The second and final series of The Young Ones
was screened in 1984 and continued in the anarchic, surreal, scatological, slapstick yet subtly satirical vein of the first series. When hippie Neil's blazer and furcoat-clad parents step horrified into the filthy student digs he shares with prissy sociology student Rick (Rik Mayall), the psychotic punk Vyvyan (Ade Edmondson) and wide-boy Mike (Christopher Ryan) a parody of The Good Life
promptly ensues, signalling just what a giant leap this show represented from mainstream sitcom of the time.
Nigel Planer's put-upon Neil is as fine a creation as the putting-upon Vyvyan. Guest appearances from Alexei Sayle, Stephen Fry, co-writer Ben Elton and Jennifer Saunders among others confirmed The Young Ones' status as an academy for future establishment comedians. But Mayall's creation is still the show's greatest legacy: Rick is self-righteous to the point of fascism in his right-on-ness, a mass of studenty pretentiousness, pathetic inadequacy and egotism ("Hands up who likes me!"). Anything went in The Young Ones--talking hamsters and toilets, bizarre digressions into period sketches, subliminal images, guest appearances by bands from Dexy's Midnight Runners to Motorhead--yet through Rick in particular, the show implicitly mocked shopworn Goodies-style notions of "zaniness" ("You have to watch me, I'm a bit nutty!").
This series includes "Bambi", the University Challenge episode; "Cash", in which Vyvyan announces his pregnancy; and the final show, a parody of Cliff Richard's The Young Ones itself, in which the quartet exit ingloriously. The Young Ones is among the most youthful and radical of all sitcoms, yet it still manages to contain a timelessly astute critique of youthful radicalism--and bottom-burp jokes aplenty.
On the DVD: The Young Ones, Series 2 comes to DVD with no extra features. Visually, it's well up to the usual BBC standards but the transfer can't disguise the datedness of some of the early 80s special effects. --David Stubbs
The entire second series of Ben Elton's anarchic comedy. In 'Bambi', the boys get to go on 'University Challenge', while 'Nasty' sees Neil taking to wearing a dress. In 'Time', it looks like Rik has finally scored with a member of the opposite sex. In 'Cash', plates keep disappearing in the house. Must be a poltergeist. 'Interesting' sees a visit from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, while in 'Summer Holiday', the boys finish college and head off on a big red bus.