Blackadder Goes Forth (TV Series 1989) Poster

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One of the finest moments of television I have seen.
BrendanKilpatrick29 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, this is going to be laden with spoilers, but oh well.

I posted a review for "I, Claudius" not too long ago, which at the time was the finest bit of television I had ever seen. Then the same friend that introduced me to "I, Claudius" also introduced me to "The Black Adder." Although "I, Claudius" is still the best, in my mind, "Blackadder" is right up there with the greatest. Although the first three series are all very funny and very well written, it is with the fourth and final series that it reaches its peak. I'll go through the cast, then the reasons why this series was the best of the four.

First, Rowan Atkinson returns as Edmund Blackadder, who has now fallen to the status of an army captain. He is in this series at his slickest and most scheming, though not quite as evil as he was in the third series. Atkinson is once again hilarious, as is Tony Robinson as the grimy and completely witless S. Baldrick. Hugh Laurie once again rounds out the trio as Lt. George, a much nicer and more pleasant character than the Prince Regent, but just as dim and naive.

Tim McInnery, who was mostly absent from the third season, makes a return as Captain Kevin Darling, a desk jockey at headquarters who is Blackadder's> rival. Darling is quite an interesting character, and certainly a huge change from Lord Percy. Stephen Fry returns as the hilariously inept (and completely insane) General Melchett. World War I, as we know, was one of the most pointless wars in recent memory. It was carnage for the sake of dubious causes, where millions of common men gave their lives for god only knows what, at the command of men scarecely fit to dress themselves let alone cunduct a war.

The series itself is hilarious, the cast is brillaint, and the episodes "Private Plane" (with Rik Mayall giving another hilarious performance as the obnoxious Lord Flasheart) and "Corporal Punishment" are particularly funny.

The best of the season, though, and the best, by far, of the entire series, is the final episode "Goodbyeee". I was struck speechless when I saw this episode. There was an impending sense of doom hanging over the heads of our beloved characters as they waited for the end. George, who had up to this point been champing at the bit to charge the Germans, began to show signs of misgivings...for all of his friends had been killed in the war, and he began to realize that he, too, was afraid to die. Baldrick, who seemed perfectly thick with no mind whatsoever, also began to display pathos. He remembered how wonderful and honorable it seemed to serve in the military. He also wondered why the war had to go on, and why it couldn't just stop and everyone couldn't just go home.

There are two real defining moments in this episode, though:

1.) When General Melchett sends Captain Darling off to the front line as 'a favor.' Darling, is of course, terrified. He's a pencil pusher and a snivelling desk jockey, and now, the very real spectre of death faces him. As he turns to go, the door is opened and a bright shaft of light enters the previously darkened room, outlining the shadow of a soldier who salutes. General Melchett says, in a solemn and somewhat moving manner, "Goodbye, Kevin Darling." In this poignant and moving scene, the up to this point loathsome Captain Darling is suddenly a tragic character, as he goes off into the light to face his almost certain demise.

2.) As Baldrick, Blackadder, George, and Darling prepare for the end, they both say a few last words...Darling wishing that he could just go home and go on with his life and marry his sweetheart, George finally starting to fear death and missing his friends that he lost, Baldrick confused and disenchanted by the pointlessness of the war, and Blackadder resigned, bitter, and hopeless. Blackadder had, earlier in the episode, tried to get out of the war by pretending to be mad, but in the end, realizes that in a war run by madmen, one more loony wouldn't be noticed. The four men then charge over the trenches, and are consumed in the smoke of battle. The next scene shows the ruins of the battlefield, which segues into the field as it is today, covered in poppies, serene and peaceful, a grotesque opposite of what it once was. There are no end credits. Simply the end. This ending was beautiful, fabulous, very moving and well constructed. It must be seen to be believed, it is among best I shall ever see. "Goodbye, Kevin Darling." Indeed.
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9/10
A True History Lesson
Sonatine9725 August 2002
This forth and final series is perhaps the best of all the Black Adder episodes; it is also more of a tragi-comedy than just plain old slapstick perhaps because at the time (1989) the events of WW1 were very much in the minds of a lot of people, whether it be surviving soldiers or relatives.

As such there was some controversy when it was first broadcast by the BBC for its apparent lack of respect to those who fought and lost their lives for the sake of freedom & democracy.

