A&E // 1997 // 375 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 28th, 2003
All 14 scrummy episodes in one handy tin!
He's lanky. He's gawky. He's rubber faced. He's Rowan Atkinson, and he's the irascible Mr. Bean. Overseas the Mr. Bean TV series was a huge success with everyone from little tykes to elderly adults. Here in the U.S. his movie, aptly titled Mr. Bean, bombed with both the critics and moviegoers. Yet Atkinson is still considered one of the funniest comedians around, a cross between Jim Carrey, Jerry Lewis, and a space alien. A&E has been gracious enough to give fans the bean, the whole bean and nothing but the bean with Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean, a three disc set making its first appearance on DVD...ever!
Welcome to the wonderfully insane world of Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson)! Sporting his trademark blazer and tie, Mr. Bean gets himself into all sorts of trouble while attempting everyday activities like parking his tiny automobile or attempting to take a school exam, all the while sporting a genuinely weird affection for his little ragged teddy bear. Mr. Bean blunders his way in and out of life, leaving dazed and confused citizens, baffled parish goers, and befuddled children in his wake.
Included on this disc are 14 episodes (each with sub-episodes):
* Mr. Bean
* The Return of Mr. Bean
* The Curse of Mr. Bean
* The Trouble with Mr. Bean
* Mr. Bean Rides Again
* Merry Christmas Mr. Bean
* Mr. Bean in Room 426
* Mind the Baby Mr. Bean
* Do It Yourself, Mr. Bean
* Back to School Mr. Bean
* Tee Off Mr. Bean
* Good Night Mr. Bean
* Hair by Mr. Bean of London
* The Story of Mr. Bean
* Never Before Seen-On-TV Sketches
Strange how one man can single handedly make you giggle like a Catholic schoolgirl for hours on end. Mr. Bean is one of those rare shows that doesn't just make you just giggle, though -- it got me laughing so hard that liquids and solids came flying out of my nose. Now that's comedy!
No doubt most of us know who Mr. Bean is by now. American audiences will easily recognize Rowan Atkinson from such Hollywood fare as Four Weddings and a Funeral, the blockbuster comedy Scooby-Doo, and the big screen (though far less funny) version of Mr. Bean. Here's your chance to see where it all began. There's something intrinsically enjoyable about watching a man contort his face into a thousand different forms. Atkinson has got this feat down to a science -- it's as if his face were molded from free form jelly. His eyes bug out like ping pong balls. His mouth flops and flaps as if it's got wings. His limbs are like hoses that seem to go every which way. The guy is a walking, talking (or mumbling) billboard for slapstick comedy.
These 14 episodes contain some wonderfully hysterical moments from the career of Mr. Bean. An entire episode devoted to Bean's experiences as a barber show that he's just as inept at combing his hair as he is trying to cut someone else's (there's even a goofy jab at Prince Charles). A holiday episode shows that when it comes to Mr. Bean stuffing and preparing a turkey, the plucked dead foul is the smarter of the two minds. My personal favorite skit shows Bean at a stogy Catholic church, attempting to stay awake throughout the length of a very monotonous sermon (complete with old time hymns). Everything from blowing his nose to unwrapping and eating a candy proves difficult for Bean (and the poor fellow unlucky enough to be seated next to him), ending in some very silly moments. Though the comedy is usually childlike, Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean is a show/character that both kids and adults alike will eat up (pun intended).
In a world filled with teen pregnancy, war torn violence, and broken hearts, Mr. Bean is a gentle reminder that God wants us to laugh. I realize that statement seems heavy handed and serious, but isn't it true? So many of us go through our daily lives without having a good hearty laugh when the night rolls around. Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean is a fantastic way to get your daily dosage of chuckles and guffaws. Recommended.
Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean's 14 episodes are all presented in 1.33:1 full frame, their original aspect ratio. The episodes aren't in great shape, though this is an accurate representation of the original series -- the show looked this way when it was aired, so there wasn't a whole lot A&E could do in the clean-up department. Although there is some discolored imaging and grain in the picture, overall these aren't bad with Rowan's rubber face showing up bright and bold on the viewer's screen.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English. Much like the video portions of this set, the sound mix is flat and not very impressive. Dynamic range and separation are both missing, though the bulk of this mix is clear of excessive hiss or distortion. In short, these soundtracks are all apt for the show they're supporting. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are included on these discs.
There aren't a ton of supplements on this set, though A&E have thrown on a few extras to whet you Bean-heads' appetites. Here's a rundown of what you get:
"The Story of Bean" Documentary: This 40-minute featurette is a great way to get an inside look into all things Bean. Featuring interviews with various participants and filmmakers from the show (including a very articulate Atkinson), this documentary tells how the character of Mr. Bean came into being. Folks like director Mel Smith (the Mr. Bean movie) and even Atkinson's old headmaster pop up to share enlightening thoughts on the funnyman, making this piece a worthwhile watch for fans of the series.
Bonus Sketches: Four bonus sketches are available: "The Library," "The Bus Stop," "Blind Date," and "Torvill and Bean" (the latter two from Comic Relief). Not surprisingly, if you enjoyed the series then you're going to love the extra episodes. The one where Bean goes on a dating show is the best of the lot.
Finally, there is a nice bio and filmography on Atkinson, a photo gallery of stills from the series, and a trailer for Mr. Bean: The Animated Series (which doesn't look half as funny as the live show).
You can't go wrong with a healthy dose of Beans...Mr. Bean, that is. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face, Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean is a worthy addition to any Mr. Bean/Rowan Atkinson fan's DVD collection. Though this set isn't packed with bonus materials, it is a complete record of the Mr. Bean show, and for that comedy fans should be grateful!
Review content copyright © 2003 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 375 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* 40-Minute Documentary
* Bonus TV Sketches
* Comic Relief Skits
* "Mr. Bean: The Animated Series" Trailer
* Photo Gallery
* Rowan Atkinson Bio and Filmography