Part one is here.

SERIES 3

NOTE: “Series 3” is in fact three specials shown over a three year period, which also saw the production of two feature films. The new title sequence with a drawing of a village rather than a map makes its debut.

3.1 The Bullshitters: Roll out the Gunbarrel 3 Nov 1984, C4 Sat 11:00pm (50 mins)
Written by Peter Richardson & Keith Allen. Directed by Stephen Frears
Featuring Allen, Coltrane, Richardson
Plus: Alan Pellay, Fiona Hendley, Al Matthews, Malcolm Hardee, Elvis Costello
In a world where TV detectives solve real cases, Bonehead and Foyle reunite to solve a kidnapping armed only with tight Y-fronts and a sack of 10ps for the phone.
Bracingly original mix of drama school satire and TV spoof, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but suffering from too many winks at camera (especially the ending). The names “Bonehead” and “Foyle” are dreary, sub-Mad Magazine placeholders and are typical of the occasional laziness which mars this entry.
NOTE: No “Comic Strip Presents” title sequence as Allen wanted to distance the film from the others in the sequence, but has all the hallmarks of one and led to a sequel (“Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown”) which is unarguably a “Comic Strip” film. It is included on the C4 DVD box set.

F.1 The Supergrass 1985 Feature film. (103 mins)
Written by Peter Richardson & Pete Richens. Directed by Peter Richardson
Featuring Allen, Coltrane, French, Peacock, Planer, Richardson, Saunders, Sayle
Plus: Michael Elphick, Ronald Allen
Desperate to impress his girlfriend, Dennis boasts to his girlfriend that he is involved in a major drugs-smuggling operation. Before long, he has agreed to turn Queen’s evidence and finds himself in a hotel room with a beautiful police officer and her ex-boyfriend.
The story sustains itself admirably and the characters are well-drawn, but only Alexei Sayle’s motorcycle cop is really funny enough. Coltrane’s walk along the pier is staggering though and there are other pleasures along the way, such as the uniformly strong performances, with Saunders and Richardson in particular happily inside their comfort zones (which they aren’t always).

3.2 Consuela, or, The New Mrs Saunders 1 Jan 1986, C4 Wed 11pm (45 mins)
Written by Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders. Directed by Stephen Frears
Featuring Edmondson, French, Mayall, Richardson, Saunders,
Parody of “Rebecca” with Edmondson as the upper-class twit who prefers dogs to his new wife and French as the creepily ever-present Maid.
French’s preternatural ability to inhabit every aspect of Saunders’ life works beautifully, but it is often too close to the source to be really funny – an error which would be endlessly repeated in French and Saunders’ TV shows.

3.3 Private Enterprise 2 Jan 1986, C4 Thu 11pm (40 mins)
Written by Adrian Edmondson. Directed by Adrian Edmondson
Featuring Allen, Edmondson, French, Mayall, Planer, Richardson
Plus: Chris Langham, Roger Sloman, Malcolm Hardee, Simon Brint, Rowland Rivron
A delivery man on parole steals a demo tape from a recording studio and makes the band a huge success without them knowing.
After the hilarious highs of “Eddie Monsoon” and “Bad News”, Edmondson’s next stint as writer (and for the first time, director) is a bit flat with no real sense of jeopardy, especially in the last five minutes.

F.2 Eat The Rich 1987 Feature film (83 mins)
Written by Peter Richardson & Pete Richens. Directed by Peter Richardson
Featuring Nosher Powell, Alan Pellay, Ronald Allen
Plus appearances by Planer, Coltrane, Saunders, French, Miranda Richardson, Paul McCartney, Bill Wyman, Jools Holland
Not available on DVD, so I’m relying on my memory of watching it when it first came out, which is of a horrible muddle involving an androgynous waiter, Nosher Powell as the Home Secretary and a Solyent Green ending which was traded-on extensively in the publicity material and yet I fear is meant to be a shocking surprise.
NOTE: No “Comic Strip Presents” title sequence and its status is less clear, especially as it was not included in the DVD box set.

SERIES 4

NOTE: Richardson and Richens take a back seat but the one film they contribute is the jewel in the crown. As other would-be writers step up to the plate, and as the budget balloons, a regrettable tendency to self-indulgence begins to engulf the series. None of the Series 4 films come in at under an hour and most struggle to sustain their length.

