Tag Archives: Stephen Fry

Fry and Laurie, Double the Fun

Finding this clip on YouTube was quite a treat, a special called Fry and Laurie Reunited (2010). At first, we get the two comedy stars’ background. Then these guys who’ve been best friends since the 1980s sit down to talk about their achievements in British television. Many laughs are shared, and it’s obvious how close Fry and Laurie are; watching them this relaxed and silly in each other’s presence adds to the fun. Laurie is now a Hollywood star and Fry a successful and beloved writer, actor and TV personality (among many other things). Wealthy and sophisticated, they still seem down to earth.

Amusing interviews with fellow comedians, long-time friends (Emma Thompson) and a “fan” (Daniel Radcliffe) are interspersed throughout the special.

The clip above is from The Cambridge Footlights Revue in 1982, where Fry, Laurie and Thompson started collaborating.

The reason why I ended up watching the whole thing is that I recently read “More Fool Me” by Stephen Fry, his 2014 account of drug-fueled years in British showbiz in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I love Fry’s writing, even if this book was far from his best. Too much of it is devoted to incidents and memories from his youth already covered in his earlier book “The Fry Chronicles”.

A huge chunk of the book consists of excerpts from his 1993 diary, which is a very interesting read, albeit somewhat repetitious. I also got the feeling that Fry skipped the worst parts of his cocaine addiction and we never really learn just how he kicked his habit.

Still, you’re never bored. There are standouts in the diary. Fry notes how Hugh and his wife Jo disapproved of his addiction, but were too polite to have a serious talk to him about it. Instead, Fry was embarrassed because he thought so highly of them and tried to be even more discreet in their presence. There’s also an encounter with the police where Fry is unbelievably lucky, and the revelation that the computer-savvy comedian had to help Emma Thompson rescue her subsequently Oscar-winning screenplay for Sense and Sensibility (1995), after the file got corrupted.

Both Fry and Laurie can certainly stand on their own. But having both of them is all the more fun, as evidenced by both the 2010 TV special and “More Fool Me”.

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Carrie Fisher: Princess Leia, Author, Feminist Icon and Dog Lover

2016 just refuses to end on a high note. This has been a year where an unusual high amount of superstars have passed away well before their time, especially in the field of music. We barely had time to digest George Michael’s passing a few days ago when we learned today that Carrie Fisher didn’t survive the heart attack she suffered on an L.A.-bound flight on December 23rd. She was 60 years old, and there are many of us who wished that she had lived for at least four more decades.

In the clip above, an interview with Stephen Colbert taped late November, Fisher shows that there was so much more to her than Princess Leia. Not least the fact that she was a dog lover…

Fisher was born in Beverly Hills, the daughter of two major stars, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Over the years, Fisher became perhaps the most typical example of what could happen to a Hollywood brat. She was only two when her father left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor. Fisher quickly followed in her parents’ footsteps, appearing in a Broadway show that starred Reynolds, “Irene”. Her film debut was a small role in Shampoo (1975), but the major breakthrough came with Star Wars where she played a character that became iconic – Princess Leia, a rebel hero and feminist frontrunner.

In the interview above, from 1980, she talks about the challenges of acting in a major blockbuster, in this case The Empire Strikes Back. It’s easy to see why so many boys at the time fell in love with her; she’s absolutely adorable, and the metal bikini that she had to wear as Jabba the Hutt’s slave in Return of the Jedi certainly played a part… but at the same time Fisher also became a role model for many girls growing up. She wasn’t reduced to being sidelined by the men, as so many other women on screen.

The trilogy made her career, and she had a wonderful comeback as Leia in The Force Awakens last year. But fame comes with a price, and Fisher was born into it. She started using cocaine during the making of The Empire Strikes Back and in 1985 she suffered an accidental overdose of sleeping pills and prescription meds. Fisher suffered from bipolar disorder, which played into her addiction. Her experiences led her to write “Postcards From the Edge”, a lauded autobiographical novel published in 1987, which was turned into a movie in 1990. In the clip above, eight minutes into the first episode of The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (2006), Stephen Fry talks to her about the disorder they shared.