However, in retrospect, this isn't strictly true because even with Episode One there is a tangible shift in tone from previous Black Adder series. Yes some of the slapstick tomfoolery is still there, mainly at the expense of poor gormless Private Baldrick. But in addition a lot of the supposedly funny lines do have quite serious undertones, and bely the real truth of the sheer lunacy & farce that went on during the real war.

For those that know their 20th Century history, WW1 was seen as a complete disaster for all and sundry, especially for the British soldiers in the trenches, primarily because they were being commanded & told how to fight a war by the most repulsive upper-class morons that call themselves Generals that ever wore a uniform.

This was plainly represented by the bumbling fool, General Melchett (a wonderfully bemusing performance from Stephen Fry). Melchett simply has no idea of what life really is like for the troops on the front-line while he prattles on 35 miles behind the front-line in some safe palatial mansion where the most dangerous hazard to his life is whether he can unscrew a cork out of a champagne bottle without it hitting him in the face.

Melchett is a complete buffoon but only Captain Blackadder realises this; everyone else thinks the General knows what he is doing purely because of his rank & social standing. So it is no wonder that Blackadder wants to mutiny because it's a hard choice deciding who the real enemy is - the Germans or his own Generals.

For example:-

General Melchett: Are you looking forward to the big push?

Private Baldrick: No sir, I'm absolutely terrified.

General Melchett: The healthy humour of the honest, Tommy. Don't worry my boy, if you should falter, remember that Captain Darling and I are behind you.

Edmund Blackadder: About thirty-five miles behind you.

This dark humour is wonderfully interwoven with the usual witty lines thanks largely to the writers, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton. It is typically anti-war but with good reason, as Blackadder declares in one episode:-

"with 50,000 men being killed every week who is going to miss one dead pigeon!"

The madness of this war also draws our attention to those very same front-line troops such as Blackadder, Baldrick & Lieutenant George. Their living conditions are disgusting & the fear of being shot or bombed out of their trench a very real possibility.

The humour is just an adjunct to the real horrors that are going on in their lives, and this is beautifully concluded in the very sad finale. No longer did the critics argue this series lacked any respect because come the final few minutes of Episode Six we were treated to the sad demise of all those soldiers fading into time and replaced by the infamous poppy fields that strewn Northern France.

Blackadder Goes Forth is far more intelligent than a lot of sitcoms; the writing and acting is exceptionally good, and also underpins the true human sacrifice the millions of soldiers gave to their King & country while the smug & arrogant Generals went home to more medals, honours and riches than ever before.

School children of today find reading about history boring & not very relevant. But thanks to this series I am sure young & old alike will find this far more interesting, absorbing, damming & shocking than any written word on the subject could ever say.

War Is Hell!

****/*****
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Wickedly funny
wbhickok31 July 2001
The scathing wit by Rowan Atkinson is at it's peak, in this, the forth Blackadder series. Everyone in this series is top drawer, Hugh Laurie as the dimwitted George. Stephen Fry as the insane Melchert and Tony Robinson as the repulsive, but loveable Baldrick. The episode where George is Blackadders lawyer is a riot. No show has ever pointed out the pointless lunacy of war better than this, with a series finale that is remarkably somber and very stirring. A very well done show all around.
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-
Mike Sh.12 February 1999
My favorite of the Blackadder series (I love 'em all!). A very funny series about a rather grim subject. Rowan Atkinson, better known in the States for his Mr. Bean character, shows here (as in his other Blackadder incarnations) that he's as good at verbal comedy as he is at physical comedy. This series is funny all the way up to its somewhat surprising ending. Also, very illuminating to me as an American regarding the British slant on the war to end all wars...
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10/10
WWI comedy series with great lines
SMK-43 December 1998
While I can think of plenty of WWII comedies, comedies about WWI are few and far between. Okay, there is Chaplin's Shoulder Arms, but then I fail to think of anything - apart from these glorious 6 half-hour long pieces of British Comedy. There are reasons for this scarcity, most notably that hardly anything happened during the war, except that millions of soldiers died in their muddy trenches. Not much room for a comedy writer to get his teeth into, is there?

Well, watch this and you'd be surprised how much one can squeeze out of that setting. The main angle is the absurdity of it all, which our hero, Edmund Blackadder, is fully aware of. Alas, he's the only one and so his cynicisms and sarcasms remain undetected by the other characters. The highlights of the series are thus Blackadder's one-liners (well, often a bit longer than one line).

