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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 13 April 2010
Series first: The first thing to notice is that Whoops Apocalypse marks the some of the earliest major TV appearances of Alexei Sayle and Rik Mayall. Mayall had appeared in A Kick up The Eighties the year before, but the first airing of The Young Ones was still eight months away. The second thing is the quality of the talent on offer: Peter Jones, Barry Morse, John 'CJ' Barron, Geoffrey Palmer, John Cleese and Richard Griffiths. The Cold War setup is very much of its time, coming as it did just a year before Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives enjoyed a second election victory. The Falklands conflict began halfway through he series run (on April 2), adding a little spice to the tone. Barry Morse is quite wonderful as the Reaganesque Johnny Cyclops, ex movie star and now hapless US president. For much of the proceedings he looks utterly lost and out of his depth, lurching from one disaster to another, led by the nefarious but ultimately useless Deacon (Barron, who quite purposely loads his character with CJ-isms). The deadly Quark Bomb is stolen by International terrorist, L'acrobat (Cleese). Meanwhile, the exiled Shah of Iran is stuck on a cross-channel ferry in the English Channel during a strike and the UK, led by incoming Kevin Pork (Peter Jones), who is soon to reveal his true identity, is about to join the Warsaw Pact.

Andrew Marshall and David Renwick pitch the script deliberately into the realms of farce, complete with soap opera style titles and all the cues that lend it a low-budget, trashy milieu. The cast are allowed, indeed encouraged, to play over the top to emphasise the utter ludicrousness of the situation and most grab the opportunity with both hands. Cleese in particular chews scenery for England. The only truly downbeat moment comes right as the end, as Cyclops leaves the White House for the last time, and reminded me a little of the tone of the ending of Blackadder Goes Forth, which was to come seven years after.

But, in the end that pitch at farce what makes this show so much fun, though the targets are very much of their time. I'm not sure anyone under thirty would get many of the gags.

The movie: obviously, four years after the series, the production values for the movie are so much higher but there's little change in the quality of the cast. Loretta Swit takes on the role of the new US president, while Peter Cook is positively unhinged as British PM Mortimer Crisp. As with the series the swipes are very broad, at a time when so much of what was going on in international politics was stretching satire to (and even beyond) its limit. The movie is a decent reimagining but, for me, it lacks the chutzpah of the original and doesn't quite have the same manic spark.
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on 9 April 2007
i'm just about able to remember this from when it was on TV. This is sheer undiluted comic genius and goodness knows why it never made it on to video - let alone DVD. Hallelujah!

So it starts here. A criminally stupid (ok lobotomised) American President led by advisers who think they have a direct line to God make bungled attempts at intervening in Middle Eastern politics. They are aided by a stupid and compliant British Government who want to stay in with their friends across the water. Meanwhile a shadowy international terrorist lurks in the background.... help! help! it's all coming true!

there should be a button here saying 'buy now, do not pass GO!'

comedy genius performed by genius comedians.
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on 23 August 2010
This is a 2 DVD set containing the six part original TV series on one disc and the later feature film on the other.

I'm a big Rik Mayall fan which is why I came accross the package when searching, however, I remember watching both the series and the the film as a young man and enjoyed them both at the time. Rik has only a brief cameo in one of the original TV episodes but a major role in the film (as an SAS officer).

My conclusion is this is a thorougly enjoyable purchase. The TV series is stolen by John Barrons' excellent right wing religious hawk 'the Deacon' and Peter Jones as the British PM whilst Alexi Sayle is good as the KGB officer and John Cleese is great value. Of course it's dated - it was made in 1982 but that shouldn't distract from some excellent work.

The film is superb although the Terrorist role played by Cleese in the TV series is, IMO, miscast - portrayed by the guy who was laterly the dumb neighbour in Seinfeld (I think). Peter Cook is the undoubted star.

If you're into British comedy from this period I think you'll love it.
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on 28 February 2007
Thank God that after all these years a new generation of people will have the oppurtunity to feast their eyes on this work of genius by Andrew Marshall and David Renwick with a cast worth dying for. An American President (an old-time film Tarzan) with a Bible-carrying political advisor, a newly-elected British Government who (and I won't spoil it for you by saying how) join the Warsaw Pact, John Cleese as a terrorist who sends people a Demo Tape of his previous achievements with testimonies given by people who look remarkably like J.C. himself, topless newsreaders and loads more besides. A mere review doesn't do this wonderful series justice and I am so looking forward to getting my copy that I am now counting the days.
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on 30 July 2015
Hurrah! The sitcom on DVD at last with a bunch of extras along with the rather misfiring film version (which does, however, contain one of my favourite lines ever: "We didn't win at Dunkirk by running away"). It's strange to think that a significant slice of the population will have no idea what the politics of this series even means -- Soviet Union? Shah of Iran? Cold War? To younger viewers it would have that odd "what am I missing?" feel that Watergate-based humour had to me in the 1990s.