As an actress, Fisher always made an impact in supporting roles, appearing in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), When Harry Met Sally… (1989) and a favorite of mine, The ‘burbs (1989). She also worked as a script doctor, provided the voice of Peter Griffin’s boss in Family Guy, and starred in a one-woman play, “Wishful Drinking”, in 2006-2007. Earlier this year, Fisher also released a memoir based on her diaries while making the first Star Wars trilogy.

We’ll remember Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. We’ll remember her as a feminist icon, and a role model for substance abuse survivors all over the world. We’ll remember her as a writer, author of books and savior of screenplays in need. And we’ll remember her as a dog lover.

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The Man Who Knew Infinity

GREAT KNOWLEDGE COMES FROM THE HUMBLEST OF ORIGINS.

manwhoknewinfinityAfter writing to famous mathematician G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) in 1913 and sending him advanced formulas, the young Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel), who’s grown up in India without an education, is brought to Trinity College and urged to prove his work. This biography of the tragically short life of a brilliant mathematician who carried the burden of having to show the hostile white academia that a person of color could be just as bright, may not reach the dramatic heights of A Beautiful Mind (2001). But its low-key style and slow pace is boosted by good performances, including Irons as a man who has chosen Cambridge over love.

2016-Britain. 108 min. Color. Widescreen. Written and directed by Matt Brown. Book: Robert Kanigel. Cast: Dev Patel (Srinivasa Ramanujan), Jeremy Irons (G.H. Hardy), Devika Bhise (Janaki), Toby Jones, Stephen Fry, Jeremy Northam.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

THE DEFINING CHAPTER. 

hobbit3The dragon Smaug flies to Esgaroth to destroy the town, but greater challenges await in the shape of a coming battle for Lonely Mountain. The final part of this trilogy is the shortest film Peter Jackson ever made about the Middle-Earth, but maybe that’s because it is so completely dominated by that five-army battle. Often brilliantly executed in 3D, there’s still a certain sense of emptiness lingering, a clear sign of the padding that has haunted the whole trilogy. Still, it’s interesting to see how darker the film is compared to the first one, and how lovingly and cleverly it sets up the Lord of the Rings series.

2014-U.S.-New Zealand. 144 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Peter Jackson. Screenplay: Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens. Novel: J.R.R. Tolkien. Song: “The Last Goodbye” (performed by Billy Boyd). Cast: Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly… James Nesbitt, Billy Connolly, Stephen Fry, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mikael Persbrandt.

Trivia: Also released in a 164-min. version.

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24: Live Another Day

JACK IS BACK.

24liveanotherdayAs the U.S. President (William Devane) arrives in Britain to negotiate a treaty, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), who’s been on the run for four years, resurfaces. Four years after the end of the original 24 came this follow-up, which can be viewed as a miniseries or shortened extra season. It’s as if nothing has changed, for good and bad. Nothing out of the ordinary has been attempted, but the change of scenery to London makes a difference and it is well-paced action (especially without the burden of 12 additional episodes…) that stays explosive, with few bumps in the road story-wise. Several characters from earlier seasons return, including Devane in an emotional turn as the ailing President.

2014-U.S. Made for TV. 516 min. Color. Directed by Jon Cassar, Milan Cheylov, Adam Kane, Omar Madha. Teleplay: Robert Cochran, Joel Surnow, Manny Coto, David Fury, Evan Katz, Sang Kyu Kim, Tony Basgallop, Patrick Somerville. Cast: Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe O’Brien), Yvonne Strahovski (Kate Morgan), Kim Raver, Tate Donovan, William Devane… Benjamin Bratt, John Boyega, Stephen Fry. 

Trivia: Shown on TV in 12 episodes. Judy Davis was allegedly considered for a part.

Last word: “I think the most difficult thing for me, in the six months leading up to shooting, was dealing with my nerves, and realizing that we’re opening this up again and trying not to be scared of it. […] I was very fortunate to have Jon Cassar, our director, because I must have annoyed the life out of him. For the first three days, I kept walking up to him going, ‘Does that feel right to you? Does that look right to you? Does it sound right?’ And he was like, ‘Kiefer, it’s perfect. It’s great. I wouldn’t have moved on, otherwise.’ I didn’t believe him, so he had to endure that for a few days.” (Sutherland, Collider)

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How to Cure Phil Robertson

Yesterday came the final nail in the coffin known as A&E vs. the Robertson family. The cable channel announced that a little more than a week after suspending Phil Robertson from the popular reality show Duck Dynasty, he’d join the family again this spring when taping resumes. In other words, the suspension had no meaning whatsoever. This is obviously no surprise.

