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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

The Young Ones: Extra Stoopid Edition (review)

The image looks its age and the sound is resolutely mono, but this 1982-4 BBC sitcom broke such important ground on both sides of the Atlantic that is should be considered essential viewing for anyone who wants to understand the changes television went through in the 1980s. Oh, and it’s still funny as hell, too. Created by Blackadder’s Ben Elton, star Rik Mayall, and Lise Mayer, this chaotic and wild freeform riff on the traditional sitcom incorporated non sequitur asides from puppet commentators, cartoon slapstick, musical guests, and surreal detours into plots revolving around, for instance, an unexploded nuclear bomb landing in the kitchen and the discovery of oil in the basement (to name two of the more coherent stories). The location: the council housing of four university students: Neil (Nigel Planer), the hippie so depressed he can’t even kill himself properly; Vyvyan (Ade Edmondson), the dumb and excessively violent punk; Rick (Mayall: The New Statesman), the clueless New Wave anarchist; and Mike (Christopher Ryan), the “cool one,” who couldn’t be less cool. We never saw them attend class or study, but their antics brought Britain’s then-burgeoning alternative comedy scene to the fore — the show was among the first nonmusic programming on MTV — and introduced us to guest stars including Hugh Laurie, Robbie Coltrane, Jennifer Saunders, Stephen Fry, Dawn French, Emma Thompson, and other now familiar names. (The bonus material in this edition, new since the 2002 box set, focuses mainly on the series’ place in comedy history.) [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
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  • I wish they would release The Comic Strip on DVD in America . . . all the same people in various configurations for an anthology series. They got to play different roles, really indicating the versatility on hand. When MTV ran The Young Ones back in the late 80s, the Comic Strip was on right after it. Then they put 120 Minutes on and took the Comic Strip off . . . I know which I preferred . . .

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