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'Absolutely Fabulous - Absolutely Everything'
(Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, et al / 9-Disc DVD / NR / 2008 / BBC Video)

Overview: Winner of 14 honors, including two British Academy Awards and two International Emmys, 'Absolutely Fabulous' is written by and stars Jennifer Saunders as Edina, the demented PR guru obsessed with keeping up with the times. Her best mate, Patsy (played with glorious panache by Joanna Lumley), is the magazine editor who can't find her office and has a penchant for pill-popping and young men!

DVD Verdict: This is simply the one of the best, if not the best television show to come out of any country. A truly hilarious show of a couple of women who are completely in their own worlds, they smoke, they booze, they curse and all while wearing high fashion.

Indeed, when anyone raves about Sex and the City, you need only to remind her that the Brits did it first - and better - with the creation of the brave say-anything show about sex, drugs, and the battle of the bulge. Absolutely Fabulous is a groundbreaking, off-the-wall comedy from the early 1990s, which began with a skit from The French and Saunders Show, about a moral, uptight daughter and her extremely loose mother.

Ab Fab has taken this to the extreme. Edina (Jennifer Saunders) is the queen of excess. Her clothes are outrageous, her attempts at weight loss comical, and her efforts at motherhood (her daughter, Saffron--played to perfection by Julia Sawalha--is a practical-minded, reliable teenager) are uneven at best. Eddy's best friend is Patsy, a promiscuous Ivana Trump look-alike who always has a cigarette between her lips, a drink in her hand, and a fine-looking man (or boy) in her bed.

The entire show lasted for three seasons, and all are included in this set. From organizing an orgy to a brush with poverty to the death of Eddy's father, nothing - and we mean nothing - is sacred in this show. Without a doubt, Ab Fab is one of the greatest television satires created, although keep in mind that it's strictly for adults.

But perhaps the best thing about watching Ab Fab on DVD is that it's not edited for content. True, even though it appeared on cable, Comedy Central had to edit out a few choice words (the BBC, as well as all other European television stations, are a little more lenient than American stations), all of which naturally appear on the DVD. It's not a huge deal, & I'm a mature guy, but for you hardcore purists, this is the only way to go! It just makes it a little more enjoyable.

Some of the best, most intelligent, insightful moments (both comedy and drama) come from the constant conflicts between mother and daughter. Edina's best friend from school, Patsy Stone (played admirably by ex-model Joanna Lumley) was unwanted by her mother while growng up, and so she's even more of a drunken, drug dependant, slutty mess than Edina...and Patsy has always openly resented Saffy for being an obstacle to Edina's hedonistic lifestyle.

The partying antics of Edina and Patsy add just enough silliness to make the show more fun at appropriate intervals. So, there is plenty of intelligence, insight, debauchery and silliness to make this a great all-around comedy.

It's just like when Edina says to Saffy, "It's lovely how I call you Sweetie Darling all the time, isn't it? I wonder how that started." Saffy replies, "It started because you couldn't remember my name for the first 3 years." PRICELESS!!! We need to see more brilliant British comedy here in the U.S.

They've gone down roads that even the shows that were paved by them won't dare to go. It doesn't matter how often you watch these episodes, they never get old. Every character is just as outrageous as the next one. A definite must see for everyone. And with this box set, you won't have to run around looking for the other seasons and specials!

And so, in wrap, 'Absolutely Fabulous - Absolutely Everything' is a complete Ab Fab anthology delivering the series' entire run - all 36 episodes, all five seasons - from its humble beginnings to its cocky, self-assured years as an international hit. Plus, we get all three specials, including Gay, a.k.a. the famous Absolutely Fabulous in New York Christmas special.

Then we get four hours of bonus features such as genuinely hilarious outtakes, flubs, and crack-ups from each season; two sample episodes of the original sketch comedy show French & Saunders, with the show's genesis in a sketch featuring Jennifer Saunders as Edina and her comedy partner Dawn French as Saffy (remember how The Simpsons started on The Tracey Ullman Show?); gorgeous young Joanna Lumley, in footage from the 1960s, discussing her life as a Carnaby Street model (and you can tell where Patsy's nicotine addiction came from); photo galleries for every season; and the feature-length behind-the-scenes retrospectives How to Be Absolutely Fabulous and Absolutely Fabulous: A Life.

On top of all that we get funny and informative commentary tracks from Saunders and producer Jon Plowman on the Season Four episodes. Topics up for lively, often ribald discussion include the difficulties involved with bringing the series back after a gap of several years. This is a Wide Screen Presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.