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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Audio commentary - Writer/star Jennifer Saunders & producer Jon Plowman
  • Featurette - Mirrorball pilot episode
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • Interviews
  • Outtakes

Absolutely Fabulous - Series 4

BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 174 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Five years is a long time between drinks. The rise of Internet culture, those natty little silver scooters, Sex and the City nu-metal, Harry Potter and those cutie-pie speckled Macs being just a few examples of how quickly things can change and emerge. Still, judging by the fridge full of Bolly in Edina’s new kitchen, AbFab may have deserted us for 1825 or so days, but Eddy and Pats certainly didn’t desert the odd tipple or ten.

But some things have changed. From the “duh observations” department comes the fact that everybody’s looking a bit older. That dispensed with, other changes are altogether a bit more subtle. Eddy has diversified – her PR company now incorporating a television production arm, and somehow Patsy’s managed to attain the editorship of her magazine, so she’s doing even less nowadays. Bubble’s just as bubbly as ever, as is new character Katy Grin who bears a strong resemblance to her (they are, after all, cousins...), Saffy’s still at home and Eddy’s Mum’s is possibly even scattier than ever.

There’s also a little more creed paid to consequences through the season – well, just a teensy bit – and somehow Saffy has become one of the most annoying characters ever to invade the confines of my telly. Uh-oh – I’m older now too, please tell me I’m not turning into Patsy?

Now suitably shaken (not stirred) I shall attempt to impart a little more about each episode...

Parralox
Bugger this lack of profile! Eddy prepares for a telly spot with Richard and Judy, but what about all her wrinkles? No probs darling, Pats has just the chemical weapon – the new wonder wrinkle-buster Parallox. After all, if it’s good enough for Saddam...

Fish Farm
Eddy’s attempts at growing old ungracefully continue unabated. “Fresh” from a Marilyn Manson gig, and suitably attired, her attentions turn to the garden for the first time in – ever. Perhaps it’s that gardener bloke, and thoughts of his massive... estate?

Paris
It’s Paris photo-shoot time – Pats as an older model (after all, 42 is positively over the hill now, isn’t it darlings?), and Eddy and Saffy as a mother daughter duo – Kate Beckinsale was busy. Worried she’s turning into her Gran, Saffy loosens up a lot...

Donkey
Resolutely deciding to become a jibe-free zone, Eddy hits the old diet and exercise grindstone – not to lose weight of course, to detoxify herself. Meanwhile Patsy tries dispensing with her genre-defining fringe...

Small Opening
Saffy’s writing turns personal, with a play on her own life entitled Self Raising Flower. Needless to say Eddy’s horrified at the prospect – and how potentially fat the actress playing her may be – so she and Pats pop along...

Menopause
It’s Big M time for Pats, when she discovers she has the bone density of a decidedly squishy marshmallow. Eddy has bigger concerns, however, with her business going well and truly down the lavvy – even Twiggy’s deserted her darling!

  Video
Contract

Well, five years certainly can make a difference, darlings. Forget that old fashioned full screen nonsense of old, for AbFab is now up with the noughties and in 16:9 enhanced 1.78:1 – and it looks fantastic for it. This isn’t all that looks fantastic, either, with a picture quality that is pretty much as close to perfect as anybody could veer expect. Gloriously realistic colour, wonderful shadow detail and a sharpness of vision we rarely see on television shows are all here, with the only downsides being small and fairly rare examples of aliasing and shimmer, and the odd dodgy bit of filming which can hardly be blamed on the transfer – perhaps the cameramen had been raiding the fridge? No stupid layer change interrupts proceedings; and in all this gives the show a visual quality that truly lives up to the series’ title. Sweeties.

  Audio
Contract

Some things don’t change – like the use of Dolby Digital stereo for the soundtrack. It does its job admirably, delivering dialogue as clearly as it was spoken and using the surrounds for a bit of audience hubbub and not much else. There’s very little in the way of music, save for a redone version of This Wheel’s On Fire for the theme, God performing a slightly re-jigged The Ballad of Lucy Jordan and a snippet of Bowies Ziggy Stardust ending each episode. Darlings.

  Extras
Contract

Oh goodness, the room’s spinning! Oh no it isn’t – it’s just we finally get animated menus on an AbFab release. In what’s a further pleasant surprise, we also get a few more bonus goodies to curl up with than with previous series’...

Commentaries: Yay! Jennifer Saunders teams up with another J, producer Jon Plowman, for a set of six very informative and very entertaining commentaries. If you’ve ever wondered about pretty much anything to do with the creator’s thoughts behind the show to scene specific stuff to out and out trivia, then do not miss these.

Pilot Episode - Mirrorball: Made in 2000, this was the intended replacement for AbFab, utilising the five Js as the main cast. Based around the world of acting, the characters are generally quite different to those we’re familiar with from AbFab, and when it didn’t go down so well with the public the realisation dawned on Saunders that she was near as dammit writing another AbFab anyway, so she may as well do the real thing. Mind you, I found it to be very entertaining and in many ways funnier than the new series – perhaps it was just a bit fresher? Oh, Hugh Cornwall of The Stranglers gets to relive his glory days with their classic No More Heroes working as the theme...

Outtakes - Absolutely Not: Much the same as previous releases, this time we get 12:02 of flubs, flusters, f*ck-ups and ‘f’ words, all of which are fairly fun.

Interviews: Three are included – Jennifer and Joanna (6:20), June Whitfield (3:30) and Jon Plowman (4:45). As interviews go they’re about as helpful as a fridge full of empties, and much of the time is taken up with generous slabs of vision form the episodes. On the whole this extra is absolutely disappointing.

Photo Gallery: Simply 44 shots ranging from typical stills to behind the scenes to especially posed.

  Overall  
Contract

The season that was never meant to be is actually a refreshing improvement over much that went before it. Sensibly keeping the same basic formula – the characters, the guests, etc – the break obviously did Saunders’ creative juices some good. Either that or it was the Bolly – at any rate, who cares? This series of AbFab absolutely rocks. It looks divine, it sounds pretty good and has more extras than we’re used to seeing on such releases.

If you’re a fan you won’t be disappointed, so go out and pop it on the old plastic – before I call you sweetie darling again...


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1721
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      And I quote...
    "The season that was never meant to be is actually a refreshing improvement over much that went before it..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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