Mr. Bean (1990) - The Ultimate Collection
|A&E Home Video || NR - 729 minutes - $69.95 || December 16, 2008|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-01-14|
Writer(s): Rowan Atkinson & Robin Driscoll
Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Peter MacNicol, Harris Yulin, Burt Reynolds
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A&E Home Video has come out with the well, ultimate DVD set for the “Mr. Bean” fans around the world. This 7-disc set contains almost (I’ll explain later) everything “Mr. Bean” from the UK television series, the animated series and the two feature films. For sake of space and time, I’m going to keep these as brief as possible.
“Mr. Bean”: Volumes 1–3 (Discs 1-3)
The set starts where the character begins. The 3-discs were previously released as “Mr. Bean – The Whole Bean” and is still available on sites like Amazon. The set contains all 14 episodes and 2 “never-before-seen” sketches. Note: These are, sadly, the edited versions.
I’ve probably seen each episode at least twice either on (IIRC) BBC America or on DVD and each time is just as hilarious as the last. Rowan Atkinson created a character that’s both a complete buffoon yet loveable at the same time. Really, of the 49 sketches, each one is as good as the other; you can’t go wrong with any of them because the TV series as a whole is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. ****˝ / *****
Bean: The Movie (1997) (Disc 4)
The affable Mr. Bean made his film debut in 1997 under the aptly named title, Bean: The Movie. Co-starring alongside Atkinson are Peter MacNicol, Harris Yulin and Burt Reynolds.
In this feature film, Bean is sent by a prestigious British museum — mainly to get him out of their hair since they can’t fire him — to Los Angeles where another museum is set to debut the famous painting, ‘Whistler’s Mother’. The rest of the film finds Bean getting into trouble while everyone around him believes he’s some sort of art expert.
Bean: The Movie is pretty hit and miss and, though I can’t put my finger on it, classic mid-90s comedy. There are plenty of hilarious scenes no doubt, and all of them had me laughing until I cried, but the story was non-existent and the co-stars, while capable, are merely a sideshow and step aside for Atkinson’s comedic brilliance.
Overall, I know the movie received negative critic response and even average movie-watchers didn’t care much for it, but I did enjoy it for what it was. Sure, the plot didn’t make much sense and the situations they put Bean in (having him mistaken as a surgeon was a stretch), yet I laughed and not much else I could ask from, you know, a COMEDY. ***˝ / *****
Mr. Bean’s Holiday (2007) (Disc 5)
You can read my entire DVD review of Mr. Bean’s Holiday here. *** / *****
Mr. Bean: The Animated Series – Volumes 1 & 2 (Discs 6-7)
Last are ‘Volumes 1 and 2’ of “Mr. Bean: The Animated Series”. Unforutnately, despite being called “The Ultimate Collection”, there are “Volumes 3 & 4” and “Volumes 5 & 6” sets still out there and if you truly want everything Bean, then plan on dishing out another $25 (total) for them. I’m not sure why A&E chose not just to include them here since they were released in 2004...
Having seen this animated series for the first time, I actually found it more dull than anything. What made “Mr. Bean” as a show and as a character so funny was because of the cartoon nature set in a live action world and combined with the brilliance that is Rowan Atkinson. I guess for fans of animation and “Mr. Bean”, you might find it worthwhile. **˝ / *****
My biggest complaint about this set is the fact that rather than produce something new (outside of the box and cover art) is perhaps updating a couple of these discs such as Bean: The Movie making it anamorphic widescreen and maybe a commentary. But sadly, everything here is available in the individual releases.
“Mr. Bean”: Volumes 1–3 — On the third disc (volume 3), there are several great features for the fans starting with The Story of Bean (39:56), a fantastic documentary about the origins of the character (and the life of Rowan Atkinson) and features interviews with Atkinson, those who knew him growing up and those who worked with him as his fame grew. More Sketches are, well, four more sketches featuring Mr. Bean, two of these come from “Comic Relief UK”. Last are Rowan Atkinson’s Biography and Filmography (how quaint) and the trailer for “Mr. Bean: The Animated Series”. **** / *****
Bean: The Movie only contains a music video, some theatrical trailers and Film and Cast Bios. ˝* / *****
Mr. Bean’s Holiday has some deleted scenes (23:48) and 3 featurettes: French Beans (11:15), Beans in Cannes (5:40) and The Human Bean (6:05). You can get a rundown of all of these on my DVD review. **Ľ / *****
“Mr. Bean: The Animated Series” is a slightly more stacked with the interesting Making of Mr. Bean The Animated Series (23:04) on the first disc and a couple trailers for the series as well as, again, Rowan Atkinson’s Biography and Filmography. **˝ / *****
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
“Mr. Bean”: Volumes 1–3 – The series is presented in full frame (1.33 AR) and looks like any show over 10 years old would. It doesn’t look half bad but colors are fairly muted and it contains some dust and scratches. That said, it is perfectly suitable for this sort of entertainment. **ľ / *****
A standard Dolby Stereo track is fine for the show, and actually is alright with your canned (I think) laughter and other little sound effects coming through my front speakers. **˝ / *****
Bean: The Movie – The movie comes on a flipper disc (classic Universal) with letterboxed widescreen on one side and full frame on the other. The picture doesn’t look awful, but if you want it to fill your entire widescreen, then again sort of zooming will reveal all sorts of problems (so I left it at letterboxing). In any case, it’s not a horrible picture, but given this is the same exact release as what’s been out there, it could’ve used a scrubbing... *** / *****
The DVD contains regular Dolby Digital 5.1 audio along with a stereo track. The track isn’t anything outstanding even with some catchy, and clichéd, L.A. songs spewing from the speakers. Be warned: it defaults on the stereo track, so go into the “Language” menu and switch it before you start. **ľ / *****
Mr. Bean’s Holiday (re-produced from DVD review) – The movie is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 1.85 OAR and the picture looks fine, it’s not overly vibrant and for a comedy they show off France well enough, but still nothing impressive. ***ľ / *****
A standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track is provided which is just fine for this genre. No complaints. A French track is also available along with English, French and Spanish subtitles. ***˝ / *****
"Mr. Bean: The Animated Series" – Volumes 1 & 2 – Like the live action series, this animated version is presented in full screen (1.33). Given it is a cartoon and really not that old, it looks pretty good with some interesting character designs and coloring. **** / *****
The animated series contains a regular Dolby Stereo track that is more than adequate for the genre. Of course a 5.1 audio track would be preferable, but it should be satisfactory for most. *** / *****
A&E Video has done a good job with this “Ultimate Collection”, especially if you don’t already own any of the individual sets included. At $60+, it’s a fairly good chunk of change and if it had included all 4 volumes of “The Animated Series”, I’d have no problem recommending this, unfortunately for some reason they were not, so to actually have the true “Ultimate Collection”, you’ll have to shell another $25.