A situation comedy, or a sit-com, is a comedy series projected from radio or television. The programme itself is based upon how characters react to unusual or comic situations. Situation comedies follow specific characters that encounter situations and then they try and deal with them. In each episode of a situation comedy, the story follows the same characters. Most situation comedies are set in a specific place that forms the set for every episode. A flat is commonly used in situation comedies for the set. Popular examples of flat share situation comedies are Only Fools and Horses and Friends.
These two sit-coms are extremely popular, and both are set in a flat. Situation comedies used to form gaps in between more important shows. This was soon changed as the demand for sit-coms massively grew. They are now one of the most dominant television genres around. Blackadder is a situation comedy. It is a most unusual sit-com as in each series the scene is based on a different timeline. Blackadder has been through Elizabethan times, many other timelines and important historical times, and then ends up with the final series in World War One.
Most other sit-coms don’t do this instead each of their different series is set on the same timeline and in the same place. This is one of the points that make Blackadder different, as in each series the eager watchers don’t know what to expect. Blackadder goes forth is also different from the usual sit-com as it is the same situation every episode. The majority of sit-coms don’t do this, instead they are based in the same place, but with a different humorous situation with which the characters have to deal with. In Blackadder Goes Forth the situation is exactly the same just the characters deal with it differently.
The situation is that Blackadder himself is trying to escape and relieve himself of the hideous atrocities of the First World War. Of course like in any other sit-com, things go very wrong for him and comic experiences pop up along the way. Altogether Blackadder fits into the situation comedy genre in a sense, as it is a sit-com, but is totally different from the majority of other sit-coms. Blackadder has a different story every episode, involves the same characters in every episode, and takes place in the same place in every episode.
The differences of Blackadder to the mainstream of sit-coms are shown obviously. This is shown in many ways; one is that Blackadder is set in different historical time in each different series. This attracts viewers to watch Blackadder, because they want to see something new rather than the usual flat share show with people shouting bawdy jokes. This is why the producers of Blackadder have made the show different from the usual sit-com. Another reason why Blackadder is different from most sit-coms is that the situation is the same in every episode of Blackadder.
Nearly every other sit-com has different situations and different ways in which the characters tackle these situations. Blackadder Goes Forth doesn’t. The situation is of Blackadder trying to escape the war in any way he can. He tries lots of different approaches to deal with his problem, but every episode he fails. This becomes very amusing as no matter how hard he tries; he just can’t get out of fighting in the war. Another very important feature in Blackadder that is dissimilar to other sit-coms is the way that even though the scene is set on a historical time scale, Blackadder still has 20th Century views.
All the other characters in the whole programme have views of life that relate to the time scale that they are set in, while Blackadder has views of life that we would. This is what makes Blackadder so hilarious to us, as we can relate to precisely what Blackadder is saying and thinking, while all the other characters in the play are trapped in that time zone with historical thoughts, Blackadder makes fun of all the stupid things that happened within that time zone and has the same views and points to express as we do.
The one other reason why Blackadder Goes Forth doesn’t fit well into the genre of situation comedies is that Blackadder uses satirical comments and elements throughout the programmes. This makes the programme extremely funny, but also makes a point in which we can understand and learn from. Satire is using humour or exaggeration to show what it is bad about a person or thing. Blackadder uses this strongly in all of its episodes in all of its series. Blackadder: Well George, I strongly suspect your long wait for certain death is nearly at an end…
This is portraying the scene that everyone who wanted action in the war is going to be sent to his or her deaths. The reason why the produces of Blackadder decided to make different historical time scales for their series was possibly so they could use satire to make a point about those different time lines. With Blackadder using satire in this way it gives viewers the humour and hilarity that we get and love from all sit-coms, but also spreading a point across the country about how bad those situations were and how badly our ancestors handled them.
So the reason why Blackadder is a funny character is because he is the only sane man and fools surround him. This makes us learn from mistakes that have happened in the past but also provides us with the amusement that we want when we watch a sit-com. Satirical elements are present in Blackadder, even in the title sequence at the start of each episode. There are many satirical elements in the title sequence; the first one being the two rows of five men marching after a sergeant major’s command. The first row of soldiers is bandsmen wearing the traditional red colours of the English army.
The second row of soldiers is armed forces, wearing the up-to-date camouflage green. This is satirizing the tactics of the British army. The way in which Blackadder does this is by having the bandsmen in red marching in front of the armed forces, it symbolizes that the bandsmen are more important. It shows that playing instruments and wearing smart colours and clothes into battle is more important then staying undetected with camouflage and looking scruffy. This satirizes British tactics and approach to war.
It also shows that the British army is out of date, as fighting in bright colours was a thing of the past, showing that the commanders were just old forgotten war heroes who needed to be slapped up-to-date if they wanted to keep their men alive. It also satirizes the fact that blood is to come for those soldiers are behind. The blood red of the bandsmen shirts marching in front of the armed forces means that blood is to come for them and pour from their bullet stricken bodies. There is a character in Blackadder Goes Forth, named baldrick. In the title sequence he is out of place in the band and is franticly running around to find his place.
Baldrick is a private in the army. This satirizes the privates as being stupid and out of place fighting in such a war. Also that Baldrick is in the band, and not in the armed forces row like he should be satirizes that he is out of place in the army, and will do more good playing a triangle in a parade. As baldrick is out of place, there is still no place for him in the ranks of men as both are of equal numbers and there is no more room for him. This emphases the point even more that the dim privates are out of place in the war, and they shouldn’t be put there, as they don’t understand it.
