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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » French & Saunders - Living in a Material World
French & Saunders - Living in a Material World
BBC Worldwide // Unrated // September 30, 2003
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted November 8, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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P R I N T
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THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
Before they created the great BBC series Absolutely Fabulous, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French starred in their own skit comedy series called French & Saunders, a sort of female Kids in the Hall. BBC has been releasing the series in single disc compilations which may not hew to the original structure of the show but give a good sense of the zaniness regardless.

French & Saunders: Living in a Material World contains a good selection of the pair's signature movie spoof skits. There's their celebrated Baywatch spoof, with hilarious body doubles and great use of slo-mo. Dawn French gives Pam Anderson the perfect skewering with too-white teeth and tons of make-up.

The duo also get some jabs in at Madonna: Truth or Dare, both playing the blond superstar. They act self-righteous and over-important, wandering around in white bathrobes. In one hysterical throw-away moment, Saunders pulls back a hotel curtain to reveal totally fake fan screaming on the soundtrack. She waves meekly and shuts the curtain and the screaming is gone.

Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, Batman and Braveheart also get intricate send-ups, as do Bjork and the Cranberries, although the musical tributes are a bit less effective as the jokey lyrics are a bit tough to make out. Still, these skits are all awesomely funny. They also tease the serious filmmaking styles of Ingmar Bergman (specifically The Seventh Seal) and Federico Fellini (La Strada and 8 1/2).

Two sets of running characters from French & Saunders: The Ingenue Years make brief appearances here. The weird skit where Saunders sits on the couch and French comes to visit her finds French in full Pocahontas garb, trying to make the case that the Disney character was based on her. ("I think I look much better when I'm drawn, don't you think?") Also, the two schoolgirls are back, this time trippin'. "Wow! Everything is like really, really weird!" French and Saunders are comfortable in so many different characters, it puts most sketch comedians to shame. These aren't just plain gags. The characters are true and complex but they're ridiculous and funny at the same time. It's easy to see where the amazing characters from Ab Fab come from. This is great, great stuff.

VIDEO:
The full screen video is fine, if unremarkable. The picture is a bit soft and the colors aren't vibrant, but it's acceptable. The source material doesn't seem to have been the sharpest either.

AUDIO:
The Dolby Digital 2.0 is also fine, if nothing special. Dialog is clear but not necessarily full of depth.

EXTRAS:
A 40 minute French & Saunders Easter special from 2003 is an excellent bonus. It's anamorphic widescreen and features another terrific movie spoof, this time for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. First off, the quality of the cinematography, costumes and make-up here far exceed anything you could reasonably expect for a TV comedy. It just looks amazing. Plus the humor lives up to the earlier F&S bits. A great extra feature.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Another fine set of skits from this classic comedy duo. With four discs on the market, however, it's starting to look more and more like a boxed set would make more sense. (NOTE : A box set compiling the releases to date is available here.) Still, this disc in particular would make a perfect stocking stuffer for fans of Brit-com.

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