Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean

Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean (1989)
A&E Home Video
Cast: Rowan Atkinson
Extras: Documentary, Skits, Photo Stills, Trailer

I was first introduced to Rowan Atkinson’s unique form of physical comedy while watching old "Blackadder" episodes on late night public television. I was hooked at first sight although I will admit that I’ve always had a weakness for that peculiar
British style of comedy. A few years later "Mr. Bean" arrived on the scene and the titular character provided Atkinson with the perfect vehicle for his now refined and subtlety hilarious brand of humor.

Mr. Bean is, shall we say, something of a unique individual. He’s a complete and utter moron who rarely speaks a word yet he somehow manages to find himself in one mundane — and often bizarre — predicament after another. How he decides to resolve
his problems provides the real meat of the show as Mr. Bean’s powers of deduction and reason are a bit skewed.

Through mere facial expressions and wild gestures Mr. Bean conveys to the audience exactly what is going through his wee mind as he confronts, analyzes, and ultimately triumphs over myriad little hurdles on his way toward, well, there’s really no
telling what it is that Mr. Bean is actually all about.

What really adds to the humor is the fact that Mr. Bean isn’t just another lovable goof ala Gomer Pyle, he’s actually a self-centered and ill-mannered lout whose constant antics annoy and frustrate those around him. When Mr. Bean — offering a
dismissive wave and nod — cuts off his nemesis in the little three-wheeled blue car we find it doubly funny because that’s precisely the action so many of us have — or have wanted — to take in our ongoing battles against life’s little annoyances.
Mr. Bean has a bit of the devil inside him and that is a sure-fire recipe for comedic success.

Continuing in their efforts to bring the best of British television to American audiences, A&E Home Video has released "Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean" on DVD. Consisting of all 14 half-hour episodes of the show, this box set is a wish come true for fans —
except for one glaring problem. A few of the episodes appear to have been cut or edited and are in fact missing entire snippets of scenes. The two that are at once apparent are from the Christmas and New Years shows on disc two although there may be
more that I just haven’t noticed. I’m not sure why some pieces are missing but here’s hoping that A&E makes good with a fix.

Presented in its original <$PS,full frame> format, "Mr. Bean" arrives on DVD looking pretty darn good considering its low-budget origins. As is the case with most such BBC fare, the show has that cheap video look common to American soap operas. There’s some
grain and black levels are rather weak but colors are surprisingly stable and there are very few physical blemishes in evidence.

"Mr. Bean" on DVD looks just like "Mr. Bean" did on the telly. Some folks may not be able to get over their notion that anything on DVD should by rights look vastly superior to broadcast television but that’s their loss and I certainly can’t find fault
with the DVD set for not doing the impossible given the source materials.

Audio is presented in an English <$DD,Dolby Digital> 2.0 mix. The quality of the audio is certainly adequate but there is some occasional distortion and harshness to the sound. The soundtrack is pretty much parked front and center and there isn’t much in the way of dynamic range but that’s just the nature of the show. Oh, and the ever-present laugh track does tend to get a bit annoying.

As if having the entire "Mr. Bean" opus weren’t enough, the box set also boasts a handful of decent extras. First up is the 40-minute documentary "The Story of Bean." This piece provides an amazingly in-depth look at the creation of the show and explores Rowan Atkinson’s entire comedic career. This is good stuff and well worth a look.

Next up are "More Sketches" consisting of four additional Mr. Bean skits. The first two are deleted scenes from the television show while the last two are the skits created for Comic Relief UK.

Rounding out the extras are a Rowan Atkinson biography and filmography, a trailer for "Mr. Bean: The Animated Series," and a small photo gallery.

"Mr. Bean" is an odd hybrid of a TV show. It’s at once a tribute to the classic comedies of the silent era — a time when physical comedy was the only sort possible on the silver screen — while at the same time maintaining its very British look and feel. Take a little Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, throw in a bit of Benny Hill and Monty Python, slap on a goofy grin and perpetual five o-clock shadow and what you wind up with is the inimitable Mr. Bean.

Having the entire run of the show on DVD is a real treat and, while the audio and video presentation certainly won’t win any industry awards, the show looks and sounds as good as can be expected. Throw in a few very good bonus features and "Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean" would be a clear winner if only the DVDs were truly complete and uncut.