June 5, 2006TV ON DVD
Anarchy in the UK
The Young Ones rips good taste (and comedy) a new one
How does one describe The Young Ones? At its core it sounds like a fairly standard sitcom premise: four mismatched students share a house in London, each kid falling into a broad stereotype. Thereęs Nigel (Nigel Planer), the hippie, Vyvyan (Adrian Edmonson), the violent punk, Rik (Rik Mayall), the insufferable anarchist, and Mike (Christopher Ryan), the smooth-talking ladies man. But this was a show infused with the punk mentality and created and performed by Britainęs premier alternative comedians, and the result was a sitcom turned not just upside-down, but beaten savagely and ripped to shreds with a chainsaw.
|Vyvyan isnęt particularly interested in the money the oil will generate; heęs mostly looking for an excuse to hit Rik with a cricket bat.|
Certainly the show depended on a large amount of surrealism, but also wasnęt above making pop culture references. My favorite being when Vyvyan ducks in the closet during hide and go seek and winds up in Narnia. There were also pointed barbs at British television (including a sitcom called –Oh Crikey!”), and the show never passed up an opportunity to rail against the police or Margaret Thatcher. The showęs primary goal seemed to be to generate as many varied gags as possible in a singe 40-minutes stretch.
Naturally, if you throw this much material at an audience, not all of it will stick. Some gags, and even entire episodes, fall entirely flat. When things arenęt clicking, the frantic pace and over-the-top violence can be shrill to the point of monotony ® an endless string of shouts and pratfalls.
The DVDs contain all 12 episodes and have a few extras, including a couple of excerpts from larger comedy documentaries, as well as early short live performances by members of the cast. Also included are the first episodes of two other series featuring Young Ones cast members: Filthy Rich and Catflap and Bottom. Both episodes (and the series to which they belong) are hysterical, although neither can quite match the qualities of The Young Ones at its best.
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