This is the third of a five-part series in which I discuss and review the beloved BBC classic, Blackadder. Part three: Black Adder the Third. (Cue theme song)
As the descendents of that very first Blackadder continue to evolve and become more intelligent over time, their social-standing continues to decline. By Black Adder the Third, Edmund Blackadder has become nothing more than a mere butler to the prince regent, His Royal Highness, The Pinhead of Wales, Prince George. Baldrick is Blackadder's drudge and has become an even filthier person than his Baldrick family ancestors. In this series, however, he somewhat stands up to Blackadder's bullying, and at one point even calls Edmund a "lazy, big-nosed, rubber-faced bastard,” which isn’t far from the truth. As Blackadder’s social rank lessens, so grows his need and desire for wealth and power.
The prince regent, played by Hugh Laurie, is very much like the picture history paints of Prince George, in that he is incredibly extravagant in his tastes and exhibits very little desire, or mental capacity, to be involved in government. Unlike the real-life prince, Laurie is stick-thin, an in-joke for viewers who know Prince George was, in actuality, quite a portly man. Like the previous series, Black Adder the Third exaggerates history in the most humourous of ways, portraying the prince regent as being far beyond what might be considered ordinarily thick. And when it comes down to it, it usually falls on Blackadder, his faithful, though sometimes begrudgingly so, butler to sort out the situations the prince invariably and sometimes inexplicably, finds himself in.
Like the series that went before, Black Adder the Third uses history to its advantage, and whilst teaching viewers, in a way, about the history of the royal family (The prince regent was the eldest son of “Mad King George III.”) and thus about the history of Britain itself, it also amuses and delights like few other television shows do. Through the course, we broach the French Revolution, meet historical figures such as The Duke of Wellington and Doctor Johnson, and even have a run-in with The Scarlet Pimpernell. Because the main cast of this series is relatively smaller than in previous years, they have to work that much harder. But they don’t make it look difficult at all. In fact, the cast seems tighter and more on point than ever before. Guest stars like Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid in the Harry Potter films) and Stephen Fry (you probably follow him on twitter) just add to the hilarious madness of the show.
In the end, it's a line uttered by Blackadder himself in the last episode that sums up his character in this series the best:
"A man may fight for many things: his country, his principles, his friends, the glistening tear on the cheek of a golden child. But personally, I'd mud wrestle my own mother for a ton of cash, an amusing clock, and a sack of French porn!"