4.1 The Strike 20 Feb 1988, C4 Sat 10.50pm (75 mins)
Written by Peter Richardson & Pete Richens. Directed by Peter Richardson & Pete Richens
Featuring Allen, Coltrane, Edmondson, French, Mayall, Peacock, Planer, Richardson, Saunders, Sayle
Plus: Ronald Allen
An earnest script-writer is horrified to see what Hollywood does to his screenplay depicting the miners’ strike.
The Comic Strip’s finest hour (and a quarter), the cross-cutting from finished movie to behind the scenes sustains brilliantly (far better than GLC), the cast all play multiple roles to perfection (Sayle again is stunning) and it’s genuinely funny all the way through. A triumph and well deserving of its acclaim and Montreux win.
NOTE: This episode won the Golden Rose and Press Award at the Montreux Festival

4.2 More Bad News 27 Feb 1988, C4 Sat 10.50pm (60 mins)
Written by Adrian Edmondson. Directed by Adrian Edmondson
Featuring Edmondson, French, Mayall, Planer, Richardson, Saunders
The worst heavy metal band in the world reunites at the behest of a documentary crew.
Limp rehash of Bad News redeemed by the insane Donnington sequence.

4.3 Mr Jolly Lives Next Door 5 Mar 1988, C4 Sat 10.50pm (60 mins)
Written by Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall & Roland Rivron. Directed by Stephen Frears
Featuring Edmondson, French, Mayall, Richardson, Saunders
Plus: Peter Cook, Nicholas Parsons, Thomas Wheatley
A pair of repellent male escorts, in a crazed pursuit of money to buy alcohol, intercept an instruction addressed to their neighbour to “take out Nicholas Parsons”. Not realising that this implies a hit, they take the place of a pair of competition winners who have won a night out with the family entertainer.
Lunatic precursor to “Bottom” which features all of their usual touchstones: light entertainment figureheads, lethal dipsomania and extraordinary violence. Stephen Frears keeps the pace up, Cook is hilarious – as is Parsons as himself – and the gags keep coming. If you have ever liked Mayall and Edmondson, you’ll adore Mr Jolly, but it won’t make any new converts.

4.4 The Yob 12 Mar 1988, C4 Sat 10.50pm (65 mins)
Written by Keith Allen & Daniel Peacock. Directed by Ian Emes
Featuring Allen, Edmondson, Richardson
Plus Gary Olsen, Malcolm Hardee
During an experiment, a yob switches brains with a pretentious pop video director.
Slick and glossy and boasting some good performances, but the one joke doesn’t sustain and it moves at a snail’s pace. It seems to be a pure expression of Allen’s hatred for both ends of the social spectrum and is consequently thoroughly off-putting as well as being very self indulgent and largely witless.

4.5 Didn’t You Kill My Brother? 19 Mar 1988, C4 Sat 10.50pm (65 mins)
Written by Alexei Sayle and Pauline Melville & David Stafford. Directed by Bob Spiers
Featuring Richardson, Sayle
Plus: Beryl Reid, Pauline Melville, Graham Crowden, Benjamin Zephaniah, Dexter Fletcher, Mmoloki Chrystie, Mark Wing-Davey
One of a pair of identical twins is released from prison, to find his gangland brother and mother waiting for him.
More self-indulgence, with Sayle constructing a pretty ropey framework for his own stand-up routines, and playing two roles himself – both fairly poorly. After his superb performance in “Strike”, this is a huge disappointment. Only Graham Crowden’s barking mad judge emerges unscathed.

4.6 Funseekers 26 Mar 1988, C4 Sat 10.50pm (60 mins)
Written by Doug Lucie & Nigel Planer. Directed by Baz Taylor
Featuring Allen, Planer, Richardson
Plus: Cathy Burke
A loser’s misadventures on an 18-30 holiday for which he is too old.
The southbound slide of the series continues with this utterly uninteresting entry, which again I couldn’t make it to the end of. Irretrievably boring after 10 minutes, I gave up after 30, fed-up of watching thinly-drawn characters annoy each other in unpleasant surroundings. What the hell is the Comic Strip doing aping “Duty Free”? Dire.

Recipe time - Spanish omelette
3D movies – kill or cure?