Don't listen to Judge Joel Pearce. Everyone knows his fanny goes sideways.
Our reviews of Little Britain: The Complete First Series (published August 17th, 2005), Little Britain: The Complete Third Series (published January 3rd, 2007), Little Britain Live (published June 6th, 2007), and Little Britain: The Complete Collection (published December 19th, 2007) are also available.
"Eh eh ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"—Anne
After my rave review of the first series of Little Britain, I was quite excited for the opportunity to review the second series. But could the comedic brilliance possibly continue for another whole season? After all, the same jokes are only funny for so long.
Well, consider me pleasantly surprised. The second series of LIttle Britain is even better than the first, thanks to an increase in everything that made the first series great and solutions to most of the little problems that kept it from being perfect. This truly is the king of sketch comedy, and it has come to conquer North America and establish its own comedy Empire (okay, that might be a little strong).
In typical LIttle Britain fashion, the first few sketches in the first episode feature familiar characters and situations. We quickly settle in, waiting for our favorite characters to arrive. Most of them are here, of course, including trash teenager Vicky Pollard, Emily Howard (the world's least convincing transvestite), the continued adventures of Lou and Andy, and more meetings with Marjorie Dawes and her fat fighters.
What makes LIttle Britain so successful isn't that it sticks to its winning formula (which it does). Rather, it's the way that Matt Lucas and David Walliams continually push that formula further, finding new ways to shock us, surprise us, and make us laugh. Emily Howard is now joined by another transvestite named Florence, who needs to learn the ropes. This time around, we actually get to see one of stage hypnotist Kenny Craig's performances. It's the little touches that continue to impress. For instance, you may notice that Florence is actually the man from the pub in the first sketch with Emily Howard, who did not notice that Emily was really a man. Now, he has joined Emily as a transvestite. With each of the familiar characters, new situations have been employed to increase the laughs and shock value.
These old characters have been joined by a number of new faces, some of whom are very, very funny. There's a particularly awkward ongoing story involving Harvey, a young man and his peculiar relationship with his mother. Carol "computer says no" Beer is one of David Walliams's best characters. The story arc with "Bubbles" DeVere might be among the most distressing things I've seen in a very long time. Overall, these new additions replace some of the less successful sketches in the first series, and add a bit more variety.
It's not just the content that has improved. This second series of Little Britain is a lot more polished, as Walliams and Matt Lucas have clearly found the rhythm of the show and its characters. There are fewer awkward moments here, fewer confusing sketches, fewer slow segments. The first series was a breath of fresh air, but the second delivers on the promise that Little Britain would grow into one of the best comedy series ever. While some of the stories are repetitive, there are enough of them that it doesn't matter. Also, most of the sketches are now part of a longer story arc, which gives us more to anticipate and enjoy. This second series won't convert people who disliked the first series, but fans will have a blast.
Fans of the series also won't want to be without this DVD. The transfer on this one is a bit stronger, probably an indication of a higher second series budget. The sound is generic, but the characters are easy to understand (aside from Vicky). The real treasure trove is on the second disc, which contains a full 50 minutes of deleted scenes. Some of these are not as funny, some are so shocking that they decided to chop them, but they contain several different characters and offer some insight into how this type of show is assembled and edited. Lucas and Walliams are on hand for an optional commentary. There is also a production documentary, as well as a Comic Relief special, and a smattering of other interviews and bonus sketches.
Although it's a series that is better in small doses than marathon viewings, Little Britain is one of the funniest comedy series I have ever watched. It's savagely funny, clever, and demonstrates a keen understanding of human nature. Unless you are cursed with a hatred for British comedy or are deeply offended by gratuitous vomiting and naked fat suits, this series truly is required viewing. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
• 2005 Comic Relief Sketches
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