Fans of British comedy can finally be thankful with the release of The Young Ones
on DVD. This 2-disc set follows Rick (Rik Mayall), Vyvyan (Adrian Edmonson), Neil
(Nigel Planer), and Mike (Christopher Ryan) as the leave home to attend college
at … The simple premise of four different characters—a ladies man,
a hippie, a dork, and a punk rocker—living together is taken to surreal
extremes in the 12 episodes that make up the series. Top each show off with a
musical performance by groups like Motorhead and Madness, and you've got
one of the most memorable and short-lived comedy shows of the 90's.
Each episode had the guys working their personalities to the extreme while
dealing with the less than everyday occurrences that surrounded them. Rick constantly
looks for acceptance while Neil only wants to be noticed so badly that his desperation
often has him contemplating suicide. Vyvyan's only purpose if life is
to confuse and cause problems, while Mike's pursuit (or appearance of)
of the ladies is almost single-minded at times. Not only do they face the popular
college challenge of laundry, finding food and earning money that also have
to deal with terrorists invading the house, a nuclear bomb in the basement and
Demolition: The pilot episode opens with all the elements in place, but things
aren't as smooth as they would eventually be. The characters are extreme
caricatures and the sets aren't quite developed and will be replaced in
the next episode. The surreal begins quickly with a group of talking rats hanging
about. Music by Nine Below Zero.
Oil: The guys move into their new house after the old one is destroyed. Vyvyan
finding oil in the basement is likely the most normal idea in an episode that
features Mike finding Buddy Holly still alive, hanging from the roof on a parachute.
He attempts to record Buddy Holly's new song—about eating crickets
and spiders—only to have him fall through the floor to his death. Also
look for Neil with six arms and a talking sunflower. Music by Radical Posture.
Boring: Things get really strange when the group declares their boredom all
while being visited by terrorists, fairies, and Hell. The rats playing poker
are back, along with a roller-skating carrot and stick of butter. Things continue
being boring as terrorists invade the house and the gang watches obliviously
as the whole thing plays out on the television. Look for the street made famous
by the Beatles during the music by Madness as the group goes to the pub and
Vyv finds his mother.
Bomb: The first new opening starts the episode when a bomb drops through the
roof. Neil is the first to unwittingly discover the hole, when he falls through
the floor. After discovering the bomb, the gang tries to auction it to the highest
bidder. Meanwhile Neil is bummed by the teakettle's suicide and the TV
license man (cable guy) comes calling. Music by Dexys' Midnight Runners.
Interesting: It's time for a party at the house and you won't believe
the guests. Vyv predates Tim Allen's comedy when he arrives with a vacuum
with a car motor on it and the guests start to arrive. Things again take a surreal
turn when the rotten food in the fridge talks and the singing tomato sings about
ketchup. The party guests start to arrive and they include Santa Claus, Cinderella,
and the Four Horseman. Look for Jennifer Saunders (of Absolutely Fabulous) as
a party guest. Music by Rip, and Panic.
Flood: Again a few new scenes are added to the opening credits and things open
in medieval times. Things seem weird until Neil hits himself in the head with
a pan and we learn that it's all in the garden. Rick imagines himself
as a hero called the People's Poet. Things finish and get weirder when
the landlord turns into an Ax Wielding Maniac and Vyv winds up in Narnia while
trying to hide.
Bambi: Season 2 starts off with what's easily the best and most popular
episode. New credits open this episode as Neil arrives with great news. The
gang gets to play on University Challenge as representatives for Scumbag College
but before they go, it's time to do the laundry, which seems to have a
mind of its own. Vyv literally loses his head on the train ride to the game
show and Motorhead is the musical guest playing Ace of Spades.
Cash: A poltergeist is in the house as things keep disappearing and the gang
has run out of money. That means there is only one thing to do and that means
go visit the neighbors. With none of their ideas working, it's time to
get a job. Not wanting to work, Vyv announces to the gang that he's pregnant
and Neil if forced to join the police force.
