This boxset contains series 1-3 & The Specials. Series 4
is not included.
Let's get the confusing, boring bit over with first - series 1 & 2 consisted of only 3 episodes each, originally transmitted in May & October '05. As most BBC comedy series consist of 6 episodes, the BBC decided to confuse everyone by releasing them together as The Complete BBC Series 1 [2005
], which is technically series 1 & 2. They then released The Specials
(which were two one-hour long episodes transmitted one Christmas & New Year), followed by Series 3
, which was 8 episodes. Because of this inconsistency, a lot of people naturally assumed series 2 hadn't been released on DVD when actually it had been. So if you already have the The Complete Series 1 [2005
], The Specials
& The Complete Series 3
DVD's, then you already have everything on this boxset. The only thing that isn't included is the movie tie-in In The Loop
which features the characters of Malcolm Tucker & his 'pitbull' Jamie (AKA "the crossest man in Scotland" who was "made in a lab by Malcolm out of spare bits of psychopath") but none of the other characters from the series (although it does include some of the actors in different roles, just to really confuse matters) Personally, I find it ironically appropriate that there has been such confusion surrounding this series due to unfortunate marketing & spin-doctoring ploys by the BBC...
So now the important part: The Thick Of It is superb. A modern Yes Minister
for the New Labour generation, it follows the fictional Department Of Social Affairs & Citizenship as they incompetently bungle one government initiative after another & are ruthlessly savaged by the PM's spin doctor & enforcer Malcolm Tucker, who is more concerned with the governments' image than actually benefiting the nation. Unlike the conventional sitcom format of its predecessor, The Thick Of It features wobbly camerawork & no laugh-track to give it that 'real-life' feel, not to mention buckets of swearing & creative insults, thanks to creator Armando Iannucci apparently handing all scripts over to the BBC's 'swear consultant'.
The usually softly-spoken Peter Capaldi is brutally magnificent as the vitriolic Malcolm, who "thinks of himself as a thin, white Mugabe" & is considered by many pundits to be based on Blair's right-hand man Alastair Campbell. In Malcolm's own words, "don't you ever - EVER - call me a bully! I'm so much worse than that!" But he can't be all bad, since he believes in using the carrot as well as the stick - "you take a carrot, you stick it up his... followed by the stick, followed by an even bigger, rougher carrot."
Its interesting to see this programme evolve from a comedy show which centred around Chris Langham's character into more of an ensemble piece, to the point that following his real-life court-case, it survived his absence in the specials & his replacement in series 3. While Capaldi's Malcolm often steals the show, the ever-expanding supporting cast have well-rounded (albeit almost universally unlikeable) characters, who all have their moments to shine.
When I first watched this show, I found its frenetic pace & fast dialogue incredibly hard to keep up with but now I own it on DVD, I find this gives it much re-watchability - and re-watch it I have, countless times. That a lot of storylines have been taken from events you may remember from the news gives it additional spice. This satirical comedy has a unique charisma & doesn't tend to be out of my DVD player for long. My one criticism is they can't make new episodes quickly enough! Roll on series 4!