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Little Britain: The Complete First Series (August 17/05)

Though North American viewers will surely find themselves scratching their heads at some of Little Britain's more overtly European references, the show is nevertheless a surprisingly accessible and often hilarious sketch show that's the brain child of Matt Lucas and David Walliams.

Like Monty Python's Flying Circus and Kids in the Hall before it, Little Britain consists of sketches performed by a select group of performers. In this case, Lucas and Walliams assume virtually every single role - going so far as to play women, as well. There are a number of recurring characters, most notably: Daffyd, the sole gay in his small town; Vicky Pollard, a sassy and moronic teenager; Marjorie, the abusive weight-loss maven; and Annie, an unintelligible lunatic. Additionally, Tom Baker provides the absurd, tongue-in-cheek narration and Anthony Stewart Head occasionally pops up as the British Prime Minister.

Because most of Little Britain's sketches are so short (most run around a minute or so), there's little chance of becoming bored while watching the show - unless, of course, Lucas and Walliams' quirky sensibilities do nothing for you (as is the case with Monty Python, either you get Little Britain or you don't). Having said that, there's no denying that - approached with an open mind - the show can be quite funny, something that's due mostly to Lucas and Walliams' energetic and engaging performances. Lucas, in particular, does an amazing job of stepping into vastly different characters; Vicky is certainly an impressive achievement, as is the wheelchair-bound Andy (who, for reasons left unexplained, doesn't even need a wheelchair but continues to take advantage of his friend).

Little Britain clearly isn't for everyone, but for those willing to embrace the show's admittedly off-the-wall sense of humor, there's plenty here worth recommending.

 

About the DVD: This two-disc set from BBC video collects all eight episodes from Little Britain's first season, and comes with a phenomenal amount of bonus features (including commentaries on every episode, 40 minutes of deleted scenes, a lengthy behind-the-scenes featurette, some live sketches, and much more).