The Blackadder cast returns after a 10 year absence for this special. The new 21st century Lord Blackadder and his scabby, but loyal, servant Baldrick wreak havoc as they tumble through the past in a time machine, with di... more »sastrous consequences.« less
Flogging servants: once just a hobby, now a motion picture
tropic_of_criticism | 03/14/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Don't be teased: BACK AND FORTH isn't a fifth series of BLACK ADDER. It might be CALLED "BLACK ADDER V", but it's no such animal. It's a special, one-off film, much in the tradition of BLACK ADDER'S A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Like that predecessor, it takes the basic BLACK ADDER elements and uses them to its own purposes. If this were truly the fifth series of BLACK ADDER, we'd expect to see the familiar cast of characters put in a single time period for a few episodes of mirth in the context of that time. Instead, perhaps inspired by Rowan Atkinson's own trip in the TARDIS, this is BLACK ADDER meets DOCTOR WHO. The comedy, here, comes from sending Blackadder and Baldrick on a search for historical artifacts in a faulty time machine. As might be expected, they can't quite work the controls, so they go through the titular "back and forth" movements through time, meeting up with familiar faces from the series' (and Britain's) past. It's great fun--much, much better than A CHRISTMAS CAROL at making multiple time zones work. Heeding the rampant criticism of A CHRISTMAS CAROL's "future" scene, writers Curtis and Elton have Blackadder only barely venturing into the future, here. Happily, they place Blackadder firmly in the past, with a wider range of actual historical (or at least legendary) figures than ever before. Blackadder's sharp criticism of historical greats like Shakespeare, Wellington, and Robin Hood will leave you laughing. But the best part is perhaps the ending, which holds unique satisfaction for long-time BLACK ADDER fans Still, it's not a five-star effort. Just as in BLACK ADDER'S A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the need to visit all these time zones means that the characters along the way don't get the attention they deserve. Writers Curtis and Elton are guilty here of taking the easy historical joke from each time period and then running like hell. It's not a HUGE sin, because the jokes are very, very good--but there's nevertheless a sense that Curtis and Elton would've done better by simply choosing one epoch and staying there.Also, I think that while this filmed production has higher production values than its siblings, it's not necessarily the better for it. In particular, I would've traded all the sumptuous location shots for a studio audience. As a television series, BLACK ADDER had a very syncopated, rhythmic prose; as a film, it's missing the punctuation of a studio audience's laughter. It's not just that it's minimally less enjoyable to watch without the laughter, it also affects the actors somewhat. In some scenes, the actors just slightly lack the timing and the energy they've had on other BLACK ADDER projects.Laying these two objections to one side, however, you really should get this film. While I think some of its humor is vastly improved by having seen the television series--and even better enhanced by knowing some British history ---converts to the cult of The Black Adder could certainly do worse than to start here."
Cute, But Is It Worth the Price....?
Daniel V. Reilly | Upstate New York, United States | 04/19/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Being a longtime fan of Rowan Atkinson's Blackadder, I snapped up this DVD as soon as it was released. Considering the vast amounts of extras most DVD's have, I generally avoid buying ones that aren't loaded with hours of viewing material. However, seeing that the box said the program was 55 minutes long, and knowing it would NEVER show up on TV, I figured what the hell..... The actual content itself is about 31 minutes long, with an 18 minute long "Baldrick's Diary" (Which is really a making-of featurette), some witty "Who's who in Blackadder" Bios narrated by Actor Tony Robinson, and 5 minutes of Historical tidbits touching on spots visited by Blackadder & Baldrick during the "Film", also narrated by Robinson. There's also some trailers for other BBC DVD's. The Film itself is more like an episode of the series writ somewhat larger; A modern-day Blackadder and his manservent Baldrick use a home-made time machine to visit various spots in history. The usual suspects return, including Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, and Miranda Richardson. There were a few chuckles, but no real laughs until the end-credits song. Hardly worth the price, especially since the description on the box seems to imply that the actual movie is an hour long, not that EVERTHING on the disc equals an hour. Blackadder completists will certainly buy it, and enjoy it, but it should have had either more content or a lower price point...."
