A bridge of stones
Ok, I wanted to start out with a "do doo do doo doo doo" interpretation of the memorable Absolutely theme tune, but I couldn't really put it into words. It's one of the most instantly recognisable things from the show, and despite the fact that it has been away from our screens and the conciousness in general, it's another of those comedies that are fondly remembered.
Despite not having been exposed to it for a long while, many of the sketches have been stuck in my head for years. McGlashan, the patriotic, Hurly Burly Bag-owning Scot who hates everything about the English, particularly Elton Welsby (former ITV football presenter, remember him) and Jimmy Hill (described by the character as a "big chinned English bastard" - it's not rapier like wit, just silly and funny).
Absolutely emerged from various sketches performed on stage by the cast and was brought to our screens by Channel 4 in 1989, to eventually run for 4 series. They tried to do things a bit differently and took a few different approaches to the art of sketch comedy, sometimes bringing Python-esque weirdness to our screens.
A mixed bag on the video front.
Some of the episodes (mostly the earlier series) have a nasty VHS quality to them. Whilst I haven't watched anything in that format for a number of years, I still remember what it looks like, and some of these episodes are just that.
On one hand I want to get a bit angry and self-righteous and say why didn't they source good transfers or clean them up a bit. But on the other hand, I'm so grateful to see this series out on DVD (as a big fan), that I'm kind of willing to overlook this and call it part of the quirky charm of the series.
Most of the other episodes are better and as you would expect TV of this era to look.
A DD2.0 stereo soundtrack, which is much like the video, in that there are moments when it's like you would expect, and moments where things are a bit iffy. Much like the video, let's put it down to quirky charm.
One annoying thing is that there are no subtitles. Surely it doesn't cost the earth to produce a track?
You might not be expecting too much given my comments about audio and video quality, but thankfully you're in for a nice surprise.
Each series comes with a pair of commentaries, usually on the first and last episodes. These are largely entertaining and informative and there's plenty of information presented to you. Gordon Kennedy and Jack Docherty (probably remembered as the biggest stars) kind of lead the way on the commentary, but everyone usually has something to say at some point.
Other extras lined up for your delight:-
Absolutely Songs And Animation - a brief feature on the various songs that appear throughout (there were some great spoofs) and some of the animated bits.
Character Guides - possibly the best extra of the lot, nearly an hour of those involved talking about their characters. Well worth watching to refresh your memory...
The Pilot Episode - as with many TV pilots, quite similar to the first episode that actually got broadcast.
Finally are three mini documentaries, Absolutely Beginnings, Absolutely Remembered and Absolutely Other Things. These trace the history of the show, famous fans and everything else that you can think of.
A fantastic sketch show finally makes it to DVD.
The messed up minds of Gordon Kennedy, Jack Docherty, Pete Baikie, Moray Hunter, Morwenna Banks and John Sparkes combined to make one of the funniest shows in the brief history of Channel 4. It is a travesty that it has taken so long to arrive on DVD, but a blessing that it is finally here.
An eclectic bunch of characters, from the English-hater to Banks' little girl, Denzil and Gwynedd (we always follow their gardening adivce - always keep your tools clean), Calum, the dullest man in the world, to Frank Hovis and of course all the residents of Stoneybridge (the town with the very same thing).
If you like sketch comedy, you'll love this. It's just funny. Plain and simple. So get out there and buy it.