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The Young Ones: Every Stoopid Episode

Debuting in November 1982, the British comedy series The Young Ones took the conventions of TV situation comedy and turned them wrong-side-out — and then spat on them and lit them on fire. Showcasing the talents of the comedians from London's red-hot alternative comedy club The Comic Strip, the show starred Ric Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer, and Christopher Ryan as four mismatched college students sharing a house. Living in over-the-top squalor, much of the humor comes from what an extreme each character is — and how extremely unlikeable they all are. Mayall's Rick is a political reactionary and fanatical lover of pop star Cliff Richard, a skeevy ponce who continually denies his virginity; pre-Young Ones, Mayall's stand-up act involved reciting hilariously bad poetry, and he offers the occasional verse here such as "Pollution/All around/Sometimes up/And sometimes down/But always around/Pollution, are you coming to my town?/Or am I coming to yours ?/We're on different buses, Pollution/But we're both using petrol." Punk nutter Vyvyan (Edmondson) tends to screech at the top of his lungs and enjoys destruction on a Wile E. Coyote scale; Neil (Planer), the most sympathetic of the bunch, is a gentle, dim hippie who gets hit in the head a lot; and Mike (Ryan) is a cool smoothie fond of black shirts, white ties and sunglasses (he also appears to be the only one who bathes). The show was created and written by Mayall with Lise Mayer and Ben Elton; among his prodigious accomplishments, Elton went on to write the Blackadder TV series. The twelve episodes of The Young Ones are comedic anarchy — the "plot" of each show is merely a platform for seemingly random bits of violence, crude comedy, and occasionally surreal happenings. A typical episode, titled "Time," begins as a parody of American TV soap Dallas — it turns out to be Neil's dream, then concerns Rick's waking up next to a strange woman (AbFab's Jennifer Saunders, Edmondson's real-life wife) who they discover is a murderess named Helen Mucus. The plot includes a brief visit from the Easter Bunny (Dawn French) and ends with the house being stormed by angry medieval peasants. Mayall & Co. sold The Young Ones to the BBC as a variety show, which explains why every episode features music from bands like Madness, Motorhead, and The Damned standing around the lads' living room and doing a song for no apparent reason whatsoever. The show also featured comic Alexei Sayle in a variety roles, and frequent guest appearances by familiar faces like French, Saunders, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson and Python Terry Jones. BBC Video's three-disc DVD release of The Young Ones: Every Stoopid Episode offers bright, sharp full-screen transfers of the original twelve episodes plus episodes of the cast's later projects "Filthy Rich & Catflap" (which isn't very funny) and "Bottom" (which is). Also on board are two behind-the-scenes featurettes, "Creating the Young Ones" (15 min.) and "The Young Ones and the '80s" (6 min.), plus cast-and-crew notes. Three-DVD folding digipak.
—Dawn Taylor

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