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This review is from: At Last the 1948 Show (Audio CD)Shortly before the advent of MONTY PYTHON, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor, and Marty Feldman had fun together on television in AT LAST THE 1948 SHOW. A bit sillier and definitely more low-budget than the program it preceded, AT LAST THE 1948 SHOW frequently hinted at the same anti-authoritarian themes that PYTHON did. These themes can be discerned in nearly every one of the sketches preserved on this original soundtrack album. "Beekeeping," for example, is surely a satire of censorship, while the cute and clever "Four Sydney Lotterbies" comments on conformity.
AT LAST THE 1948 SHOW was seen on British television between 1967 and 1968. Though the entire program exists in audio format, the soundtrack album (released originally on LP) presents a mere selection from the show: sixteen sketches, plus two comic "novelty" songs performed by John Cleese. A few of the sketches are not ideally suited to the audio format. One wonders, for instance, why the album's producers chose to include "Someone Has Stolen the News" -- a sketch with much physical action -- rather than the now-classic (as it was revived by Python) "Four Yorkshiremen," a sketch whose humor is all in its dialogue. And (obviously, judging from the live-audience reaction) the sight of Marty Feldman hopping up and down while flapping his right arm and blinking his left eye was a scream (track #10); what a shame one can't see it!
These relatively minor faults mentioned, one can now enjoy the CD; for most of the sketches are really quite entertaining, and if anything the audible presence of the studio audience makes them more so. Other particular highlights include the "Bookshop Sketch" (another Python classic, a kind of literary "Who's on First," here performed by Feldman and Cleese) and its companion-piece, the bizarre "Wonderful World of the Ant"; Brooke-Taylor attempting to interview Chapman's disintegrating government minister ("Good heavens, my foot's dropped off"); the student trivia-show parody "Top of the Form" (another anti-authoritarian gem); and the "dialect" sketch "Rural Farm," which features Chapman, Feldman, and Cleese all speaking mock-Yorkshire, much to Brooke-Taylor's consternation.
The CD comes with a booklet containing retrospective-style commentary. There is a track listing but no cast breakdown, so I'll provide one here:
1. "The Bookshop Sketch" (Feldman, Cleese)
2. "Sheep Dog Trials" (Brooke-Taylor, Chapman)
3. "A Brief Interrogation" (Cleese, Chapman)
4. "The Wonderful World of the Ant" (Cleese, Feldman)
5. "Rural Farm" (Brooke-Taylor, Chapman, Feldman, Cleese)
6. "Witch Restaurant" (Brooke-Taylor, Cleese)
7. "Top of the Form" (Cleese, Feldman, Chapman, Brooke-Taylor)
8. "Someone Has Stolen the News" (Cleese, Feldman, Chapman, Brooke-Taylor)
9. "One-Man Battalion" (Brooke-Taylor, Cleese, Chapman)
10. "Doctor Sketch" (Cleese, Feldman)
11. "The Minister Who Falls Apart" (Brooke-Taylor, Chapman)
12. "Do You Match this Description?" (Cleese)
13. "Engine Driver Spriggs" (Cleese, Feldman)
14. "The Four Sydney Lotterbies" (Feldman, Cleese, Brooke-Taylor, Chapman)
15. "Beekeeping" (Chapman, Feldman)
16. "The Ferret Song" (Cleese)
17. "Vox Populi" (Cleese, Brooke-Taylor)
18. "The Rhubarb Tart Song" (Cleese)