A small portion of this review is taken from my review of The Best Of Mr. Bean Volume Two.
Can one get too much of a good thing? Well, there is a right answer and a wrong answer to that and both of them are “yes” and “no.” Confused, well let me just tell you that Rowan Atkinson has done a phenomenal job in the world of acting and comedy and it all began with the nutty character known as Mr. Bean. He was insane, barely ever said a word, and just couldn’t keep himself out of trouble. Every episode was funnier then the next and never once got tiresome. Then Hollywood had to come along and bastardize everything by putting him into feature films and all went downhill from there.
British humor is really an acquired taste and needs to be taken very lightly and with an open mind. That is unless youre British, then its probably just funny as hell to you anyway. There isnt a lot of this type of comedy that Ive ever really found hilarious or even remotely amusing, but sometimes there is that one needle in a haystack and it tickles my funny bone. One of those few instances happens to turn into many when it is the case of all the episodes of Mr. Bean. No, Im not talking about the washed-up and incredibly annoying version that found his way into feature films. Im talking about the guy who barely ever spoke and only needed a television and antennae to make people laugh.
Mr. Bean is a lonely guy that is just looking to get by in the world. He has his own apartment, goes for walks, likes to play a little golf, and even likes to go out on the occasional date. The sad part is that he continues to always be alone no matter how many people he interacts with; but dont tell him hes sad because I doubt hed even know it. He does seem to be a little bit behind in the times and hasnt caught on to everything as quickly as the rest of humanity is. Whether its a magic show or owning a television or even finding a parking spot, Mr. Bean can never quite do things the right way and the results are often hilarious.
Included in this collection are all the episodes from the series that started it all. Mr. Bean’s television career spanned only fourteen episodes although a little research shows that there were possibly eighteen total. I’m going to go with what I have in my hand and that’s only fourteen because that’s what you get here. Each episode has a theme to it, but the skits are kind of random at times, which doesn’t matter because they are just knee-slapping funny. One of my favorite skits sees Mr. Bean get a television set and do whatever he can to get the reception to come in clearly. He goes to the extreme as always and ends up sitting naked in a box just to watch his small little screen. This series should have lasted so much longer then it did because even the small amount of episodes we do have are worth repeated viewings for years to come.
Mr. Bean did get another chance at being on television, but it happened to be another short-lived series. Mr. Bean: The Animated Series captures all the essence and quirks of the character himself as far as looks and motions are concerned, but that’s about it. This is a series that doesn’t provide nearly as much humor as the television series does and is aimed more towards children then anything else. Each episode runs for about twenty minutes and is split in half into two separate sketches. They are all cute and can generate a chuckle here and there but not much else.
The animated series fell into place right in the middle of two feature films about Mr. Bean dealing with things in the real world on a much longer basis. Bean: The Movie came out in 1997 and details the escapades of Mr. Bean as he is mistaken for an art expert and heads to the United States to unveil the famous painting “Whistler’s Mother” in it’s new home. He shacks up with an American family where all types of weird situations happen thanks to his crazy antics. The film had potential but it failed in one aspect of trying to put so many of the gags from the television series into the film. Yeah they’re funny but a lot of us have seen them already. Going on with the rest of the film and it leaves a lot to be desired because it’s just not that good.
In 2007, Rowan Atkinson donned the tweed coat and red tie for what he claimed to be the last time in Mr. Bean’s Holiday. Mr. Bean won a video camera that he could take on the trip he also won to the French Riviera. Along the way he meets up with a French actress and eventually ends up at the famous Cannes Film Festival. Messing it up like only he could, Mr. Bean manages to crash the film premiere from a famed American director and all ends up a mess. Sadly, this film is even worse then the first attempt ten years earlier and just doesn’t entertain at all. Again, Mr. Bean is a hilarious character that is good in small doses. Hell, that isn’t even accurate. I could watch old episodes of the original series for hours, but when his comedy is put into a longer timeframe like a film, it takes away all the appeal.
Mr. Bean The Television Show
The Return Of Mr. Bean
The Curse Of Mr. Bean
Mr. Bean Goes To Town
Mr. Bean Rides Again
The Trouble With Mr. Bean
Merry Christmas Mr. Bean
Mr. Bean In Room 426
Mind The Baby, Mr. Bean
Do-It-Yourself Mr. Bean
Back To School Mr. Bean
Tee Off, Mr. Bean
Goodnight Mr. Bean
Hair By Mr. Bean Of London
The Story Of Bean – Starting off the special features is this excellent documentary that lets you know everything you’ve wanted to know about not only Mr. Bean but also Rowan Atkinson. It goes back to how he created the character and slowly worked his way up the comedy ladder with Mr. Bean and just using his comedy in general terms to get himself known. Interviews are done with those associated with not only the television series but the later feature films as well and they attest to Atkinson’s brilliance. A very good featurette here that everyone should enjoy. (40:00)
Never Before Seen On TV Sketches – These skits are entitled “Bus Stop” and “Library” and they’re both hilarious.
