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maryann johanson | watching movies at home

The Dame Edna Experience: The Complete Series One (review)

Delightfully bizarre, in a pecularily British way, and a spectacular hoot, Dame Edna Everage in a singular woman: Australian housewife, megastar, and mistress of a marvelous charisma, as she herself will inform you given half a chance. She’s also a huge put-on, of course, alter ego of comedian Barry Humphries and something of an institution everywhere in the English-speaking world except for the United States. In 1987, “Dame Edna” invented a “new kind” of talk show, one in which the guests were in on the joke and the butt of it, all at the same time. Some of the celebs will confound even the most devoted Anglophile, but it doesn’t matter: These six episodes are all about Edna — her wacky wigs, her outrageous gowns (all designed by her son, Kenneth), her torrid affair with her own fabulousness. This lovefest is occassionally interrupted by the arrival of some 80s flashback superstar — Charleton Heston, Rudolf Nureyev, Sean Connery, Zsa Zsa Gabor — but you can never be sure who’ll actually get onstage, because this is also a sendup of the celebrity chat show, and those who displease Edna may get the boot before they’ve barely made an appearance, or if they’re boring. The DVD menus are wacky, the extras hilarious — a 1992 clip of Edna “interviewing” Humphries, Edna performing her signature tune, “Niceness,” from a 1976 episode of The Barry Humphries Show. Dame Edna is a one-joke pony, it’s true, but what a joke it is.

MPAA: not rated

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