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In yet another in the long line of Blackadder DVDs to grace the shelves of Region 4, fans are given pretty good treatment. This time it’s Black Adder’s Christmas Carol, the perfect gift to fill those stockings late December.

The Episode
The major surprise about this release is that there is only the one 43-minute long episode on this featureless disc. Granted the rest of the episodes have already been released on four separate discs earlier this year, but it does seem strange that efforts have been made to get this one out on its own. Nevertheless, those after the complete collection will be happy they can pick this Christmas episode up pretty cheaply.

Dumpling Lane is in the midst of the winter season and with that brings the joy of Christmas. Baldrick can’t spell Christmas very well at all, there are tales of a nativity play gone haywire and Blackadder is very much getting into the spirit of things. He’s being a little more generous than usual, getting right-royally swindled by the folk posing as poor souls on Christmas Eve. He says goodbye to seventeen pounds, flips a penny to a crafty little kid and gives away all his nuts to three fat boys and their father. Luckily Baldrick stashes the turkey otherwise that would’ve disappeared too. But when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert arrive the turkey is soon given away as well, leaving Blackadder and Baldrick with nothing.

Christmas past

During the night Blackadder is awoken by a ghostly spirit and soon they get talking about how this Spirit Of Christmas fella goes about his business. So the spirit obliges by giving Blackadder a bit of a look at another world. This time we see him being less generous and more greedy, indulging in a fruitless game of charades and reciting a Christmas story to Prince George that makes him give away all his gifts. The Spirit then shows him Christmas future which is bizarre to say the least.

Come Christmas morning Blackadder is a changed man, giving Baldrick a few punches as a gift, dealing with a child by making him fall of a window ledge and slamming the door on some Christmas carol singers. Those who visited on Christmas Eve return to find Blackadder much more ruthless. As Baldrick says, “the milk of human kindness” has seemingly disappeared. But, as always, it comes back to haunt poor Blackadder as he slams the door on Queen Victoria and calls her a big, fat pig. Oh, my.

Nice to see Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (Iris) hamming it up as Prince Albert as well as the regulars including Blackadder (the brilliant Rowan Atkinson) and the hilarious Baldrick (Tony Robinson). The other cast chip in throughout and contribute well to the laughs, including Miranda Richardson, Robbie Coltrane and Stephen Fry.

On the whole the episode is quite funny, though the four series’ already released on DVD will give you a hell of a lot more laughs for your buck. But if you really want to complete the collection you’ll no doubt want to pick this one up. And with a relatively cheap price tag you can’t really say no, can you?

Christmas present (no pun intended)

Like the rest of the discs, this episode is presented in 4:3 full frame exactly how it was broadcast on the telly. The transfer looks quite good overall, slightly above what you’d get on video. Sharpness is generally good though there’s quite a bit of grain throughout. Colour levels are a bit inconsistent but not at all distracting. Much like the previous releases the visuals are acceptable without being remarkable.

Included on this disc is a Dolby 2.0 soundtrack that does the job as well as can be expected. Dialogue is always clear even when Blackadder and Baldrick mumble their way through some scenes and the effects such as Blackadder’s short jabs sound particularly sharp.

Note that there are actually three subtitle options on this disc (Greek, Dutch and English) as opposed to only the English stream advertised on the back cover.

Nice to see they’ve included scene selections as a special feature on the disc, which is quite laughable really. Nothing at all to see here which is in keeping with the trend set by the other releases. But do take a look at towards the bottom of the back cover where there are a few little jokes included for good measure. Raised a chuckle from me.

Christmas future

For a single episode it’s hard to really tell you whether it’s worth picking up the disc or not. True fans will no doubt get this one anyway but for those sitting on the fence it’s a tough call. The Christmas show is definitely a funny one, don’t get me wrong, but the re-watchability factor has to be considered. With an average video and audio transfer and no extras (and no, BBC, scene selections don’t count) I’ll leave this one up to you to decide whether this disc becomes part of your collection.