The controversy began when GQ Magazine sat down with Robertson for an interview earlier this month and the talk turned sensitive. Suddenly, out of Phil’s mouth came the kind of things you expect to hear every Christmas from cranky, racist old relatives that have you rolling your eyes. But this time, the remarks (ignorant comments about gays disguised as religion, and a complete misrepresentation of African-American history) were not accepted as merely a rant from a privileged white man getting rich off of a reality show, trying to come across as a simple Christian staying true to the Bible. Not this year. Not with a black president. Not with gays finally getting the right to marry like everyone else. Robertson faced a huge backlash, which was countered by all kinds of far-right activists stepping up to “stand with Phil”. Even Sarah Palin, who admitted to not having read the interview, jumped on the bigoted bandwagon, because after all this is what she does.

The criticism against Robertson focused primarily on his anti-gay remarks, which were thoroughly parsed and countered. Less enthusiasm was spent on his comments about African-Americans, but they were just as bad. In one stumbling sentence, Phil basically expressed a longing for the good old days before blacks got it into their heads that they had rights. It’s interesting to read what the activist group Faith Driven Consumer had to say. According to CNN, its founder Chris Stone wrote that he and others would “remain vigilant as we measure whether A&E’s actions reflect true tolerance, diversity, and mutual respect — including their equal embrace of our biblically based values and deeply held beliefs.” That statement only reinforces the perception that Stone and his cohorts actually believe in and support the consequences of what Robertson said – homosexuality is sinful and blacks were better off before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on that bus.

When A&E suspended Phil, it amounted to little more than an empty gesture. Duck Dynasty needed him since he is a member of the Robertson clan, which is what the show is about. When the family, as expected, rebelled and said they wouldn’t do the show without Phil, A&E had to give in because they’re a business. A&E claims that they will use this moment to broadcast public service announcements “promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people,” also according to CNN. In my view, they should be very strong and unsubtle about it. Just go crazy. Why not introduce a gay character on the show? It’s not like Duck Dynasty is a documentary. Take the chance and confront Phil with his bigotry and write a happy ending where Phil learns to understand what it’s like not to be a white, heterosexual man hunting ducks in the wild. Maybe some in the audience will see the light, maybe even Phil himself.

My Christmas gift for Phil Robertson would be a DVD of Stephen Fry: Out There, the gripping two-part documentary that aired on BBC last October, where Fry traveled around the globe and, with a sense of humor, anger and some grief, chronicled the hatred facing gays in various countries. The clip above shows Fry’s confrontation with one of the men (it’s always men, isn’t it?) behind Russia’s new anti-gay laws. The ignorant fear behind the laws is brilliantly exposed.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

BEYOND DARKNESS… BEYOND DESOLATION… LIES THE GREATEST DANGER OF ALL. 

hobbit2On their journey to the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves enter a mysterious forest… and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) confronts a dark power. The second chapter in the Hobbit franchise is an improvement on the first, darker in tone, with several engaging adventures such as a battle with giant spiders, a crazy (and funny) escape in barrels down a river and Bilbo’s showdown with Smaug the dragon (voiced with gusto by Benedict Cumberbatch). Beautifully designed in eye-popping 3D, but still bloated and very much an afterthought to the Lord of the Rings movies.

2013-U.S.-New Zealand. 161 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Peter Jackson. Screenplay: Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens. Novel: J.R.R. Tolkien. Song: “I See Fire” (Ed Sheeran). Cast: Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins), Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield), Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Orlando Bloom… Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mikael Persbrandt, Stephen Fry.

Trivia: Also released in a 186-min. version. Followed by The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).

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Mission: Embarrass Russia

My last blog entry was largely about civil rights, and this one continues in the same vein. The fact that Wentworth Miller is gay is not big news; this has been assumed for years. Several media outlets in the U.S. focused on that yesterday, but let’s talk about what’s important now. I couldn’t care less who he’s dating. Miller chose to come out in a letter to St. Petersburg International Film Festival. They had invited him, but he declined because of Russia’s new horrible anti-gay laws. Here’s what he wrote:

I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government. The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.”

