BBC/Roadshow Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 239 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Series four of Ab Fab saw a much welcome return of the show after a lengthy hiatus. That series had seen some major changes in the show, Patsy (Joanna Lumley) was the editor of a magazine and Edina (Jennifer Saunders) was running her own PR company. Series five sees Eddy still working in PR, but now she is working from home, converting the house into a home/office, all with designer furniture of course. Patsy though has had another career change; she is now a style consultant, working for an exclusive salon owner named Jeremy.
Eddy Eddy Eddy!
The majority of the much loved characters return including straightlaced daughter Saffy (Julia Salwaha), the ever entertaining Bubble along with the dotty mother (June Whitfield), the ex-husbands and their partners along with some interesting guest appearances from people such as Minnie Driver, Emma (Spice Girls) Bunton, Jean Paul Galtier, Clarissa Dickson-Wright (Two Fat Ladies) and Elton John.
Is the series past its use by date or can it still maintain its huge appeal? Put simply, this is one of the best series' so far with the characters really hitting their stride. The drugs and alcohol are again used excessively and some nice storylines help the laughs flow. There are highlights galore in this series and where series four was a bit patchy at times, this is good old fashioned Ab Fab at its best.
In with anger, out with love!
Contained on this three disc set are all eight episodes from series five, the last being a Christmas special, along with the additional special Gay as a bonus extra. Each episode runs for approximately 30 minutes and a brief synopsis follows for the series included ones, the bonus special will be featured in the extras section.
Saffy is away working as an aid worker and Patsy and Eddy are just so busy doing… avoiding doing any work really! Eddy has her client Emma Bunton visiting. Eddy has been a bit lacklustre with Emma’s promotion of late. Saffy is returning very soon and the house is a mess so it’s all hands on deck for a bit of cleaning.
Eddy and Pats put together a book club and invite several celebrities. Saffy invites her boyfriend over to tell him that she is pregnant. Eddy comes round to the idea of having a grandchild when she discovers it will be mixed race, after all, mixed race babies are all the rage sweety!
Eddy has converted the utility room into a panic room. Patsy actually goes to work and meets Minnie Driver, whom she invites to Eddy’s house to look at some fashion. Eddy and Patsy get stuck in the panic room but fear not, Bubble is left to look after their guest.
"Minnie Driver – is it a dwarf?"
Huntin', Shootin', Fishin'
Eddy has spent a fortune in an auction to buy a trip away to hunt, shoot and fish. The trip is a disappointment though and the girls are not what you would call naturals. Meanwhile, Saffy has a baby shower and her neurotic friend becomes a little too friendly with Emma Bunton.
Saffy is preparing for the pending birth while Patsy is preparing to make an important speech at a fashion event. Saffy goes into labour but the midwife can’t be found. There are enough drugs in the house to run a rave but Saffy is determined to have a drug-free natural birth.
Eddy’s long time but never seen convenience boyfriend is in the recording studio at Abbey Road re-recording some old Beatles songs. Eddy and Pats go into the studio with him but are easily bored so they find ways to amuse themselves in the studio with hilarious results.
Eddy has banned her mother from the house for bringing all her old friends in to use her indoor pool, like a scene from Cocoon. With no Gran to give Saffy a break and look after the baby, Eddy volunteers to take care of her grandchild, the whole time with ulterior motives.
It’s Christmas and for the first time in many years, Eddy and Patsy are going to spend it at home rather than jet setting off somewhere glamorous, much to Patsy’s disgust. Eddy of course goes over the top with the shopping while Saffy tries to teach her about the joy of preparing everything yourself. Patsy has a turn and ends up close to death in hospital.
Well the best way to sum up this video transfer is quite simple – fabulous! Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen it looks glorious and is the best yet. Sharpness and shadow detail are superb with vibrant colours at times requiring viewers to reach for the Bolles (that’s the sunglasses, not the booze). There are no problems with grain, aliasing, pixelisation or any other nasties. This really is a fantastic transfer and when considering it is for a television show and not a blockbuster movie, it is quite an achievement.
Supplied in Dolby Digital stereo, this mix is perfect for this type of show with no need to be flashy. Dialogue is always clear and the recognisable theme song comes through loud and clear, sung by Ade Edmondson and Debbie Harry. The only other noticeable noise is that from the studio audience, which can sound a bit canned at times but is a necessity for this type of show. Synch is never a problem and there are no other issues with nasties such as hiss, pops or dropout. Overall this is a pretty much faultless mix that does its job well.
There are some nice extras with this release that will give the viewer even more laughs.
Disc one contains 21 minutes of outtakes from the series. This is a series of the main actors messing up there lines and having a laugh. This is very amusing to sit through and it makes you realise how difficult some of these lines must be to remember.
Disc two contains a photo gallery containing several posed shots of the actors, some with guest stars. Disc three also contains a selection of photos taken from the bonus episode.
Bonus Episode - Gay
This bonus episode runs for 54 minutes and is one of the funniest in the collection. It focuses on Eddy finding out that her long lost son Serge is actually gay and she and Pats decide to go to New York to find him.
Patsy darling, we found Serge.
Apart from reconciling with her son, Eddy also sees Serge as the perfect accessory for a fashion show she is attending. Special guests for this episode include Whoopi Goldberg, Debbie Harry and Graham Norton. Most other regions had to purchase this episode as a seperate release so it is a welcome inclusion in this set.
Sadly the whole series doesn’t contain an audio commentary but we do get one for the bonus episode Gay. This is supplied by Jennifer Saunders and producer Jon Plowman. It is an interesting commentary offering some funny moments and some scene by scene trivia.
Also on disc three is another collection of outtakes. This time they only run for just under three minutes and are all from the bonus episode Gay.
Overall this is a fabulous series that fans will love. It comes in glorious widescreen with a pretty much faultless transfer and audio that does its job well. The extras are not extensive but are a welcome inclusion compared to earlier releases. If you are a fan then you will probably already own the first four series' on DVD, waste no time and rush out and buy this one! If for some strange reason you don’t already own them, in the words of Eddy and Pats – we need to go shopping!