Blackadder Remastered: The Ultimate Edition (DVD Review)11 Sep, 2009 By: John Latchem
Prebook 9/15/09; Street 10/20/09
$79.98 six-DVD set
Stars Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Tim McInnerny, Miranda Richardson.
The 1980s BBC series “Blackadder” ran four seasons of six episodes apiece, with each season thrusting some version of the devious Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) and his dim-witted sidekick Baldrick (Tony Robinson) into a new historical period. The classic britcom also showcases the comedic talents of Hugh Laurie, now best known in America as the title character of the medical drama “House.”
The episodes have been remastered, yielding slightly better picture and sound quality than the DVD collection released in 2001. The most notable new addition is the hour-long Blackadder Rides Again 25th anniversary retrospective, a wonderful trip down memory lane pieced together from new interviews with almost everyone involved in the original productions. It even includes clips from the unaired pilot (begging the question of why the unaired pilot wasn’t included separately as an extra).
The new DVD also includes an altered version of the half-hour special Blackadder Back & Forth, in which a modern Blackadder and Baldrick travel through time and interfere with history. Produced in 1999 for London’s Millennium Dome, Back & Forth was included on the 2001 DVD in a 4:3 ratio. The new DVD offers it cropped for anamorphic widescreen, and adds the laugh track used for its BBC airing.
There are also some new commentaries on select episodes that offer key insights on the making of the series. But other than the “Footnotes to History” narrations of the actual events that inspired the series, most of the extras from the 2001 DVD have been jettisoned.
Of note in the new collection is it includes a censored version of the Blackadder Christmas Carol special. The 2001 DVD included the unabridged version, but the edited version omits a line of dialogue relating to the use of dogs in a nativity play. The omission likely stems from fears that overly sensitive viewers would be offended by hints of animal cruelty, but purists won’t be pleased.