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Young Ones | Every Stoopid Episode | review | dvd | Lollipop

The Young Ones

Every Stoopid Episode (BBC)
By Chad Van Wagner

Calling a TV show with a decent budget, produced by one of the largest networks in the world "punk" may well cause fits of rage in certain circles, but there's really no other way to explain The Young Ones. Taking the standard of "mindless, directionless energy" as its springboard, Rik Mayall, Lise Mayer, Ben Elton and Alexi Sayle wrote what was essentially a glue-sniffing Monty Python with a mohawk.

If you're unfamiliar, allow me to elucidate: The Young Ones was a 12-episode series that aired in the early '80s on BBC, and was later rerun on MTV (among other places) once its well-deserved status as a "cult" show was established. Imagine Monty Python having a conniption fit. Now filter it through a Brit-punk-inspired episode of The Real World, and you have an idea of what's going on here. It's so insane that the musical guests (The Damned, Motörhead, and Madness, among others) are there for the audience to catch their breath as much as they are for tuneage. Imagine a show where Motörhead screaming through "Ace of Spades" acts as down time.

Much of the actual writing in the series is atrocious. It improved considerably after the initial six episodes, but the "jokes" weren't really the point. Watching Adrian Edmonson viciously and repeatedly smack Rik Mayall with a very real looking two-by-four... THAT was the point. This is a slapstick-driven show, with stereotypes so broadly-drawn they come all the way around and become sharply satirical. The dirty hippie, the heavy metal punk, the communist/anarchist, the sleazy faux ladies man... put these in the middle of a bad, sweaty acid trip and add copious amounts of Three Stooges-esque violence, and voila: A show you either love or hate. I absolutely adore this stuff, but I've been living on NyQuil and Diet Coke for the past 72 hours, so make of that what you will.

There are three DVDs here. The first two are the original 12 episodes, and, as much fun as it is, watching a whole DVD's worth (a little over three hours) in one sitting is grueling. It's simply too friggin' much. I like pizza, but I'm not gonna eat ten pounds of it for dinner. The third DVD has the standard extras: A "making of" documentary, talent bios, plus one episode each of shows the Young Ones cast did after the demise of the show, namely Filthy, Rich, and Catflap and Bottom.

Of the two, Bottom is better, although both are loony enough that the comparison is relative. If American TV could produce one show as bizarre and over-the-top entertaining as the "lesser" of these shows, I might actually watch it. The sheer bulk and consistent quality of this set make it a steal, even if it is about twice what you'd pay for a regular DVD.

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