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Warner Home Video presents
The Young Ones: Every Stoopid Episode (1982, 1984)

"I hope you're satisfied, Thatcher!"
- Rick (Rik Mayall)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: September 30, 2002

Stars: Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer, Christopher Ryan, Alexei Sayle
Other Stars: Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson, Terry Jones, Mark Arden, Paul Bradley, Stephen Frost, Norman Pace, Tony Robinson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Jools Holland, Pauline Melville, Griff Rhys Jones, Helen Atkinson-Wood, Christopher Barrie, Helen Lederer
Director: Paul Jackson, Geoff Posner

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (comic violence, language, gore, suicide, sexual humor, racial epithets)
Run Time: 06h:43m:39s
Release Date: September 17, 2002
UPC: 794051168023
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+B+B B+

DVD Review

Nothing is quite as anarchic as British comedy, and in the early 1980s a new generation of comics was taking the spirit of The Goon Show and Monty Python's Flying Circus to new madcap heights. Spotted in live comedy clubs, a group of these comics somehow managed to produce two six-episode series of utterly mad comedies about four disgusting college roommates, liberally laced with political humor, extreme violence and rough language. Warner collects all twelve episodes of these two series here, mostly uncut. The name seems truly apt, for when The Young Ones was a regular institution on MTV (in censored versions), I and my friends devotedly looked forward to every episode of what we affectionately called "The Stupids."

The setup is quite straightforward. Manic Rick (Rick Mayall) is a pimply poseur who fancies himself the People's Poet. Punker Vyvyan (Adrian Edmondson) is an ultraviolent malcontent (complete with metal studs in his forehead) who spends most of each episode beating up his housemates or demolishing the place. His particular target of wrath is hippie Neil Pye (Nigel Planer), who brings filthiness to new heights when he's not trying to kill himself. Mike (Christopher Ryan) is a player who always has a scheme to make money or score some birds. Rounding out the cast is Marxist comic Alexei Sayle, who not only appears as the landlord, Jerzei Balowski, but various and sundry members of the Balowski family who come to plague the foursome. Each episode also featured a musical guest, mainly so that the program would be considered "variety" and be given a higher budget. But it also worked as an interesting little time capsule of 1980s British music, for quite a few notable bands made an appearance on the program, usually playing in the living room amidst the action, in a situation reminiscent of The Monkees series.

Series 1, Episode 1: Demolition
Original air date: 9 November 1982
Musical Guest: Nine Below Zero

"I've finished building my gallows and it's totally far out." - Neil

The series gets a wild start as the household is scheduled for demolition (already). Neil prepares to commit suicide, Rick writes a protest poem and crucifies himself, and the staple food of students everywhere, pots of lentils, turn up in some unlikely places. A satire of young people's television on public access hits the mark as well, and the Cliff Richard references are already flying fast and furious. Musical guest Nine Below Zero plays Eleven Past Eleven. Four and a half pots of lentils for a promising beginning.





Series 1, Episode 2: Oil
Original air date: 16 November 1982
Musical Guest: Radical Posture

"Do you really think anyone has ever been even the slightest bit interested in anything you say or do, Neil? Fascist." - Rick

The boys move into the new house (still owned by Jerzei Balowski, and equally decrepit), where they find Buddy Holly hanging from the ceiling. Mike sets up a roller disco, and Vyvyan finds oil in the cellar while playing Murder in the Dark. Lots of laughs and the program hits its stride. Four and a half pots of lentils here too.





Series 1, Episode 3: Boring
Original air date: 23 November 1982
Musical Guest: Madness

"Oh no, not the goldfish again." - Mike

The young ones are bored this time out. Trying to get some excitement, they resort to Monopoly. Billy Balowski comes with an important message and visits the goldfish bowl. We learn the problems of demons in Hell and Madness plays their hit House of Fun. The premise gets a bit overdone by the end, but even weak Young Ones is fun. Three brimming pots of lentils.





Series 1, Episode 4: Bomb
Original air date: 30 November 1982
Musical Guest: Dexy's Midnight Runners

"Neil, the lentils are dripping all over the stairs." - Vyvyan

When an atom bomb falls into the kitchen, Mike tries to figure out how to sell the thing to terrorists, while Vyvyan tries his best to set it off. There's also an unlicensed telly, a hamster in the toaster and Vyvyan works on his comedy act. Reggie Balowski, arms dealer and chanteuse, makes an appearance as does one-hit skiffle band Dexy's Midnight Runners, who play Jackie Wilson Said instead of their one hit, Come On, Eileen.





Series 1, Episode 5: Interesting
Original air date: 7 December 1982
Musical Guest: Rip, Rig & Panic

"How about you, me and the Holy Ghost going upstairs for a closer look at those moral understays?" - Mike

It's party time at the household, though the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and a gigantic sandwich also make an appearance. Rick tries valiantly to score with some women, but makes the mistake of going through the contents of the handbag of one of them, in one of the crudest comic highlights of the series. Neneh Cherry leads Rip, Rig & Panic in a song and drunken Tommy Balowski spews forth.





Series 1, Episode 6: Flood
Original air date: 14 December 1982
Musical Guest: None

"Is yours the stuff with the sticky labels with 'Rick' written on it? Oh, sod it, I'm very sorry, Rick, I didn't know. I thought it was mine and I've eaten it, every last bit." - Vyvyan

Starvation sets in as the house is covered in a deluge of Biblical proportions. Vyvyan comes up with a cure for not being an axe-wielding homicidal maniac, and puts it in a Coke can so no one drinks it by mistake. Some surreal interstitial material makes this a half hour of inspired lunacy, and Jerzei Balowski predictably gets thirsty for some Coke. No musical guest this time out, though.





