Rowan Atkinson and the cast of legendary comedy series Blackadder are back for this one-off documentary special to mark 25 years since the original BBC transmission in 1983. Featuring ... See full summary »
It is 1917, and lunatic General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett is leading the British troops at the front lines against the Germans, while everyone waits for Field Marshall Haig's big push. There are various emotions throughout the camp about it. For Captain Kevin Darling, Melchett's bull-dog-like right-hand man, it makes no difference, as it appears he will be safe and sound with the general when the big push occurs. For Lieutenant George Colhurst Saint Barleigh, he is overly excited at thrashing the Germans. For Private S. (probably for Sod-Off) Baldrick, it's a terrifying experience he is not looking forward to. For Captain Edmund Blackadder, however, it's something he's too cowardly too face. Self-centered, arrogant, and sarcastic, Blackadder is always constantly searching for a way out of this silly war, and will try various, often crazy, variations on escape, all of which will take a turn he never expected. Sharing a dugout with George and Baldrick, his main obstacle for ...Written by
Tim McInnerny had declined to continue his role as Lord Percy or take the part of the foolish Prince George in Black Adder the Third (1987), for fear of being typecast as an idiot; as a consequence, his part in the fourth season is much more shrewd and wicked than any of his earlier characters. See more »
Throughout the series, Blackadder and George, both front-line officers in the trenches, are show with their rank insignia displayed on their cuffs, whereas Melchett and Darling, staff officers, are shown with their rank insignia on their shoulders. In reality, this would have been reversed: Cuff insignia was the standard, but front-line officers were allowed to wear theirs on their shoulders to make them less conspicuous to snipers. Shoulder insignia eventually became an army-wide personal option in 1917, and made permanent in 1920 when the cuff insignia was abolished completely. See more »
In the opening credits, Captains Blackadder and George lead a battalion in parade past General Melchett and Captain Darling (with Private Baldrick in the marching band playing a triangle). The closing credits are a grainy 1920s newsreel of the same battalion heading into battle, with Melchett and Darling walking casually but quickly in the other direction... See more »
Any Blackadder fans would (usually) place Blackadder 2 head and shoulders above any of the other series, and, yes, so do I. But this must come as a close second. Perhaps for the fact that it is recent history, and the events of that terrible war are still discussed and written about today. This makes it bold era to discover the next generation of Blackadder's family.
Captain Blackadder, a career soldier of many years, erstwhile of the 19/45th East African Rifles, (where he saved Field Marshal Haig in 1892 at the battle of M'Boto Gorge from having something very nasty done to him with a sharpened Mango) is not happy at all. War to him meant something altogether different. Pink Gins, native girls and shooting people who were under no circumstances allowed to be armed! Suddenly, many millions of heavily armed Germans upset the balance, and we catch up with him at the Somme in 1917. He is usually in a front line trench, usually accompanied by a couple of dimwits (Leuitenant George and Private Baldrick) and usually being asked to have his brains blown out for King and Country.
The series comprised of six wonderfully written episodes concerning many aspects of life on the Western Front. Covert operations to discover enemy firepower, discipline and the firing squad, keeping up morale with a concert party, the involvement of the Royal Flying Corps, being a spy catcher, and finally, going over the top.
Stephen Fry excelled as the mad General Melchett, sending his boys over the top, convinced they would duck and weave and pull through to victory in the same way as he did when he played rugby at his public school. Utterly insane, no grip on reality and oblivious to the terrors of this awful war. He was based on the early Generals of 1916 who were utterly inflexible when an attack came, and would not think on their feet.
Melchett's batman was Captain Darling, a pen-pusher who loves the fact that he will never see the front line, so is comfortable where he is, sucking up to the General. Throughout the series, you laugh at his weaselly attempts to get Blackadder into trouble, but yes, at the end, you do feel for him. George is an upper class volunteer from 1914. He is eternally optimistic and nothing seems to get him down, not even when we find out all his fellows from Cambridge University have been killed. Baldrick is a smelly low-life from the East End of London. Stupid, but yet, lovable. He has no idea why he is there, except it is better than where he came from in Turnip Street.
The last episode is one to really concentrate on. Close the lounge door, turn the volume up on the TV, take the phone off the hook, etc, etc, etc. Barricade the door if necessary. The last 5 Minutes will live with you, I promise, for a very long time. I leave the final words to Captain Blackadder: "Good Luck everyone."
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