The Black Adder All Seasons

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    The Black Adder All Seasons

    Rowan Atkinson
    Tony Robinson
    Tim McInnerny
    Miranda Richardson
    Stephen Fry
    Hugh Laurie

    Series 1: The Black Adder
    Main article: The Black Adder
    The Black Adder was the first series of Blackadder and was written by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson, and produced by John Lloyd. The series was originally aired on BBC1 from 15 June 1983 to 20 July 1983, and was a joint production with the Australian Seven Network.
    Set in 1485 at the end of the British Middle Ages, the series is written as a secret history which contends that King Richard III won the Battle of Bosworth Field, only to be mistaken for someone else and murdered, and is succeeded by Richard IV, one of the Princes in the Tower. The series follows the exploits of Richard IV's unfavoured second son Edmund, the Duke of Edinburgh (who calls himself "The Black Adder") in his various attempts to increase his standing with his father and his eventual quest to overthrow him.
    Conceived while Atkinson and Curtis were working on Not the Nine O'Clock News, the series dealt comically with a number of medieval issues in Britain ? witchcraft, Royal succession, European relations, the Crusades and the conflict between the Church and the Crown. Along with the secret history, many historical events portrayed in the series were anachronistic (for example, the last Crusade to the Holy Land ended in 1291); this poetic licence would continue in the subsequent Blackadders. The filming of the series was highly ambitious, with a large cast and much location shooting. The series also featured Shakespearean dialogue, often adapted for comic effect. The end credits featured the words "Additional Dialogue by William Shakespeare".
    Series 2: Blackadder II
    Main article: Blackadder II
    Blackadder II is set in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558?1603), played by Miranda Richardson. The principal character is Edmund, Lord Blackadder, the great-grandson of the original Black Adder. During the series, he often comes into contact with the Queen, her obsequious Lord Chamberlain Lord Melchett (Stephen Fry) with whom he has a rivalry, and the Queen's demented former nanny Nursie (Patsy Byrne).
    Following the BBC's request for improvements (and a severe budget reduction), several changes were made. The second series was the first to establish the familiar Blackadder character: cunning, shrewd and witty, in sharp contrast to the bumbling Prince Edmund of the first series. To make the show more cost-effective, it was also shot with virtually no outdoor scenes (in contrast to the first series which was shot largely on location) and several frequently used indoor sets, such as the Queen's throne room and Blackadder's front room.
    A quote from this series ranked number three in a list of the top 25 television 'put downs' of the last 40 years by the Radio Times magazine. It was the following insult directed at Lord Percy by Edmund Blackadder: "The eyes are open, the mouth moves, but Mr. Brain has long since departed, hasn't he, Percy?"
    Series 3: Blackadder the Third
    Main article: Blackadder the Third
    Blackadder the Third is set in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a period known as the Regency. In the series, E. Blackadder Esquire is the butler to the Prince Regent, the Prince of Wales (the prince is played by Hugh Laurie as a complete fop and idiot). Despite Edmund's respected intelligence and abilities, he has no personal fortune to speak of, apart from his frequently fluctuating wage packet from the Prince, as he says: 'If I'm running short of cash all I have to do is go upstairs and ask Prince Fat-head for a raise'.
    As well as Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson in their usual roles, this series starred Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent, and Helen Atkinson-Wood as Mrs. Miggins. The series features rotten boroughs (or "robber buttons"), Dr. Samuel Johnson (played by Robbie Coltrane), William Pitt the Younger (Simon Osborne), the French Revolution (featuring Chris Barrie, Nigel Planer and Tim McInnerny as the Scarlet Pimpernel), over-the-top theatrical actors, a squirrel-hating transvestite highwayman, and a duel with the Duke of Wellington (played by Stephen Fry).
    Series 4: Blackadder Goes Forth
    Main article: Blackadder Goes Forth
    This series is set in 1917, on the Western Front in the trenches of the First World War. Another "big push" is planned, and Captain Blackadder's one goal is to avoid being killed, so he plots ways to get out of it, but his schemes always land him back in the trenches. Blackadder is joined by his batman Private S. Baldrick (Tony Robinson) and idealistic Edwardian twit Lieutenant George (Hugh Laurie). General Melchett (Stephen Fry) rallies his troops from a French château thirty-five miles from the front, where he is aided and abetted by his assistant, Captain Darling (Tim McInnerny), pencil-pusher supreme and Blackadder's nemesis, whose name is played on for maximum comedic value.
    The series is somewhat darker in tone than the other Blackadders; it details the depredations of trench warfare as well as the infamous incompetence and life-wasting strategies of the top brass. For example, Baldrick is reduced to making coffee from mud and cooking rats, while General Melchett hatches a plan for the troops to walk very slowly toward the German lines, because "it'll be the last thing Fritz will expect."
    The final episode of this series, "Goodbyeee", is known for being extraordinarily poignant for a comedy ? especially the final scene, which sees the main characters (Blackadder, Baldrick, George, and Darling) finally venturing forward and charging off to die in the fog and smoke of no man's land. In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, Blackadder Goes Forth was placed 16th.

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