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DVD Reviews

Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials DVD Review

TV Reviews

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#1 of 6 Richard Gallagher

Richard Gallagher

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Posted September 15 2012 - 09:39 AM

Following a seven-year hiatus, Eddy (Jennifer Saunders), Patsy (Joanna Lumley), and Saffy (Julia Sawalha) are back (along with virtually all of the original cast) with three new episodes of Absolutely Fabulous, the hilarious BBC television series about the misadventures of two self-absorbed middle-aged English women. For the uninitiated, Eddy haphazardly runs a public relations business when not busy working to forever remain a relevant party girl, while Patsy is the chain-smoking, alcohol-abusing, drug-imbibing editor of a high-class fashion magazine. Saffy, Eddy's daughter, is a socially conscious young woman who loathes Patsy and is appalled by her mother's lifestyle.






Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials

Studio: BBC
Year: 2011-2012
Rated: Not Rated
Program Length: 90 minutes                 Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 enhanced for widescreen
Languages: English Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH

The Program

Following a seven-year hiatus, Eddy (Jennifer Saunders), Patsy (Joanna Lumley), and Saffy (Julia Sawalha) are back (along with virtually all of the original cast) with three new episodes of Absolutely Fabulous, the hilarious BBC television series about the misadventures of two self-absorbed middle-aged English women. For the uninitiated, Eddy haphazardly runs a public relations business when not busy working to forever remain a relevant party girl, while Patsy is the chain-smoking, alcohol-abusing, drug-imbibing editor of a high-class fashion magazine. Saffy, Eddy's daughter, is a socially conscious young woman who loathes Patsy and is appalled by her mother's lifestyle.

Series co-creator Saunders decided to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Absolutely Fabulous by writing three new 30-minute episodes, and she has lost none of her touch. These episodes are just as funny, frantic and fast-paced as when the show debuted in 1992. She also successfully recruited the original supporting cast: June Whitfield as Eddy's daffy mother; Jane Horrocks as Bubble, Eddy's hysterically funny assistant; Christopher Ryan and Mo Gaffney as Marshall and Bo, an often dysfunctional married couple from America; as well as guest starts Emma Bunting and Lulu. A new addition to the list of guest stars is Stella McCartney.

The three episodes are as follows:

"Identity"

This is a difficult episode to describe without giving away one of its biggest laughs. Suffice it to say that Saffy brings home a friend who turns out to be Patsy's former drug dealer, and Patsy owes her a substantial sum of money. In an effort to raise cash to pay off the debt, Patsy has to obtain her birth certificate in order to to prove her identity, which in turn forces her to come to grips with her real age.

"Job"

When Saffy berates her mother for not having a real job, Eddy decides to impress her by promoting a concert by Saffy's favorite film star, French actress Jeanne Durand, at the Royal Albert Hall. Unfortunately, at the first rehearsal Eddy and Patsy are dismayed to learn that Ms. Durand cannot or will not sing aloud - she merely mouths the lyrics and no one can hear her. Faced with a potential public relations disaster, Eddy has to find a way out of her dilemma.

"Olympics"

Eddy has been unsuccessfully stalking Stella McCartney in an effort to get the designer to allow Eddy to wear (for free) some her newest creations. In the meantime, the Olympics are coming to London and Eddy has arranged to rent her house to Michael Douglas. Complications arise because she and Patsy have lost track of when the Olympics are scheduled to begin. Eddy then finds two tickets to a pre-Olympics party where Stella McCartney is scheduled to make an appearance, and much hilarity ensues.

Anyone who has been a fan of Absolutely Fabulous will not be disappointed by these new episodes.

The Video

The 1.78 standard definition image is very nice, with excellent detail and vivid, accurate colors. The colors are particularly important because Eddy continues her tradition of wearing outlandish fashions, and in the episode "Olympics" even Saffy dons some colorful garb. The image appears to be accurately framed and the transfer is very good in every respect.

The Audio

The Dolby 2.0 stereo soundtrack is more than adequate to the task. Absolutely Fabulous depends upon both humorous dialogue and slapstick for its laughs, and the dialogue is always clear. However, some of the British accents and cultural references may be difficult for American audiences to discern, so the easy-to-read English SDH subtitles are helpful at times.

Regular viewers of the show will notice that the theme song "This Wheel's on Fire" has been replaced with "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics.

The Supplements

The DVD contains two inter-connected extras.

First up is "Ab Fab Does Sport Relief," in which Eddy has agreed to participate with Emma Buntion in a fundraiser for the charity Sport Relief. At the same time, Eddy has set up a meeting where Patsy can pitch a magazine idea to Stella McCartney, Kate Moss and David Gandy. Eddy know that Stella does not like her, but her plan is that Stella will be impressed that Eddy is working for Sport Relief and Stella will end up giving Eddy lots of free clothes. Eddy then heads off to the gym for a disastrous workout supervised by athletes David Haye, Linford Christie and Colin Jackson. This promotional short has a running time of approximately seven minutes.

The other extra is "Behind the Scenes at Sport Relief," which essentially is an interesting and insightful "making of" featurette about how the Sport Relief short was made. This featurette has a running time of 17 minutes.

Both featurettes are displayed at 1.78:1.

Also included are instructions for downloading an UltraViolet version of the DVD.

The Packaging

The single disc is packaged in a standard DVD keep case.

The Final Analysis

This is an easy recommendation to make. If you are a fan of Absolutely Fabulous, you will definitely want to add this DVD to your collection. If, on the other hand, you do not like the series, there is nothing here which will change your mind.

Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specification by Gregg Loewen
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable

Release Date: September 11, 2012




Rich Gallagher

#2 of 6 Stan

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Posted September 15 2012 - 10:06 AM

The three new episodes were very well done, typical Jennifer Saunders, and she's still got the humor and physicality to pull it off. Joanna Lumley, who has probably had a little "dental work" as Kathy Griffin puts it, is still looking pretty good. It was kind of an on again/off again series, but I was shocked when I started doing a little checking and found out that for a show 20 years old, there were only 50 or so episodes filmed. Yet it is still a very well known and well liked show here and in the UK. Kind of worried about Saunders trying to pull off a movie version, but apparently she's committed. Hope it turns out well.
Stan

#3 of 6 Rob W

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Posted September 16 2012 - 02:36 AM

The broadcast versions continued to use 'This Wheel's On Fire' as the theme song . Has it really been replaced with a song that would likely have cost more to license ??

#4 of 6 Richard Gallagher

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Posted September 16 2012 - 05:28 AM

Originally Posted by Rob W 

The broadcast versions continued to use 'This Wheel's On Fire' as the theme song . Has it really been replaced with a song that would likely have cost more to license ??


I don't know what it cost to license, but it's listed in the credits as simply "Sweet Dreams." Two of these episodes are going to be aired on Logo on 9/25, so I'll check them out and see which theme song is used.


Rich Gallagher

#5 of 6 Radioman970

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Posted September 17 2012 - 04:09 AM

Can't wait to snag this. I have the daily planner complete set. Love those!
Silly Party Candidate:  Tarquin Fin- tim- lim- bim- whin- bim- lim- bus- stop- F'tang- F'tang- Olè- Biscuitbarrel

 


#6 of 6 Afiger

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Posted June 28 2013 - 08:31 PM

Great review on this DVD. I always find that this show is one of the best when it comes to needing a pick me up. Can't help but feel for the daughter, while still loving these two crazy Brits.







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