Monday, 4 August 2014

TV Series Review: Blackadder

It hardly seems like any time since I did my last TV series review; it isn’t really considering it’s only been a week since I posted the Red Dwarf one, though to be fair, it was originally planned to be up the week before that I just had connection issues that made posting it kind of not happen. I’ve not spent the last week just marathoning Blackadder, there’s just not that many episodes. Honest.

The Blackadder Remastered Ultimate Edition was another series which my in-laws got us for an anniversary. I don’t remember which we got first, I want to say Red Dwarf, with Blackadder last year but I honestly don’t remember. Either way, it’s been on my list of things that I want to rewatch since before we got the DVDs. When Mr Click and I watched the complete series before it was in a different box set so although it had all the episodes, it didn’t have quite the same number of extras that it has in this set. Not only does this include all four series of Blackadder, it’s also got the Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, the Cavalier Years special, Blackadder Back and Forth, and the associated feature ‘Baldrick’s Video Diary’ which looks at the making of the Millennium special. Oh, and there’s a couple of documentaries about the series as well.

Like Red Dwarf, it’s a TV series that I’ve watch numerous times in the past. I’ve got certain episodes which are old favourites and which I looked forward to as we progressed through the series. Each of the series only has six episodes in it which meant that we got through them all really quickly, usually watching two a night.

Easily one of my favourite moments in the first series.
I always find myself enjoying the series the longer we go on. The documentary made in 2008 agreed with me that the first series was the weakest. I couldn’t really put my finger on what it was that I didn’t enjoy so much until we watched the documentary; they couldn’t really decide what sort of character Blackadder was to be so he was a strange sort of mixture of qualities. There were a lot of laughs but things definitely improved as it went on.

I didn’t remember as much of the second series as I thought I did. Most of the bits I remembered were the jokes taking place in the court with Queen Elizabeth. I love that Stephen Fry comes in on this series, as well as some of Hugh Laurie’s first episodes as well.

Series three is next higher on my list of favourites though. I actually had to watch part of the Samuel Johnson dictionary episodes when I was studying U211. I still love that episode and it was great to watch it in full again. I also kind of like the way that this series ends, with Blackadder getting exactly what he wants for once.

Without a doubt, series four is the absolute winner. In a way I think it’s a good thing that they didn’t make another series because I’m not sure they could top it for the way that the series ends. Apparently it aired on Remembrance Sunday and didn’t receive a single complaint, which considering the bulk of the series was all about the humour of being in a wartime situation says something about hard hitting the finale was.

We didn’t bother watching Blackadder’s Christmas Carol because we’ve watched that at least once every Christmas for the last three years but I was thrilled to see Back and Forth again since the last time I watched that was when it was on TV for the first time. I’d seen the making of (Baldrick’s Video Diary) about the same time as well but it was good to rewatch it. The Cavalier Years was one I’ve probably seen before as well, though I didn’t remember it. It was short and funny.

The documentary, Blackadder Rides Again, was really interesting. As I was watching it I couldn’t help but think I’d watched it before. I vaguely remember seeing it in a hotel room at some point and I’d definitely seen the end where they talked about how the originally filmed ending of the final episode of series four was a complete disaster. A lot of it was new to me though and it was interesting to see how everyone had aged (some better than others, Hugh Laurie ages very well).

I’m really glad that we’ve got this complete series on DVD because I know it’s one that’ll be watched again. I’m thinking we’ll add Back and Forth to our Christmas viewing because of when it’s set; we might be able to get right of our DVD of Blackadder’s Christmas Carol as well seeing as it’s including in this set.

I think part of the magic of Blackadder’s humour is the fact that it’s set in the past, so the jokes don’t really age. It helps to have a smidge of an understanding of British history and things like Shakespeare or Johnson, but on the whole you can just enjoy the fun at Blackadder snarking at Baldrick. And it’s fun.


  1. I've never watched this series; the only episode I've seen was the final one, as I watched it in college for my English Literature class - we were doing war poetry at the time. I think it's a series I'd enjoy, though.

    1. I'd really recommend it. The last episodes is one of the best pieces of television made in my opinion. :-)

    2. Got to love Blackadder, I think 'The Third' is my favourite incarnation and, as you say, it's nice to see him win for once. But 2 and 4 are superb with some great scene stealing from Rik Mayall and Patsy Byrne (both RIP) and Miranda Richardson. I do have a soft spot for the first series but, as the general consensus has it, Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson weren't entirely sure where they were taking it, so its a bit of a curate's egg


Let me know what you think. :-)