Click here to go to our home page!
 70s
 80s
 90s
BC 
Google
WWW  Super70s Awesome80s
FORUMS | Culture | Movies | Music | News | Sports | Sci/Tech | Timeline | TV



Looking for Videos?
DVD
VHS
Search by keywords:
In Association with Amazon.com
 

Black Adder

By Tom Keogh

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 his 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. Jump to the Elizabethan era and Atkinson picks up the saga as Lord Edmund, who is perpetually courting favor from mad Queen Bess (Miranda Richardson) and is always walking a tightrope from which he can either gain the world or lose his head. Subjected to bizarre services for her majesty (at one point, Edmund is asked to do for potatoes what Sir Walter Raleigh did for tobacco), Edmund--as with his ancestor--can never quite fulfill his larger ambitions. The next incarnation we encounter is in late-18th-century Regency England. This time, Blackadder is a mere butler to the idiotic Prince Regent (Hugh Laurie in a brilliantly buffoonish performance) and is caught in various misadventures with Samuel Johnson, Shakespearean actors, the Scarlet Pimpernel, and William Pitt the younger. With a brief stop in Victorian London for a Christmas special, the series concludes with several episodes set during the Great War. The new Edmund is a career Army officer, but a scoundrel all the same. Shirking his duties whenever possible and taking advantage of any opportunity for undeserved reward, this final, deeply sour, and very funny Blackadder negotiates survival among a cadre of fools and dimwits. No small mention can be made of Atkinson's supporting cast, easily among the finest comic performers of their generation: besides Laurie and Richardson, Stephen Fry, Tony Robinson, and Tim McInnerny.

Series 1:
The brilliant and inspired Black Adder comic saga begins with this collection of episodes from the life of Edmund Blackadder, Duke of Edinburgh (Rowan Atkinson), a.k.a. the Black Adder. Set in "the really dark part" of the Dark Ages, the stories concern the villainous and cowardly Duke's sundry schemes. "The Foretelling" features a guest appearance from the late Peter Cook as the ghost of Richard III, who's come around to haunt our "hero." "Born to Be King" pits Edmund's scheming mind and awful haircut against the treachery and kilt of a dancing Scotsman. Finally, "The Archbishop" is the surreal story of a landscape littered with the bodies of dead Archbishops of Canterbury--a post for which Edmund is next in succession. Wonderful, funny stuff from Mr. Bean's alter ego.

The Dark Ages comedy continues with "The Queen of Spain's Beard," a knee-slapper starring Miriam Margolyes as the Spanish royal whom Edmund (Rowan Atkinson) lures toward his own nefarious ends. "Witchsmeller Pursuivant" is a hilarious episode in which Edmund sends for a "witchsmeller" to root out the witch who gave the king Black Death. "The Black Seal" tells of Edmund's involvement in the dethroning of a king. Indispensable for Atkinson fans. With Tony Robinson as Baldrick.

Series 2:
Part one of Black Adder II features the very funny story "Bells," in which Lord Edmund is distressed to find himself developing feelings for a fellow named Bob (without realizing "Bob" is an attractive woman in disguise). "Head" concerns Edmund's appointment by mad Queen Bess (Miranda Richardson) as Lord High Executioner, following which he cuts off the head of an important man. Finally, "Potato" finds the cynical Edmund stuck with walking in the footsteps of Sir Walter Raleigh by reluctantly going on a quest for potatoes. Brilliant, now-classic material by one of the best casts in television history.

The key to the Black Adder saga is the lineage of the title character's family, and this second series jumps ahead to the Elizabethan period and the life and times of Lord Edmund. Perpetually courting favor from England's mad Queen Bess (Miranda Richardson), Edmund is constantly walking a tightrope upon which he can either gain the world or lose his head. Also onboard are Tony Robinson as another generation of the dim-witted Baldrick, Tim McInnnerny as the luckless Percy, Patsy Byrne as Bess's companion, Nursie, and Stephen Fry as the imposing (in every sense) Lord Melchett. Part two of Black Adder II includes the episodes "Money," featuring a nasty bishop with a hot poker; "Beer," in which Baldrick falls for a large turnip; and "Chains," in which Blackadder is tortured by a Spanish interrogator. Hugh Laurie guests in the latter tale.

Series 3:
The Black Adder saga makes a leap to the late 18th century and Regency England. A little less fortunate this time out, the new incarnation of Edmund Blackadder is now a mere butler to the idiotic Prince Regent (Hugh Laurie in a brilliantly farcical performance). Of course, there's another Baldrick (Tony Robinson) around, and of course, he's far below Edmund on the food chain of life. This collection includes "Dish and Dishonesty," in which Edmund helps the prince out of bankruptcy in order to retain his own cushy job; "Ink and Incapability," in which Samuel Johnson seeks patronage from the prince for his dictionary only to meet (temporary) resistance from Edmund; and "Nob and Nobility," in which Edmund's weariness with things French runs contrary to the spirit of "Scarlet Pimpernalia" running through England. Now at its creative peak with this third series, Black Adder deserves to be considered a television classic.

Part two of this third Black Adder series features the great "Sense and Senility," in which the idiotic Prince Regent (Hugh Laurie), for whom Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) is butler, takes in a pair of actors as a show of cultural strength--and Edmund sets a trap to get them removed. Also in this collection are "Amy and Amiability," in which the prince is broke and can't marry (meaning that Edmund can't get on with his life, either), and "Duel and Duality," in which a duel between the Duke of Wellington and the prince has far-reaching consequences. Costarring Tony Robinson as Baldrick. This is a particularly strong collection, a must for Black Adder fans.

Series 4:
The final stop in the Black Adder epic is this fourth series, set on the western front in 1917, deep into World War I. (Fans know there is also a Victorian-era Black Adder Christmas special that precedes this.) This time, Captain Edmund Blackadder, the most cynical, selfish, and sour of them all, is surrounded by fools and half-wits as he tries to negotiate survival. The major male players from the preceding series are all in this one, creating one of the strongest concentrations of British comic talent in one place since Monty Python. This collection includes "Captain Cook," in which Edmund becomes the official "war artist"; plus "Corporal Punishment," concerning Edmund's breaching of regulations via cannibalism; and "Major Star," in which the men on the front have to confront fallout from the Russian Revolution.

Part two of this third Black Adder series features the great "Sense and Senility," in which the idiotic Prince Regent (Hugh Laurie), for whom Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) is butler, takes in a pair of actors as a show of cultural strength--and Edmund sets a trap to get them removed. Also in this collection are "Amy and Amiability," in which the prince is broke and can't marry (meaning that Edmund can't get on with his life, either), and "Duel and Duality," in which a duel between the Duke of Wellington and the prince has far-reaching consequences. Costarring Tony Robinson as Baldrick. This is a particularly strong collection, a must for Black Adder fans.

 

Share Your Memories!

Do you have a favorite episode of Black Adder? What do you remember about the series? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

 Your Memories Shared!

"Black Adder was one of the greatest things on TV during the Awesome80s. The brilliant comedy pairing of Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson made this series, and despite how disgusting Baldrick was, he was key to every series. And the ending of Blackadder Goes Forth still brings a lump to my throat, even now!"

--Andy C

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: 1983-1989

Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson

Network: BBC

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song

Image courtesy of the BBC


   
FORUMS | Culture | Movies | Music | News | Sports | Sci/Tech | Timeline | TV




Copyright 1994-2017, Awesome80s.com. All Rights Reserved.
Use of this site is subject to our Terms of Service.
Privacy Statement
Review copyright Amazon.com and used by permission.