One of the best comedy series ever to emerge from England, Black Adder traces the deeply cynical and self-serving lineage of various Edmund Blackadders from the muck of the Middle Ages to the frontline of World War I. In h... more »is pre-Bean triumph, British comic actor Rowan Atkinson played all five versions of Edmund, beginning with the villainous and cowardly Duke of Edinburgh, whose scheming mind and awful haircut seem to stand him in good stead to become the next Archbishop of Canterbury--a deadly occupation if ever there was one. Among tales of royal dethronings, Black Death, witch smellers (who root out spell makers with their noses), and ghosts, Edmund is a perennial survivor who never quite gets ahead in multiple episodes. DVD Features:
"This DVD series contains the complete collection of Black Adder TV episodes, made by the BBC. Black Adder aired as four individual series of six episodes each: The Black Adder, Black Adder II, Black Adder the Third and Black Adder Goes Forth.Black Adder stars Rowan Atkinson, an absolute comic genius who is also the star of Mr. Bean. The screenplays were written by Richard Curtis (Mr. Bean, Not the nine o'clock news) and Ben Elton - possibly one of the funniest modern writers.In the first series, Rowan Atkinson plays a weak chinned, effeminate heir to Richard, Duke of York. Set in medieval England, we are introduced to two of the most often recurring characters in Black Adders live(s) - Percy and Baldrick. Lord Percy is an eager to please, high strung dolt. Baldrick, an filthy peasant that is under qualified to be the village idiot, acts as Black Adder's golfer. Although funny, the first series may miss an American audience with some of it's historical references.In the second series, Black Adder's next descendant is no longer heir to the throne but remains one of Queen's dearest friends. Set in Elizabethan England, we get to follow Black Adder as he plots to carouse, fornicate and steal his way to pleasure. Even funnier than the first series, Black Adder gets far more clever. We are also introduced to two additional, recurring characters - Melchett and Flash. Melchett is a pompous, over bearing palace sycophant and Flash is fast moving ladies man with more than just a sword hanging between his legs.Black Adder's fortunes have considerably fallen by the Third Series, where he is now serving a butler to the Price Regent of England, the stupidest man in the land. Again, the clever Black Adder schemes to raise himself at the expense of everyone around him. Other great English comedic actors Hue Laurie, Robbie Coltrane and Tim McInnery all make appearances.In the fourth and final series, Black Adder finds himself caught on the front lines of World War I. Trying to eke out a comfortable existence without being sent out on a suicidal charge against the Kaiser, Black Adder's fourth series is somewhat reminiscent of Mash. Without all the nice doctor's off course. This series has the "crudest" humour of all.Black Adder is undoubtedly one of the funniest English comedy series ever made and well worth owning."
Pure Comic Genius!
Jeffrey Rickel | Palm Harbor, FL | 08/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a big fan of British comedy and consider Black Adder to be the greatest of them all, and that's saying something. The British have produced some great ones: Benny Hill, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers, Red Dwarf, Ab Fab - and those are just the most famous titles. There are numerous other great shows out there, yet Black Adder is a cut above them all. It's very witty, hilarious, and expects the viewer to have knowledge of British history.
This set includes just about everything (there are bits and pieces not on the five discs). Let's review all of them.
Black Adder I is set at the end of the 15th Century and is based on the premise that Henry Tudor was a liar, that Richard III was a good King and was succeeded by his nephew, who became Richard IV. The first series is the weakest of the lot, though it is still quite good and contains two of the entire series best shows. The first two episodes (The Foretelling and Born to be King) are funny, but do not contain the side-splitting laughs common to the series. The show really hits its stride in the third episode, The Archbishop, one of the funniest episodes of the entire series. The success continues through the fourth and fifth episodes (The Queen of Spain's Beard and Witchsmeller Pursuivant), though the show dips in the final episode a bit. Brian Blessed is terrific, though can be a bit much at times. Tim McInnerny and Tony Robinson do great jobs, as they would throughout the series.
Black Adder II is set in Elizabethan times. Many would claim it to be the funniest of the four series, and that argument can most definitely be made. I, however, think that each successive series gets better. Every episode in the second series is a winner; every single episode is a stand out. Miranda Richardson is terrific as Queenie and Stephen Fry is smashing as Melchett. I honestly can't pick any favorites the rest of the way through. The second disc also contains Black Adder: The Cavalier Years which is also excellent, though short. It was done for Comic Relief and is set in the last days of Charles I (Stephen Fry was excellent in this role).
Black Adder the Third improves upon its predecessor. Hugh Laurie takes up permanent residence in the cast (he guest starred in the final episode of series 2) and does a brilliant job - better than McInnery did as the dimwitted Percy. Laurie plays the Prince of Wales, George - son of the infamous Mad King George. This Black Adder is no longer a Lord or Prince of the realm like his ancestors, he is now a servant. Once again, each episode is a gem. We also see McInnerny and Fry in guest appearances (Fry shines as the Duke of Wellington in the final episode), as well as Robbie Coltrane (now of Harry Potter fame as Hagrid). This disc also features Black Adder's Christmas Carol. Though funny, it jumps around quite a bit. the twist is that it features the lone good Black Adder. Don't want to give away too much here. It's funny but not as focused as the whole series.
Black Adder Goes Forth is the final entry. It is the most crass of all the series and the darkest. I find it to be the funniest as well. There's a lot more toilet humor and Baldrick, who has gotten progressively stupider as the series has gone on, is hilarious. Tim McInnerny is back, though not as Percy but as Darling. The Darling jokes do get a bit old, but Stephen Fry as Melchett is excellent.