Miller was immediately praised by GLAAD, and he has now joined the ranks of several other high-profile celebrities who have drawn a line in the sand. George Takei has criticized IOC President Jacques Rogge for not talking tough enough with the Russian regime and has suggested disqualifying Russian athletes for breaching the Olympic Charter. Stephen Fry, who obviously has greater influence, recently met in secret with British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss gay rights in Russia. Fry has called for taking the 2014 Winter Olympics away from Sochi, and according to the Guardian the meeting was brokered by Evgeny Lebedev, son of the billionaire Alexander Lebedev. After all, money talks. In the clip above, Fry makes his case.

Earlier this summer, we also saw a picture in social media of Tilda Swinton holding a rainbow flag outside St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, an apparent violation of Russia’s anti-gay laws.

You are allowed to be gay in Russia. But that’s pretty much it. Hate crimes are not recognized as such and homosexuals are often targeted by angry young men, or neo-Nazis, or however they should be labeled. In other words, this is not a place to spend your pink tourist money. As a homosexual in Russia, you are not allowed to marry or adopt children. What has most riled people over the world is a recent federal ban on “gay propaganda”. There is no free speech in Russia on this issue, which is a blow to young gay Russians in particular who are in need of useful information. There have been reports of young gays committing suicide and being tortured. Polls suggest that the Russian people widely support these atrocious laws and they won’t be educated unless their President and politicians man up. This is unlikely to happen.

I don’t know what works best. Maybe companies should start refusing to do business with Russia until the persecution of gays ends. Maybe there should be boycotts of the Winter Olympics as a sign of how strongly we feel about this. Surely, that would reach through to the Russian people. Actors doing their part is not to be shrugged off. A lot of international films are shot in Russia now, such as the latest Die Hard movie, which wasn’t filmed there but put a positive spin on Putin’s regime. Since the movie business depends on its gay workers, why not speak Vladimir Putin’s language (money and nationalism) and refuse to do business with Moscow?

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Rest in Peace: Dennis Farina and Mel Smith

This past week has lost two originals in showbiz. Neither was what you may call a star, but Dennis Farina and Mel Smith were entertainers of the first order. 

No one could say “fuck” like Dennis Farina, as evidenced in the clip above. A former Chicago police officer, Farina was often cast as either a cop or a mobster because he knew both sides. He actually started out as a consultant to Michael Mann who worked with him on Thief (1981) and Miami Vice (1984-1989); he also had roles in that movie and on that show, and it wasn’t hard for him to move further into the business, playing Jack Crawford in Manhunter (1986) and a cop in Midnight Run (1988). He got his own TV show in 1986 with Crime Story, which lasted for two seasons. He also had memorable roles in Get Shorty (1995) and the TV series Luck (2012), where he played Dustin Hoffman’s right hand. The general public, however, is more likely to remember him mostly for his two-season work as Detective Joe Fontana on Law & Order. Farina died today from a blood clot in his lung. He was 69. 

Three days ago, the British comedian Mel Smith passed away from a heart attack at the age of 60. Celebrated by Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Fry and former comedy partner Griff Rhys Jones, Smith was called “kind, funny & wonderful to know.” Outside of Britain, Smith made little impact even though he did direct a film starring Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson called The Tall Guy (1989) and then Bean (1997) with Atkinson, which was a huge box-office hit. In the end, it was rarely Smith who got the credit for the work he did. He was known primarily for Not the Nine O’Clock News and Alias Smith and Jones, now classic comedy shows. The clip above shows him in a skit from the latter, “Nazi Generals”, which makes fun of a traditional view of German aristocratic soldiers in World War II as ruthless, sadistic and more than a little bit gay and lustful. 

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BAFTA This Sunday? Few Surprises

The British know how to put on a good show as well, and this Sunday we’ll have the BAFTA Awards handed out in London. The clip above shows the wonderful Stephen Fry opening last year’s ceremony (welcoming everyone from the greatest stars to “assorted media scum”), and he’ll repeat the feat this year.

