'The Black Adder' is one of the most respected British comedies of all time. This examiner, along with many other people, knows star Rowan Atkinson best as his iconic Mr. Bean character. Exploring this series and catching up on an important bit of television history has been a long time coming.
In a bit of revisionist history, King Richard III is killed by one of his own, Lord Edmund Plantagenet (Atkinson). Edmund’s father, Richard Duke of York (Brian Blessed) becomes king. The trouble is, King Richard barely knows that Edmund exists and by far favors his brother. With the help of his imbecilic sidekicks, Edmund does whatever he can to slither his way closer to the throne.
Committing to one time period/overarching story over a six episode series (season to us Americans), allows for a detailed exploration of the titular character's schemes without becoming tiresome in the slightest. As always the case, it is better to concentrate on producing quality than quantity. The rich period details: costumes, settings, weapons, etc exhibit a relatively generous budget and set of resources.
For those wary of a British series, the tone is far from dry as things get rather silly. Edmund is a complete buffoon on a power trip surrounded by people dumber than he is: comedy gold. There is also loads of verbal banter and clever gags that can appeal to a wide audience. Things also get rather dark, so the laughs are all over the place and this has something for different tastes.
Atkinson reveals himself to be very versatile, playing an outlandish fellow who is very capable of speaking and does so at great length. It's a shame he is only known as Bean to most people, because he also did a lot of good work in other capacities.
Special features include: nothing but the remastered picture.
'The Black Adder' does indeed merit high praise. Given the effectiveness of the first series, one has to be very curious how things develop. According to some, the first series is the weakest, so who knows just how good this can get?
Not Rated 194 minutes 1983