If you have grown up watching TV comedy US style only then you may find the conclusion of the series rather disturbing.
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British comedy at its best
Phil_slann25 July 2003
Forget "The Royle Family", forget "My Family", if you want a good example of British comedy, watch blacadder goes forth. In my opinion the best series of the lot; it has everything. Brilliant scripts, faultless acting and sarcastic and hilarious humour. My favorite episode has to be Captain Cook simply because it is so sarcastic and mocking of real life; both now and in the trenches of WWI. Facts that in history books seem shocking are made into hilarious situations, like the lack of food or the dangers of flying in aeroplanes of the era. Without doubt the best British comedy since Monty Python. See it.
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Goodbyeee
didi-527 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This final Blackadder series to date (I'm not counting Back and Forth, that one off for the end of the 20th century, because it was disappointing) was set in the Great War, where Blackadder and his fellow soldiers (Baldrick and George - Tony Robinson and Hugh Laurie) had to cope with the blithering idiocy of General Melchett (the incomparable Stephen Fry) who liked nothing better than shouting and belittling his private secretary, Cpt Darling (played winningly by Tim McInnerny, who had of course been a regular fixture of Blackadder's first two series).

With an episode which involved George dragging up for a camp show, the famous final episode which sent our heroes over the top, and the episode where Blackadder made a play to leave the war to become troop artist in Paris, this series was a worthy sign-off to a long-running comedy classic.
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"Forth" Conquers!
Pickwick121 November 2005
As a huge fan of Hogan's Heroes, I was attracted to the vague similarities to it that exist in "Blackadder Goes Forth." But this series has British charm and hilarity all its own. All the Balckadder series are funny, but I believe this one is the best. The episode in which Blackadder is on trial is a favorite, as is the final episode.

Hugh Laurie, one of my favorite actors, does a marvelous job as George "last of the tiddlywinking leapfroggers" and, of course, Baldrick and Blackadder play off one another seamlessly. The slightly more serious nature of the subject matter does not seem forced. In fact, the humor makes the ending more affecting.

