It seemed a good idea at the time: to celebrate the end of the millennium by resurrecting Edmund Blackadder for a one-off special Blackadder: Back and Fourth
. Unfortunately, those responsible for Back and Forth
got the cart before the horse. The Blackadder
television series worked by recasting the same characters in different times, thereby reinforcing the dynamic between Blackadder and the buffoons who ran his life (World War One generals, various idiot royalty) and the troglodytes whose lives he ran (Baldrick). Given that most of us feel most of the time like the people we work for are useless and the people that work for us are even more useless, Blackadder's concept had a huge appeal.
A special feature looking at Blackadders through the ages might, therefore, have been a worthwhile enterprise. In Back and Forth, however, the character--a modern-day descendant of the Blackadder line--is merely briefly imposed on a variety of historical circumstances; he is no longer the victim of circumstances but the creator of them, and far less appealing for it. The script is lame and formulaic, and the conclusion unbelievably lazy. Okay, so it's a comedy, but if he really had returned to an England which had been conquered by France at the battle of Waterloo, shouldn't everyone there have been speaking French?
On the DVD: There are three sound options Dolby 2.0 and 5.1, and DTS 5.1. The main feature has an easily negotiable scene selector, and there are two extra features; including a behind-the-scenes footage of the making of Back and Forth featuring interviews with co-writer Richard Curtis and the biggest gem on the whole DVD, a lost episode set in the time of Cromwell, far funnier than the dismal Back and Forth, especially for Stephen Fry's delightful blurring of the doomed Charles I and the future Charles III. --Andrew Mueller
It is Millennium Eve, 1999, and Lord Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) has gathered his closest friends - Lady Elizabeth (Miranda Richardson), Archdeacon Darling (Tim McInnerny), Viscount George Bufton-Tufton (Hugh Laurie) and Bishop Flavius Melchett (Stephen Fry) - to demonstrate his time machine, built by Blackadder's odious manservant Baldrick (Tony Robinson) to the original specifications of Leonardo Da Vinci. When his guests scoff, Blackadder wagers them each £10,000 that he can travel to any period in Earth's past, offering to bring back a selection of historical objects in order to convince them. It is, of course, a cunning plan on Blackadder's part; the artefacts are ready and waiting to be produced from within the machine. So imagine Edmund's surprise when Baldrick's construction actually turns out to be a working model, transporting the duo back to - amongst other periods in history - the court of Elizabeth II, Sherwood Forest, and the Battle of Waterloo... Watch out for guest appearances by Rik Mayall as Robin Hood and Colin Firth as William Shakespeare. Originally conceived as the highlight of the Millennium Dome, the one-off film is featured here alongside 'The Cavalier Years', a Comic Relief special and 'Baldrick's Video Diary - A Blackadder in the Making'. The DVD extras make this a 15 certificate, the original VHS version is a PG.