How can a man be expected to shoot if he can’t even find a place in a band? This is the satirizing point that Blackadder is making when the character baldrick is out of position. Also in the title sequence General Melchett and Captain Darling are standing atop a podium watching the soldiers march. General Melchett is wearing cavalry clothes. This satirizes the generals in the war by showing that they are out of touch and out of date with the tactics of war. They still think that cavalry are the best option to winning a battle, but now that machine guns have been invented cavalry are useless.
Yet the generals do not know this, and assume that old tactics are good, but they aren’t. Captain Darling is cowering behind the General. This satirizes the Captains in the war. This shows that they were cowards and used the Generals as protection to stop them having to fight. Further on in the title sequence Lieutenant George is smiling in a childish way as he marches forwards. This is satirizing the pompous Lieutenants. Showing that they believe that war is just a game, and they should enjoy every minute off it. This is of course the wrong attitude to take to war, as you killed be obliterated any second.
Aside from the title sequence, the whole programme contains satirical elements throughout its course, one of these being the living conditions of the soldiers shown in the programme. Blackadder opens up the programme of the last ever episode of Blackadder goes forth with: “Hullo, Somme Public Baths. No running, shouting or piddling in the shallow end. ” Aside from this being droll, it also makes a great satirical point on how the living conditions of the soldiers actually were. The soldiers were caked in mud up to their elbows and sopping wet with the continuous moral beating rain.
It satirizes how bad the living conditions really were by basically saying it was wet, and the rain was the least of the soldiers’ problems at that time. Private baldrick explains that the coffee that all the soldiers have been drinking for months is actually hot mud. He also describes what each of the elements of the coffee is. He states that the milk is saliva, the sugar is dandruff and although he doesn’t state what the chocolate sprinklings are, he gives us a very good idea of what they could be! All this satirizes the living conditions of the poor soldiers that had to live in here day in and day out.
They were soaked in rain, encrusted in mud, and drinking hot mire with all manner of things inside, but worst of all being pounded by shells all day long. Blackadder Goes Forth also satirizes everyone’s attitudes to war. Starting with the Generals, they had the worst attitude towards war. As the Generals were not in the trenches and not experiencing the horrors of war, they had no idea what it was like. The generals still thought war was what it used to be, fighting against unarmed enemies that can’t win the fight.
As general Melchett explains, “That pigmy woman with the sharpened mango could have seriously… Apart from this being comical, it has a real satirizing point to it. The old wars in which the English used to fight were against aborigines with no weapons other than maybe a spear. The English couldn’t really loose a battle against such little an opposition, and from that day they thought they could win any battle that faced them, as they were full of themselves over their ‘glorious’ victories. This is the attitude that the generals still possessed when commanding in World War One, especially in the Somme area that Blackadder goes forth is set.
It satirizes the general’s lack of understanding of modern warfare, and shows how they believe they will always win. In the episode ‘Goodbyeee’, Field Marshall Haig is playing with toy soldiers. This is satirizing the general’s perspective of warfare, and apart from it being hilarious it proves just what the generals were like. They thought that war was a game and that it didn’t matter who won or lost. This is shown as Haig knocks over a handful of the plastic soldiers on his model battlefield. Blackadder himself satirizes the advance and progress the army has made while at war, We’ve advanced as far as an asthmatic ant with heavy shopping”. Apart from this being droll, it satirizes how far the army progresses with such stupid and out of date tactics and childish generals. This relates highly to World War One as the army progressed about a few inches a year, as the generals just didn’t know what to do. Another main thing that is satirized is the ranks of different troops. With the generals, they thought that war was just a game. This is shown and satirized in Blackadder by the way the general plays with toy soldiers.
He used this as his tactics, moving individual toys and then knocking them over in one fell swoop. This actually shows that he expected his men to die, but sent them in regardless of the consequences, as he was bored of sitting in one place for a long period of time. Being incredibly child-like satirizes the lieutenants. This is shown in the character George. He is satirizing the pompous upper-class lieutenant. He always has a silly grin on his face and relates everything that happens in the war to a well know game of some sort. He even states that he played tiddly winks when signing up to volunteer for the war.
He makes such remarks as by saying, “we ducked and we dived”. This is satirizing views of many soldiers in the war, as they just didn’t have a clue about what it was really like. They just thought it was like participating in a sport match, and whatever the outcome, no one would get hurt, but how wrong they were. The other rank that is displayed and satirized in Blackadder is the private. Baldrick plays this role, and acts as the ‘dim private’, which is exactly what he is. He is always one step behind everyone else, in the mental way, and in the literal way.
As in the title sequence he is behind everyone, and in the speeches he is behind everyone. He is satirizing the low-class dim private. At the end of the last episode ‘Goodbyeee’, just before they are about to go ‘over the top’, baldrick is more concerned about getting a splinter while climbing the ladder then getting mowed down in a hail of lead by a machine gun. This is because he doesn’t understand what is going on. This is satirizing the fact that the dim people shouldn’t be there, because if they don’t understand what they are doing, how can they possibly fight?
Captain Blackadder plays the other rank. He is the only commonsensical man in the whole warfare situation. This is how Blackadder is made funny, as he satirizes everything around him and makes fun of everything. He shares our views of the war, and tries in vain to get out of fighting just as we would, but to no amend, as the generals cant understand why he would possibly not want to go out and fight. This satirizes the general’s lack of understanding. Fools surround Blackadder, this satirizes that everyone fighting was a fool, and with such stupid people everywhere, how can they win the war.
It also satirizes that no one understands the war, no matter how clever or how high rank. And that everyone is as stupid as the private as they have no idea to fight a war more than he does. The equipment is the last thing that is satirized. This is done by the sticks that the ‘higher ranking’ officers hold. These sticks do nothing at all. “I wouldn’t want to face a machine gun without one of these” George explains to Blackadder. This is satirizing the fact that some of the equipment had no purpose, and some of the people didn’t have a clue what a machine gun could actually do to you.