Rowan Atkinson's irredeemably wicked Edmund Blackadder has moved forward in time from the court of Queen Elizabeth but a little down the social ladder. He's now butler to Hugh Laurie's congenitally stupid Prince Regent on the cusp of the 18th and 19th centuries, and if that wasn't bad enough he's still accompanied by Tony Robinson's dim-witted Baldrick, whose cunning plans never fail to make an impossible situation worse. Blackadder's desperate scheming and utter contempt for all he surveys hasn't changed, nor have the baroque complexities of the situations in which he becomes embroiled: from an anachronistic war of words with Dr Johnson (Robbie Coltrane relishing every syllable) to taking on the Scarlet Pimpernel at his own game, to fighting a duel with a psychopathic Duke of Wellington, Edmund's luck never seems to change.
Richard Curtis and Ben Elton's sharp scripts have more fun with the period setting than ever before, as contemporary literary archetypes from Samuel Johnson to Jane Austen are ripe for lampooning. Howard Goodall's theme tune is updated to a glorious classical pastiche, while the extravagant costumes of the times hardly need altering to achieve the desired effect. The comedy is so good it seemed this could never be bettered, until Blackadder Goes Forth that is. --Mark Walker
Entire third series of the historic sitcom, which finds a Regency Edmund Blackadder employed as butler to the Prince Regent (Hugh Laurie), who is thicker than a whale omelette. In 'Dish and Dishonesty', Blackadder enters the world of politics while his master teeters on the brink of bankrupcy. 'Ink and Incapability' sees the rubber-faced one in a bit of a fix when his odorous manservant Baldrick (Tony Robinson) burns the only existing copy of Doctor Johnson's brand new dictionary. In 'Nob and Nobility', Edmund reluctantly turns adventurer when he agrees to rescue a French aristo in return for a huge wodge of cash. 'Sense and Senility' finds Edmund ousted from the Prince's favour when the latter takes elocution lessons from a pair of overly mannered thespians. In 'Amy and Amiability', the Prince finds true love and Blackadder finds that the lif eof a highwayman is not all it is cracked up to be. Finally, in 'Duel and Duality', the Prince puts hi sfoot in it when he soils a couple of Wellingtons, and Blackadder is forced to take his place in a duel to the death with a large-nosed Duke.