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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 21 June 2009
At long last a digitally remastered boxset of the complete Backadder collection jammed packed with extras has finally been released to the delight of the series' long term fans who had been lobbying for such a release for some time. It is about such a brilliant and iconic comedy series (which had been voted the second best ever comedy series, after `Only Fools and Horses') is given a re-mastered release. However despite everything, this beautifully packaged set falls a little short of expectations, hence the four stars in this review.

Firstly let us examine the good points.

The picture quality on this boxset is superb (as one would have expect) and the episodes never looked better than this. The sound quality too had been greatly improved. The extras are also very good.

First up are the commentaries which are very lively and informative. It would have been great if all the episodes had a commentary track but of course (taking into account of the availability of the actors as well as the budget) this was always going to be impossible. What you get is three commentaries each for series two and three, only two commentaries for series four and surprisingly no commentaries at all for series one which is very annoying.

There are actually eight commentaries in all comprises provided by four `teams' of commentators: Rowan Atkinson and John Lloyd, Ben Elton, Richard Curtis and John Lloyd, Tony Robinson and Tim McInnerny and finally a one man commentary team comprising of Stephen Fry. Each `team' provide two commentaries each. The two lone commentaries by Stephen Fry tend to be informative as he is commentating on his own (and without a moderator). The other commentaries are full of merry banter since it was undertaken by a team of actors, producers and writers commentating together.

Then there are the fabulous interviews with the various actors, writers and production teams that worked on the series as they recollect their memories in making the shows. These are very informative and provide a unique insight into the series' history. The hour long documentary while not new is also informative and very interesting to watch. Rounding of the extras is a ten minute feature on the costumes as four of the actors pay a visit to the costume department and rummage through the costumes that they and their colleague wore on the show. This was mildly amusing.

Now for the downside. When producing this collection there are two very glaring mistakes that undermines the quality and impact of this boxset and it is this reason why I have given it four stars instead of five. Firstly episodes two, three and four in first series disc (`Born to be King', `The Achbishop' and the `Queen of Spain's beard') are placed in the wrong order. This is a very obvious flaw and makes the production of this boxset very amateurish indeed. One wonders how the BBC could make such an error after the hard work they had invested in making this DVD collection.

The second mistake is the most unforgiving of them all: the omission of the pilot episode. This is the real reason why I am giving this collection only four stars. The pilot episode is a standalone untransmitted production that was produced for the BBC executives to access the series suitability. It was later reworked and evolved into the second story of the first series, `Born to be King', with different actors playing Baldrick, Prince Harry and the King.

In this early version Rowan Atkinson plays a more intelligent Blackadder whose character was a complete contrast to the rather dim and clueless incarnation that appeared in the original series (and much more akin to the Blackadders of the second series onwards). Not only has this episode had never been broadcast on television before but it has also never been released commercially either on video or DVD much to the disappointment of the series' many fans. Poor quality bootleg copies of this episode had been exchanging hands for years and can even be viewed on Youtube. Why this episode is not included on this boxset is a mystery, especially when one considers the many pirated copies that had been floating around. Since it is this production that had launched the series it has a sense of sentimental value for long term fans and would have made an excellent extra, perhaps the highlight of all the bonus features. After all the hype of associated with this remastered collection, the pilot episode's omission makes mockery of all expectations.

All in all, despite the obvious flaws, this is a wonderful collection that is beautifully packaged and is a must for all fans of great British comedy in general and for all fans of Blackadder in particular. It is just a pity that it had the potential to be even better.
2222 comments| 412 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I moaned like mad at the dire 'Complete collection' box set when it came out because of the truly awful picture & sound quality so it seems only fair to pass comment upon this new release.
Having only seen a few brief scenes doesn't allow for a series by series review of improvements but from what I have seen the picture quality would appear to at last be up to scratch & no longer as if peering through fog, especially in the outside scenes which in the previous release were like watching it through soup. Perhaps even more important than sharpness is the colour balance which bled greens & reds all over the shop before has been adjusted & no longer intrudes.
For many though the real question is not whether the picture is up to scratch but what do we get that's new? Well for me the most exciting prospect would be commentaries which are to include Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Fry, Ben Elton, Tim McInnerny & Tony Robinson. This was a prospect about as likely as Prince George finding his socks up until now & is a really promising extra. As are the extended interviews with many of those involved.
Needless to say theres no new 'lost' footage & all thats added from before is the Cavalier years & a costume piece. These sit alongside last years anniversary documentary which while not new is a welcome edition.
Ultimate edition? Well I suppose it all depends how much of a fan you are. I love the show & am happy to shell out for the commentaries & improved picture but can fully understand those that feel a bit ripped off for shelling out before only to see this come along & consign their,(not exactly cheap), previous box set to the 'has-been' bin.
You know what you're getting from the show itself. One of the funniest & remarkably little aged comedies ever seen with acting that is peerless. If you love it then surely you've already ordered this edition. If you're not sure & already have the original release then perhaps your pennies are better spent which case, can I interest you in a giant turnip...?
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on 21 June 2009
In terms of overall quality of the show itself - no question, but this collection? Lets see:

The picture quality for all the "remastered" talk, seems no better than other releases although it looks good for the 1st series.

The extras are fine, but it's strange why they stopped at The Cavalier Years and didn't include everything, all the comedy specials, the pilot, etc.

