Play Girl [1941]

Before The Tracey Ullman Show and Absolutely Fabulous, the short-lived 1985 Britcom Girls on Top helped launch the careers of Ullman and Jennifer Saunders. This two-DVD set contains seven episodes from the show's two seasons. Girls on Top, like the cult fave The Young Ones, charts the sometimes surreal misadventures of four mismatched roommates. Anchoring the series is Dawn French (Saunders's partner in comedy) as Amanda Ripley, a "decent, solid, and frumpy" feminist (if they ever Americanize this series, Rosie O'Donnell would be a natural as her counterpart). Ullman is brazen blonde bimbo Candice. Transplanted American Ruby Wax (an acquired taste) is brash aspiring actress Shelley. Saunders scores with her signature lumpen slapstick as Jennifer, who is described as having "the mental age of four." Venerable Joan Greenwood (The Importance of Being Ernest, Tom Jones) costars as Lady Carlton, the addled romance writer who lets their apartment, and whose cherished companion is her dead, stuffed dog. Look for Alan Rickman in the first episode. Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid in the Harry Potter films) guest stars as a hapless kidnapper in perhaps the set's funniest episode, "C.O.D." It's not absolutely fabulous, but fans will enjoy this nascent glimpse at four--well, three at any rate-of Britain's funniest women. --Donald Liebenson

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