The fifth disc contains Black Adder Back and Forth. This suffers from the same problem as Christmas Carol, it's unfocused and not as sharp as the series shows. It does have its moments, but Black Adder functions best when it remains in one period and established the characters.
Throughout the whole series, Rowan Atkinson is superb. He is the greatest comedic actor in Britain at the moment and hysterical to watch. Each Black Adder is a bit different, beginning with the whimpering Edmund Blackadder in series one to the very sharp and intelligent Edmund of the last series. Edmund gets sharper as the series gets on -and the character get more bitter as well.
These DVDs also have some helpers for those not familiar with the history of the time periods depicted. I would, however, advise those unfamiliar with the periods to do some research into the history of the time so they can get a better understanding of many of the jokes.
All in all, a great package of one of the greatest comedies every produced. Hours of enjoyment can be found here with plenty of replay value."
The benchmark of Britcoms on DVD. Too good not to have.
Ben Rowland | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 05/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a Blackadder fan, chances are the you have seen all of these episodes countles times. The amazing thing is that, like Fawlty Towers and Monty Python, these episodes are always fun to watch over and over again. Rowan Atkinson is at his best, while support from Tony Robinson, Tim McInnerny, and Miranda Richardson make this series on of the best to ever come out of the UK. But this review isn't about the episodes themselves, it is about this particular DVD set, so here goes: The layout of the DVD set is nice and neat (the casing is cardboard, more durable casings would have been nice). It folds out into 5 sections, each containing a DVD with their respective series. Series 1-4 are included, as well as the 1999 special "Back and Forth", which is a reunion of sorts, about Blackadder and Baldrick building a time machine. Not the best Blackadder outing, but a laught riot nonetheless. Each DVD has special features, including all the specials including "Blackadder's Christmas Carol" and the rare sketch "The Cavalier Years". Other extras include cast bios and historical footnotes (read by Tony Robinson), karaoke singalong, trailers, and other neat stuff. The interactive menus make getting to your desired episide easy. The only complaint I have is the lack of cast interviews, outtakes from the series itself, and behind-the-scenes specials. The only such things are on "Back and Forth" and a Richard Curtis interview. But all that aside, this is the jewel of my DVD collection, and will provide many ours of entertainment in the future."
THE(!) Black Adder DVD!
Christian Jahnsen | Hillerod, Denmark | 08/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OH YEAH! That's basically how I felt after going through all five DVD's in this absolutely brilliant collection! I was ecstatic(!) in the end!Let's face facts: you're looking at this product because you are searching for the COMPLETE(!) collection (with a capital C!). You want ALL that has been made in the Black Adder saga! Well, don't worry! With this DVD box set, you DO get it all and a lot more! As soon as I browsed through this brilliant box set, it became the most treasured item in my DVD collection.Obviously, all four six-episode series are in here, there's the 1999 comeback episode: "Back and Forth", the little 15-minute episode "The Cavalier Years" and arguably the best episode of all time: "Black Adder's Christmas Carol". It is all there, spread out over the five DVDs!What's more, the extra material is BRILLIANT! There's a "Who's Who" on all the actors for EACH of the series(!) and also for the "Back and Forth". The best thing, however: there's a "Historical footnotes" feature for each of these five DVDs as well, explaining everything relevant about England's history, from Queen Elizabeth I to The Naughty Hellfire Club. All of it is BEAUTIFUL speeched by Tony Robinson (who plays Baldrick), the only actor to appear in each and every episode of Black Adder apart from Rowan Atkinson himself.Other features include an interview with writer Richard Curtis, a sing along feature and a "Making of Back and Forth" documentary, with many hilarious bits in it.The only minus: no subtitles. Since BBC put so much effort into this brilliant box, they could've gone all the way. Be that as it may, it hardly matters, since the dialogue in Black Adder is always well spoken and clear, and this still does in no way deter me from giving this product the five stars. Black Adder fans, who now want to have him on DVD: this is the one to get!"
An Absolutely Fab Series You MUST Have!!
J. Gibson | United States | 04/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Blackadder is, in my opinion, one of the very best series to come out of the UK. There have been many, but thanks to the comic genius of Rowan Atkinson, Blackadder tops my list. Rowan Atkinson stars as Edmund Blackadder. His attitude is as black as his garments. The four series captured in this DVD set find him scheming to become king, trying to escape an arranged marriage, as court favorite to Queen Elizabeth I, the surly and scheming butler to Prince George, fighting World War I and, to top all, in his own special way befriending the smelly Baldrick.Even though Atkinson is the star, he is not the only shining light in this series. The charming Tony Robinson plays his lovable sidekick Baldrick. (You just have to love Baldrick!) Tim McInnerny is Lord Percy Percy in series I-II, makes a small cameo in series III and returns as Captain Darling in Series IV. Stephen Fry is Lord Melchitt in series II, General Melchitt in series IV and a small cameo as Wellington in III. Miranda Richardson is perfect as Queen Elizabeth I in Blackadder the Second, and as a nurse in series IV. Other small, but not insignificant roles are: Brian Blessed as the King in series I, Elspet Gray and Robert East make appearances as the Queen and Prince Harry in series I, Robbie Coltrain as Samuel Johnson in series III, Rick Mayall as Mad Gerald in series I and then Lord Flashheart in II and IV, Patsy Byrne as Nursie in II, and who could forget Helen Atkinson-Wood as Mrs. Miggins in Blackadder III!Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones' Diary) adds his immense writing talent to Blackadder along with Atkinson and Ben Elton.Bean fans should not buy these DVD's expecting to see Mr. Bean. Apart from Atkinson himself and his wonderfully funny facial expressions, you will find little to no resemblance in Bean and Blackadder. However, this is definitely a set worth purchasing because they will give you hours and hours of laughter."