Judge Bill Treadway has a cunning plan: review the contents of this DVD set.
Rowan Atkinson in the role he was drawn to play!
After wreaking unintentional havoc in the live-action world, Mr. Bean has been transplanted into the two-dimensional world of animation. Courtesy of A&E Home Video, Mr. Bean is set to invade your local DVD player!
Facts of the Case
The Cast of Characters:
• Mr. Bean—A grown-up man with a child's sense of wonder and selfishness.
• Teddy—Bean's beloved companion. He may be a teddy bear to some, but to Bean, he's a friend.
• Mrs. Wicker—Bean's cranky landlady, who owns the boarding house in which Bean resides.
• One-eyed Cat—Mrs. Wicker's beloved pet, who despises Bean.
• Irma—Bean's girlfriend, who lives in the same boarding house.
• Maitre d'—Frenchman who runs a fancy restaurant that Bean frequents (and often wrecks!).
The live action Mr. Bean series started life as a cult item that aired on HBO in the early 1990s. I was blissfully ignorant of Bean for many years, until I caught a few episodes on public television. I laughed my tail off, so I went searching for more Bean. I rented tapes, saw the 1997 theatrical film many times, and became a major Bean fan. So imagine my bliss when I discovered that I'd be reviewing the animated series.
I'll grant you one thing. The animated series is not as funny or manic as the live action series. Rowan Atkinson, one of the greatest British comedians of recent years, has strengths in physical comedy that even the best animation cannot recreate. The stories seem more preoccupied with material that could not be done in live action. The animation is good for its type. It's bright and colorful, often appealing to the eye. It's better than most Saturday morning fare.
All 18 Bean adventures from the second season are featured in this two-disc set. On a scale of zero to five beans:
"In the Pink"
"Dinner for Two"
A&E's presentation sports a full frame transfer that is free of blemishes and defects. Colors are more subdued than normal for a cartoon. The sole culprit is edge enhancement, which is a shame. The animation already has broad enough outlines without having to add those ghostly white borders.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. The mix is good for its type. However, a stereo mix is really unnecessary for this program. Crucial dialogue is minimal. Sound effects are simple and effective. A mono mix would have done the job just as well.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There are scant extras in this set. A ten-minute featurette titled "Keyboard Capers: Live Action Guide" shows Rowan Atkinson acting out an entire script for the animators. It only hammers home the weakness of the series. Trailers for A&E's The Whole Mr. Bean and Mr. Bean: The Animated Series sets, a photo gallery and a biography of Atkinson rounds out this package. Commentary tracks would have been nice. The Looney Tunes Golden Collection and Somewhere in Dreamland proved that there is a market for commentary tracks about animation.
Mr. Bean fans will be among the first to purchase this set. Casual fans will want to rent this set first. Make no bones about it, the cartoon just isn't the same. I will admit that the affordable $24.95 retail price does make it an attractive blind buy.
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Scales of Justice
• Keyboard Capers: The Live Action Guide
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