Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Black Adder...

"Percy, who's Queen?"
I can't have been in my teens yet when I first encountered Black Adder on the national channel here in Norway. And from a child's point of view it may lack the flashing colours and comprehensible action... but I remember liking it right away. It might have something to do with my parents liking it, and laughing, and like any child I wanted to be included in the fun. At the time I didn't speak English, but I understood this was something special. According to my mother, not everyone cared for this "stupid" comedy from England... I'm glad my parents did.
"- Is her nose as pretty as mine? - Oh, no no no Mam... - Good, because otherwise I would have to cut it off..."
So in all fairness, and I will make good on the other source of inspiration I'm about to mention as well, I think I have to say that my fascination for anything and everything English started with Blackadder and Monty Python (an entry to come).
This entry will mostly deal with the second series (1986), as I think that is my favorite of the four. And, I dedicate this entry to a good Blackadder-loving friend of mine :)

"I've got a plan, and it's as hot as my pants!"
 Rick Mayall as Lord Flash Heart

The first series takes place in the middle ages, The Edmund Blackadder we get to know here is a very snake like character, slippery and schemingly crawling around, quite dim witted though (which is practically an oxymoron...), in the back trying his best to get to the throne...emerging as King Edmund foretold by three almost Macbethian witches...dressed in tight orange or green thighs, looking rather slimy and disgusting. His father never remembers his name, he only ever expresses love and pride to Edmund's bigger brother, Henry. This creates a lot of funny and rather disturbing scenes. And in the first series, Baldrick is actually the voice of reason.
I like the first series, but I think Rowan Atkinson found the true spirit of Lord Edmund Blackadder in the second series where he is a nobleman at the court of Queen Elizabeth 1.
Here he emerges as a man with the most cunning of intellect, the sharpest of tongues and what's more, he's surprisingly hot as well...dressed in black leather  and all ;) Here he emerges as The King of sarcasm, a character he keeps and develops over the next three series.
"- Do you do requests, Baldrick? - What, kinky stuff, yeah, I'm game!"
In fact, he seems to be the only one with a clear view of what's going on.
The supporting character of Baldrick, which is the only "side kick" with the same name through all four series, also emerges as the dim witted simpleton we completely adore...a character he remains until 1917... To Baldrick the renaissance was something that only happened to other people... two beans plus two beans becomes a very small casserole in the mind of Balders (Tony Robbinson).
Queenie is just all powerful, and showing off her pointy nose at any given moment...stark raving mad with Nursie by her side... Nursie (Patsy Byrne), or Bernhard as she's called (her sisters were named Donald, Eric and Basil), is one stop away from mad city center, sitting next to her queen always completely misreading the situation, creating great comedy.
"You almost were a boy. Out you popped of you mummy's tummy, and everyone shouted 'it's a boy, it's a boy'. But then someone pointed out that you didn't have a winkle... a boy without a winkle, it's a miracle... "
Queenie can't always hide the fact that she likes the nasty Edmund. Through the whole six episodes we get a feeling that if they were left alone long enough things might happen, but then she remembers she's queen and has the power to cut off heads, and he goes back to being... well all Blackadder about the situation. Queenie is brilliantly interpreted by Miranda Richardson
"Percy, it's green..."
Lord Percy (Tim McInnery) is probably Lord Blackadder's best friend in the whole world, but he would never ever in a million years, even if the world depended on him to say so, admit the fact.
Percy is always up for a challenge... during the six episodes, he's everything from best man, to co- high executioner, to burlesque prostitute, to sailor, to the Queen's right hand man... but my favorite Percy moment is when he's an alchemist... He manages to create "Pure Green"... Brilliant :)
"Woops, I've trod on an Edmund!"
Stephen Fry is probably one of the brilliantest men in the world. And he's giving life to Lord Melchett, the Queen's right hand. When I was younger I didn't quite get his part in the whole thing... I certainly do now. And when his character shows up at Edmund's place, wearing golden breasts, ready to have a serious drinking competition, I laugh my ass off :)
"When you call for ale, I pass water."
And the drinking competition crashes completely when not only Lord and Lady Whiteadder comes to have raw turnip and sit on spikes... but Queenie as well.
"- I may have the body of a week and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a concrete elephant. - Prove it. - I certainly will. First I'm gonna have a little drinkie, then I'm gonna execute the whole belly lot of you."
But of all the six episodes in series two, I think I like the last one the most. Hugh Laurie has an important role, which is never wrong... and the black comedy is visible when it ends in tragedy.
"- Oh, Edmund, you're so naughty. - Well, I try, Madam. And then ten minutes later when I catch my breath, I try again..."
Lord Melchett and Lord Blackadder are kidnapped by the evil German Ludvig, master of disguise. And everyone has had dealings with him at one point in their lives....
"Lord Percy, it's up to you... Either you can shut up, or you can have your hear cut off!"
Lord Percy ends up as the companion of Queenie, and Baldrick gets a new name; Lassie.

But being Lord Blackadder means you manage to escape the German claws that has you captive...They do indeed.
"He always loved parties, and he always always wore very very tight tights."
And at the end, one can clearly see that Hugh Laurie has big problems keeping his face from cracking up in laughter... which obviously makes me laugh even more, every single time.
"- Madam, Life without you is like a broken pencil. - Explain? - Pointless."
They do escape their jail and returns to kill the evil disguised as Nursie. And everything ends in fabulous death and comedy and just... fantastically sarcastic, and brilliantly intelligent, morbid and funny, and describing everything I love about British humour.
The last quote is from Blackadder third, and will function as a cliffhanger for my next entry ;)
"Am I jumping the gun, Baldrick, or are the words, 'I have a cunning plan' marching with ill-severed confidence in the direction of this conversation?"

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