Thursday, September 27, 2012

Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials DVD review

A few years ago, in a review of the complete series box set of Absolutely Fabulous, I wrote, “Even though the name of this set is ‘Absolutely Everything,’ I wouldn’t put it past Jennifer Saunders to revisit Edina Monsoon at some point in the future. She’s seemingly ended Absolutely Fabulous so many times and then come back to it that it’s hard to believe that it’ll ever truly be over.”

If it weren’t such a no-brainer that Saunders would've again charted the Ab Fab waters, I’d be tempted to gloat. The 20th Anniversary Specials are three, 30-minute episodes, and they’re every bit as funny as the reams of bawdy, satirical nonsense that preceded them. I’m not sure I have a whole lot more to say about this show that I didn’t say in the last review, other than Saunders is more than welcome to continually drop in on these characters time and again, forever, because the joke never gets old (at least not in these tiny increments), and even 20 years after it all began, Jennifer, Joanna, Julia, Jane, and June still have the ability to make me fling my arms around, and cackle at the ceiling.

The first episode, “Identity,” sees Saffy returning home after having done a couple years in prison for creating fraudulent passports. She invites a fellow inmate, Baron (Lucy Montgomery), to come and stay at the flat. Turns out, Baron and Patsy have a sordid history together, and suddenly the inmate’s stay takes a potentially dangerous (but still funny) turn. In this one, Edina has a brief dream sequence that’s the result of her watching the Danish version of The Killing, and the star of that series, Sofie Gråbøl, makes a brief cameo.

“Job” sees Edina and Patsy attempting to resurrect the career of fictional faded 60s film icon Jeanne Durand (Lindsay Duncan), who’s sort of a version of Catherine Deneuve, I guess, if Deneuve had quit working 20 or 30 years ago. Only problem is, she cannot sing, literally – no sounds comes out of her mouth, and Edina and Patsy have booked the Royal Albert Hall! This episode features appearances from Emma Bunton, Lulu and La Roux.

The third and final installment is probably the one to beat. “Olympics” guest-stars Stella McCartney, as well as Olympians Kelly Holmes and Tanni Grey-Thompson, yet the plot is threadbare, but involves lots of sight gags and physical humor, and is chock full of the sort of stuff Ab Fab does best.

Additionally, classic guest characters Justin, Sarah, Bo, Marshall, and Patsy’s co-workers Fleur and Catriona, each get a few minutes here and there, but once again, as has so often been the case, Jane Horrocks steals every scene she’s in as Bubble (and she’s in all three episodes). This is a fine celebration of 20 years of Ab Fab, that never goes overboard, or feels pathetic or dreary like so many such celebrations. It’s just more, good Ab Fab, plain and simple, and this disc would make a great birthday gift or stocking stuffer for the Ab Fab fan in your life, or indeed, for you sweetie dahling!

DVD Extras: A quick Comic Relief sketch, “Ab Fab Does Sports Relief,” also featuring Bunton and McCartney, is best viewed in between “Job” and “Olympics.” There’s also a behind the scenes bit on the sketch.