A few comments on the nominations and what lies ahead of the Oscars. Everybody seems to agree that Argo will win the top prize as well as the director category. If it does, it’s another sign that Ben Affleck’s hostage thriller is on its way to win an Oscar for Best Picture even if the star himself can’t win one for Best Director. The GoldDerby experts believe in Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln, but the Best Actress category looks interesting because Jessica Chastain of Zero Dark Thirty might be challenged by Emmanuelle Riva for Amour. For me, there’s no question that Riva deserves to win. If she does, that could mean that the Oscar race is even more wide open than it already is.

Anne Hathaway is a lock once again for Les Misérables, but the Supporting Actor category looks confused as Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) looks set to battle it out with Javier Bardem (Skyfall). As for Best Score, I firmly believe that the Golden Globe for Life of Pi has shown the way; Mychael Danna will win. The Best Animated Feature, Documentary and Foreign Film categories will be won by Frankenweenie, Searching for Sugar Man and Amour. As for Best British Film, the pundits believe in Skyfall, and it probably will win considering the competition.

Conclusion? Well, there will always be surprises. But they won’t be many. Recognizing them and pondering what they might mean on this road to the Oscars is part of what makes Sunday’s show fun.

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Hugh Laurie: From Prince of Wales to Blackbeard

Blackbeard lives! At least in the mind of Neil Cross, the creator of Luther (2011- ), who has agreed to deliver a TV series to NBC titled Crossbones, which is set in 1715 and will portray the famed British pirate who robbed people on the eastern coast of the American colonies. It has now been announced that Hugh Laurie is in talks to play the pirate. Let’s hope that it works out better than it did when Laurie was announced as a cast member of the RoboCop (1987) remake.

 

In the early years (that’s the late 1970s), Laurie attended Eton and Cambridge, rowing like his Olympic gold-winning father, dating Emma Thompson and finding a friend for life in Stephen Fry. His interest in acting and comedy was obvious already in Alfresco, an early comedy sketch show featuring the above and Robbie Coltrane.

 

Another talented buddy Laurie and Fry found while studying was Rowan Atkinson. Together they made the Black Adder series. It was in the third and fourth seasons of the show that Laurie was handed more significant work, appearing as the thoroughly dim-witted Prince of Wales and Lieutenant George Colthurst St Barleigh. This sort of defined Laurie to international audiences, making his darker American breakthrough all the more surprising.

 

In the years 1989–1995, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry delivered four seasons of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, a comedy sketch show in the vein of Monty Python (although not quite as freaky as that). Especially valid as a weapon against the administrations of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, the show is interesting as a comparison to Jeeves and Wooster, the 1990-1993 adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse’s 1930s stories, also featuring Fry and Laurie (in a somewhat more conservative mood).

 

And then came House in 2004, the show that not only introduced Laurie to American audiences but also showed the world that this was an actor who could do a lot more than play moronic royals on TV. This was irresistible to him; his early experiences lead him toward darkness, such as the realization that his mother didn’t really like him (which is something he told James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio). Besides, what actor would resist such a tempting opportunity to research one’s most miserable corners? The clip above shows Laurie auditioning for House.

Perhaps Blackbeard offers Laurie another chance to dig deeper inside his past/mind?

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Black Adder: Hilarious History

blackadderAt a time when Rowan Atkinson chooses to make another Johnny English, one certainly needs to be reminded of an era when he was actually funny. Those days were the 1980s and Atkinson’s pinnacle of achievement became the TV series Black Adder. Conceived by him and Richard Curtis while they were working on Not the Nine O’Clock News (1979-1982), another of Atkinson’s watchable efforts, Black Adder was above all not meant to be another Fawlty Towers. Unfortunately, the high ambitions of the show almost torpedoed it.

