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  • Featurette - The Beginning
  • Photo gallery
  • Outtakes - Absolutely Not

Absolutely Fabulous - Series 1

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 176 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
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Really, need I recap what AbFab is all about? Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) is a petulant Buddhist (well, she was for a week) PR person, and the mother of Saffron (Julia Sawalha) - less than half her age in years, but mentally her superior in sooooo many ways. Eddie's best friend is the permanently pissed, chain-fagging Patsy (Joanna Lumley), who resents the very existence of Saffy - after all, being such a frumpy party-pooper she does cramp their going-out style somewhat. They're doyennes of the fashion world, darling - and the whole shebang manages to plunge the odd dagger or fifty into the very hearts of the scene, but with style, of course sweetie!

Certain to be welcomed by many, many people, the entire first series of six episodes comes to us here on one rather chic little shiny disc. As well as the talent already mentioned, Jane Horrocks wafts about as Eddie's deliriously fabulous assistant Bubble, June Whitfield pops up as Eddie's seemingly ditzy, but often acutely acerbic, mother - and a the cream of British comedy sashays by on occasions, including the likes of Kathy Burke, Adrian Edmondson, Christopher Ryan and, inevitably, Dawn French.

So what's in store within the first of the three original series'?

Fashion
Another hangover - and bugger, Eddie has to get a fashion show off the ground in one day. The fact that she's had six months to prepare doesnít enter into it. With Yasmine Le Bon off sick, and serial mimer Betty Boo replacing her, things desperately need to get celebritied up. Saffy wants her to give up drinking, so what to do? Have another glass darling...

Fat
Eddie's having one of those days where simply nothing fits - well, unless you go for the caftan option, and who wants to look like Demis Roussos? Things are made worse on hearing news that '60s acquaintance Penny 'The Stick' Casper is dropping by. Whilst Eddie has nightmares, Patsy tries to convince her that perhaps a spot of liposuction may be the solution...

France
It isnít exactly St Tropez, but Provence is still in France darling! Pats and Eddie head off on holidays, but when their luxury villa simply isnít, they have to bite the bullet and call Saffy to bring supplies. Bubble pops along for the ride, bearing news of problems with Eddie's interior decorating business, and as they all eventually depart our two lushes have a rather annoying realisation...

Iso Tank
How dare Saffy ban Eddie from attending her college open day! Humph! In a sulk, Edina decides to be all the rage and invest in an isolation tank - the only problem being she doesnít like to be alone. The perils of falling asleep in such a device become apparent, as Eddie endures some rather intriguing dreams where Saffy has interesting friends and Bubble is a model of efficiency.

Birthday
Uh-oh, Eddie's turning 40 (shhhhhhh!) and understandably she isnít too jazzed. So when Saffy throws a surprise party for her big day she does what any other self-respecting woman would do - broods in her room. When eventually coaxed from her hibernation she does her best to bring all her guests down - darling, if I'm having a rotten time why should anybody else feel good?

Magazine
Ooh, Eddie's got a boyfriend! Patsy is jealous as her best buddy has a new beau, but has a more pressing engagement, as she's needed at the magazine she 'works' for. Now where did they hide that office? With the mag in a bad way Pats has to organise a segment for brekkie telly, but when the models are too petulant to wear the 'fashions' provided at the last minute who can she get? Hello Saffy and Gran...

Curiously the last two episodes are presented out of order, although there isnít really any continuity lost by this move.

  Video
Contract

There are a few things that are givens when coming across an almost ten-year old BBC television series. It will have been shot on video, will be non-anamorphic full frame, and whilst being serviceable it will almost certainly display a few problems. Generally things are sharp enough, without being brilliant, and colour is rendered quite well - especially when encountering some of Edina's more extreme ensembles (in other words, often!) There are a few instances of aliasing on such things as blinds (no surprise there), and a few blink and you'll miss them MPEG Lego blocks here and there, however generally things are perfectly acceptable for a television series.

  Audio
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As also would be expected, the sound is in standard Dolby Stereo, so about all the surrounds get to do is sit back, crack open a bottle of champers and smoke a few fags. Importantly everything is incredibly clear, barring a few lines delivered in more extreme manners, and a nice balance between dialogue and audience levels has been achieved.

There isnít much in the way of soundtrack, however the wonderfully phasey version of Bob Dylan's This Wheel's On Fire by Julie Driscoll and Adrian Edmondson (hmm, that name's ra-ther familiar!) is always a joy to hear, which is probably just as well considering we get it here twelve times.

  Extras
Contract

The menu is static, but does come with some suitable vision and musical accompaniment. As well as options for subtitles, episode selection and the ability to watch all six shows in one insanity-inducing marathon, there are a few extras to get busy withÖ

Out takes - Absolutely Not: Fifteen minutes of giggle fits, deleted scenes, adlibs, f-ups and f-words. Whilst some of it is pretty predictable, there are certainly enough fun moments to make this worthwhile viewing.

Featurette - The Beginning: The sketch that started it all, taken from an episode of French and Saunders. Dawn French plays the Saffy role in this eight-minute feature, battling against all odds to do her homework in the presence of her mother.

Photo Gallery: A rather pointless collection of fourteen piccies, presented within the lens of a camera.

  Overall  
Contract

This is the sort of utterly classic clever-meets-silly British comedy that people either adore or despise. If you get it then you'll really, really want to own this, if you always wondered what all the fuss was about then, well, MFMMFGMLBBLEHBLGMFF (ed: Smacks! You canít say that Amy!)

Ewwy! That hand tasted yukky! Anyway, as for the disc sure the video isn't perfect, but realistically it's the best we can expect for a series of this vintage. The sound is nothing particularly spectacular, but that's not really the selling point of a programme such as this. There are some nice extras included, in particular the sketch that inspired it all, so in all there's plenty to have fans donning their Lacroix, stocking up on Bollie and blithely ignoring all those icky anti-smoking commercials they keep infesting our tellies with.

Ha! And I didnít type "sweetie, darling" once! Well, technically...


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      And I quote...
    "If you get it then you'll really, really want to own this..."
    - 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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