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Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials

BBC Video // 2012 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // October 4th, 2012

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All Rise...

The sitcom of Judge Jim Thomas' life is nicknamed AbDrab.

Editor's Note

Our review of Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything, published May 21st, 2008, is also available.

The Charge

Britain's Best Boozy, Bawdy Broads are Back.

This review is brought to you by the letter "B."

The Case

Fun-loving PR agent Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders, Shrek 2) and her best friend, debauchee emeritus Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley, Sapphire & Steel) celebrate their twentieth anniversary with a trio of tales. BBC Video brings us Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials. Do try to behave, darlings.

• "Identity"—After Edina's daughter Saffron gets released from prison after a two-year stint for fraud (it all gets explained, trust me), her former cellmate, Baron, comes for a visit. Everyone has a bit of a shock in store; Baron is Patsy's drug dealer, and Patsy owes her £50,000. Desperate, Edina and Patsy realize that the only way Patsy can get the money is to claim her pension—which means revealing her true age.

• "Job"—Desperate to impress Saffron, Edina takes as a client Saffron's favorite French film star, Jeanne Durand (Lindsay Duncan, Under the Tuscan Sun), getting her a booking to sing at the Royal Albert Hall. A small complication develops when they realize not just that Durand isn't all there, but more importantly, that she cannot sing; Edina brings in former clients LuLu and Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) for assistance.

• "Olympics"—Since Edina's house is very close to the Olympic venues, Edina decides to rent it to Michael Douglas. Douglas doesn't show up; however, Edina's second ex-husband does, along with his new wife Bo.

AbFab is so much a child of its times, a rousing send-up of the materialism of the Thatcher era as well as the fashion industry. During the past twenty years, there have been only five series, along with more than a few specials scattered along the way. Edina is a complete mess, forever chasing false dreams, while her daughter Saffron, ever the grounded one, does her best to act as an anchor—but between Patsy, Edina's dotty mother, and Edina's even dottier assistant Bubbles (Jane Horrocks, Little Voice), it's pretty much a lost cause. Edina loves her daughter, she simply cannot relate to her on any level. It drives Edina mad, as can be seen in "Job," but she simply hasn't a clue. Patsy is effectively a force of nature, a combination of attitude and an indestructible liver. It's like watching a glorious train wreck at times, but it a fun wreck to watch unfold.

This is not a disc for the AbFab newcomer—it assumes that you're already familiar with the characters—and in at least one case, the actors portraying them. That said, the disc is great fun; each episode as it's on peculiar charm. "Olympics" is perhaps a bit forced, but that can happened when you're working with a specific event. Besides, "Job" is so delightfully messed-up from beginning to end that you don't really care, including a magnificent payoff.

There are two extras:

• A Sport Relief special: Edina is training for a Sport Relief function; it does not end well. Meanwhile, Patsy fills in for Edina in a meeting with designer Stella McCartney. Kate Moss, Stella McCartney, Emma Bunton, David Gandy, and Linford Christie.

• The other extra is a brief featurette on the making of this special. The special looks a little rushed, and the featurette bears that out, but it's still fun. The featurette is interesting if for no other reason than you get to see Joanna Lumley using her natural speaking voice—there's a natural grace and charm that is utterly absent when she's Patsy. Technically the disc is in pretty good shape—crisp, vivid colors, and clear sound.

The Verdict

Fabulous, darling, absolutely fabulous.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 87

Perp Profile

Studio: BBC Video
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Foreign
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes


• IMDb
• Official Site

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