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Blackadder: The Whole Damn Dynasty - Richard Curtis
Member Name: blackbob
Blackadder: The Whole Damn Dynasty - Richard Curtis
Date: 13/02/04, updated on 13/02/04 (403 review reads)
Advantages: Extremely funny and well written, Royalties go to charity, Comic extras
My hardback edition,published in 1998,is 460 pages long that not only contains the full and original scripts to all four series of this legendary comedy but also many illustrations photos of the characters and additional sections dubbed 'The Other Bits' which nestling between the scripts are comic pieces relevant to the scripts within which they lie.
The cover is a plain black with 'Black Adder' written large in yellow in the style of the first series dwarfing in plain print but also yellow 'The Whole Damn Dynasty' above four framed photos of Rowan Atkinson as Edmund - one from each series.Underneath the photos,in white is '1485-1917'.Open the main cover to you'll see,hidden by the inner dust jacket and on the reverse of the cover a photo of Edmund from the original series brandishing a sword while on the oppsoite page is a ensemble photo of the main characters of the second series including 'Bernard'(Nursey) and the ravashing Queenie.The inner dust jacket sums it up 'Are you looking for a book that is as cunning as a fox that has just been made Professer of Cunning at Oxford University?Look no further......'and at the bottom of the jacket it goes on to explain that all the royalties from the sales of this book will go to Comic Relief,if you possibly needed another excuse to buy it,followed by the price - extremely good value for money at £15.99.
After the publishing data etc. the contents begin with the 'The Scipts' with the series headings each follow
ed by the individual script title then 'The Other Bits' which include a comic background piece to each series dubbed 'The Blackadder Chronicles' parts one to four and individual gems such as 'Instruments of Torture In The Late Middle Ages' or 'Baldrick's Family Tree' finally the 'List of Illustrations' which contain a list of photos and drawings.
After the contents we find the first of the chronicles 'The Blackadder Chronicles Part One : From The Dawn Of History To 1484' which descibes British history tainted by the Blackadder dynasty from the coming of man to these isles,the first recorded Blackadder - Edmun the Druid,the construction of Stonehenge,the Roman conquest through to The Crusades and The Hundred Years War until we arrive shortly afterwards in 1484.On the opposite page headed 'The Black Adder' there is a list of the individual episodes,turn the next page for a complete series cast list.Now we come to what is the true brilliance of the book,the scripts themselves.
Series 1 - The Black Adder.'History has known many great liars.Copernicus.Goebbels.St Ralph the Liar.....'.The Foretelling begins with the narrative introduction from the first episode which goes on to explain that contrary to Tudor propaganda,King Richard III not only won the Battle of Boswoth Field but was neither killed by Henry Tudor nor proceeded by him as king.King Richard's son,Richard Duke of York became king after the battle and it is this episode that reveals how all this came about and who really killed King Richard III.It is during the fictitious reign of Richard IV that the series is set and it is the quality of the scripts which set the tone for the entire Blackadder series to come.Opening on the eve of the battle,Bosworth Field,this episode and the series is full of cleverly and historically altered Shakespearian quotations from his plays Richard III and Henry V amongst others - 'Now
is the summer of our sweet content made overcast winter by these Tudor clouds.' or 'Once more unto the breach my friends,once more.Consign their parts most private to a Rutland tree....',Curiously though Edmund seems,in contrast to the following series,to display less wit than Baldrick,though Lord Percy is as wet and brainless to start with as in the next series.Like after King Richard III's death and the crowning of his father,Edmund while trying to decide on a suitable name to call himself triumphantly shouts '..Or,as I shall be known from now on....heroic pause.....The Black Vegetable!' to which Baldrick replies '...wouldn't something like the Black Adder sound better' and an immortal comic character is born.
The first series,in which Edmund,King Richard IV's second and scarecly noticed son revolves mainly around Edmund's attempts to gain real power and be recognised by his father over his rather prim and mild-mannered older brother,Prince Harry.The king who's an explosive,bombastic and a true battle hungry Middle Ages monarch in the ever-conquesting Edward I mould rarely even remembers his name calling him Edna,Edwin or Osmund.He finds himself engaged to the awful Spanish Infanta,made Archbishop,organising the 'Frolics' for St Leonards Day,nothing ever goes right for Edmund and it's his devious attempts to wriggle out of these situations that also create the comedy.For me,one of the highlights has to be the 'Witchsmeller Pursuivant' episode where he finds himself on trial for witchcraft.
Series 2 - Blackadder II.With Queenie,Lord Meltchett,Nursie along with the first appearences of Bob and the legendary Lord Flashheart,the second series will keep you laughing from start to finish.Edmund in wise,smug and sarcastic mode which he is now so familiar for spends his time avoiding be-heading at the hands of the gloriously child-like yet at times both vicious and magnaminous Qu
een Elizabeth.Cruelly putting down Lord Percy,Lord Meltchett and anyone who crosses his path,Lord Edmund displays a sharp wit that keeps him out of all sorts of scrapes.Full of one off characters like Sir Walter Raleigh,Catpain Redbeard Rum as fodder for Edmund's tongue the second series is prefection.
Series 3 - Blackadder III.Losing his idiot friend Lord Percy in this series the third installment is possibly even funnier than the second.Finding himself as the Prince Regent's valet we see who really pulls the royal strings in Regancy Britian.Dr Samuel Johnson,Lord Wellington,Byron,Shelley,Coleridge and Pitt the Younger are some of the famous,historic names fioled by Edmund along with the Scarlet Pimpernel and the parody of Dick Turpin,The Shadow who turns out to be far more than Edmund bargained for.In the last episode we get a possible glimpse of why Britain became great after the Prince's duel with Wellington.
Series 4 - Blackadder Goes Forth.After the two previous series it would be understandable if the next one failed to outshine them but the last series is possibly the funniest if most piongant of them all.This is not only extremely funny but has a tragic quality that raises it above just pure comedy.Set in the trenches of First World War,Captain Edmund Blackadder aware of the futility and waste that trench warefare has descended into plots and schemes to get out of the 'over the top' attacks that he knows he and his companions have no hope of surviving.The staff officers,brilliantly portrayed in the shape of,the out of touch private schoolboy gone mad,General Meltchett and the genious comic creation,the spineless and simpering Captain Darling,always manage to keep Blackadder and Baldrick along with the ever enthusiastic Lieutenant George from escaping the horror of the trenches.With the welcome return of Bob and Lord Flashheart this series although one of a truly classic comedy series stands on its own.The close o
f the series while sad,they don't escape the final attack,seems to fit the subject matter because for all the mocking and sideswipes of the First World War the comedy does descend into what could have been a disrespectful tone towards what was a violent and horrific period of history.Indeed the photo on the opposite page to the end of the script from the last episode of poppies displays the sort of respect that should be shown for the fallen of this war.This series gets fifteen out of ten.
The Other Bits - Here we have pieces medieval medicine,a menu from Mrs Miggins Coffee House,the Prince's Laundry List and Baldrick's School Report but to list a few.These and the illustrations add to what is hugely funny book and entertaining book.Along with the comic pieces dispersed throughout the book like 'Index of Blackadder Finest Insults' the last few pages describe Comic Reliefs work up until publication,christmas 98 in the case of my edition.This is a marvelous book full of comic writings and drawings and a fine addition to the series themselves.I recommend it highly to anyone who loves Blackadder and for those that know nothing of the series,if that's possible,could do worse than to pick up this volume and gain an insight to what is possibly the funniset comedy to ever come from these shores,in other words the funniset comedy of all time because no one does comedy as well as Britian.
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