Absolutely Fabulous is an iconic British sitcom. The series centers on two hilarious ladies. Edina “Eddy” Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) is a PR agent who wants desperately to keep up with the latest trends and seem young, which she does while abusing drugs and alcohol. Her best friend, magazine editor Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley, Corpse Bride), is just as bad, not only enabling, but participating in Monsoon’s crazy schemes. Toss in Edina’s daughter, Saffron (Julia Sawalha, Lark Rise to Candleford), who provides balance as the sane one of the trio, acting more the parent than child, Edina’s own Mother (June Whitfield, Last of the Summer Wine), and Jane Horrocks (Fifi and the Flowertots) as Bubble, Eddy’s idiotic personal assistant, and you have Ab Fab.
The previously released “complete” set, called Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything collected all the episodes and specials up to that date, with some great bonus material thrown in. This was the ultimate way to package the entire series run into a nice neat package. Then, in 2013, the 20th anniversary of the show, Absolutely Fabulous came back with all new installments. This new, 10-disc, Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely All of It! combines that old set with the new episodes, providing fans an updated complete collection.
In case you already possess the original set, the new DVD release, packaged in a stylish pink pocketbook and sturdy casing, has even more extras. There are fresh interviews with producer Jon Plowman, actress June Whitfield, a new Comic Relief special, introductions to the recent additions, and footage of the stars carrying the Olympic torch. So even for those that own earlier releases, there’s more to be had.
If you aren’t familiar with Absolutely Fabulous, here’s a little teaser to let you know what kind of stuff to expect from the legendary comedy.
Created in the early 1990s by Saunders and Dawn French, Absolutely Fabulous originally ran for three seasons. Series one finds Eddy drinking heavily and trying to lose weight without putting in any effort. She also adopts a baby, holidays in France, and “celebrates” her 40th birthday. In series two, Eddy faces being a tabloid sensation, the death of her father, and a trip to Morocco, as well as dealing with Patsy burning her kitchen and her husbands cutting off her alimony. The final series sees Saffron leave for college, and Patsy lose her magazine. Depressingly, the two friends must deal with serious change in their lives, which they aren’t thrilled about, and end up turning on each other, before reuniting in New York City.
After cancellation, the gang returned the following year in “The Last Shout,” in which Saffron heads for the altar, much to Eddy’s chagrin. When Eddy learns the would-be husband is rich, though, she changes her tune. That is, until God intervenes.
Five years later, Eddy and Patsy returned for a fourth series. They bemoan the loss of their rock idols and wish they were in Sex and the City. Edwina convinces Saffron to do a fashion show with her in Paris, and Saffron writes a play about her mother, which isn’t too flattering. Also, the ladies face menopause. This series is followed by another special, where Edina seeks her son in New York, and considers what it means to be gay.
In 2003, a fifth run begins with a pregnant Saffron returning from Africa. Eddy builds a panic room and runs into Minnie Driver (playing herself). Patsy and Edina go hunting, and Edina erases lost Beatles recordings and loses Saffron’s baby. This series is followed by three specials, which find Edina celebrating a family Christmas and remodeling her kitchen.
Then, in 2013, the latest three specials aired. “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. Edina soon discovers that bringing Saffy home means getting involved in drug deals and deep debt (not Saffy’s). “Job” finds Saffy accusing Edina of not having done a hard day’s work in a very long time, despite her PR job. 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. “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.
This is just a brief overview of the long-running show. Each episode is full of laughs, and occasionally heart, with the stories and characters staying relevant and entertaining. Perhaps it’s good so much time was taken off between batches, allowing the production time to rest up and think of something brilliant to return with. Perhaps more shows should follow the pattern.
Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely All of It! is available now.