Ben Elton, Rik Mayall and Lise Mayer for BBC2 Broadcast dubbed in Catalan on 3Cat
Since this December, the 3Cat platform is rebroadcasting The young people, The black viper, All right, all right, Yes, minister i Yes, prime ministermythical titles of the British television comedy of the eighties that triumphed in the golden age of TV3, when Catalan public television premiered the best of English fiction before the (few) other channels we had in the reach, and contributed with its dubbing to the generation of catchphrases and media expressions that became part of popular Catalan.
We are faced with an unbeatable opportunity to check to what extent some of these titles, which we sometimes associate with adolescence and youth, have withstood the passage of time or perhaps only hold up through the filter of nostalgia The youth confirms itself as the most punk series that has reached the small screen, an unsurpassed milestone of loose and gutted humor that captures like no other the chaotic and self-destructive energy, lacking future horizons, of youth . None of its three screenwriters, Rik Mayall, Lise Mayer and Ben Elton, were under the age of 24 when the series premiered on BBC Two in 1982. And that freshness shows in The youthwhich, on the other hand, presents a not at all idealized vision of youth and the subcultures that represented it in the early eighties.
Wild comedy that stirs an explicit rejection of the policies of Margaret Thatcher, one of the unbeatable graces ofThe youth it is the lack of self-satisfaction of some characters who, nevertheless, are irresistible. The four protagonists are a bit short on legs, and one of the best moments of each episode is the impossibility for them to perform the most basic functions to guarantee a minimally comfortable coexistence. Rick, played by Mayall, is a charismatic cretin who embodies a type of youthful attitude that is still quite identifiable, the facsenda who boasts of an anarchist militancy more for posturing than for true political involvement. The other three, Vyvyan (Adrian Edmondson), the wild heavy-punk; Neil (Nigel Planer), the hippie passive, and Mike (Christopher Ryan), the narcissistic braggart, also stand out for upholding their stereotype beyond the politically correct.
Contrary to the sitcoms American, in which the home becomes the space that establishes the stability of family dynamics and the fictional format that represents them, in The youth the student flat functions as a cradle of chaos, a territory in which anything can happen, also in terms of plot development. Monty Python already did it, leaving their films open to surrealist escapes and extemporaneous sketches. The Dada vocation of those responsible for Brian’s life it becomes here a pure celebration of a vital and argumentative disorder that is more extravagant than revolutionary.
The series combines different comedy plans at the highest level: language games with a tendency towards the absurdity of the dialogues; the constant confrontation between the protagonists from a typically male hostility which, like the plantofadas in theslapstick, does not seem to have visible consequences on the characters; the incursion of animated puppets, especially the Riot Brigade, Vyv’s hamster; and a not inconsiderable dose of physical comedy, with Neil’s mime-like body swagger, Vyvyan’s unleashed aggression or Rick’s melodramatic histrionic gestures. Jerzei Balowski was the ultimate disruptive presence, the mutant identity figure capable of firing off delirious monologues that are even funnier today than seen as a teenager.