A comedy panel game in which being Quite Interesting is more important than being right. Stephen Fry is joined each week by four comedians to share anecdotes and trivia, and maybe answer some questions as well.
In WW2 France, Rene Artois runs a small café where Resistance fighters, Gestapo men, German Army officers and escaped Allied POWs interact daily, ignorant of one another's true identity or presence, exasperating Rene.
Sixty years after the demise of Prince Edmund Plantagenet, Queen Elizabeth I, who's as insane as her ancestors, is England's current leader. Seductive, easy-to-impress, spoiled, and always seeking a husband, "Queenie" has a leading courtier: Lord Edmund Blackaddder, great-grandson of the original. Now, however, he is dryly cynical and intelligent, but still trying to become king; this time by marrying the queen. However, her right-hand-man, Lord Melchett, will always serve as fair competition for her hand. Blackadder is again assisted by the clueless but fashionable Lord Percy Percy and dung-eating, "cunning" peasant Baldrick. Written by
To many who watched the ongoing saga of the Blackadder family at the time of release, this is the best Blackadder series of them all - and they have a very strong case. Although this is not my own personal favourite (I prefer the original series), this second installment is a superb piece of comedy.
The time-period moves on approximately sixty years to Elizabethan England and follows the story of Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) - the great-grandson of the original slimy Blackadder. This time Edmund is not a Prince of the realm but a Lord in the court of Good Queen Bess (the wonderful Miranda Richardson). Tim McInnerny continues in the role as Percy and he threatens to steal the show throughout. Percy's character is built on from the first series, being given a more child-like and innocent personality to go with the lack of brain cells, and this combined with McInnerny's fantastic performance gives the comedy an added dimension and direction. The Baldrick role (Tony Robinson) is also reprised, but instead of the street-wise peasant with the cunning plan of series one, we get the first incarnation of the Baldrick character we are now more familiar with - dirty, smelly and incredibly stupid. In this series it works, because now Blackadder himself is significantly brighter and more refined than his ancestor and this time he's armed with a razor-sharp wit. The characters do complement each other well, but the close-nit group of the first series is now missing with Blackadder resenting and mistreating his sidekicks throughout, but this is used well for comic effect.
The supporting cast is also excellent and the characters they play are brilliantly written. Elizabeth herself is portrayed as a spoilt little school-girl, complete with screams! Richardson plays this role superbly and with hilarious results with the queen being highly unpredictable and volatile. Elizabeth also has a couple of loyal sidekicks, Nursy (Patsy Byrne) the woman who weaned her as a child, and Melchett (Stephen Fry), her advisor. All of these characters add weight to the comedy, and are sufficiently different to each other to provide alternative directions in comedy.
Although Blackadder does have a basic goal in this series - to marry Elizabeth and become her consort - it does not drive the plot as much in this series as it did in the first. The plots for each episode however are still extremely entertaining and contain the basic premise of Blackadder getting into a desperate situation that he must get out of - with the aid (or hindrance) of Percy and Baldrick. The stories are well-thought out and the comedy a good-blend of dry-wit from Blackadder and farcical situations. The stories are well scripted and contain some excellent supporting characters played memorably by the likes of Rik Mayall (of Young Ones and Drop Dead Fred fame), Ronald Lacey (Raiders of the Lost Ark) and ex Dr Who Tom Baker.
This series of Blackadder successfully alters the main character into the intelligent and dry cynic, because it does not do so at the expense of the other characters and the plots. Ben Elton's influence however is evident with the supporting characters being of the less intelligent type, aluding to things to come in the next two series where these characters becoming the main target for the humour. Blackadder II works so well because it is the stories that drive the humour with the dry-wit as an added bonus - things were about to be reversed.
Like the first series this is a classic of comedy and well deserves its standing as, arguably, the most popular Blackadder series. The first and last series of Blackadder could not be further apart in terms of humour and subtlety - this series fuses both styles to create, perhaps the definitive Blackadder.
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