Comic Relief Skits – Two more skits here which are entitled “Blind Date” and “Torvill & Bean” and they are also quite funny.
Mr. Bean: The Animated Series Trailer
Rowan Atkinson Biography And Filmography
Disc Four – Bean: The Movie
OMC “I Love LA” Music Video
Film And Cast Biographies
Disc Five – Mr. Bean’s Holiday
Deleted Scenes – A lot of stuff seemed to end up on the cutting room floor eliminating close to seventeen minutes of extra footage from the film. None of them really would have done anything to enhance the quality of the comedy in the film anyway.
French Beans – Here is a rather basic “making of” featurette showcasing what they were looking to accomplish in the film and how they managed to pull it all off. Not too bad. (11:25)
Beans In Cannes – This is kind of part two of the “making of” featurette because it shows just how they were able to accomplish the scenes at the Cannes Film Festival. Filmmakers actually used an actual film premiere to pull it all off and it’s rather impressive. (5:48)
The Human Bean – Cast and crew sit down to discuss what it is like to work with Mr. Bean. It’s somewhat amusing listening to their words because they go on about both Mr. Bean and Rowan Atkinson and the enjoyment they had being on set and on camera with him. (6:12)
Mr. Bean: The Animated Series
In The Wild / Missing Teddy
Mime Games / Spring Clean
Birthday Bear / The Mole
Roadworks / The Sofa
Treasure! / Homeless
Mr. Bean: The Animated Series Trailer
Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean Trailer
Rowan Atkinson Biography And Filmography – Same one presented on disc three.
Nurse! / Dead Cat
Super Trolley / Magpie
Cat-Sitting / The Bottle
Goldfish / Inventor
“Making Of” Featurette – What you get here is a pretty cool look inside the creation of the animated series. It’s quite interesting watching the production crew sit at a table and go through an episode and occasionally look to Atkinson for how Mr. Bean would truly look during a fainting spell or something else. Atkinson is shown filming certain segments so that the animators can get everything spot on. Interviews are thrown in here and there to discuss all that went into making each episode. It’s not a bad segment at all, and the best part is actually listening to and watching Atkinson record some of his lines. I guess you could call them lines considering they really are just random noises that Mr. Bean makes. (19:54)
The films, animated series, and television series are all shown in different formats but all of them end up looking pretty good. Rich colors are shown nicely and there is only a small amount of wear and dullness shown in the old television episodes, but that is simply due to their age.
Again we have some variance in the sound format for each type of medium, but they also all are put together well. Stereo sound for the animated and television series is more then what is needed because everything is pretty much dialogue driven. The feature films are heard in Surround Sound and help with the added sound effects and music thrown in.
It’s truly hard not to be torn here because the television series is excellent, the animated series is alright, and the feature films are rather awful. I love Mr. Bean at times and yet I hate him at others. The only way to be fair about all of this is to say that you can’t help but love Mr. Bean because he is quirky, funny, and hard not to love in a weird kind of way. But then all of a sudden you end up watching Bean: The Movie or Mr. Bean’s Holiday and you just want to choke him. Nonetheless, this is a great collection to have even if you only pay attention to everything but the films. The special features are rather disappointing except for the documentary because they are all very short and just unappealing. And if you own any of the previous releases of anything included here, then you already have them. Nothing new was added in and that bugged me because I know one thing that could (and should) have been added in to pay tribute to Rowan Atkinson’s genius and make this collection even better…Atkinson’s stand-up routine in Rowan Atkinson Live. It is quite possibly one of the funniest stand-up sets I’ve ever seen from anyone and that would have been perfect here. He even does a little bit of his Mr. Bean stuff in that set which wouldn’t make it totally out of place. Alas, that wasn’t meant to be and it’s still a great collection to own. Especially for fans.
A&E Home Video presents Mr. Bean: The Ultimate Collection. Created by: Rowan Atkinson. Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Peter MacNicol, Pamela Reed, John Mills, Willem Dafoe, and many more. Running time: 729 minutes on 7 discs. Rating: Varies. Released on DVD: December 16, 2008. Available at Amazon.com