on March 17, 2004
I am not as forgiving as the previous reviewer who, while upset that the 'Chicago' parody is excluded from the disc, can easily overlook it.
It was bad enough that "The First Cut is the Deepest" was removed from all video releases of 'The Last Shout," and nearly unforgivable that this box set loses the Debbie Harry vocals from the theme song (replaced by an instrumental version) but to lose the SINGLE best moment of the fifth series, and one of the highlights of the ENTIRE run is just beyond the pale!!!!!
I cannot fault Warner Home Video, who merely distributes BBC product in Region 1, but I wonder why the BBC has such difficulty with "music rights" issues. Considering the amount of money that French and Saunders fans have spent on their products over the years, I do not accept that the BBC can't afford to clear these issues prior to (inevitable) video releases.
It galls me that the horribly presented Oxygen versions are more complete than the dvd but, we consumers are just the folks who hand over our money.....we don't really matter.
On the plus side, the dvd series is otherwise flawless.
on July 10, 2004
The team of Brit-Broads out for lavish living on other people's dime are going stronger than ever. With nothing to stop them, their daily trivial ticks keep viewers in stitches. Whether dealing with Sapphie's secret pregnancy or other socially rlevant issues (like passing for 37 when you're way into your 50s), the dynamic duo meets all challenges of life with a toast, a snort, and a late breakfast (around 2 pm).
The incredibly talented cast of "characters" include Edina's long-suffering 20-ish daughter, the gave-up-on-Edina-long-ago elderly mother, Edina's dipsy secretary with ESP (she knows someone is about to ring the door bell -- because they sent a telegram announcing their visit), Edina's estranged ex-husbands and their new spouces (one female, one male), and a line of celebrities playing themselves.
Absolutely Fabulous is the "hippest" show on television, ridiculing society's conventions and focusing on "living" at all cost. The "who cares?" attitude, which seems to always drop the lead characters down on the ground in the end, nonetheless gives the Ab-Fab Duo a false sense of victory. One "last line" says it best: "In the end it was all good, though, wasn't it?" Good? It was FABULOUS!*****
on April 16, 2004
ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS returns for a fifth series of unbridled fun and hilarity, with 8 superb new episodes. Join Eddy and Patsy as they sink even lower into the abyss...
"Cleanin'" - With Saffy gone on a long-overdue holiday, Patsy and Eddy have the house to themselves, though curiously it isn't everything they imagined it would be. Eddy has moved her PR business into her living-room, with several high-profile new clients on the books including Emma Bunton. Suddenly Saffy returns..with an announcement that will send Eddy's world into a tailspin.
"Book Clubbin'" - Eddy and Patsy's little book club meets to discuss their latest selection, an abridged mini version of 'The Picture of Dorian Gray', though Mariella Frostrup fails to bring her celebrity pals. Meanwhile Saffy invites her boyfriend around to break the big news.
"Panickin'" - Eddy installs a panic room, whilst Patsy tries to get chummy with Minnie Driver. Real panic ensues when a lockdown occurs leaving Eddy and Patsy trapped in the high-tech fortress, leaving Minnie in the 'capable' hands of Bubble.
"Huntin' Shootin' Fishin'" - Eddy is doing some Royal PR so she and Pats decide to travel down to the country to see how the other half live. Saffy holds her baby shower with Emma Bunton and her ever-bizarre old school friend Sarah (aka 'Titty KaKa')
"Birthin'" - Saffy has gone into labour, ruining Patsy's expensive outfit when her water breaks. Marshall and Bo stop by for another strange interlude, whilst Katy Grin has been cast as Roxie Hart in 'Chicago'.
"Schmoozin'" - The lost Beatle tapes have been found, and Eddy's in love again, this time with an old school flame. Patsy's old sex films get released by a Japanese company including 'Boobarella'.
"Exploitin'" - Patsy has signed up baby Jane (or Lola) with an infant modelling agency, and a job has come up for a Jean Paul Gautier photo shoot at the zoo. The only problem is getting around Saffy...
"Cold Turkey" - Christmas has come again, and this time Eddy's staying home with the family. Patsy, in a moment of sheer rage, finally lets Eddy have it before mysteriously passing out. In the hospital, Patsy is told she is dying. Her wayward sister Jackie comes to visit, but does she have a more sinister motive? Is this really the end for Pats....?
AB FAB finally raises the bar after the lacklustre Series 4. Once again Jennifer Saunders has given us a hilarious, laughter-filled ride. Longtime fans rejoice: Series 5 is one to treasure!
