Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Do Not Adjust Your Set and At Last The 1948 Show (DVD)

Both Amazon and have two gems on sale at the moment.

At Last The 1948 Show, is described thusly:
Just two series were made before it became no more and it became a revolution that was destined to change the face of TV comedy forever… 'At Last The 1948 Show' (actually broadcast in 1967). Bursting onto the nation's small screens in an explosion of unrelated and often surreal sketches, its main perpetrators were John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Marty Feldman and Tim Brooke-Taylor and what 'At Last The 1948 Show' began the inestimable Monty Python would one day finish in mind-blowing style.... This 2 DVD set features the recently rediscovered episodes of the classic 'At Last The 1948 Show' series.
And Do Not Adjust Your Set, described as: 
Monty Python completists will especially appreciate Do Not Adjust Your Set, a precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus starring Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Eric Idle, along with fellow writer-performers David Jason and Denise Coffey. Ostensibly a children's show, Do Not Adjust Your Set also includes the then-future Python Terry Gilliam lurking off-camera as an occasional animator, and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band with Neil Innes, an important collaborator on several Idle projects that lay ahead. A freewheeling sketch show from the late 1960s, originally broadcast on the Rediffusion network before switching to Thames Television, it's impossible not to see Do Not Adjust Your Set as a blueprint forFlying Circus. The two hours' worth of material in this DVD set includes early versions of Palin's familiar role as an incompetent shopkeeper, in one instance selling shoe polish to a man who asks for bananas. The entire cast stars in a vignette about a classical music quartet whose instruments produce the sounds of an auto accident and an air raid. Terry Jones plays an insurance agent who wrecks Palin's house, and Idle essays his soon-to-be signature performance as a pleasant-sounding, BBC news reader spouting surreal headlines. This is a gold mine of Pythonesque comedy in an embryonic state, plus the Bonzo Dog Band performing "Death Cab for Cutie." --Tom Keogh
I did not see ALT1948S when it was broadcast, and only know of it from YouTube clips, and's on order.  DNAYS is another matter. A children's show first broadcast (by Rediffusion, a name from the history books!) in 1969, it was a firm favorite of after-school TV watchers, eventually picking up a sizeable adult following. There are many Brits who remember the adventures of the hopeless Captain Fantastic with great fondness, and of course there are even more who cherish the memory of the Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band playing more-or-less live on every episode.  The Bonzos also played almost all the extras in the scenes and provided musical interludes and rude noises as appropriate to the sketches. 

Made on a shoestring - edits were strictly not allowed, as it meant actually cutting out sections of magnetic tape, which reduced the value of the reel - the oh-let's-just-go-with-that-take charm is off the charts. As an adult - and 40 years later - it's possible to guess every punchline and groan at every single dreadful pun but it's still marvellous. 

These two 2-DVD sets are currently less than $10 each, with free shipping for Amazon Prime customers. Excellent trips down memory lane for some of us, and for the newcomers a chance to see the Pythons, hear the Bonzos and attempt to puzzle out what contemporary events and personalities are being spoofed. Free bonus: The title "Do Not Adjust Your Set" is the wording from the error card that appeared on viewers' screens if a fault in the picture was generated at the broadcaster's end. This saved you from getting up and thumping your set a good one, or adjusting the dreaded horizontal hold and vertical hold in an attempt to stabilize the picture. 

Eric Idle subs for Neil Innes in "Love is a Cylindrical Piano". Eric also wears the coolest suits in the show.

Edit: Follow up post on At Last the 1948 show is here

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