Three episodes from the third Blackadder series, set in Georgian England. In 'Sense and Senility', Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) falls from favour with Prince George (Hugh Laurie), leaving him at the mercy of a pair of superstitious actors. 'Amy and Amiability' sees the prince in love, and Blackadder earning his keep as a dashing highwayman. In 'Dual and Duality', Blackadder has to take George's place in a fight to the death with the Duke of Wellington (Stephen Fry) - 'Any man who soils a Wellington puts his foot in it'.
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
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