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Absolutely Fabulous: White Box

(BBC)

The Absolutely Fabulous White Box special might have been released in time for the holidays, but it is certainly not the DVD you want to sit down and watch with your family over eggnog. Instead, it is the DVD you want to watch as a break from endless It’s a Wonderful Life reruns and Lifetime Christmas specials.


The Absolutely Fabulous White Box special might have been released in time for the holidays, but it is certainly not the DVD you want to sit down and watch with your family over eggnog. Instead, it is the DVD you want to watch as a break from endless It’s a Wonderful Life reruns and Lifetime Christmas specials.


Jennifer Saunders’ iconic characters Patsy (Joanna Lumley) and Edina (Saunders) are back and more deranged and under the influence than ever in White Box. All the hallmarks of the show are packed into this special: Patsy’s inebriation, for which she finally has to have surgical intervention; Edina’s oblivious self-involvement and outrageous fashion choices (her outfits are no longer “vintage” but are instead just old, and for one glorious scene she is wearing a flared pants suit that would make Austin Powers jealous); and Edina’s daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalah) is more world-weary than ever with a child and polygamist husband. In this extended episode, Edina sends Saffy off to Africa to get married and meanwhile attempts to redecorate the kitchen with Patsy, during which naturally occurs a series of hi-jinx such as Patsy regurgitating her own bodily fluids, and Edina regressing into her past lives.


Most notable are the performances of Nathan Lane and Miranda Richardson, who appear as potential designers for Edina’s new look. Richardson plays Bettina, a crazed minimalist interior decorator who is so dogmatic that she removes every object from the kitchen, including the staircase, which of course means that Edina ends up falling on the floor face-first (I don’t think I can think of an episode of AbFab that doesn’t end up with Edina on the ground in one way or another).


Bettina’s inspiration for the look of Edina’s kitchen is “holocaust,” and she is only upped in her insanity by Kunz (Lane), the epitome of exclusivity and excess in design.  This episode more than any other before it mocks the trendy and exclusive fashion-world that Edina and Patsy inhabit, and as they struggle to find their individuality while remaining at the forefront of the trends, they are ironically behind the times, attempting to catch up. As Edina says, “You can’t just was your hands in a sink anymore, can you darling? You’ve got to have a bowl. Or, not even a bowl darling, just a shiny flat surface that water pours onto.”


Mockery of the art world comes into its full potential with the guest appearance of Terence Conran, famed designer of life and style, who makes fun of himself and his notion that one’s house must reflect one’s personality. The irony of this point of view is made explicit; as the Conran shop promotes individuality but has become so popular that it’s turned into a more elite Ikea then anything else. And as Edina and Patsy seek to find themselves through interior decoration, they in turn mock minimalism, instant design shops, and high end signature life style galleries, finally discovering that a house isn’t only made up of material objects, but is also where one’s family and friends reside (although this revelation occurs after Edina hits Saffy’s child)


Real fans of AbFab won’t be disappointed by White Box, but at moments it falls short. The special is uneven in its success, and though the viewer still loves watching Edina and Patsy interact with each other, in large part that is due to the attachment we may already have to their characters from the series itself.


The section with Marshall and Bo, who are perhaps two of the weaker recurring characters on the show, is almost hard to watch. It goes on for much too long, seems to come out of nowhere and has nothing to do with the rest of the plot. Their characters are oftentimes the most overacted, and the laugh track during their scene in White Box just makes it more awkward for the viewer as we realize that we are no longer laughing along.


The DVD comes with a few worth-watching special features, most notably the original sketch that inspired the show starring Jennifer Saunders and her comedy partner Dawn French. Also included is a montage of clips from the series itself, which don’t offer anything in the way of insight into the making of the show, but will nonetheless give you an opportunity to laugh more.


White Box pushes the limits in every way, and even though Patsy and Edina not only smoke and drink, but now hit children, you still can’t help but love them. Even though we know they are despicable people, the fact that the characters surrounding them are often more insane then they are makes us view Edina especially as sometimes being the most rational person on screen, and thus we appreciate her character even more.


