At Last the 1948 Show
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The material here is brilliant. This is the sort of anti-authoritarian, incisive, satirical stuff in embryonic form that would find its full form a few years later as Monty Python's Flying Circus. There's even a skit, The Four Yorkshiremen, that the Pythons would regularly perform in their live shows. And since the shows were recorded virtually live, its wonderful to see when something goes wrong, such as the Policemen in Drag, where they're all obviously struggling to keep from laughing. I also bought the "Do Not Adjust Your Set" collection, which is aimed at younger children, and doesn't appeal to me as well, although it does contain Palin, Idle, Jones, and occasionally Gilliam.
There is some surviving video from twelve of the thirteen episodes from its 1967 broadcast, and it seems like most of this material is spliced together from those bits to form the five 'episodes' packaged here. I don't know if this contains all the surviving material.
As is most surviving TV shows from this era, the image quality (being a film copy of a video original) is poor. Many contemporaneous episodes of Doctor Who, for example, have been restored to near-original condition with the use of VidFire technology, and certainly this show is just as meritorious of restoration.
I dock this one star for the packaging. At just over two hours, why this couldn't be fit onto a single DVD is beyond me. No commentary, no subtitles, a hard-to-read menu screen.Read more ›
So, an early incarnation of the Four Yorkshiremen, one-upping each other with tales of their miserable childhoods, is possibly funnier than the later MP version. Marty Feldman, playing Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Woody Allen, is often brilliant, demonstrating a breadth unseen elsewhere. The Chartered Accountant Dance with a previously unknown to me Tim Brooke-Taylor is glorious. Several clever sight gags show up unexpectedly, providing surprising mirth. And a genuinely clever skit of Scotsmen at the ballet is well executed. I liked much of this, and don't regret seeing it. But comedy for the ages? Nooooo, I think not. I'll share my copy with friends, but if it somehow never finds its way back, I'll not be terribly disappointed.
As a "Python" fan, I was surprised how much I enjoyed Marty Feldman in this show: I expected him to be a weaker spot, but I think that he, along with Chapman and Cleese were the unquestioned stars of the show. I have to admit that I never found Tim Brooke-Taylor to be terribly funny or talented, and costar Aimi MacDonald was, while easy on the eyes, painful to watch. In her defense, MacDonald was normally used in simplistic linking bits (that Terry Gilliam's animation would largely perform later in "Python") that were not especially well written and seemed like afterthoughts. Considering this was only a couple of years before "Python" it is amazing to see the relative lack of production values, although I understand that the picture quality itself in the broadcast episodes was much better.
Overall, I gave the series four stars: it is historically significant, and frequently funny, but some of the material is flimsy at best and poorly executed, especially by Brooke-Taylor and MacDonald. I recommend this to fans of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and other period British comedy: others likely may find it dated and boring.
There are skits on these DVD sets that are as funny as those by Monty Python.
I have read since the 1970s that British viewers of Monty Python recognized the cast from earlier TV series such as these. Pythons John Cleese and Graham Chapman (along with Marty Feldman!) starred in "At Last the 1948 Show" (with a few small parts by Eric Idle). Pythons Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin starred in "Do Not Adjust Your Set".
"At Last the 1948 Show" was, as seen on these DVDs, very much an on-stage skit program with lots of dialog. In contrast "Do Not Adjust Your Set" had a lot more outdoor location scenes and special effects for more of a visual gag-type program.
"Monty Python's Flying Circus" was the next step in a growing community of comedians in the U. K. Surely this is what British viewers must have thought, at least some. Here in the U. S. the initial exposure of Monty Python came with no advance warning. It was a delightful shock. In fact most of everything Monty Python had released by the mid-1970s (TV series, movies, books, records, live stage show) was dumped on the American market at about the same time. It was pretty amazing. We just didn't get to work-up to Monty Python by first viewing TV series such as "At Last the 1948 Show" and "Do Not Adjust Your Set".
After the years of reading about the numerous pre-Python TV series it is nice to finally see some.
It might be worth noting that the picture and sound quality of the shows (particularly in the case of "At Last the 1948 Show") were probably a bit clearer than seen on these DVDs. I am very sure that what are seen here are cinescopes of the original programs.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Our book club is reading John Cleese's new book and I got this to play for the people who hadn't seen it. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Joe Bell
An incredible find for this American fan. So glad it is part of my collection!Published 13 months ago by Lucy Dickey
This was a ground breaking show back in its day (and I was there), it's a pity it didn't all survive :-(Published 17 months ago by GUSR19
john Cleese is John Cleese but overall the sketches are very poor, of course the four Yorkshiremen is great and the lovely Amie Macdonald is entertaining but the sketches are... Read morePublished on September 24, 2013 by MTS
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