Black-Adder II (1986)
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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.
Miranda Richardson joins the cast, as a particularly loopy Queen Elizabeth. Stehen Fry joins in as the toadying Lord Melchett and the delightful Patsy Byrne is the daft Nursie. Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, and Tim McInnerny are back as the descendants of their previous characters. Percy is still a cretin, but now so is Baldrick! Luckily, Lord Edmund is a step above his ancestor, even if his station in life has fallen.
The guests this time include Hugh Laurie as mad Prince Ludwig, Rik Mayall in his first turn as the great Lord Flasheart, and Tom Baker as a rather insane sea captain.
If you never get to see any of the other series, watch this one.
This second of four series of Blackadder ranks as one of the consistently best. It may not be as fresh as the thrid and fourth series mainly because the later series were sharper, crueler and benefited from very familiar (and by then quite famous) characters and actors. The stories were always a little absurd but built around the deadpan, downbeat Blackadder. Plots include the Blackadder falling in love with his female man-servant Bob, beheading a man who was meant to be pardoned or just being kidnapped by a French master of disguise.
They all are filled with sarcasm and wit and make up for the daffy plots. Atkinson is comfortable in his role but is better in series 3. Robinson is funny in a poor role of Baldrick. McInnerny is OK as percy but is not as good an idiot as Laurie's Prince in 3. The royal court is funny with Fry, Richardson and Byrne all good.
Overall this is as good as all the series are. Witty, cruel, sarcastic and with off the wall plots and extreme characters it's typical of how good British comedy can be.
time and time again Rowan Atkinson has played characters like this and they are just not funny...someone has even suggested that Mr Bean is Atkinson at his best...
Blackadder (series 2,3 and four) will remain a testament to great writing and performance...idiot characters should hopefully be forgotten to time.
In Elizabethan England, Queen Elizabeth I (the divine Miranda Richardson) is overseeing the rise of the country to be one of the world's strongest super powers. Always at her beckoning call, although not always willingly, is her favourite, Lord Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson). A stronger, more devious and cunning character than his pathetic ancestor, Blackadder spends his time trying to make money, get his own way, and stop his servant Baldrick (Tony Robinson) from smelling quite so much.
Changed in personality and style, the characters of Blackadder and Baldrick are vastly different to those people knew from the previous series. No longer thick and cowardly, Blackadder is now a man to love. He is witty, intelligent, a ladies man and adored by many around him, most notably the Queen. In contrast, Baldrick is no longer the intelligent but loyal servant but a smelly idiot who is loyal probably more out of stupidity than anything. These new personalities were a miraculous change from the first series and it is wonderful that they came about because this new incantation of "Blackadder" is the finest ever made.
With stories covering some of the most famous people of the age, "Blackadder II" thrived on it's knowledge of history. Tony Curtis, a history enthusiast, and Ben Elton are sublime at mixing the daft with the dark to produce a series which would often be intentionally historically inaccurate, and which would never stop from being entertaining.
"Blackadder II" would also introduce characters who would become cult favourites. People like Bob (Gabrielle Glaister) and Lord Flashheart (Rick Mayall) who would produce such laughs that they would be brought back in a later series. Others too, who were distinctive to this one series and who would become branded on the mind. Nursie (Patsy Byrne) also known as Bernard, who would come out with obscure and random comments. The baby eating Bishop Of Bath and Wells (Ronald Lacey), a man of depravity who would like nothing more than to stick a poker up where the sun doesn't shine. Characters like these would make this second chapter the finest, but ultimately it would be one regular character who truly made this the finest Blackadder series ever.
Nominated twice for Academy Awards, most people will probably always remember Miranda Richardson for playing the eccentric Queen Elizabeth. Childlike and with the power of life and death over all her subjects, Richardson's Elizabeth is a figure of beauty. Hilarious from the first time you see her through to the way her last line set up a Rowan Atkinson joke, few characters are as embedded on the mind as this one. Lusting after Blackadder, but never making the move, the character of Elizabeth is pure genius and she is perhaps the most fundamental reason why all other series of "Blackadder" felt lacking. Hugh Laurie's idiot prince in "Blackadder III" was a worthy attempt at trying to introduce a new monarch, but ultimately nobody can compare with this wonderful portrayal of good Queen Bess.
