Absolutely Fabulous: BBC Enterprises
Caren Weiner Campbell
March 22, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

We gave it a B

This is the kind of love triangle people usually don’t think about. In Absolutely Fabulous, spoiled and needy Edina (cocreator and writer Jennifer Saunders) — loco for Lacroix and living off the largesse of her two ex-husbands — adores her best friend, the perpetually soused party girl Patsy (Joanna Lumley), and relies on her sensible, long-suffering daughter, Saffron (Julia Sawalha). Naturally, Patsy and Saffron detest each other. As viewers of this hugely popular Britcom (which first aired in the U.S. in 1994 and has been a Comedy Central staple ever since) will recall, Patsy almost always prevails — and now, with the DVD release of this three-season, 18-episode, four-disc collection, you can revisit Eddie and Patsy as their constant quest for expensive fun (preferably with the aid of sex, drugs, and shopping bags) takes them from Knightsbridge, England, to New York, France, and even Morocco.

In fact, the episodes themselves hold up so well that everything else in this boxed set comes off as comparatively tame. Each season’s six-show disc contains some mildly amusing outtakes, a somewhat dull assortment of stills, and a BBC America commercial. The best offering on the fourth, bonus disc is the nascent Edina’s first TV appearance, in a sketch called ”Modern Mother and Daughter” that Saunders and partner Dawn French performed on their BBC variety show in 1990.

A primer about the show’s locations is useful, as is the brief audio guide to regulars and guest stars, including Helena Bonham Carter, Miranda Richardson, and — yes — Lulu! (Best bit of trivia: Lumley was a Bond girl in 1969’s ”On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”) Rather more disappointing are the tedious behind-the-scenes tour and ”AbFab Moments,” a mockumentary full of warmed-over excerpts. Nevertheless, even if it’s not absolutely fabulous (you knew that was coming), this collection is still pretty darn good.

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