What's most disappointing, however, is the commentaries. Surely everyone involves has watched a DVD with the commentary on - so have a clue what one needs if making one. Yet they're rather woeful here. What all the commentaries are, are just listening to them watch the episodes - which means large parts where they're not talking, then bits where they're just laughing, then bits where they just describe what a costume felt like, or "XX is funny in this bit". Where's the talk about the series, about memories, about behind the scenes stuff, talk about the process, tidbits, anecdotes?? There's also no commentary for any episode of the 1st series, which was a let down as well.

So yes, a good collection but honestly - it should have been great.
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on 9 January 2010
I waited and waited for the complete blackadder to be released with extras and,although more commentaries would have been great,i was not disappointed.the extras consist of,8 episode commentaries from various members of cast and crew ,"Blackadders christmas carol"(43;23),"the cavalier years"(15;03),"Blackadder;back and forth"(33;37),"Baldricks video diary"(29;43),"costumes revisited"(10;21),documentary "Blackadder rides again"(59;22) and extended interviews with the principal cast and writers(approx.90mins).Just to add that the picture quality is excellent and there is also subtitles.Blackadder goes forth is definitely my favourite but all the other series are only slightly weaker.
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on 10 January 2010
No need for me to review the Blackadder series as we all know its a classic. I just want to comment on the picture quality of this Remastered DVD.

I was unsure whether to buy the standard box set cpllection (in the black cover) at £17 or buy this Remasterd version at nearly twice the price. I read a lot of comments about the poor picture quality of the standard box set collection so I took a chance at this version.

The picture quality is brilliant, just like any other DVD. There are no issues surrounding clouding or fuzzyness whatsoever. Ive not watched the other box set versions so I cant do any comparisons, but this DVD set is spot on!

If you have any concernes about poor picture quality like I had, then stop worrying.

Buy it (or wait for the price to drop)
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VINE VOICEon 22 July 2010
The Writers Richard Curtiss and Rowan Atkinson.
The Blackadder. (Medieval era.)
I must admit this First series of Blackadder didn't grab me as the later seasons did.
Although I did like the episode, "The Queen of Spains Beard" but all that changed with series two.
Six episodes.
The writers Richard Curtiss and Ben Elton.
Blackadder 2.(Elizabethan era.)
I love the way that two of the stories tip the wink towards Python, Tom Bakers Pirate has a "Dead Parrot" on his shoulder. And in the last episode, "Chains" Blackadder mentions "The Spanish Inquistion".
I never expected that.
Six episodes.
Blackadder 3.(Regency era.)Writers same as 2.
This is my favourite series mainly because of Robbie Coltrane's Dr Johnson portrayal in the episode,"Ink And Incapability", no matter how many times I see that, "Dream" sequence I crack up.
"Baldrick who gave you permission to turn into an Alsatian".
Six episodes.
Blackadder 4.(World War 1.)Writers same as 2.
This series has many great sequences too. I particulary like the episode with Rik Mayall as the glamourous flyer Flashheart. Who keeps calling Blackadder slack bladder. And, the Ending of episode six still brings a lump to my throat even after all the times I've watched it.
Six episodes.
Also included in this release is, "Blackadders Christmas Carol",(Victorian era) which surprisingly for the first half of the episode shows a nice kind Blackadder. Until the nasty normal Blackadder genes surface.
"Back and Forth" (Contempory era) where Baldrick has invented of all things a time machine!. There's also a host of extras, the stand out among them is "The Cavalier Years" a short act done for Children in Need.
Come and watch the changing fortunes of the Blackadder dynasty through the ages. In the first two series he's riding high in society. Then somewhere between series 2 and 3 his family fortunes must have taken a tumble, as he is no longer almost equal to the Monarch but a humble (although Royal) butler.
A worthy purchase for all lovers of humour, smelly servants and cunning plans.
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on 26 April 2012
I have a cunning review, as cunning as those cunning plans of Baldrick. Need I say more. This set does all it says it will do on the box. The set is remastered and to a quality of picture and sound that you will not find on any other similar purchase. The prints have been cleaned to a condition that is as near to perfect as can be, coming from the original master tapes. You are not going to get Blu Ray HD quality but these may never be released in this format as the clean up and exchange is painstaking. However, I can tell you that this set is the ultimate in clarity and sound. You get all four series in full ( uncut and unedited - just as you saw them on the TV) and also all the specials that were ever released, so everything that is Blackadder, apart from the pilot episode that was never commercially released but is available to view on alternative media sources.
The series need no explaining as they are famous in their own right. Just purchase this while the price is low ( Amazon had the best online price at time of writing)and enjoy. It was delivered to me within 2 days and the condition was excellent, no damage to the case or discs. Well wort the purchase and there are subtitles for the HOH.
There can be no more pure gold box sets than this. Thanks a million Amazon.
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on 28 March 2016
This Blackadder boxset features all four seasons plus the specials. When purchased it cost £12 which was excellent value for the item and it seems to be worth a fair bit more. This price was cheaper than the shops were charging. It was received it excellent condition, no damage at all. It was the perfect Christmas gift for a lover of British comedy.
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on 22 August 2016
As funny as when I first saw the whole series. The first series was not up to the standard of the later ones. But the whole set is absolutely hilarious. One has to have sympathy with poor old Baldrick !
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on 3 June 2016
My cunning plan after watching the odd re-run on the TV was to purchase the entire box set - it worked and it's just as funny if not more so than it was the first time around. If you need some laughter in your life and you like Baldrick, this is a must for you :-\
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