Without doubt, the third series of Absolutely is the most consistently funny season of any television sketch show. The other series have great moments but they are patchier, hence the 4 stars here. That said, and as I think another reviewer touched upon, it still ranks above modern day contemporaries like Little Britain which, with half of the output, was faltering and rehashing old jokes.
I was involved with the company that was originally negotiating with Channel 4 four years ago to get the series released on DVD. Rather than release all the episodes as they are doing now, we were planning to do a "best of" to dip the toes of interest and follow-up with the complete episodes if the groundswell warranted it. As a precursor to this, Channel 4 converted some of the 1" masters for us to view to select the material that we wanted and I was given the task of picking suitable sketches from Season 2. It was good but not as good as I remembered it and when the shortlist for the 'best of' was drawn up, over half of the content was from the third series. Unfortunately for us, Channel 4 procrastinated for a further two years with changes of personnel and direction. When they became worried that the distributors of the original compilation, The Vido, still had rights over series 1 to 3, we dropped out. Good to see that it is finally going to get a release from the production company that actually made it.
When viewing Absolutely as it ran on TV nearly twenty years ago, I had a gang of people round watching it and we used to memorise the words, especially to Denzyl/Gwynedd sketches and Frank Hovis monologues. Most of them stuck with me, something which disconcerted John Sparkes at Edinburgh a few years back when, whilst he was reprising Frank Hovis in Filth!, I was mouthing the words to "Taxi" idly before I caught his eye and realised what I was doing. Not sure if he was annoyed or pleased but I stopped anyway.
There were only ten people in the audience that night and that kind of exemplifies that despite being a great piece of television, Absolutely somehow missed the real mainstream in its day. Hopefully the DVD release will give an audience size that the programme deserves.