While it would always pain me to think about how much younger I was when my pseudo-family and I would sit back and watch Absolutely Fabulous during those glorious as-first-run-as-first-run-could-be-for-American-cable-TV-back-then days, it really didn’t click with me how truly long it had been until I observed this collection of new BBC specials starring the timeless twosome of Eddy and Patsy (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, respectively) read Absolutely Fabulous: 20th Anniversary Specials. Wait, what? Twenty years? Oh, my! And yet, as I sat there imbibing along with the gals onscreen and bearing witness to the fact that they’re still just as brain-dead as they were two decades ago, I couldn’t help but feel just as young as they surely think they still are.
And they do still think they’re a pair of spring chicks — as is evident in any of the three specials included in this set, “Identity,” “Job,” and “Olympics.” Anyone who ever found themselves wondering what happened to the characters of AbFab a while back will have most (if not all) of their answers revealed here, beginning with one that had me chuckling a good deal: the release of Eddy’s daughter, Saffron (Julia Sawalha, whom I still have a crush on after all this time), from prison! It’s a plot point that only turns into a shiv, too, when Saffy’s former cellmate (Lucy Montgomery) — who is also released at the same time — turns out to be Patsy’s old drug dealer, whom she owes more than a fair bit of money to.
Yes, Mother (June Whitfield) and Bubble (Jane Horrocks, the other actress I still have a crush on) are still around, too, kids — and their assistance in “Job” proves to be invaluable. Well, kind of: you see, when Patsy and Eddy get the chance to get hold of fading French film star Jeanne Durand (Lindsay Duncan) for their own musical promotional purposes, they are horrified to discover she can’t sing to save her sorry Frog life. While Bubble adds her own priceless charm to this episode (which guest stars Lulu and former Spice Girl Emma Bunton as themselves), Mother’s obliviousness is perhaps the best — believing the ladies have signed on a member of Duran Duran.
Finally, in “Olympics,” everyone’s favorite bad girls in the midst of chaos. The Olympics Games are all set to begin, and American movie star Michael Douglas is supposed to be taking over the house soon for the festival. Alas, neither Patsy or Edina know when the 2012 games are supposed to start, and instead host their posh home to Bo (Mo Gaffney) and Marshall (Christopher Ryan) — the former of whom believes the latter to be an incurable sexaholic after having served as Douglas’ golf caddy. To top it all off, Patsy has hit that embarrassing, ceremonious stage of life wherein incontinence begins to set in. Kelly Holmes, Tanni Grey Thompson, and Stella McCartney guest star as themselves in this — the final Absolutely Fabulous episode ever. Well, so far, it’s the final one: don’t think Jennifer Saunders doesn’t have any more steam left in her.
Additional guest stars of note are Christopher Malcolm (the original Brad Majors, as well as the guy who saved Han Solo and Luke Skywalker on Hoth — in addition to being the only mortal survivor of a clash between Immortals in Highlander) reprising his role of Justin, Llewella Gideon as the outspoken beautician, Harriet Thorpe as Fleur, Helen Lederer as Catriona, and an interesting cameo by “Bulletproof” singer La Roux as herself. Special features for this triple-header of thirty-minute especiales include a seven-minute short for Sport Relief (wherein some of the previously-mentioned cameo stars return) and a behind-the-scenes making-of look at said skit.
In short: it’s a delight to see Patsy and Edina back in action again. While time has certainly not benefited to their physical conditions any (their years of abundant drug and alcohol use did not help in any way, of course!), it’s nice to see they most assuredly have not matured any. The only thing that would be better than this in my book were if Jennifer Saunders’ hubby, Ade Edmondson, put together a Young Ones reunion special with Christopher Ryan at al. You hear me, Jennifer?