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Saunders, Lumley 'absolutely fabulous' in anniversary collection

Sept. 17, 2012 |

By G. Michael Dobbs news@thereminder.com Two DVDs from Great Britain are in this week's review column.
Absolutely Fabulous 20th Anniversary
Have you ever run into anyone who is determined to not act or dress their age and follow youthful trends despite the fact that such an effort makes them look pathetic and desperate? That's the premise on which Jennifer Saunders has based her hit television show "Absolutely Fabulous." Saunders plays Edina Monsoon, an over-the-hill party girl obsessed with high fashion and fame, who supposedly has a public relations and management business, but really relies on alimony from her two husbands. Her best friend, Patsy Stone, played by Joanna Lumley, is also a fashionista, working for a style magazine. Stone is so burnt out from alcohol and drugs that she's not even sure how old she is. Together, they attempt to stay up on the trends and appear to be important members of British society. Needless to say, they fail miserably. Monsoon's problems are exacerbated by her mother and daughter, neither of whom is impressed with her shallow life. Saunders' scripts are laced with biting social and pop culture satire as well as moments of old fashioned slapstick and politically incorrect humor. What has always been remarkable is the number of people from British fashion and entertainment who have been guest stars on the show, some even gladly suffering jokes at their own expense. The show was a hit on Comedy Central and on BBC America and although the initial run ended years ago, Saunders and Lumley have reprised their characters in a series of specials. This DVD contains the three latest shows, aired in Great Britain in 2011 and this summer. They are a scream with Saunders' scripts deftly referring to the ages of the characters. I particularly enjoyed the show about the summer Olympics, which was broadcast in the UK in July. If you already an "Ab Fab" fan, this DVD is a must-have. If you're not a fan, you might find the shows a little difficult to understand. As a writer, Saunders likes to build her comedy on the backstory she has developed, which will cause a person new to the series a little difficulty. The extras on the disk include a short episode design to raise funds and awareness for a British charity and the making-of that show. Watch a little "Ab Fab"online and then try this very funny DVD.
A "cleanskin" is a person involved in some sort of undercover operation who has no record, a point that is pivotal in this very good and intense thriller about a series of terrorist attacks in London. Sean Bean plays Ewan, a former British commando now employed as an operative by a branch of the British Secret Service. His current job is to follow the illegal sale of a box of plastic explosives to get at a terrorist cell. There is a security breach and armed, masked men hijack the explosives. It is now Ewan's job to find the explosives before suicide bombers can use them. What complicates his assignment is that his bosses need to have this operation completed before an up-coming election, so they can keep their jobs. This is a gritty, no-wisecracking kind of action thriller and Bean does a great job as an emotionally broken man driven by the need to stop the terrorists before they can act. What makes this film even more interesting is that director and writer Hadi Hajaig includes the backstory of the lead terrorist to try to show how this man made the decision to attack the country of his birth. This adds greater dramatic depth to the film. Add a major twist ending and you have a really effective thriller. Be warned, though, the film doesn't mince on the violence, which may offend some people.

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