Monday, 1 June 2015

Blackadder's Christmas Carol

Rowan Atkinson is one of the greatest actors that has ever lived.
Although it's Tony Robinson who got knighted
Most famous for playing Mister Bean his face is synonymous with bumbling idiocy. Personally I could never get into that show. Probably because the first show I ever saw him in was 'Blackadder Goes Forth', where he played a suave, intelligent army Captain during the second world war.
But before that series was made came this special, which attempts to retell the Dickensian classic but balls it up by letting Baldrick tag along.
It starts with a young Hugh Laurie narrating about Ebeneezer Blackadder, the kindly owner of a moustache shop.
Moustaches were serious business back then.
The opening song espouses his various virtues, but most notably how much of a gullible moron he is. Baldrick is doing some cleaning when Blackadder arrives and offers him a humbug, because no joke is too easy.
Nor outfit too ridiculous.
They have a discussion about how skint they are due to Blackadder having given away all of their money to charity, leaving them with only £17:01.
After they snuggle up by the fire, grateful for what little they have, we cut to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as they prepare for their Christmas tradition of going into the city and finding the kindest person they can, to give lots of presents to.
Looks like someone else will be getting a present too.
Back with Blackadder he's getting visited by his neighbours, friends and relatives. And being swindled by all of them.
And they looked so trustworthy
But just as he's given away the presents, the money, the tree and even the nuts, a very badly disguised Queen Victoria arrives at the door, explaining that they're there to reward people who deserve it.
So they take his turkey and give it to the old woman next door.
You'd think the people running a moustache shop would have moustaches.
After they're gone, Baldrick hangs his stocking above the fireplace and warns Blackadder that he saw a ghostly apparition, who came through the wall, said his piece and sodded off.
Not one to mince his words.
Just as he lays his head to rest, Blackadder is indeed visited by a strange and terrible apparition when Hagrid bursts through his door.
"Yer a wizard Harry."
"Close enough."
That would be more of a joke if it wasn't the exact same actor.
That's the ghost of Christmas past, present and future, since they don't have the budget for three different special effects.
He's not there to scare Blackadder into changing his ways, since Blackadder's a lovely person, he's just there for some booze. As they have a chat about what it is he does, he mentions that Blackadder's ancestors were a horrible bunch and offers to show him.
First off, Blackadders the Second (Because the first one wasn't very funny and no-one remembers it).
Most anachronistic screenshot ever.
This Blackadder is a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. He's excited since he's gotten her a wonderful Christmas present which is sure to get him into her good graces.
He's less excited when he enters and discovers that she's not only cancelled Christmas but will execute anyone that she sees carrying a present.
Is this more or less anachronistic than the previous screenshot?
Being Blackadder he talks his way out of it and exits, being sure to warn Melchett about the Queen's mood (Because he and Melchett hate each other. Blackadder is going for the double bluff). But while his back is turned Nursie talks the Queen into reinstating Christmas.
Later, as Meclhett gives her his present, she decides to give him lots of presents as a thank you, up to and including Blackadder's fiancee.
These days any woman would be happy to become engaged to Stephen Fry.
Of course, since Melchett gave her a present she expects Blackadder to give her one too.
But since he's unable to, she orders him executed. As a last request, Blackadder asks for both of their signatures, to which they oblige. Only it turns out they accidentally signed a death warrant, meaning Lord Melchett must be executed and all of his stuff given to Blackadder.
Back in my 'Alice In Wonderland' review I compared the Red Queen to this woman. Now you know why.
The flashback fades out and we return to Ebeneezer, who's thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. The Spirit points out that just because his ancestor won in the end, it shouldn't be an example. To drive this point home he grants another flashback, this time to Blackadder the Third, who's working on a cunning plan to steal all of Prince George's presents.
Pictured: The reason I could never take Dr. House seriously.
Blackadder's plan is to trick Prince George into giving away all of his presents to an old lady, who's actually Baldrick in disguise. The plan works perfectly, because Prince George is a gullible twit.
Unfortunately, Baldrick let an actual old woman into the castle, because he's a gullible twit too. Blackadder, realising that he just gave away all of the Prince's valuables to a stranger, begins to despair. Until he realises that he could probably catch the old lady and mug her.
The flashback once again fades out and this time Ebeneezer is quite clearly thrilled about the prospects of being a selfish git.
The Spirit could have at least taken off his shoes before getting into bed.
The Spirit tries to make a hasty getaway before he does too much damage, but Ebeneezer wants to see what the future would be like if he turned bad. Despite his reluctance the Spirit relents and shows him his descendant.
My eyes will never feel clean again.
Blackadder is giving a report to Queen Asphyxia about his battles in her name. He won them and picked up an item of power, which he uses to murder the Queen's court and force her to marry him.
And it was a great loss to the future fashion industry.
As the flash-forward fades Ebeneezer is all excited about being bad, but the Spirit argues that he should stay good. Ebeneezer wants to know how the future would play out if he were to remain good, but the Spirit refuses to show him. But Ebeneezer has learned the trick and activates the flash-forward himself.
And, like me, he instantly regretted it.
Baldrick ballsed up the attack and destroyed his own fleet, and he even forgot the present.
The Spirit once again tries to persuade Ebeneezer to remain good but it's too late, he's committed to being bad.
In the morning he greets his own Baldrick with a smile and a present, just for him.
A fist. For hitting.
After knocking an orphan off of the windowsill (On at least the first floor) the doorbell rings. Since it's snowing outside, Blackadder decides to let them wait while he gets dressed. Slowly.
If they were dumb enough to wait then they deserve it anyway.
Blackadder listen to their terrible song and slams the door in their face. Literally. Twice.
He gets visited by everyone else who swindled him the day before and it's very satisfying to watch as they all gets their comeuppance.
Moreso some than others.
Of course, this finally comes back to bite him when the Queen returns, this time to genuinely reward him for his kindness, only for him to slam the door in her face.
Now she knows how Mormons feel.
Just as Blackadder is congratulating himself on his change of fortunes Baldrick explains who it really was.  Blackadder scoffs, saying that if it truly were the Queen she would have left them her Royal seal.
Just like that one.
All in all, this was hilarious. It has some of the greatest actors who ever lived in it, giving some wonderful performances. The writing is top-notch, giving me some great insults to use in the future.
If you're ever feeling down, seek out this show and cheer yourself up because no matter how bad you have it, at least you're not Baldrick.

This Thursday I'm reviewing a classic involving Emilio Estevez. Let's see how many times I can spell his name wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Came across this randomly, nicely done. The way how some Youtube channels have taken the spotlight makes me a bit sad.