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    Black Adder's A Christmas Carol
    BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 43 mins . PG . PAL

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    Contract

    One of the many beauties of the whole Black Adder idea was the way you could essentially plop Rowan Atkinson’s character into any period of time, arm him with a surfeit of slights and a litany of alliteration (usually with a generous sprinkling of the letter ‘B’ involved) and basically leave him to it. Black Adder’s A Christmas Carol followed hot on the heels of the third series, set in Regency times, and manages to crowbar pieces set in that period, the previously abused Elizabethan era, ahead into space age times and, most importantly, the time of Queen Victoria’s reign, into a cack-packed 43 minutes.

    It is within the Victorian era that our tale is predominantly set, focussing on Blackadder descendant Ebenezer, the proprietor of a moustache shop, and widely renowned as the kindest and loveliest man in all of England. It is the latter which causes most everybody from the age of dot upwards to see him as quite the pushover, and after giving away most everything he possesses that's not nailed down one Christmas, leaving he and his faithful assistant Baldrick penniless, foodless and joyless, he toddles off to bed feeling just a little defeated.

    It is in his boudoir de beddy-bobos that he encounters a strange and terrible visitation by the spirit of Christmas (or some such – not all of us went sterile with unbridled ecstasy at the words of Dickens whilst growing up) who blows in for a bit of a chat. Through visions of Christmas past Ebenezer gets to see how downright nasty and dastardly his forebears were, and rather than being horrified he is quite impressed and amused. Eventually it leads to his milk of human kindness going well and truly off, with typically Blackadder consequences...

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    Contract

    Harking back to 1988, visually the programme’s age shows, but not as markedly as it could have. One advantage is that with no external locations it was entirely shot on video, so there’s nothing in the way of grain or marks to get upset over. Instead it’s a fairly clear, reasonably sharp full frame offering, only really let down by some pronounced aliasing within the detailed line drawings used in the opening and closing credits – but really it should be of more than suitable enough quality for all but the most finicky fussbudgets of this world.

    There are no fabulous surprises to be found under the sonic Chrissie tree, either – it’s a late ‘80s telly programme, so it has late ‘80s sound. Yes, standard old, ever-reliable Dolby Digital Stereo – and it does what it has to, delivering the often super-quick repartee between those on screen clearly at all times. It’s all synched perfectly well, and whilst scarcely deserving of a rousing chorus of Piggy Wiggy Woo, there’s nothing to really complain about either. Regular music contributor Howard Goodall once more enters the Black Adder fray, with fun and suitably festive soundtrack fare book-ending the presentation.

    Extras? Hmmf, it seems the post-ghost visit Ebenezer Blackadder may have been responsible for looking after the bonus goodies here, for alas there isnae even a tiny lump of coal to be had.

    Let’s be honest, at only 43 minutes in “length” and with no extras at all, Black Adder’s A Christmas Carol is hardly going to win an award for presenting stupefying value for money to the masses. It does, however, scrub up quite well visually and aurally, and the show itself is enough to put a most pleasant wibble in any frussetpouch come this next, or any, Kweznuz.

    Cheery bye!


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  •   And I quote...
    "Enough to put a most pleasant wibble in any frussetpouch come this next, or any, Kweznuz..."
    - 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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