Series 2, Episode 1: Bambi
Original air date: 8 May 1984
Musical Guest: Motörhead

"Can you actually kill yourself with laxative pills?" - Neil

One of the funniest moments of television ever, in my estimation. The boys head to the launderette for the first time since 1981, and find themselves on University Challenge where they defend the honor of Scumbag College against the effete snobs of Footlights College, Oxbridge. Emma Thompson makes an appearance as Lady Money-Sterling, a guffawing twit. Totally gut-busting, sick humor, especially when Vyvyan decides to find out why one shouldn't lean out of train windows.





Series 2, Episode 2: Cash
Original air date: 15 May 1984
Musical Guest: [cut]

"I don't seem to be able to nail the plates to the table without breaking them." - Neil

The boys are dead broke and desperate. So desperate, in fact, that they dress Neil up to get him to join the army. There he's greeted by Benito Balowski, who rejects him, but the police take him. Vyvyan reveals that he's pregnant. This would be a perfect five pots, except the musical guest, Ken Bishop's Nice Twelve, an ad hoc ensemble including Stewart Copeland of The Police, performing Subterranean Homesick Blues is cut, apparently due to rights issues.





Series 2, Episode 3: Nasty
Original air date: 29 May 1984
Musical Guest: The Damned

"Oh no. The front door's exploded." - Rick

The video nasty furor of the 1980s is savaged here as the boys rent a VCR and a couple of nasties. But it's also bath night, with some disgusting revelations, and a strange package comes from the Transvaal bearing a vampiric member of the Balowski family. Musical guest The Damned appropriately plays its hit Video Nasty. One of the weaker episodes, it's still hilarious.





Series 2, Episode 4: Time
Original air date: 12 June, 1984
Musical Guest: Amazulu

I'm going to be violently and copiously sick. - Vyvyan

The episode starts off with a brutal satire of Dallas, with Neil taking the part of scheming E.T., who is determined to give away the family oil empire. Time goes haywire, Vyvyan fights a hangover and there's an unscheduled visit from the Easter Bunny. Reggae band Amazulu plays So Much Love.





Series 2, Episode 5: Sick
Original air date: 5 June 1984
Musical Guest: Madness

"If you don't stop sneezing by the time I count three, I'm gonna cut your bottoms off and ram them up your nose." - Vyvyan

For some reason this episode is presented out of original airdate order, but it's not important. The boys are as the title implies, sick as dogs, and neon-green snot flies copiously. Neil's parents come to tea, master criminal Brian Damage (Sayle) wreaks havoc, and there's an extended satire of overly pleasant British sitcoms. Gross, disgusting, and funny. Madness returns and plays its hit "Our House".





Series 2, Episode 6: Summer Holiday
Original air date: 19 June 1984
Musical Guest: None

"Oh, did I say 'kiss you on the bottom?' Oh, beg my pardon, I meant to say, 'Stick a pick axe through your spinal column.'" - Vyvyan

Term is finally over, and the boys are bored again. When Jerzei evicts them for demolishing the house, they turn to bank robbery for thrills. The grand finale involves a jab at Cliff Richard's Summer Holiday (complete with theme song) when they hijack a double-decker bus and head for a final confrontation with Cliff. A suitable sendoff.







Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The full-frame video original looks about as good as one can expect of 20-year-old video. Edges are somewhat soft, colors are muted and a few of the episodes (particularly the second series) are very dark, with shadow detail completely plugged up. Still, they look better than they did on MTV, and miles better than the previous VHS release.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono soundtrack sounds quite good, with the raucous music having nice definition and presence. Dialogue is generally clear, though the thick accents make the subtitles highly useful. Hiss and noise are nominal.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 72 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring French & Saunders, Wallace & Gromit, Absolutely Fabulous, Robbie the Reindeer
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Digipak
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Filthy Rich & Catflap episode 1
  2. Bottom episode 1
Extras Review: A third disc includes a panoply of interesting material. First up are segments of two documentaries relating to the development of the series and its origins in the comedy clubs. Interviews with Mayall and director/producer Paul Jackson are highlights here. There's also a 3m:13s clip of Mayall performing live in 1981 that shows just how much of his TV persona comes from his stage act. Unfortunately, the 1986 Comic Relief reunion, with Cliff Richard, isn't included, presumably also a victim of rights issues.

The best extra here is a pair of episodes from two later series featuring Edmondson and Mayall. These two had long been a comedy team, and their timing off each other is better evident here than in the main series. Filthy Rich & Catflap features Mayall as Richie Rich, a pompous actor, with Edmondson as Eddie Catflap, his demented roommate. Nigel Planer returns in very different persona as Filthy, Richie's sleazy agent. The 1991 Bottom features Edmondson and Mayall as flatmates again, this time desperately trying to procure some birds, resorting to spray-on pheromones. More typically sitcom, it's still quite funny indeed and these episodes are wonderful extras to have.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

The mania and madness that is The Young Ones hits DVD in a very nice set. Unfortunately, one musical guest is cut out entirely on rights grounds, but it's nice to have the series and there are plenty of extras to make up for the loss.

 


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