By the time The Young Ones were back for series two in May 1984, 18 months had passed and those who didn’t quite ‘get’ the comedy at first had had enough time to reassess the comic genius that abounds throughout and were ready for the second and last series. The same cast was assembled, the same writers were in place, and essentially the same supporting cast and crew.
Just as the first series was a series of seemingly unconnected and frenetic storylines with many tangents, so was the second. No matter where the episode opens, you can be assured of it going off on may piss-take asides and seemingly unrelated sight gags and skits. Never think for a minute, however, that anything seems out of place or randomly placed. The more something seems out of place, the more you are likely to find a hidden comic thread bordering on genius. The Young Ones may have included much slapstick, but there was so much more for the observant and intellectual viewer from literary and pop-culture references to subtle word play and historical parodies.
These six episodes are equally as brilliant and diverse as those in the first series, maybe more so. The four students -Rik (Rik Mayal), Vyvyan (Adrian Edmondson), Neil (Nigel Planer) and Mike (Christopher Ryan) - jumped straight back into their roles and there was no need for settling in. Alexei Sayle makes numerous (and mostly annoying) appearances as a variety of characters, and musical guests include Motorhead, Madness and The Damned. Ken Bishop's Nice Twelve (featuring Jools Holland), have been edited out of Cash for reasons unknown (probably over copyright and dollars) and although there is no great disturbance to the episode, it would have been great to see the episode untouched.
The other piece of editing involves Neil's brief guitar-accompanied version of The Sounds of Silence in Nasty whilst he is sitting in the bath when Rik flicks the light switch off.
The list of guests again reads like a who’s who of British comedy, with appearances from Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Hale and Pace, French and Saunders, Chris Barrie and Norman Lovett (both of Red Dwarf fame), Smith and Jones, Tony “Baldrick” Robinson, Terry Monty Python Jones, Ben Elton (who co-wrote The Young Ones with Rik Mayall and Lise Meyer) and even Emma Thompson.
As said, many viewers were still in shock after the first series as there had never been a show quite so manic and seemingly anarchic, and for my money, The Young Ones still sets the benchmark for hyper-comedy! Mayall and Edmondson are a modern day Abbott and Costello, and have an incredible understanding. Their on-screen chemistry spills over to real life where the two have formed a long and successful personal and professional relationship.
The Episode Guide for Series Two...
Bambi: It’s laundry day, but one of Vyvyan’s socks has escaped. No matter, the boys have been selected to appear on University Challenge. “To the station!” One half of a train ride later and after almost missing the show, the boys manage to “smash the oiks”, but just who is Toxteth O’Grady and how did he stuff all those marshmellows up one nostril?
Cash: Vyvyan announces he’s pregnant, but he doesn’t want his baby to be born poor, so one of them has to get a job. Neil gets rejected from the “Professionals" for being a pacifist even though you can “have a gun, if you want”, but lands a job as a policeman. His first major bust includes his mate, Warlock, and his three housemates who have struck it rich after a lorry of luxury goods and cash crashed into their living room.
Nasty: “Have we got a video?” you may well ask, but I recommend you don’t. Vyvyan and Mike have rented a VCR from Harry the Bastard, but plan to return it before any charges accrue. Trouble is, there’s a vampire loose in the house, and Neil is wearing a girlie dress he found in Rik’s cupboard because some “selfish negative vibe merchant” has boarded up his room. Things are looking grim in the graveyard.
Sick: The boys have colds, but Neil’s is so bad they have to place a plastic bag over his head while Vyv administers his own version of acupuncture using six-inch nails. Neil’s parents have come to visit, there's a trip to The Good Life, talking gnomes, Brian Damage, a criminal mastermind holding the boys up with a gun, riots in the street and Rik has killed Neil. There's also a riot going on.
Time: Starting as a spoof on Dallas, the focus soon shifts back to the house and the ‘morning after’ one hell of a party. There’s a girl in Rik’s bed, but she’s not all she seems. Could she be the escaped axe-murderess the radio is warning about, Helen Mucus? And what’s Neil doing back in the medieval times where peasants run around with pitchforks like in those paintings by Droigal? Could he really be just a damsel in distress?
Summer Holiday: "School’s out, forever!" Well, for the summer anyway, but Rik learns that his parents are dead. The selfish bastards! After their disastrous performance in their final exams, the boys decide to become bank robbers, but are pipped at the post by Mr Real Robber. Jumping into their stolen getaway red double-decker bus, the gang decide to go off on a Summer Holiday. “Lookout! Cliff!”
Those hoping for any improvement in this release since that of the first series can forget it. It is in full frame again ,as should be expected, and the best that can be said for it is that it is no worse than the the first series and has no major flaws. The image is not particularly sharp, there is constant, notieceable grain, and again colouring varies quite a bit. There is even a small section in Summer Holiday that is black and white, and gradually works back to colour a la The Wizard of Oz and is possibly deliberate as it can be seen on the VHS version as well.
There are some artefacts present such as specks and some minor dirt, and problematic flaring when fire or bright lights make an appearance, which they do several times. As said, colours vary wildly, but are never bold and vibrant, often bordering on washed out. There is some bleeding and interference from noise. In general, there has been little or no work done to bring this up to DVD standard, but it does look a little better than VHS copies. As for the value in having this on DVD over VHS, well there really isn't much.