's Christmas Carol", which is, when you get down to it, an upside-down version of Dicken's "Christmas Carol" we all know, featuring the good-hearted Ebenezer Blackadder who, after seeing the past and possible future of his family, becomes an ill-tempered, crooked man (just like his ancestors, too).

There are two actors in the whole series that never change ... and not change much as far as their roles are concerned: Rowan Atkinson playing the various incarnations of Edmund Blackadder and Tony Robinson playing the various incarnations of his servant Baldrick. Apart from that there are quite some by now well-known actors in guest roles (such as the aforementioned Miranda Richardson or Robbie Coltrane).

My tip for you would be: if you have the chance, watch them! There surely is worse ways to spent 30 minutes.

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