20 years later, 'Absolutely Fabulous'

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COMEDY EPISODE "Absolutely Fabulous"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. on BBC America and Logo

REASON TO WATCH Eddie and Patsy and Saffy -- oh, my!

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Twenty years after their bad behavior began, eight years since their last new round of booze-swilling, heels-tottering, trend-trashing exploits, Jennifer Saunders' London fashionista head cases return to the scene of their comedy crimes -- the ultra-sleek town house inhabited by sputtering magazine editor Edina (Saunders) and her mortified straight-arrow daughter, Saffron (Julia Sawalha).

Also loitering, per usual, are Eddie's rudely dissipated pal Patsy (helmet-haired blonde Joanna Lumley), confused mum (June Whitfield) and witty fad-prone assistant, Bubble (Jane Horrocks).

They're older, state-of-the-art modern, yet thankfully, no wiser. Eddie babbles that "my website is me, it must be fresh, it must be happening," and issues orders to "Twitter it." Patsy remains a self-mummified party hound, forever seeking "the Bugatti of pharmaceuticals." Do-gooder Saffy is still embarrassed by their debauchery.

But one of these women, being sprung from prison, needs to be updated on recent global goings-on. Bubble thus re-enacts last year's royal wedding ("No knickers!"), and Edina explains "a new disease called the Kardashians." Also made current: Patsy's drug bill, suddenly called due by a menacing amazon ex-con in what passes for a plot.

MY SAY Saunders has always been one of the smarter writers around, from '80s sketch fave "French & Saunders" to her recent "Clatterford." She wisely delivers a 20th-anniversary episode that is simply An Episode. Not a special. Not a reunion. Just one more frivolous chapter in the ongoing eavesdrop on middle-age trendoids who refuse to let loose of the self-delusion that refuses to admit they're clueless.

Time truly seems to have stopped for them -- they all look barely older than before. (Patsy's unknown age is a running joke that pays off here.) So Saunders throws in pop-culture signposts.

Two more 2012 episodes are planned. Here's hoping they're just as absolutely fabulous about absolutely nothing.

BOTTOM LINE A great concept, mostly divorced from reality, with superb execution, just might extend forever.

GRADE B+

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