Blackadder (1983-1989)

I watched the episodes of the saga as well as Back and Forth and the Victorian Christmas special.

I loved the Blackadder episodes when I was growing up. While it will take me a little while to appreciate the first series, all of the episodes across the show’s run itself have their share of strengths and weaknesses. Of course, the first series captured a semi-realistic atmosphere of Medieval England while Edmund Blackadder bumbles around in the background. While of course it tried to be funny I personally feel as if the wit of Blackadder did not gain traction until the second series, and the first series was clearly very highly ambitious an undertaking.

The second series was good as well and it was the first one where I began to chuckle at the jokes within. It was great to see the late great Rik Mayall as Lord Flashart. The ending of the series was certainly very shocking and unexpected. It could almost be described as macabre, or even as an easy get-out-of-jail-free card from a narrative perspective. That being said, Hugh Laurie as Prince Ludwig was delightfully OTT and was a welcome edition as George in Blackadder III + IV.

I really liked the third series because it brought Laurie and Rowan Atkinson together as a comedy pairing as Prince George and Blackadder respectively. George was so delightfully stupid but it was played well, and I’m over all more familiar with this series over the others. The way this series ambled around the Georgian/Regency era with ease was quite enjoyable and I wasn’t looking for a Historically accurate piece of television so that was excusable and still made it very fun indeed. Stephen Fry was also fantastic as the Duke of Wellington, and later as General Melchett in Blackadder 4.

The final series managed to contain plenty of pathos indispersed with the classic Blackadder wit. The ending didn’t feel like a cop out because the war happened and people really died – on a massive scale, obviously. The Back and Forth episode and the Christmas special still had plenty of funny moments but the Christmas special isn’t as funny as I remember. Pity really.

Ultimately, I will always have a massive amount of love for the Blackadder series because it helped to nurture my love of television and history. I don’t think there is any need for any reunion series because it would ruin something which was perfectly good to begin with.

MY RATING: **** / *****

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