Blackadder has become a British classic, and this installment lives up to the others and surpasses them in spots. In my mind, Blackadder and his friends will forever be frozen in time, going "over the top."
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Fine sitcom
HenryHextonEsq21 February 2001
Probably the best of the four series, although the last three are all on a par really. The usual excellent one-liners, witticisms and comic characters are there, but with a very serious, tragic context. There is an added pathos, particularly in the last episode, "Goodbyeeee", which is one of the finest half-hours of comedy no less. The second episode, "Corporal Punishment" is surely one of the very best Blackadders, with Blackadder murdering Melchett's pigeon, Speckled Jim... A hilarious episode there. Yes, maybe the plots are more consistent and original in series 2, but this series makes the best use of the historical period, which is, of course, World War 1. Special mention must be made of Rowan Atkinson's consistently excellent portrayal of the cynical Blackadder, Stephen Fry gives one of the finest caricatured performances you'll ever see as the insane Gen. Melchett and the excellent Hugh Laurie impresses as the ever-optimistic yet idiotic Bertie Wooster-type, Young George. A must-see, even if you've seen it so many times before... If you haven't yet seen it, a veritable feast awaits. Rating:- ***** (out of *****)
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a fitting end to Blackadder
TheNorthernMonkee24 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS Six years after the name Edmund Blackadder first appeared on television, and the series of "Blackadder" finished (at least at time of writing) strongly with a final series to be proud of. This time set in the trenches of the First World War, "Blackadder Goes Forth" contains some brilliant episodes and finishes with the most memorable and poignant conclusion of any television series period. The War is approaching it's end. Three years after the killing of Franz Ferdinand the war is in it's second to last year. That conclusion, one which will come too late to spare millions of lives, is prayed for each day by so many men in trenches across Europe. Captain Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) hopes to see that day, and remembers fondly the old days when the toughest opponent he had to face was armed with fruit and a large wooden stick. Each day though, he knows the orders could come through to send himself and his troops out into no mans land and face slaughter like so many others did against the German machine guns. Blackadder doesn't want to die, no he'd rather get out of there as soon as possible. "Blackadder Goes Forth" deals with a difficult topic. No longer fresh in the minds of the people of the Britain (mostly replaced by more recent memories of World War Two), the slaughter of millions as the result of the stupidity of our generals is not an easy topic to base a comedy around. Written once again by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, somehow the series manages to pull it off. Never taking war that lightly and always pointing out the stupidity of it all, this series was able to make us laugh whilst never letting us forget. As Captain Blackadder, Rowan Atkinson played a distinctively more mellowed member of the family. Playing more of a teaching role for the inept Private Baldrick (Robinson) and Lieutenant George (Hugh Laurie), this Blackadder still beat up his imbecile private, but more often than not he would try to educate his companions on the futility of it all. This is a considerably more depressed Blackadder and Rowan Atkinson shows this wonderfully. Thirty miles away, the series also benefits from wonderful performances by Stephen Fry and Tim McInnerny. McInnerny was a regular through the first two series as Lord Percy Percy, and in "Blackadder Goes Forth" he returned as Captain Kevin Darling. Adopting a nervous tick which he then took another two months to loose, McInnerny is outstanding as the cowardly Darling, a man who really doesn't want any involvement in the war and just wants to see it out and go home to marry childhood sweetheart Dorice. The link between Darling and Blackadder is superb with Darling constantly acting as a superior, even though they're the same rank, and Blackadder using any opportunity to put him down. Both men don't want to be involved in the war, and Blackadder's dislike for Darling's safe position 30 miles away probably accounts for his dislike for the man. As General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, Stephen Fry is also brilliant. With countless good lines throughout, Fry shows the true pomposity of the leaders of the army, and their blatant lack of reality in regard to the fate of their men. Melchett believes Blackadder to be a man of courage, a man of action, but that doesn't stop him trying to get the Captain killed at every opportunity. When the series finally reaches it's conclusion, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton created perhaps the finest ending to a series that you will ever have. With the soldiers finally going 'over the top', Curtis and Elton created a powerful and beautiful piece of work with final episode "Plan F: Goodbyeeee". Emotional throughout, the episode was stunning to watch and it's final conclusion is the most important and magnificent way to ever finish a series. Brilliant to watch throughout, "Blackadder Goes Forth" could so easily have failed miserably. It is a much more mature series to it's predecessors and it thrives on it's never ending demonstration on the futility of war. As it reaches it's conclusion, the series finishes on a high with probably the finest ending ever. So many people have grown to love these characters and when this series finished, it was the perfect way to say goodbye.
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10/10
Surely This Is The Best British Comedy Series?
screenman16 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
My first real introduction to WW1, began in 1964. That year the BBC broadcast a 26-part documentary detailing the outbreak and progress of this, 'The Great War'.

As a teenager, I sat mesmerised, as the voice of Sir Ralph Richardson narrated in harrowing tones, failure upon failure in tactics and strategy with no other result than monumental casualty figures. Ever since then I have been 'hooked'. Here are some figures: just the first day's 'Battle of The Somme' resulted in a loss of almost 60,000 British soldiers. Some 20,000 were dead. That is one third of the number of Americans who died throughout the entire Vietnam campaign (and just look how many movies have been made about that). The 'Menin Gate' at Ypres commemorates the loss of 56,000 men. But they didn't just die; they vanished. The population of a small town were completely swallowed-up by the fury. And this is only one of many such monuments. Numbers like these compel you to stop - and think.

The multinational disaster that was WW1 has been shunned by politicians and media alike. The only good thing to be said of the conflict is that it stopped. And it had to; the nations were completely drained of money and men. Ever since, it has been a military bete-noir of history. Nothing was accomplished but failure and nothing created but innumerable corpses. There was no victory, no triumph of good over evil. Even the enemy was obscure. It was a holocaust of good intentions. The war became a machine that simply ground youth into the mud. Appalling bloody battles like those of WW2 at least had a positive outcome. D-day, Iwo-Jima, Monte-Cassino, all eventually led to unequivocal victory. Each presented an opportunity for national pride and manly courage to be heroically presented on film. But not 'The Great War'. Apart from 'All Quiet On The Western Front', it has been left well alone.

'Blackadder Goes Forth' then is not only one of the most hilarious comedies written - better than 'Mash' if you consider the contrast between its scope and its brevity - but it is also a fitting tribute to all those poor souls who toiled and died and were lost.