Nasty: This episode sports a great set of opening credits, presenting the show
as if it were a horror movie. The gang carries a coffin to the graveyard and
they get their first VCR. Things get twisted when Rick's Teddy Bear's
are caught in the act and Neil falls out the window after his bath. When the
postman delivers a strange package from Transylvania that turns out to be a
vampire and the VCR finally starts to work. The vampire turns out to be South
African and is vanquished by pop music from the band The Damned.
Time: Another set of credits open the show with a take-off of Dallas. Things
seem to be upside down as Neil wakes up from his dream and Rick finds himself
in bed with a girl. Trying to get everyone to take notice, Rick learns once
again how unimportant he is. Add an appearance by the Easter Bunny, in June,
and the rest of the guys just don't know how to act around the girl. She
doesn't seem to remember him and contradicts Rick's story. She's
also hiding a secret and will the guys discover it before it's too late.
Music is by Amazulu.
Sick: Things around the house get pretty gross when everyone comes down with
horrible colds. Things kick into high gear when they are taken hostage by a
murderer and Neil gets planted in the garden. Neil's parents show up in
this episode and there's a riot in the street. Madness shows up once again
as the musical guest.
Summer Holiday: School's out and it's a typical school's
out situation. Once again there's nothing to do and no money, so it's
time to explore the backyard. You'll finally learn just what Mike has
been doing, or hasn't been doing, at school and Neil has seemingly had
enough. One of the strangest lines of the entire series comes when a young boy
is told to stop sticking his ear and he responds with, "but I only wanted
to see what his brains tasted like." After a botched attempt to get money,
Rick hijacks a bus and the guys meet a strange fate as they discuss what the
It's hard to describe the show—as is often the case with British
comedy—because it makes absolutely no sense most of the time. Things happen
when they want to and nothing connects unless it's convenient, but it's
all part of the charm and appeal of the show.
Video: Typical of BBC releases, the video is as poor looking
as it was when it originally aired. That's not to say that it's
bad, but it's dull and drab looking. The video is presented in its original
full screen and it looks good enough.
Audio: The stereo track is clean and audible. Compared to
the video, the audio has aged quite well. All the vocals and bands sound good.
There are a few bright spots when some of the loudest sound effects go off.
Extras: With a whole disc devoted to extras, there are quite
a few nice features. A documentary details the origins of The Young Ones. It's
a great look into what when into making the show and the actual amount of preparation
and improvisation that went into each episode. Another short shows where the
Young Ones fit into the 80's scene. Comprised of more interviews with
the people from the documentary, it's details the punk background that
influenced the show. Performers who were influenced by the show are also interviewed.
It works as a nice companion to the other documentary.
Another short shows Rik Mayall doing an early stand-up routine. He seems to
be in character of Rick from the show. It's funny stuff, but doesn't
play as well without the rest of the guys around. Also included are talent files
for al the key players, guest stars (look for Robbie Coltrane, Jennifer Saunders,
Dawn French, and more). Talent files for all the guest bands are included as
Two episodes of other comedies starring the players from The Young Ones are
included on the disc as well. Filthy Rich and Catflap is the less interesting
of the two. More absurd than even the Young Ones, it centers on the trio as
they deal with the show business world. Bottom features an older looking Rik
Mayall and Adrian Edmonson as roommates. The two obviously have a knack for
working together and it shows quite well in this pairing. It's a different
pair of characters from the ones portrayed in the Young Ones and Catflap and
they still make it interesting. Both shows are quite different from American
sitcoms. They rely mainly on the key players. There are little to no guests
and the sets are quite confined. It's a sign of their talent and they
way things are done overseas.
Overall: They Young Ones in a great set of the short-lived
comedy. Many may be familiar with the show, Comedy Central and MTV both aired
edited episodes. It's nice to have the complete set and the extras add
a nice look behind the scenes.