When, during the first of Absolutely Fabulous' 20th-anniversary shows, airing Sunday on BBC America and Logo, does it really hit home how desperately missed these two charming harpies have been?
Could it be when Patsy (Joanna Lumley) describes the Kardashians as "multiplying like head lice," or when Edina (Jennifer Saunders) questions her newly released daughter about whether there was any "fiddly- diddlying" in prison? Maybe it was when Patsy starts pulling joints out of her towering hairdo.
Older but not a bit wiser, Patsy and Edina return Sunday night in one of three new episodes of the show, created by Saunders and Dawn French on their British sketch TV show and then spun off as a British sitcom in 1992. In one form or another, it has been on and off the air until seven years ago.
Ah, but those few years seem like eons the moment we first see Edina Monsoon, the middle-aged woman failing hilariously at being a fashion-devouring "Sloan ranger" while her best friend, Patsy Stone, slinks around in stilettos, stoned or drunk on any number of substances, including terminal self-delusion. How did we manage to live through the Kardashians, the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and other moments in the past seven years without their bleary-eyed commentary?
In true reunion style, everyone gets a turn in the spotlight. Edina's daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha) has to readjust to home life, accepting that prison was a comparative vacation. Edina's mother (June Whitfield) shows up so her daughter can accuse her of kleptomania. Well, she is fairly batty, yet at other times, Mother surprisingly manages to be the single voice of reason in the household. And then there's dear, daffy Bubble (Jane Horrocks), Edina's personal assistant, whose fashion sense once seemed so singularly outré, and now seems just thrift-shop Nicki Minaj. Her two-minute digest of the wedding of Wills and Kate is beyond brilliant.
Time has moved on in Sunday's episode, and Patsy and Edina struggle to catch up. But their unwavering obliviousness to what might be happening in the world makes their accidental commentary on current events even funnier.
It's amazing how adaptable Patsy and Edina have been to all the ups and downs in politics and culture, while so unconcerned about any of it. Their outrageous, self-referential babbling has offered a remarkable running commentary on all of our excesses, and on their own.
Patsy and Edina really have stood the test of time, even though standing without wobbling has always been a challenge for them. Long may they totter.