Starring Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks and June Whitfield. Guest starring Kate O'Mara as Jackie, Elton John, Clarissa Dickson Wright, Kristen Scott Thomas, Mariella Frostrup, Emma Bunton, Minnie Driver, Jean Paul Gautier and Naoko Mori as Sarah.
on April 1, 2004
Let me say right off the bat that Series 4 was not that bad. Actually, on repeated viewings it improved a bit. Which is what I truly hope happens here on Series 5, because believe it or not, I think 4 was better. This time around the jokes are few and far-between and some episodes just fall flat. I am referring to the entire first disc. Premises that seemed ripe for comedy gold (Edina gets trapped in her own panic room; Edina and Pats head to the country for shooting and socializing) just don't deliver. The laughs aren't there, and when they are, it's mostly from Jennifer Saunders herself. Joanna Lumley has practically nothing to do; her character has become completely defanged. I was actually apprehensive about putting in disc two, but thankfully the episodes do get better. Once Saffy has her baby things pick up a bit, culminating in a cheerful, if not particulary funny, Christmas finale. The whole packaging is quite attractive and the episodes are in widescreen (ignore what it says on the back cover), but it's not enough. Sadly, I don't think Jennifer Saunders will ever top the first three seasons. So in conclusion, if you are a die hard fan, you'll cut this Series some slack, but others would do well to just avoid it altogether.
on March 31, 2004
When Absolutely Fabulous 'ended' it's 18 episode run in 1995, I was somewhat pleased. It has to be one of the funniest, most incisive, brilliantly constructed and performed TV sitcoms of all time but I was thrilled that writer and co-creator Jennifer Saunders recognized that time was up and too much of a good thing will ultimately lead to disappointment. Like other Britcom classics 'Fawlty Towers,' 'Black Adder' and 'Dinnerladies' AbFab wrapped while still way ahead of the pack. I didn't mind terribly when it came back in a two part special in 96 to wrap up some loose ideas, but I was hugely (make that HUGELY) disappointed when a new batch of 6 episodes aired in 2001. It just wasn't the same and although brilliant in places, overall it was lacking the edge that had made it great. Another one-off special aired in 2002, which was frankly bizarre and then came news of Season 5 in 2003. I wasn't expecting much. Here was a brilliant idea now well past it's prime.
But I was wrong. The fifth season of AbFab is quite simply the best set of episodes yet. Saunders creative genius has kicked in once more and the treading water and re-visiting old ground and old jokes of the last season has given way to a new direction for all the characters and the best laughs to date. I can hardly believe that any series in its twelfth year could possibly exceed all that has gone before. But it has.
Whereas all the characters in the 4th season had stagnated and seemed rudderless, they've all moved on to new comic heights and been given situations hitherto unexplored. Saffy in particular is in a situation that could never have been envisaged back at the start in 92 and Edina and Patsy have evolved into even more outrageous pastiches of themselves. Saunders' incisive eye for the ridiculousness of current trends and fashions has returned in full and everything from fake tans, false boobs, celebrity greed, panic rooms and the tedium of reality TV are all ruthlessly explored and viciously exposed with the most cutting humor possible. I won't give anything away, but the fifth episode of the season for me is the single best episode of the entire AbFab canon. I've seen it about a dozen times now and still laugh out loud.
There are a few weaknesses; the celebrity guests playing themselves just can't match the skill of the regular cast. The possible exception being Minnie Driver who steals the show in episode 3. Alas, Elton John, Mariella Frostrup and Emma Bunton seem quite uncomfortable in their roles. Kristen Scott-Thomas' character is just horribly conceived. I'm not sure I totally like the direction Bubble (played so wonderfully by Jane Horrocks) has taken either, but she's still worth many laughs along the way. Kate O'Mara returns as Patsy's hideous sister Jackie, but misses the mark somewhat and her scenes with Patsy end up rather confused.
What may well irritate those American viewers who had access to the UK tapes is that not only has the title vocal by Debbie Harry had to be eliminated, but the ecstasy induced excerpt from 'Chicago' in 'Birthin' has also had to hit the cutting room floor. Both due to copyright issues. Contrary to other reviews, the UK broadcasts do NOT exceed 30 minutes and the 'Chicago' scene is the only cut. The exception being the final episode 'Cold turkey' which was extended to 40 minutes and is included in it's entirety. Not many extras on this disc set other than some still photos and 15 minutes of terrific out takes. Unlike the fourth season, alas there is no commentary from Saunders. The picture quality is excellent and both discs contain 4 episodes each. I'm still not sure I would want to see a season 6. You just never know when you're pushing your luck. But if this season is anything to go by it will be well worth finding out.
on March 17, 2004
I have been a fan of this program since it's initial showing on the BBC back in the early 90's. Jennifer Saunders has done such a brilliant job of parodising our culture's relentless obsession with the new, the hot and the trendy. Johanna Lumley is still wickedly funny as Patsy Stone and has some of the funniest lines of the series. Jane Horrocks is back as Katy Grinn/Bubble and has somehow managed to remain one of the most underrated actreses of her time(check out Little Voice). Bo, Marshall and Justin make their cameos alongside Sir Elton JOhn, Minnie Driver, and Emma Bunton. I only have two faults with this release. Series 4 had a fantastic commentary with Jennifer Saunders and Jon Plowman, executive producer. I was hoping for that this go-around as well. And secondly, in the BIrthin Episode, Bo had an ecstasy induced hallucination with the cast of Chicago with all of the series regulars making an appearance. However it was not on the DVD...maybe a licensing issue? These two minor things aside it is still a must have for any die hard fan and comes off much funnier than when aired on Oxygen. Let us hope that if Pats and Eds make a 6th series as is rumored that a better network on this side of the pond picks it up.
on March 11, 2004
Unfortunately it seems as if Jennifer Saunders has severed her association with Comedy Central, the network that used to air the new seasons of "Absolutely Fabulous". This newest series (#5) was aired here in the USA on "The Oxygen Network".