It's a good-to-have rather than a must-have and it loses a point for the film version.
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VINE VOICEon 26 March 2010
I've got news for those reviewers who have been waiting all these years because Whoops Apocalypse the series didn't come out on VHS. It did. I have a copy. It was released by Channel 5 video, the company that was instrumental in making commercial VHS affordable in the eighties.

Anyway, for those who haven't seen it and those who have rosy memories of this excellent series, the wait will have been worth it. It is a hugely funny series which, at the time, was quite satirical. In these "enlightened?" times, it's just plain funny.

The cast is stellar with the likes of John Cleese as a French terrorist trying to smuggle a huge bomb, Barry Morse as President Johnny Cyclops and Peter Jones as the bumbling Prime Minister who thinks he's Superman shining. In fact the whole cast is superb.

I've not seen the film and, although the consensus is that it is not as good, I'll watch it and if I don't like it, throw it away to justify the five star rating for the series alone.
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on 19 September 2015
I remember watching Whoops Apocalypse when it first came out in the early 80's and thinking it was the funniest thing on television, like The Young Ones with added political savagery. Oh and there was a newsreader with no top on. Awesome.

Time has not been entirely kind to it. In some cases the targets for its satire, such as Communist leaders, the Shah of Iran and rampantly left wing government in Britain, have all disappeared from the global stage and you have to be a certain age to understand what the show is lampooning. In others it's not so much that the targets have become real – even at its worse the administration of George W Bush did not quite descend into the levels of insane incompetence displayed by Johnny Cyclops and The Deacon – but such institutions have been satirised so long and so relentlessly that the show no longer feels half as original and shocking as it did.

This isn't exactly Whoops Apocalypse's fault. The show is as old as it is and can hardly be blamed if so many people have gone on remaking (if only accidentally) the jokes that it did first for so many years.

And there are things about the program which still hold up remarkable well. I feel that the small pieces of insanity still sparkle like gems amidst the slightly tired satire. I loved Peter Jones's performance as a newly elected Prime Minister with a truly individual solution to Britain's problems and David Kelly as the hapless servant to the Shah of Iran whose interactions with his unfortunate master still make me smile after multiple re-watchings.

Above all, the weekly opening credits, in which a silence panning shot of a devastated city segues into tackily crazy music and thirty minutes of high farces remains one of the bravest things ever done on a comedy show, and the program never forgets to remind you that all the high jinx and rampant silliness are leading to something truly terrible.

It's not the comic masterpiece that I remembered. But bits of it are still very funny, bits are still shocking, and the thing as a whole stands as an object lesson in how to construct good TV farce. And the topless newsreader still looked pretty good as well.
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on 12 October 2015
The British TV series is outragiously funny. And although it was made 30 years ago you could change the names of the characters and it would be just as pertinent now.
Give the bonus American Movie version disc to someone you don't like without bothering to watch it yourself.
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on 23 February 2014
B. Spiller pretty much said it all for me; but, on the basis that your vote doesn't count unless you vote, I'm adding this.

I thought (or seemed to remember that I thought) WA was hilarious when I first watched it when it was aired in 1982. In recent years I found myself looking for it to become available on DVD. In the absence of the TV series, I bought the film version when it came to DVD a few years ago. But I couldn't finish it, it was so bad. It tags along, unloved and unwanted, on this release too.

Time hasn't been kind to the series. At the time it may have been biting satire; but the problem with political jokes, other than that they get elected, is that they're a product of their time. Rather like Hot Metal, what seemed funny then falls flat now. There were a couple of laugh out loud moments in WA, but most of the time I found myself remarkably, and disappointingly, unaffected.

I guess that anything with Ed Bishop, Geoffrey Palmer, Peter Jones, Richard Davies, and John Cleese cannot be all bad. And they all play their parts well. But the writing was, in most part, lame. And the ending was, frankly, not worth the wait.

The transfer is pretty good, no major problems with the quality of the video or audio that particularly stood out. But the intro/outro to the ad breaks were long, boring (plain text and no music) and unnecessary, even mores than for Hot Metal. The only extra (on disc 1, at least, I didn't load disc 2 with the film) was a photo gallery.

Hey ho. I would bin this DVD, but like Hot Metal I'm going to keep it. If only to prevent me wasting my money when the wave of nostalgia next rises.
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on 20 May 2016
The 1982 TV series documenting the crazy antics that lead up to the end of the world. In six parts, the series featured a number of top actors of the day. Lots of laughs though you can't help thinking that such blunders could really happen even in 2016, and accidentally cause nuclear annihilation. Far better than the film of the same name.
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