At its best, Blackadder is a thing of absolute perfection. Richard Curtis & Ben Elton's writing - along with Rowan Atkinson's FLAWLESS interpretation of the diabolical, conniving figure who reincarnates throughout history - made series 2, 3 & 4 of the show pure legend. Discounting series 1 (which I found the weakest by far), Blackadder was overall impeccable, perhaps the greatest sitcom Britain gave to the world.
Blackadder's Christmas Carol followed the successful trend, applying its winning formula of razor-sharp wits, perfect plotting and flawless performances from all the cast to this inspired parody of Charles Dickens' classic tale. Oblivious of his heritage, Ebenezer Blackadder is the complete opposite of his namesake. He's a wonderful, generous and caring human being...and easily taken advantage of. Then on the night before Christmas, he receives a haunting visitation from the Spirit of Christmas...and you can probably guess what happens next.
It's certainly a great twist on Dickens' story, and like the regular TV series, this Christmas Special just REEKS of perfection. The gags, the writing, the performances; everything simply delivers in hilarities. Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder), Tony Robinson (Baldrick), Miranda Richardson (Queen Elizabeth), Stephen Fry (Melchett) & Hugh Laurie (Prince Regent) are all on form, as are the likes of special guests Robbie Coltrane (Christmas Spirit), Miriam Margolyes (Queen Victoria) & Jim Broadbent (Prince Albert). Christmas Carol also features brilliant revisits to the Elizabethan and Regent ages of previous series, and an equally fantastic look at the Space Age...and what the ultimate future may hold for the Blackadder dynasty.
At over forty minutes long, Blackadder's Christmas Carol is just as well-paced as any half-hour episode of the regular TV series. And in this audiobook format, it's just as perfect for listeners as well as viewers. Personally, I listened to this back on audio-cassette long before I watched the actual episode itself, and it was so easy to visualise thanks to the sheer quality of both the writing and the acting. And even if you have seen the actual episode, it's still wonderful to reminisce over. It's TIMELESS comedy.
Also included on this disc is the rare treat, The Cavalier Years (from Comic Relief's Red Nose Day back in 1988). Set during the infamous Civil War in the Stuart period, this incarnation of Blackadder is trying his best to keep King Charles I safe from Oliver Cromwell and his Roundheads. And Baldrick's ineptitude.
It's half the length of a regular episode (at fifteen minutes), yet it somehow manages to pack more spontaneous wit and brilliance than even the main series. Boasting great pacing, a sharp script/plotting and typical portrayals from Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Stephen Fry (here as King Charles) & Warren Clarke (as Oliver Cromwell), The Cavalier Years is the bow and ribbon for this delightful Christmas present.
The only thing to point out about this CD is that unlike other audiobook releases of the Blackadder TV series, Christmas Carol only has TWO chapter-breaks, one for the Xmas special and one for The Cavalier Years. Anybody expecting more chapter breaks to the content's structure should be wary (unless you have no problem just manually fast-forwarding/rewinding through a point you want to get to).
Anyway, Blackadder's Christmas Carol works just as impeccably on audiobook as it does on DVD. For fans, comedy lovers and everyone else, this is an essential purchase. At Christmas time or ANY time of the year.
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