'The team' handle their subject perfectly. Rowan Atkinson plays the knowledgeable and cynical middle-ranking officer. He is not a coward; he can see what's happening and just wants out. Tony Robinson, as Private Baldrick, embodies the millions of 'Tommies' who struggled in ignorance. Hugh Laurie plays the lieutenant with unquenchably boyish faith in his high-command. Stephen Fry - literally - is General Melchett, the remote, pompous, arrogant buffoon, touched with insanity. Tim McInnerny plays the role of a staff-officer, aware of, but indifferent too, the consequence of futile strategies. Until he is ultimately forced to confront them in the last episode: 'Goodbyeee'.

Richard Curtis and Ben Elton's script is everything you could wish for. Their jokes touch upon all of the horrors to which soldiers eventually became innured: cold, wet, shortages, rats and death.

And it is that last episode which raises the series beyond the level of simple comedy. In a brief twist at the end, we see 'the team' go over the top to face their own belated death. In slow-motion, their figures become engulfed by a hail of enemy ordnance as the theme plays haltingly on a single ill-tuned piano. Moments later, the scene segues into the poppy-reddened fields of their epitaph.

I have the series on DVD and it reminds me as much as my photographs of the many hours spent wandering along the Western Front.

Its characters seem to speak for the millions who can't.
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Brilliant
steve-barry-14 August 2006
Any Blackadder fans would (usually) place Blackadder 2 head and shoulders above any of the other series, and, yes, so do I. But this must come as a close second. Perhaps for the fact that it is recent history, and the events of that terrible war are still discussed and written about today. This makes it bold era to discover the next generation of Blackadder's family.

Captain Blackadder, a career soldier of many years, erstwhile of the 19/45th East African Rifles, (where he saved Field Marshal Haig in 1892 at the battle of M'Boto Gorge from having something very nasty done to him with a sharpened Mango) is not happy at all. War to him meant something altogether different. Pink Gins, native girls and shooting people who were under no circumstances allowed to be armed! Suddenly, many millions of heavily armed Germans upset the balance, and we catch up with him at the Somme in 1917. He is usually in a front line trench, usually accompanied by a couple of dimwits (Leuitenant George and Private Baldrick) and usually being asked to have his brains blown out for King and Country.

The series comprised of six wonderfully written episodes concerning many aspects of life on the Western Front. Covert operations to discover enemy firepower, discipline and the firing squad, keeping up morale with a concert party, the involvement of the Royal Flying Corps, being a spy catcher, and finally, going over the top.

Stephen Fry excelled as the mad General Melchett, sending his boys over the top, convinced they would duck and weave and pull through to victory in the same way as he did when he played rugby at his public school. Utterly insane, no grip on reality and oblivious to the terrors of this awful war. He was based on the early Generals of 1916 who were utterly inflexible when an attack came, and would not think on their feet.

Melchett's batman was Captain Darling, a pen-pusher who loves the fact that he will never see the front line, so is comfortable where he is, sucking up to the General. Throughout the series, you laugh at his weaselly attempts to get Blackadder into trouble, but yes, at the end, you do feel for him. George is an upper class volunteer from 1914. He is eternally optimistic and nothing seems to get him down, not even when we find out all his fellows from Cambridge University have been killed. Baldrick is a smelly low-life from the East End of London. Stupid, but yet, lovable. He has no idea why he is there, except it is better than where he came from in Turnip Street.

The last episode is one to really concentrate on. Close the lounge door, turn the volume up on the TV, take the phone off the hook, etc, etc, etc. Barricade the door if necessary. The last 5 Minutes will live with you, I promise, for a very long time. I leave the final words to Captain Blackadder: "Good Luck everyone."
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Definitely the best Blackadder
Th fourth Blackadder series is British Humour at its best. I never liked the first Blackadder, the second one was fairly good, the third one was great (and Hugh Laurie´s Prince of Wales one of the funniest characters ever on TV), but the fourth series tops it all. Apart from the great acting and the hilarious punchlines, it offered the deepest (and often tragic) characters and the most interesting interactions between them. The ´Speckled Jim´ episode is my favorite, followed by the one with George in the hospital (the ´I spy with my little eye´ opening scene is amazing).
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Woof, Woof!!!!
Bucs196016 July 2004
I wonder how many times one can watch all the Blackadder episodes before it becomes boring....the answer if NEVER!.

