British comedy has a long and distinguished history, but it has never seen anything quite like "Little Britain." Comics David Walliams and Matt Lucas, the men behind the show, don a number of grotesque guises while portraying a series of recurring characters. The jokes are repetitive and puerile -- and completely hilarious.
The eight-episode first season arrives Tuesday on DVD, just in time for the debut of the show's second season on Wednesday at 9 p.m. on BBC America.
Tom Baker's narration opens the first episode: "Britain, Britain, Britain, land of technological achievement. We've had running water for over 10 years, an underground tunnel that links us to Peru, and we invented the cat." And it goes downhill from there. Owing much to the disturbingly dark BBC comedy "The League of Gentlemen," "Little Britain" predicates its humor on key characters repeating their same gags. It is to the credit of Walliams and Lucas, who met in 1990 at Britain's National Youth Theatre, that characters such as teenage delinquent Vicky Pollard, the least coherent person in Britain, and Daffyd Thomas, the only gay person in the village, never lose their particular charm.
Surprisingly, the DVD set has a lot to offer, too. The first disc includes commentary by Lucas, Walliams and producer Myfanwy Moore, deleted scenes, the pilot episode and an interview with talk-show host Jonathan Ross. The second disc includes commentary by Lucas, Walliams and director Steve Bendelack, four live sketches, a "Little Britain" survey, a making-of featurette and the best of "Rock Profiles," a program the two comics made prior to "Little Britain."
One of "Little Britain's" perfect absurdities is that it presents itself as a search for the "who they, what do and why" of the common British citizen. After all, everyone knows the country was "discovered by Sir Henry Britain in sixteen-o-ten, sold to Germany a year later for a fennec and the promise of a kiss, destroyed in eighteen-thirty-forty-two and rebuilt a week later by a man," but who before has captured the everyday lives of people such as the masculine lady Emily Howard and the very unhelpful teacher at the Kelsey Grammar School for Boys?
BBC; two-disc DVD $29.98; not rated; available Tuesday
New on DVD:
Sin City (Dimension Home Video: DVD $29.99; rated R; available Tuesday) An adaptation of Frank Miller's stories based in the corrupt town of Basin City. Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette.
The Wedding Date (Universal Home Video: DVD $29.98; rated PG-13; available Tuesday) A wedding attendee (Debra Messing) hires a dashing male escort (Dermot Mulroney) to impress her ex-fiance, who'll also be present at the festivities. No extras are included.
Undeclared: The Complete Series (Sony Home Video: four-disc DVD $49.98; not rated; available Tuesday) In this short-lived NBC comedy, a decidedly unhip college freshman tries to adjust to campus life. Extras include an unaired episode, deleted scenes, bloopers, auditions and behind-the-scenes footage.
The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (Fox Home Entertainment: four-disc DVD $49.98; not rated; available Tuesday) "Bart of Darkness," "Bart's Girlfriend, "Homie the Clown," "Who Shot Mr. Burns" and "Round Springfield" are among the 25 episodes in this set. (You can't miss this one in stores: The package is shaped like Homer's head.) Extras include commentary from creator Matt Groening and various voices.