The Boston Phoenix
November 26 - December 4, 1997

[TV at 50]
| tv home | hot dots | reruns | hot links |


The Young Ones

[Vyvyan] Back in 1982, the venerable BBC aired the first episode of its new sitcom, The Young Ones, and before the final beat of its opening drum roll, British comedy had changed forever. The show was completely mad, unlike anything the Great British Public had seen before. With the delicacy of a Doc Martens boot, The Young Ones kicked the chair out from beneath the fusty establishment, leaving the way clear for the rebellious, surreal, politically charged comedy that remains influential to this day -- on both sides of the Atlantic. (Familial lines can be drawn to Ab Fab and Bean.)

The show -- for those who need introduction -- featured four whacked-out college roommates: Mike (the cool guy), Neil (the downtrodden hippie), Rick (the smarmy and hypocritical lefty), and finally Vyvyan, the red-haired punk who made his first entrance on the show by crashing through a kitchen wall.

Before Butt-head, there was Vyv. Vyv sported metal studs in his forehead. He had a mad Scottish hamster, SPG, who had studs in his forehead, too. Vyv chopped off his own fingers to relieve boredom, set fire to Rick's bed on a whim. He headbutted, booted, bludgeoned, and battered. But there was always something endearing about him. He had a childlike enthusiasm for the havoc he wreaked, and there never seemed to be any malice behind the gratuitous violence. He was a sociopath, but a lovable sociopath. And Vyv was funny. The actor who portrayed him, Adrian Edmonson, had a genius for physical comedy. Vyv put the slap back in slapstick.

The Young Ones emerged from the same embittered youth culture that had produced punk rock -- it did for comedy what the Sex Pistols had done for music. Like punk, the show reveled in its senseless fury. No one epitomized punk's iconoclastic whimsy, its anarchic glee, like Vyvyan.

-- Chris Wright

Detective Andy Sipowicz Q Cousin Oliver
Miss Piggy Steve McGarrett Vyvyan
Columbo Number 6 C. Montgomery Burns
Rin Tin Tin Beavis & Butthead Matthew Burton
Barney Rusty Williams Henry Blake
David Addison Edison Carter Johnny Carson

| home page | what's new | search | about the phoenix | feedback |
Copyright © 1997 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group. All rights reserved.