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Monday, September 24, 2012

Absolutely Fabulous completes collection again

For those who bought the Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything DVD set last year, you might have been disappointed to learn that, while the descriptor was true at the time, there have since been more entries into the series, so you no longer have Absolutely Everything. With the recent release of the single disc DVD Absolutely Fabulous 20th Anniversary Specials, there is now an opportunity to correct that.

Absolutely Fabulous 20th Anniversary Specials is exactly what the title suggests. This DVD contains December's "Identity," January's "Job," and July's "Olympics." That's right, all three of the new episodes made this past year. Also present is "Ab Fab Does Sport Relief," a non-official episode presented last March. The sole special feature is "Behind the Scenes at Sport Relief."

Edina (Jennifer Saunders), Patsy (Joanna Lumley), and Saffron (Julia Sawalha) were first introduced in 1992. After five series and several specials, it appeared that their story might have been done. But after a seven year absence, it was time to bring them back out again.

"Identity" begins with Edina picking Saffy up from a two year stint in prison, an accidental circumstance that finally earns Saffy a bit of Patsy's respect. Life behind bars has not been kind, and Edina soon discovers that bringing Saffy home means getting involved in drug deals and deep debt (not Saffy's). Saffy's crazy friend Sarah (Naoko Mori), who may or may not have gotten better, in terms of mental health, also comes to visit, complicating matters. It's up to Edina and Patsy to get Saffy (and themselves) out of her mess, which they do with the style and humor fans have come to expect. Despite it's Christmas air-time, the holiday is absent from this special.

"Job" finds Saffy accusing Edina of not having done a hard day's work in a very long time, despite her PR job. She's not entirely wrong, as the episode is quick to point out. Edina and Patsy decide the solution to that is to impress Saffy with arranging a singing performance of her favorite actress, Jeanne Durand, at Royal Albert Hall. If only Durand could actually sing... Luckily, Bubble (Jane Horrocks) is nearby. Packed with celebrity cameos, "Job" may the least engaging, but the more ambitious, of the trio of new adventures.

Finally, "Olympics" sees London hosting the 2012 sporting event. Edina decides she should be hospitable, opening her doors to a Hollywood star, Michael Douglas, to come visit and attend the games. That might go OK, if Edina and her family, Saffy, Bubble, and Mother (June Whitfield) weren't still occupying the premises. And if other guests didn't arrive uninvited. And if Michael Douglas bothered to show up himself. And if Edina knew when the Olympics actually were.

There are a few nice surprises for long time fans of the show, but mostly the Absolutely Fabulous 20th Anniversary Specials just continue the zany, hilarious story of a bunch of kooky, beloved characters who don't know how to age gracefully. Are they as good as the original runs? Well, I'll leave that up for viewers to decide, as critics have been divided. But they are extremely entertaining half hours, and it's great to see the AbFab crew back in action!

Absolutely Fabulous doesn't seem as edgy as it once did. It sticks to the tone and heart it has always had, which is a bit more acceptable in today's society. But the nostalgia factor is high, especially as many of the supporting characters pop in for another appearance alongside the leads. It's a heartwarming revisit to a familiar world, and it does so while maintaining just about everything that made it so popular in the first place.

Their next stop? Theaters everywhere, as a feature film is in development. But until that time, go ahead and pick up the Absolutely Fabulous 20th Anniversary Specials if you'd like to complete your collection.

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Check out my website, JeromeWetzel.com! First posted on TheTVKing

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