Blackadder Goes Forth, the final chapter in the dynasty of that delightful Prince, Lord, servant and Army Captain is just as delightful as those preceding but with a pathos and underlying message that the others lacked. The Great War, the war to end all wars was a useless slaughter of a generation of Englishmen for a few yard of ground and a bad case of trenchfoot. Blackadder and his merry band are caught on the edge of no man's land and trying desperately to get out through various means of chicanery. Sometimes it works for a while but it all leads up to the "final push" which will probably bring a tear to your eye.

The usual suspects are back and in top form. Even the Lord Flasheart shows up as the flying ace with no underwear (only because it hasn't been designed to hold what he's got, or so he says). Baldrick is still grimy, George is a dimwit, Melchett is a raving maniac and Darling is a toady. Even Bob is around from BA2. The stories are a barrage of quick insults and repartee that is not matched in American television series (sorry if I offend) and in my opinion, not bettered by any other British offering.

We often pick our favorite but although "Private Plane" is a scream because of Flasheart, it is probably "Goodbyeee" that most people comment upon. The ending is well done and leaves you hoping that the boys made it through. We can only hope they did and that a Blackadder 5 may sometime be in the making. If not, we can just watch it again and again and laugh again and again.
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10/10
T.V.'s greatest scene?
russellalancampbell12 October 2014
I am in complete agreement with most of the reviews posted and do not want to add anything else but to cast my vote for the final scene in "Goodbyee" as being the finest in television drama or comedy. I say comedy or drama because the scene seamlessly combines the two so that you are almost incapable of knowing exactly how to respond. The scene is prefaced by the scene in which the chillingly true nature of General Melchett is revealed. Melchett orders his obsequious clerk, Darling, to the front for the suicidal big push the next morning. Melchett is revealed as being a deadly dangerous buffoon. Read Sigfried Sassoon's poem "The General" for a similar depiction of an old duffer whose incompetent planning "does for" his men who are ironically aware but strangely accepting of his eccentrically bumbling nature. This scene reveals Melchett as being something far more sinister than is evident in the preceding episodes. The shadow of the driver falling over Darling who is on his knees begging Melchett not to send him is as chilling as anything I have seen.

As the reality of going over the top dawns on the mindlessly jingoistic George and then even on the endearingly gormless Baldrick, the true horror of war is evoked. The hopes and dreams of ordinary young men are about to be brutally dashed. The final stroke of genius is to have Darling, a man for whom we and Blackadder have had contempt, poignantly confide the plans he had for his future after surviving the war. "Marry Dorris ...keep wicket for the gentleman's eleven." Do you laugh or cry at this? I think most of us feel at a loss to know how to respond just as Wilfred Owen in his poem "Futility" as he witnesses his men's futile attempt to revive a dying comrade by putting him out to lie in the sun.

The final freeze frame and dissolve into the poppy fields of Flanders has been well documented. What more can anyone say about mankind's greatest folly - war.
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Magical ending
O'Hanrahanrahan11 August 2000
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILER ALERT

The ending of this series is utterly sublime, Darling. By building up the characters in such a humorous way, amid farcical plots and intrigues, and then to end their lives so nobly and pointlessly (and, let's face it, unexpectedly, given the context of a comedy farce) was brilliant.

For light entertainment to produce such a profound moment is exceptionally rare. The final drum beats as the field of poppies emerges from the no mans's land is *unbelievably* poignant.

War is indeed a terrible thing, ding-a-ling-a-ling.
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What all sitcoms should be
vaudevillejones23 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Blackadder has always been regarded as one of the best British sitcoms of all time. But in this final series it took on a satirical edge which led to a truly shocking finale.

The premise is that Captain Edmund Blackadder is a soldier on the Somme during the First World War. He is accompanied by the dimwitted Private S Baldrick and the posh twit Lieutenant George and hindered by the insane General Melchett and the snidey office boy Captain Darling. Blackadder is the only one who realises that he and his companions will almost certainly be killed if they remain and so hatches a number of escape plans which range from joining the Royal Flying Corps to feigning insanity.

It is arguable that tragedy makes for the best situation comedy, and it certainly does not come any more tragic than the First World War. With the incompetence of the generals, the ridiculous ideas of warfare and the woefully distorted propaganda, it is a wonder that such a sitcom had never been done before. A lot of the jokes (spoiler alerts to end of paragraph) seem to reflect our attitude to the war with hindsight, such as General Melchett's claim that the last thing the Germans will be expecting is for the British to use the same tactics they did seventeen times before. And there's Blackadder's assertion that escape will mean, "No more bombs, guns, shrapnel, whizzbangs or those bloody awful songs that have the word "whoops" in the title". There is also a fair share of slapstick, much of it befalling Baldrick. Never enough to lower the tone, but enough to be funny. Even the war stereotypes are dealt with, such as Rik Mayall's performance as the gloriously sexist pilot, Lord Flashheart ("Always treat your kite like you treat your woman. Get inside her five times a day and take her to heaven and back!").