Well, Oxygen apprently didn't think anyone was watching the show, so they simply didn't bother to air a few episodes. They would show an episode one week, then skip a week. I wasn't able to see the entire series, and the few episodes they did show (at least locally here in Chicago) were on at diffenent times and days, so it was hard to find when it would be on.
Finally, I just gave up altogether and stopped trying to watch it on Oxygen. OH! And the few episodes that I was able to see were butchered because while the series was obviously filmed in widescreen format, Oxygen chose to air it in full-screen. This meant we only saw about half of the picture. There were times when characters were talking to each other from opposite sides of the TV screen and we couldn't see either one of them. It was ridiculous!
Hopefully this DVD will be released in WIDESCREEN so we can see the whole picture.
Why did Oxygen even bother to sign this show if they didn't plan to show it in its entirety? What a waste of time.
Cheers to Patsy and Eddie for another season. Welcome back!
on March 1, 2004
Ab Fab is benefiting from its fame by being able to now draw such talented people as Kristen Scott Thomas and Minnie Driver. Thomas is amazingly funny as a spa-hopping travel writer who comes by for a "book" club. Minnie Driver visits as herself and, in great good humor, depicts herself as a greedy star eagerly looking for freebies. One of the Spice girls features (I don't remember her name - sorry) and claims a connection because she went to school with Saffy. That episode, and the Elton John episode were rather weak. A welcome addition to the cast is Felix Dexter, who plays Saffron's baby daddy John Johnson. One would wonder how Saff winds up with such a strapping lad by her side ("When I see her, I think 'intimate relations to the max'"), until he opens his mouth and you realize he is one of the nerdiest men on Earth. All of the old favorite characters appear, Saff's dad, Bo and Marshall, Jackie, Gran, Bubble, Kathy Grin, and so on. (The only one missing is Oliver and we don't see Dawn French, s'far as I can tell - boo hoo).
I only gave it 4 stars, because it just seems to lack the edge that the first two seasons had. Still, if you enjoyed Ab Fab, here's more Ab Fab!
on February 29, 2004
One of the most original and hilarious sitcoms to come our way within the last ten years, the fifth season of Absolutely Fabulous proves that there's still fresh life of the two divas. While the fifth season will probably boast a continuity of big name guest stars following the post fourth Season, "Gay" with Elton John and Minnie Driver and Baby Spice (Emma Bunton), what makes this show precious are the total fads Edina latches onto for further success, beauty, or whatever (always doomed to backfire), Patsy's new femme dictator role running her pal Jeremy's shop (yet still has lots of vulnerability as the less liked), and Saffy's new coming to terms of becoming a mother herself, whose righteousness seems to work against her as she finds herself pregnant. Also much welcomed are Marshall and Bo whose schemes for fame to be with Hollywood celebrities have totally fallen to the absurd (adoption/"baby-napping" services for celebrities? Fake Fat Infomercials?), and in the meantime Bubble's just as airhead-like as ever, and yet somehow she has become the Shakespearean Fool, who may in fact "not be completely useless." (Jan Harooks' most funny moment, however, must be as Katy Grin providing a news report from Kuwait of the Iraq conflict in the season opener. Watch for it!)
Of course, the slapstick and very cleverly scriped put downs are in fact quite fresh, and unlike Season 4 where similar references to the first three seasons seemed totally rehashed (with the exception of Saffy's play episode), any similarities here seem to be more fresh. Much kudos to Saunders who may have heard criticism that the show has come of age, and yet with this season proves it can still has quite a bit of its luster. Are the shows as say slapstick and as classic/vintage Ab-Fab as earlier seasons' "Hospital" or "Poor"? Maybe not. But this season proves that this show still has quite a bit of energy and Jeniffer Saunders still has lots of creativity and fresh ideas.
on March 31, 2004
I'm sure that most of us AB FAB fans agree that series 1,2 and 3 are the absolute best. Series 5 was better than series 4. As always, the bloopers are hillarious. I was disappointed that "Wheels On Fire" was instrumental in series 5. It's a great song and could have been done in a Junior Vasquez version by Bette Midler or Joan Jett. I am just thankful that Jennifer Saunders keeps AB FAB going. The woman is just brilliant. The things that come out of that mind! I hope there are many more series to come. Nothing makes me laugh as hard. Jennifer Saunder's Edina just blows me away. Her mannerisms, her facial expressions, her impatience with people. I could be in the worst mood, down and out, depressed; I pop in AB FAB and it instantly cheers me up. It almost works just as well as an antidepressant! If you have all the other series, naturally you have to have series 5!