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Absolutely Fabulous Boxset?
on 30 January 2011
From 1992 to 1996, I adored 'Absolutely Fabulous.' It was the funniest, sharpest satire on television at the time. It completely summed up the growing celebrity culture and fashion obsessed society that was burgeoning in the early 1990's. In 1995, Jennifer Saunders decided to end the show on a high. A year later, Eddy and Patsy returned for their 'Last Shout,' which sent them off on the perfect note.
And for a few years, that was it. 'Ab Fab' had entered the annals of TV history as a well-remembered and well-respected slice of the best of British sitcom. But, in 2001, the show returned. But, oh dear. A once brilliant programme was reduced to childish, ridiculous, camped up humour. The jokes were laboured and the characters began to get more and more outlandish. A dreadful special, 'Gay,' followed on Christmas 2002, then a bizarre and laborious fifth series followed in 2003, which managed even to plumb series four's depths. The embarrassing 'White Box' followed on Christmas Day 2004.
I don't want this review to sound entirely negative. The first three series of 'Ab Fab' are glorious, and Joanna Lumley puts in one of the all-time best comedy performances as Patsy, whilst Jennifer Saunders' already ample comedic skills turn Edina into a character you can't help but love. There are a myriad of hilarious comedic situations, usually when Eddy and Patsy are taken completely out of their environment or their status is threatened. Julia Sawalha is a fantastic comic foil for the pair, desperately trying not to turn into her mother. Standout episodes from these series include: 'Fashion,' the first episode in which Eddy knocks up a disastrous fashion show; 'France,' where Eddy, Patsy, Saffy and Bubble all go on a jaunt to Provence; all of the second series, which is flawless and hilarious; 'Doorhandle,' which sees Eddy jet off to New York in search of the perfect door handle for Eddy's redecorating; 'Jealous,' which sees Eddy's dark side boil over at a PR awards show; 'The End,' in which Eddy tries to gain enlightenment and finally 'The Last Shout,' in which Saffy prepares for her wedding. I must make mention of the only episode in the last two series that is worthy of the others. 'Fish Farm' in series four is brilliant, it's hard to understand why the rest of the series couldn't have reached this standard.
Onto the boxset, which is... odd. All five series of `Ab Fab' are here, as well as 'The Last Shout,' 'Gay,' and, for the first time on DVD, 'White Box.' But 'White Box' is the only new addition. If you're a completist and you've already got the other episodes, then you'll have to buy this to own 'White Box.' The order in which everything is placed is the strangest oddity. The episodes 'Birthday' and 'Magazine' are listed the wrong way round, and 'The Last Shout' and 'White Box' are put on a separate disc on their own, despite there being two whole series between them. There really isn't much here that you wouldn't find on the individual releases, and if you want to see the show at its best, buy series one to three and 'The Last Shout.'
One more thing. I've just heard a rumour that the series will be back again in 2011 (please, let it go) so I suppose this 'Absolutely Everything' boxset will look a bit redundant...