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BBC Video presents
"The British postal service is the best in the world. Put a first class stamp on your letter, and it's guaranteed to possibly arrive at some point, somewhere, if you're lucky."
DVD ReviewMatt Lucas and David Walliams proved themselves to be masters of the blackout and sketch format with their series Little Britain, which in its initial eight episodes made a big splash on British television. Lucas and Walliams are back in this third series of six episodes, dating from 2005, and if anything they've gotten even more hilarious and still more outrageous than in the original series.
Once again, the show focuses on the denizens of the fictional nation of Little Britain, which as the name implies is a satirical microcosm of the real Britain and its quirks. The format remains the same, with each show consisting of about 15 short (1-2 minute) sketches with a recurring cast of characters. Some of the best ones from the original series are still here, such as motormouthed delinquent Vicky Pollard (Lucas) and the shamming disabled man Andy (Lucas) and his put-upon attendant Lou (Walliams), as well the Prime Minister (Anthony Stewart Head) and his obsessed assistant Sebastian (Walliams). And of course, one of the most notable characters from the beginning, Dafydd (Lucas), the self-professed "only gay in the village," who seems increasingly uncomfortable with his declared sexuality as he learns more about how many other gays there actually are in the village, and what it is exactly that they do. Characters who didn't appear in the first series (we missed the second series somehow) include the incontinent Mrs. Emery (Walliams), who hilariously and obliviously lets loose with massive floods of urine while engaging in polite chitchat with others, who are duly horrified. Equally bizarre is the situation of Mr. Dudley (Walliams), who signs up for a Thai mail order bride and instead gets Ting Tong (Lucas), who may not be Thai or even female. Politics and particularly the hypocrisy of politicians come into sharp focus with the repeated apologies (with bravely-smiling family in tow) of M.P. Sir Norman Fry who comes up with increasingly unlikely explanations for being caught in unorthodox sexual situations.
Obesity continues to be a popular topic of mockery in the program, with Lucas returning as the foul Fat Fighters hostess Marjorie Dawes who insults and alienates her compatriots with thoroughgoing hypocrisy. Particularly appalling are Bubbles (who first appeared in the second series) and Desiree, respectively Lucas and Walliams in grotesque female fat suits, morbidly obese women battling over the affections of Bubbles' ex-husband Roman (Rob Brydon), with horrific simulated nudity and liberal helpings of sexuality. Other moments of equally disgusting quality are the sequences featuring Walliams as a racist woman who projectile vomits in enormous quantities whenever she comes into contact (no matter how trivial) with other races.
For those with a strong stomach, though, the show is as sharp as ever, and it merits hearty laughter in scene after scene. Even the few that don't work too well pass quickly from the memory due to the brevity of the sketches; I don't much care for the unconvincing transvestite sketches but before you know it, you're on to the next topic. One might have expected a certain amount of repetition from the characters, but they're so widely varying that even when all six episodes are watched in quick succession there isn't a sense of becoming tiresome. The characters that have continued from the beginning still manage to lend new aspects to their portrayals, making them even more entertaining.
Whether there will be any future series is apparently still up in the air, though a 2006 Christmas special is promised, and a DVD of the live show is also now available. One hopes to see more from this talented pair, who do an amazing job of picking apart human foibles and making them funnier than just about anything on American television.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: Although the anamorphic widescreen picture has excellent color and good black values, the PAL/NTSC conversion was apparently done on the cheap. There's serious combing throughout, and ghosting is frequently visible, rendering the picture much softer than it should be. Edge enhancement doesn't appear to have been added, which is a positive, but a proper format conversion would have very much helped the look of the transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: There is a reasonably broad front soundstage, though not a lot of directionality in the dialogue. When processed with Dolby Surround, the audience laughter and the laugh track are pretty well kept in the rear surrounds. It's very clean, and range is quite good, as it should be on a modern soundtrack. It's serviceable without being particularly striking.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 95 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
30 Deleted Scenes
8 Feature/Episode commentaries by Matt Lucas and David Walliams
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Layers Switch: 01h:20m:20s
As the series has garnered acclaim, the creators have been the subject of numerous interviews and appearances on other programs, several of which from the period are collected here. They tend to cover a lot of the same ground and have a lot of embarrassing fawning included, so they aren't essential. One peculiar one is Walliams' appearance on a show called Top Gear in which he gets to test drive a car (badly). Another unique extra is an audio-only appearance of the twosome on a program called Heresy, which is devoted to "challenging accepted opinions," a concept that could never make it to the air in the USA. This does give one a better and more penetrating sense of the creators than the more formal talk show formats, whether or not one agrees with their politics.
Extras Grade: A
Final CommentsEven funnier than before, this third series pushes the boundaries of comedy. There are plenty of extras, but unfortunately there are serious problems with the transfer.
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