The first series premiered in 1983 and neither Atkinson nor Curtis had any idea of what to do with their generous budget and the character of Edmund Blackadder himself. The show was set in the Middle Ages and viewers were introduced to the fictional King Richard IV (Brian Blessed) and his weaselly son Edmund (Atkinson) who constantly tried to impress his father. He was aided by two assistants, Baldrick and Percy (Tony Robinson, Tim McInnerny). Blackadder was an odd, unlikable and very poorly defined figure who failed to struck a chord with viewers; money was spent on genuine locations, but it was more chaotic than funny and sometimes overly academic. Three years later, a second series emerged and both Atkinson and Curtis had learned their lessons. This time the royal intrigues were moved to the 16th century where Blackadder now was a lord at Queen Elizabeth’s (Miranda Richardson) court. This time the character was clearly defined as an arrogant, dashing and highly sarcastic plotter; Baldrick and Percy had become completely witless accomplices. The changes, along with greater attention to dialogue-heavy scripts, and very welcome contributions from Richardson, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, provided a bedrock for great comedy.

Genuine interest in British history
The second season was followed by a third, set in the Regency era where Blackadder served as butler to the idiotic Prince of Wales (Laurie), and a fourth, set in the trenches of World War I where Blackadder was a captain putting up with the whims of General Melchett (Fry). Both seasons were hilarious, with the entire cast truly making the most of their characters; Atkinson suffering fools with a raised eyebrow and delivering his lines laced with acid, Robinson turning increasingly bizarre as Baldrick, McInnerny finding a chance to vary his silly Percy by turning into the spiteful Captain Darling in the fourth season. Laurie has dismissed his own performance as just “shouting”, but his Prince (and Lieutenant in season 4) was endearingly stupid; Fry was 32 when he played Melchett but felt like 62, without any old-age makeup, and got most of the big laughs in the final season. A genuine interest in British history was maintained throughout the show and the writers often saw a chance to ridicule historical figures. One consistent theme from season 2 and onwards was Blackadder’s somehow lovable tendency to despise anyone above or below him. Those in power, be they royalty or generals, were always portrayed as dim-witted, essentially just children playing grownups; Blackadder knew that he would be a better leader, but he was desperately stuck between the brainless haves and the equally stupid have-nots.

Ever since the fourth season, there has been talk about a fifth. Most of the cast are reluctant, and for good reason. The series actually ended on a bittersweet note and Fry’s analysis from a few years ago is correct: “Perhaps it’s best to leave these things as a memory”.

Black Adder 1983-1989:Britain. Made for TV. 24 episodes. Color. Created by Richard Curtis, Rowan Atkinson. Theme: Howard Goodall. Cast: Rowan Atkinson (Edmund Blackadder), Tony Robinson (Baldrick), Tim McInnerny (Percy Percy/Kevin Darling), Miranda Richardson (86-89), Stephen Fry (86-89), Hugh Laurie (86-89), Brian Blessed (83).

Trivia: All four seasons bore different titles: The Black Adder (1983), Blackadder II (1986), Blackadder the Third (1987) and Blackadder Goes Forth (1989). Later a stage show. Followed by TV specials in 1988 and 2000.

Quote: “It’s a ghastly place! Gangs of rough, tough, sinewy men roam the Valleys, terrorizing people with their close-harmony singing and you need half a pint of phlegm in your throat just to pronounce the place names. Never ask for directions in Wales, Baldrick. You’ll be washing spit out of your hair for a fortnight!” (Atkinson to Robinson)

Last word: “‘The Blackadder’ […] kind of represented a particular comic consensus amongst a group of creative people at a particular time in their careers. And I think it would be very difficult to replicate that atmosphere – to replicate that consensus – at a later stage, when all the writers and producers and actors and everyone else have moved on into so many different areas, and have become probably more choosy about what they do, and less flexible, let’s say, at accommodating other people’s whims and wishes.” (Atkinson, IGN)

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

As Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) conspires to start a world war by pitting France and Germany against each other, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law) try to outwit him. The two stars are still fun to watch and they’re superbly aided by an appropriately creepy Harris as Moriarty and Stephen Fry as essentially himself, playing Sherlock’s crafty brother Mycroft. Guy Ritchie employs some of the same visual tricks as in the last movie; some of them are effective, most of them merely emphasize this sequel’s generally bloated silliness.

2011-U.S. 129 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Guy Ritchie. Cast: Robert Downey, Jr. (Sherlock Holmes), Jude Law (John Watson), Noomi Rapace (Simza Heron), Rachel McAdams, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry.

Trivia: Gary Oldman and Daniel Day-Lewis were allegedly considered for the part of Moriarty.

 

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