Written by Richard Curtis, Robin Driscoll, and Rowan Atkinson
Directed by John Birkin and Paul Weiland
Starring Rowan Atkinson
- All fourteen episodes of the series
- Documentary: The Story of Bean
- Never-before-seen sketches
- Comic Relief spots
- Atkinson biography and filmograhy
Released by: A&E
Rating: NR, safe for most
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Get it, love it, quote it and drive your friends crazy
The Whole Bean is a lovely collection of all fourteen Mr. Bean television shows, each approximately half an hour or so in length. The Mr. Bean franchise is known for its goofy and unself-conscious (self-unconscious?) approach to humor. Atkinson will do anything with his rubber face and disjointed body for a laugh, and all too often, itís easy to reward him. Much of the showís success relies upon its relative quiet: Atkinson as Bean speaks only when necessary, preferring to let his body language and visual gags work for him instead of verbal jokes and so on.
The boxed set contains three separately packaged discs. Discs One and Two have five episodes each on them, with each episode containing at least three funny sketches or scenes starring Mr. Bean, everyman and lovable twit. Disc Three also has four episodes, but also contains the special features. You really canít beat the price for over six hours of wacky entertainment.
The features list on this disc is nice and hefty. First of all, we have a nice documentary, The Story of Bean, that gives fans all kinds of historical information about Bean and its context. There are also two unreleased, but amusing sketches, along with a couple of Rowan Atkinsonís Bean sketches done for Comic Relief. The photo gallery is pretty standard, but a nice addition, and a boon for fans. The Rowan Atkinson biography and filmography will do a lot to increase your respect for this talented and versatile actor, who does a lot more than "just" physical comedy. Finally, there is also a trailer for Mr. Bean: The Animated Series, which looks promising. While of course it would have been nice to have had commentaries on each episode from Atkinson himself, or at least an interview, what we do have present is very nice indeed.
The audio and video quality are commensurate with standard British television, which is to say that the colors are at times a wee bit washed out, but the whole is still plenty watchable and enjoyable. The sound effects, when present, are clear and do their job, and there are no problems here to get between you and laughter.
In short, if you like British comedy, sketch comedy, or physical comedy along the lines of Buster Keaton, then you should love The Whole Bean. Yes, some of it is silly, but thatís part of its genius. It knows itís silly and revels in it, so you can revel in your silliness too. Monty Pythonís Flying Circus fans will of course love this set, as will anyone who, like myself, loved Atkinson as Blackadder or in his many other comic roles on TV and in films.
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