Bottom (1991–1995 United Kingdom)

Richard “Richie” Richard (Rik Mayall) — a sex-starved, sadistic, physically repugnant loser with delusions of sophistication — takes out his frustrations with life upon Eddie Elizabeth Hitler (Adrian Edmondson): his boozy, slightly more intelligent yet equally perverted and sadistic flatmate. The two of them spend each episode torturing each other with various household objects and I don’t want to know where he got that–type weapons. Thus causing unending chaos to both their surroundings and their neighbours. This classic TV series is definitely very slapstick in style and relies heavily on violence for its main base of humour.

But given the depth the actors give to their individual characters, and the all out absurdity of it, you can’t help but tune in (or program the dvd) to watch more. As usual, Mayall plays the more pathetic one of the team, while Edmondson’s Eddie is the unscrupulous drunk. Neither of them have much success when it comes to the opposite sex, due to Richie’s poor hygiene and Eddie’s crass chat-up lines (although Eddie has managed to move in for the kill once or twice when things have gone wrong yet again for Richie… ) It’s hilarious to laugh at the misfortunes of others, and we get plenty of chance to do that as we follow these two sad cases and their doomed attempts to climb the social ladder. Eddie is my favourite character because he has a dry sense of humour, knows he’s uncultured but doesn’t care.

He uses his native cunning to always ensure Richie gets a raw deal, so although a loser at the game of life too, he’s usually the winner in his own house. There’s lots of innuendo and things never get too intellectual, so every viewer can feel better about themselves when they watch this pair of misfits. Mayall and Edmonson had effectively prototyped Richie and Eddie in The ‘Young Ones’ ‘Filthy, Rich and Catflap’ etc. Ultimately, with Bottom, they were free to reach an all new low (or rather high). Full of disgusting toilet and depraved sexual humour, it revels in the grimy world of failed desires. And nothing makes for funnier viewing than Rik Mayall playing a man who has just been caught masturbating in the most undignified way.

Bottom was almost a traditional form of comedy; a loser who wears the shirt and tie to give the impression he is a somebody, like Tony Hancock in the 1950s. But it had all the knocks and gore to satisfy a 1990s audience and that’s why we loved it, and many still do. During the 3 seasons the series ran for, a total of 18 episodes, you never once saw Eddie or Richie work or pay for something without trying to cheat their way out of it in some inane or psychotic way. This was because they were scrounging off government benefits (plus handouts we are not privileged to know of?) and just generally lazing around. I disagree heartily with this way of life but it does open the door for a lot of comedic situations and mocking.

One of the running themes is Richie seems to think he is some sort of intellectual, which means he has to spend many hours studying works of art in his art book. Alone. Richie is also a sex obsessed virgin who is desperate to “do it”. He spends most of his time masturbating–I mean studying, remember those art works? He tries to chat up women with his best and only chat-up line: “What a smashing blouse you have on!” He also acts like Eddie’s wife in most aspects; he wears an apron, does the housework and tells Eddie off (complete with pursed lips and disapproving frown): “You are grounded, young man!” whilst pointing his finger and shaking with outrage, like any good house frau might do. I don’t really have a favourite episode so I will merely sign off this review with some of my favourite quotes below.

Eddie: (Handing out tea) “Here we are then. Three cups of… steaming cold tea. Better drink it before it gets warm.”

Richie: “Eddie, what in the name of Greek buggery is the use of a plastic duck?”

Eddie: “It came free with the telly.”

Richie: “Eddie, everything came free with the telly, we were looting! Why didn’t you get a free telly with the telly?!”

Eddie: “Well, then it would sink in the bath!”

Richie: “Well yes, I can see your point.”

Eddie: “It’s this new skirt, it rucks up very easily.”

Richie: “And don’t forget to put a little bit of salt around the rim.”

Eddie: “I beg your pardon?”

Richie: “Come on Eddie, I know what I’m talking about. Everybody in Hollywood does it.”

Eddie: “I think I’ll just put a bit of salt around the edge of the glass, if its all the same to you.”

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