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Mr. Bean

By Donald Liebenson

Bean, Bean, maniacal nut / The more you watch, you bust a gut! First unleashed in 1989, this sketch series was embraced by PBS viewers in the United States. In the tradition of the great silent clowns, Rowan Atkinson created a character with universal and multi-generational appeal (the sketches have little dialogue and are driven by often ingenious physical comedy). Like Bart Simpson, the resourceful, mischievous, and sometimes malevolent Bean is the inner child incarnate who acts on the impulses polite society normally represses. Atkinson has described Bean as "a 9-year-old boy, with an apparent lack of worldly experience, but an ingenuity that is quite clever in dealing with problems presented to him." These problems include not knowing a single answer on an exam, tactfully disposing of a revolting restaurant meal, changing into his swimsuit at the beach without first removing his pants, and, most hilariously, getting a turkey stuck on his head (a classic bit reprised in the ill-conceived 1997 feature film).

Atkinson has enjoyed some mainstream success stateside. He was the nervous minister ("...your awfully wedded wife") in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and the voice of Zazu in The Lion King. But he mainly enjoys cult status among British comedy aficionados as a founding member of Not the Nine O'Clock News and the star of the Black Adder series. Bean is his crowning creation. In addition to all 14 episodes, this generous boxed set contains previously unaired sketches, Comic Relief appearances, and a segment about Bean's creation, which serves as a nifty introduction for the uninitiated. It also contains a preview for the new Mr. Bean cartoon series. This seems redundant. As this collection hilariously demonstrates, Bean is already animated enough.

[Editor's note: The clueless folks at A&E - who incidentally are one of the few major corporations to share my email address with spammers (I don't make this charge lightly - I have proof) - butchered this boxed set by including the shorter versions of each episode that were used on commercial stations rather than the full, original versions as aired on PBS. This is inexcusable and customers have punished the company with poorer than expected sales. Unfortunately, some other companies haven't yet learned that lessen and are getting beaten up mercilessly on for their Cosby Show and Roseanne boxed sets.]


Share Your Memories!

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

 Your Memories Shared!

"The DVD set ("The Whole Bean") has small cuts from each episode. For example, in the Christmas one (where Mr. Bean gets the turkey stuck on his head), the part about how he wins the bird by "guessing" its weight by standing on a scale has been cut. So it is not really "the whole Bean".
[Editor's note: You are absolutely correct and it is absolutely inexecusable that A&E Home Video used the edited for commercial TV versions of these classic episodes! For using a misleading title like "The Whole Bean", they should have been forced to recall the discs and send replacements with the proper, full length versions.]"




Aired: 1989-1995

Cast: Rowan Atkinson

Network: ITV

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song

Image courtesy of the BBC

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