Ultimately, White Box is for the most part funny, but unless you are a die hard AbFab fan, you might be happier giving yourself a break from the Hallmark Christmas specials by watching the series itself, and putting this special on hold.
Jennifer Saunders’ iconic characters Patsy (Joanna Lumley) and Edina (Saunders) are back and more deranged and under the influence than ever in White Box. All the hallmarks of the show are packed into this special: Patsy’s inebriation, for which she finally has to have surgical intervention; Edina’s oblivious self-involvement and outrageous fashion choices (her outfits are no longer “vintage” but are instead just old, and for one glorious scene she is wearing a flared pants suit that would make Austin Powers jealous); and Edina’s daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalah) is more world-weary than ever with a child and polygamist husband. In this extended episode, Edina sends Saffy off to Africa to get married and meanwhile attempts to redecorate the kitchen with Patsy, during which naturally occurs a series of hi-jinx such as Patsy regurgitating her own bodily fluids, and Edina regressing into her past lives.


Most notable are the performances of Nathan Lane and Miranda Richardson, who appear as potential designers for Edina’s new look. Richardson plays Bettina, a crazed minimalist interior decorator who is so dogmatic that she removes every object from the kitchen, including the staircase, which of course means that Edina ends up falling on the floor face-first (I don’t think I can think of an episode of AbFab that doesn’t end up with Edina on the ground in one way or another).


Bettina’s inspiration for the look of Edina’s kitchen is “holocaust,” and she is only upped in her insanity by Kunz (Lane), the epitome of exclusivity and excess in design.  This episode more than any other before it mocks the trendy and exclusive fashion-world that Edina and Patsy inhabit, and as they struggle to find their individuality while remaining at the forefront of the trends, they are ironically behind the times, attempting to catch up. As Edina says, “You can’t just was your hands in a sink anymore, can you darling? You’ve got to have a bowl. Or, not even a bowl darling, just a shiny flat surface that water pours onto.”


Mockery of the art world comes into its full potential with the guest appearance of Terence Conran, famed designer of life and style, who makes fun of himself and his notion that one’s house must reflect one’s personality. The irony of this point of view is made explicit; as the Conran shop promotes individuality but has become so popular that it’s turned into a more elite Ikea then anything else. And as Edina and Patsy seek to find themselves through interior decoration, they in turn mock minimalism, instant design shops, and high end signature life style galleries, finally discovering that a house isn’t only made up of material objects, but is also where one’s family and friends reside (although this revelation occurs after Edina hits Saffy’s child)


Real fans of AbFab won’t be disappointed by White Box, but at moments it falls short. The special is uneven in its success, and though the viewer still loves watching Edina and Patsy interact with each other, in large part that is due to the attachment we may already have to their characters from the series itself.


The section with Marshall and Bo, who are perhaps two of the weaker recurring characters on the show, is almost hard to watch. It goes on for much too long, seems to come out of nowhere and has nothing to do with the rest of the plot. Their characters are oftentimes the most overacted, and the laugh track during their scene in White Box just makes it more awkward for the viewer as we realize that we are no longer laughing along.


The DVD comes with a few worth-watching special features, most notably the original sketch that inspired the show starring Jennifer Saunders and her comedy partner Dawn French. Also included is a montage of clips from the series itself, which don’t offer anything in the way of insight into the making of the show, but will nonetheless give you an opportunity to laugh more.


White Box pushes the limits in every way, and even though Patsy and Edina not only smoke and drink, but now hit children, you still can’t help but love them. Even though we know they are despicable people, the fact that the characters surrounding them are often more insane then they are makes us view Edina especially as sometimes being the most rational person on screen, and thus we appreciate her character even more.


Ultimately, White Box is for the most part funny, but unless you are a die hard AbFab fan, you might be happier giving yourself a break from the Hallmark Christmas specials by watching the series itself, and putting this special on hold.

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