A complete change in style after the disappointing previous series, "Blackadder II" is one of the finest comedy series ever made. Funnier, with so many good characters, than the following two series, it stands out above most other British comedy as a target to reach for. It is genius in it's own right, and for that we should thank Elton and Curtis.
Every single episode has something to offer, Head and Potato are the two that have me in tears every time. Chains is utterly surreal, that ending is very daring. Great guest performances, my top three are Miriam Margolyes, Tom Baker and Rik Mayall's. All incredible.
For my part not just the best of Blackadder, but one of the best comedy Series of all time. Perfection. 10/10
Rowan Atkinson is back in the title role but this time he is a much different person than before. In the first one, Edmund, the Duke of Edinburgh was a rather sniveling and cowardly opportunist. While "BlackAdder II", Lord Edmund BlackAdder is a cynical, cunning, and urbane bastard, which is the one that we would come to know and love for the rest of the series. We also see his sidekicks Percy and Baldrick again yet this time they have been "dumbed down" (pun intended) for the better. Tim McInnerny's Percy is a complete oaf while Tony Robinson's Baldrick becomes Edmund's dirty and lovably stupid servant.
Another major change also came with Ben Elton, replacing Atkinson, as the co-writer for the series alongside Richard Curtis. Not only do we get hysterical situations but also lots of one- liners that make you laugh every minute. How can you not love it when BlackAdder says "Percy the devil farts in my face once more." It is a classic exercise in the sarcastic humor that British comedies are often known for. If only more American sitcoms could be this nuanced and sophisticated. All of the episodes are very funny, ones that standout include "Head", "Money", and "Chains".
The rest of its supporting cast are also a delight. Stephen Fry is really good as Lord Melchett, Miranda Richardson is charming as The Queen, and Patsy Burne is fun as Nursie. However, it is the guests in each episode that are an absolute hoot such Rik Mayall as Lord Flasheart, an unrecognizable Tom Baker as the insane captain, and Hugh Laurie as the mad Prince Ludwig (Laurie and Fry would eventually become series regulars).
Recommended for anyone who likes droll and irreverent humor.
Old faces from series 1 remain - Tim McInnerny (as Lord Percy Percy), and Tony Robinson (Baldrick - now rather stupid and not at all smart: 'what's four beans plus one bean?' 'some beans'). Edmund himself is an oily creep who flirts with the bird-brained Queenie (Miranda Richardson); goes out on the high seas with a mad legless sailor (Tom Baker); and gets tortured by a master of disguise with a bad scar (Hugh Laurie). There's also the splendid Stephen Fry as Lord Melchett, the pompous ass chamberlain who is always at the sharp end of Blackadder's jests.
'Bells', 'Head', 'Money', 'Beer' (where Miriam Margolyes comes back as a scarily religious nut), and 'Chains' (and one other which slips my mind) were all great fun. The second Blackadder was perhaps the most interesting of the whole dynasty, and this series stands up the best of all the four. Great falsetto theme tune too, and lots of the quips we'd come to know and love from Edmund.
Blackadder's increased intelligence makes him much more intelligent and witty. While the original had its moments (the "Witchsmeller Persuvant" and "Born To Be King" were hilarious), it was a bit . . . er . . . cluttered. Clever, yes, but I'd prefer a smart character rather than a complete cast of idiots. Perhaps it's wrong for a smart person to point out what's wrong with everything (in real life or a show or movie), but if well-written, it can work wonderfully. "Blackadder II" is indeed well-written, by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton (with Atkinson this time not among the writers), and it is nearly flawless: sexual inneudoes, satire, cross-dressing jokes, drunks, some of the best one-liners ever written . . . it's all there, and, for the most part, it works wonderfully.