Pales only in comparison to what's gone before
D. Klees | United States | 07/27/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"To be blunt, this is not nearly the best installment of the "Black Adder". Having said that, it was genuinely good fun and yet another fine display of the delightfully irreverent take on Britain's history that made "Black Adder" one of the greatest comedies to grace American TV.This special episode (allegedly the final one) was made in conjunction with the much-hyped 1999/2000 New Year's celebrations at Britain's Millennium Dome. The plot follows the latest descendant of the Black Adder clan in an attempt to win a bet involving (among other things) a fake time-machine and a pair of antique underwear. Much to everyone's surprise (especially Black Adder's), the time machine actually works and Black Adder and his ever-present servant Baldrick find themselves shooting back and forth through time. As they attempt to find their way home, the pair lands in periods ranging from the Dinosaur age to the Napoleonic Wars and even the court of Queen Elizabeth.The latter destination is especially significant, because it was also the site of much of the series' finest hours, "Black Adder II." Unfortunately, despite the presence of Miranda Richardson and Stephen Fry reprising their roles from the original series, this is actually the weakest part of the show. It feels forced as if the actors were straining to recreate what they once did intuitively. The program is on much better footing in other eras, such as an encounter with Robin Hood (played by occasional "Black Adder" guest Rik Mayall), where the actors seem to be having fun with the new situations.Fun really is the key word here. Except for the brief attempt in the Elizabethan segment to turn back the clock to an earlier incarnation of the program, everyone seems to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. And while it doesn't quite hit the (incredibly) high mark of earlier installments, by no means does it disgrace the series good name. In addition, for those who've never seen "Black Adder" before, it serves as a nice introduction to the remarkable flexibility of the series."
Not the Place to Begin With Black Adder
Michael Weber | Atlanta | 10/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While a total stranger to the Black Adder corpus can appreciate it, a lot of this lovely little poison valentine's fun comes from being familiar with the setup and the characters so that one can ALMOST predict the next line or situation... and then being delighted when the writers and cast give it some twist you hadn't predicted.I must agree with another reviewer that the return to the court of Elizabeth I really doesn't work; it does indeed seem forced as if the actors no longer inhabit the characters, but rather are pretending to be their younger selves inhabiting the characters. (Does that make sense?)On the other hand, one of the funniest sequences in the production is in the Elizabethean time frame but without any of the series regulars save Blackadder himself, meeting up with Shakespeare, getting his autograph and then... Well, it's Very Funny. Even funnier if you thought Branagh's uncut "Hamlet" was a touch long.The Waterloo sequence is lovely, with a neat little "Wizard of Oz" reference.And, of course, the ending(s) -- particularly the end ending,a it were -- an absolute delight for the Black Adder fan, with, of course, an appropriate version of the theme song vocal for the end credits.The "extras" on the disc, though a bit sparse, are appreciated, including a short "making of" documentary piece, with the writer director and actors all expressing themselves with wonderful clarity, and also including a couple of bits that were (mostly for the better, i think, funny as they are) edited out of the episode.ALso under the "Special Features" menu are cast biographies, recited, in character, by "Baldrick". Unfortunately (and i don't know if it's a defect in the disc, itself, or in my APEX DVD player with the hacked firmware, or a combination), after the first few bios have played, the last few syllables or words of each bio were cut off as it skipped to the next."
Learn English from Blackadder
Michael Weber | 04/18/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Blackadder Back And Forth speaks about a person called Edmund Blackadder and his servant Baldric. He wanted to gain some money by betting his friends that he could travel in time using the "Time Machine" he had "constructed". His bet was that he could travel in time and bring back "any items of historical importance that you choose to nominate". The "Time Machine" was actually meant to be a fake and was built by Baldric using the instructions written by Leonardo da Vinci. Little did Blackadder know that he would have to embark on an adventure "in a small wooden box with two toilets, and the stupidest man that has ever lived".
Blackadder Back And Forth was very amusing to me because it presents Blackadder's cunning and ignorance of all that does not effect him in a very funny way. I enjoy it also because Edmund uses a rather expanded vocabulary of rude words and he has a lot of motives and targets to use them on. In fact, I would strongly recommend Blackadder as your English teacher.