What really shocks, though, is the ending. I won't give it away, but suffice it to say that it always comes near the top of British polls for the greatest moment in television history.

In a word? Sublime.
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10/10
Better Yet Again
Alex_Hodgkinson18 March 2014
Stunning, I must say. I can't quite give it that 10, but it's brilliant. Best of the four by far. Lots of Blackadder humour, nice and British. Great to see what I consider the entire series main cast all the main cast in this series. My favourites have all had such big roles, and I don't have to get to know any actors playing a character either. We have Rowan Atkinson as Edmund Blackadder and Tony Robinson as Baldrick, the two entire series protagonists, Stephen Fry as Melchett, Hugh Laurie as George and Tim McInnerny as Kevin Darling. I loved the ending to this series also, as it is sad and not the usual humorous ending.

I must say, Blackadder as a whole wasn't what I expected. It was certainly much better. Throughout series one I believed that I'd give up because I found it too boring. It was funny, but not anything I'd stick to over time. Series two, however, was much better with a new, genius Blackadder and new, brilliant humour. Series three maintained this and I think I may have just preferred it to series two. This series tops the other by far, though. Everything about it shone. No wonder it is known as one of Britain's greatest TV achievements. I was not expecting a sad ending.

I still have Back & Forth to review, but I thought that this is the end of the main series; and what an end it was.
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Funny and poignant.
grendelkhan28 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Blackadder is back, as a captain in the British Army, in the worst insanity devised by Man. He finds himself in the middle of the Great War, before people knew enough to start numbering them. The humor has more of a bite here, as the series tackles the stupidity of war. Capt. Blackadder does the sensible thing here; try any means possible to escape this insanity.

Everyone is in fine form and we have the return of Stephen Fry to the regular cast. Miranda Richardson pops up for a guest appearance as does Rik Mayall as the daring Flasheart. Mayall's castmate Adrian Edmondson also turns up as the Red Baron!

Spoiler: This series has the best and most poignant ending of all. As the men go over the top, artillery shells explode. The chaos unfolds as the scene fades to a pastoral field, with a haunting version of the theme. Our hero's final fate is left to the imagination. In the end, no one wins a war, they only survive. Whether Blackadder survives or is another victim of Man's insanity, we never know.

Blackadder goes Forth stand as the perfect testament to the stupidity of war. The formula of the series is still good, but it's ultimate message sets it apart from the previous series. The final episode should be required viewing for students when discussing World War I.
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9/10
The greatest comedy series .... ever.
karlito51 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
On only a few occasions have I ever been reduced to tears by film or television - Blackadder Goes Forth is one such occasion. The first five and a half episodes are however pure comedy of the highest order. Whenever I watch Blackadder I simply do not stop laughing throughout the whole thirty minutes, the jokes come thick and fast, in fact they probably come a little too fast since quite often you'll find yourself in stitches at one joke and be laughing for so long you'll miss the next one.

What is so brilliant about Blackadder Goes Forth though is how the gags cut right to the heart of the such sensitive material the stupidity of the British tactics and commanders is mercilessly exposed - and rightly so - with brilliant lines such as "a war that would have been a lot easier if we'd just stayed at home and shot fifty thousand of our men a week".

In terms of acting as well Blackadder Goes Forth is way ahead of the usual standard for comedies. Rowan Atkinson is at the top of his game as the uber-cynical Blackadder still reeling from the shock of having gone from fighting colonial wars to fighting the much more heavily armed Germans. Melchett and George are done in a wonderfully over the top (no pun intended) manner by Fry and Laurie whilst Tim McInnery is absolutely stunning as the sly Captain Darling who'll do anything to avoid fighting. Baldrick is perhaps at his weakest in this series and at times seems like he is only there to deliver his (albeit great) catchphrase "I have a cunning plan". Meanwhile stars of previous series appear in various episodes adding variety to the show - they too put in strong performances especially Rick Mayall and Miranda Richardson.