The acting is superb, as well, though I won't get to far into that. I can relate to Edmund, a smart person lost in a world of morons. BA III was the best of the lot IMO, but this is almost as great.
After the first season of Black Adder was set during the War of the Roses, Season 2 has our hero, played by Rowan Atkinson, an adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. Baldrick (Tony Robinson) and Percy (Tim McInnerny) are there again and we now have Miranda Richardson as Queen Elizabeth and Stephen Fry as Lord Melchett.
Even better than the first season. As before, hilariously funny, with some iconic skits. However, the script feels tighter and less prone to cheap jokes. It's cleverer, basically.
The change of Black Adder's character and station helps this. Before, he was over-privileged royalty and a sniveling selfish toadie. Now he is lower in station and has to use charm and deception to get ahead. Makes for better comedy.
Over the course of six episodes he gets into various scrapes; falling in love with 'Bob' his apparently male servant, getting involved in a drinking game the night he meets his puritanical aunt, becoming an explorer to impress the queen, owing money to the most feared bishop in the land, getting the job of Lord High Executioner and being held for ransom. He, Percy and Baldrick deal with these predicaments in a manner that should have most viewers laughing heartily.
Rowan Atkinson excels in the role of Blackadder; delivering every line with just the right degree of sarcasm. He is ably supported by Tony Robinson and Tim McInnerny who return as Baldrick and Percy. New cast members include Miranda Richardson; who does a great job as the Queen; portraying her in a way that makes her both innocent and rather dangerous she frequently threatens to have heads chopped off. Stephen Fry is good as the somewhat obsequious Melchett and Patsy Byrne is hilarious as the delightfully bonkers Nursie. There are also some fine cameo roles; most notable an appearance from the late Rick Mayall who steals the episode he appears in despite only being on screen for three or four minutes.
While I really enjoyed the oft maligned first series I must admit this takes it up to a new level. The changes in Blackadder's character work really well and the new writing team have delivered a more subtle approach; sarcasm delivered by rapier sharp wit rather than gags with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. If you enjoy classic British comedies then this series is a must see. It is shocking to realise that this will be thirty years old this year; it feels as fresh as ever!
I look forward to series three and, more excitingly, series four. I think Blackadder Goes Forth is the main reason this series is a legendary piece of TV. Apparently it is very unique to anything seen before. If it's better than this series I'll be a very happy boy anyway.
In this Black Adder is trying ever so desperately to remain wealthy as a friend of The Queen (Elizabeth I) whilst also trying to keep his head on his shoulders. The Queen is the only one who he never insults to the face, He is a complete bastard to all his other "companions" such as Melchett, Percy and Baldrick.
The acting is fantastic, obviously Rowan Atkinson plays a good bastard, this time outside the vein of Bean. Others that have to be spoken for are Stephen Fry, Miranda Richardson, Tim McInnery, Tony Robinson and Rik Mayall (I know he was only in this for one episode but he was fantastic as Flashheart).
This part of the show was written by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis so expect a historical Young Ones on a leash. You won't see Baldrick try to kill himself with laxatives but it'll be something along those lines of humor.
Overall if you're a fan of this sort of thing, this series will be perfect.
But this is a sit com ala Fawlty Towers, weird, whip-smart, subversive and very dark. While I can't say for me that it quite stands up to the greatness of Fawlty Towers or Monty Python, the two shows to which it is inevitably compared, it has a ton of very funny moments, and the acting is top notch.
It's 100 years plus since series one, and Blackadder is no longer the weaselly immoral wimpy swine of the first series. He's now a handsome. dashing weaselly immoral swine, a favorite of the vaguely insane Queen Elizabeth --that is when she's not threatening to execute him.
It's a lot of fun to see Atkinson in this very different, non Mr. Bean persona, and he pulls it off wonderfully. And Hugh Laurie is hysterical in two completely different guest roles, while Miranda Richardson as Queen Elizabeth displays a flair for goofy silly physical comedy one would never suspect from her body of work.
Very worth a view, even if you were iffy on series one.