About half way through the final episode though the whole show changes and suddenly it dawns on the viewer that this is THE end. The tone is radically altered, Blackadder's sarcasm remains but it's not funny now, well at least not in the same way as it was before. It is at this point that Blackadder Goes Forth becomes more than just a comedy and completes it's brilliance as it now touches the heart as well as the head.
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10/10
Blackadder Goes Forth
jboothmillard20 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
BAFTA winning Rowan Atkinson returns as the nasty and very cunning Edmund Blackadder, this is the last series in the popular sitcom. But don't worry, there's Back and Forth! This time we are in the trenches of World War 1 with Captain Blackadder, Leiutenant George (Hugh Laurie) and Private Baldrick (Tony Robinson). Blackadder is always trying to get out of the war in any way possible with the (useless) help of his thick friends. General Melchett (Stephen Fry) and Captain Kevin Darling (Tim McInnerny) are making sure he stays there for the big push. The series concludes with the teary 'big push', it was number 13 on The 100 Greatest Tearjerkers. Throughout the series there are some stars to look out for including: Rik Mayall as Lord Flasheart (who appeared in series 2, Adrian Edmondson as Baron Von Richtoven, Gabrielle Glaister as Driver Bob Parker (Bob also appeared in series 2, Miranda Richardson as Nurse Mary (appeared in series 2 and 3) and Geoffrey Palmer in a special appearance as Field Marshal Haig (in the last episode). It won the BAFTA for Best Comedy Series. Rowan Atkinson was number 18 on The 50 Greatest British Actors, he was number 24 on The Comedians' Comedian, and he was number 8 on Britain's Favourite Comedian, Edmund Blackadder was number 3 on The 100 Greatest TV Characters, and he was number 3 on The World's Greatest Comedy Characters, and Blackadder (all four series) was number 2 on Britain's Best Sitcom, and this series was number 16 on The 100 Greatest TV Programmes. Outstanding!
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A Cornerstone in the Firmament of British Comedy
dzorback26 May 2001
Really, now.

This may not be the greatest comedy series, but it certainly is the most well made. It is first the perfect example of british comedy, in this case a plum mix of schoolboy humor and very accurate history. I watched it when I was 10 and laughed at the naughty, baser aspects, and now that I've grown up I can smirk at the more intelligent japes. It takes place in 1917, which, as I'm sure you know, is during the first world war.

Satirical, ironic, sarcastic, at times quite insanely silly, and, finally, tragic. But you don't know it's tragic.

The Blackadder series really got better as each series progressed. Blackadder the First was but mediocre, Blackadder the Second was very good, though some episodes were appallingly mundane, Blackadder the Third was a souffle of perfectly orchestrated silliness, and now Blackadder the Fourth outdoes them all because, like Monty Python's the Life of Brian in comparison with the Holy Grail, it is both an astoundingly good comedy and bears a moral message, as opposed to just very silly comedy.

It is, very surprisingly, quite touching. But the bottom line is, it's very, very funny.
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9/10
A near perfect comedy
hifinn-hyphon21 November 2013
I first watched this show ten years ago, when I was only 6 years old. I have watched it once or twice a year ever since then and it is still hilarious. This show has done more to shape my comedic identity than anything before or since. Over the years the show seems to have just become funnier and funnier. On top of being one of the greatest comedy shows of all time, it also has the best ending of any show I have ever seen, one of the only television scenes to ever make me cry. A brilliant, hilarious and eventually heart-wrenching piece of comedy history that I recommend very, very highly.

If you like good comedy you will not be disappointed.
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10/10
Best of the Best
dgm-4875023 March 2017
Put simply, this is the best series of the best comedy show ever.

The constraints encountered by the writers/producers around cost following season 1 only served to make the show more tightly scripted and funny.

You can be picky and say there are one or two clunky lines of dialogue across the entire four seasons. You can complain that the show came out before HD 1080p. But these are minor things.

There are a few shows/movies that I have seen so many times that I can stick them on and just *listen* to them and get almost the same level of enjoyment. This is one such show. The cast are great, the jokes are great, the plots are great. Very little to dislike here really. Season Four has an over-arching anti-war subtext which seems to give it more depth and poignancy than other seasons (which are also excellent by the way).

This the standard to which I think all other UK comedies, specifically sit-coms, should be judged in my opinion.
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