Do Not Adjust Your Set
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THE CLASSIC SERIES THAT LEAD TO THE CREATION OF MONTY PYTHON.
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 for Flying 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
- Exclusive New Interviews with Terry Jones and Tim Brooke-Taylor
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She is now convinced I had a deprived childhood.
I think anyone who didn't see the show the first time around wouldn't get much from this set, which showcases content badly degraded from neglect and 50 years in a leaky basement. The footage has stood up surprisingly well, with none of the frame roll and sound dropout "At Last The 1948 Show" suffers from in places, but Oh, what a cheap show it was.
The cast of the show was: Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, David Jason, Denise Coffey and the 1967-ish lineup of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.
One rather sad issue is that the musicians' contract at the time called for (I believe) a new backing track to be recorded but the vocals to be performed live. This is problematical since Viv Stanshall is not at his best in some of the showcased tunes, especially my beloved "Look Out There's A Monster Coming". The Bonzos are often left looking perplexed by the bizarre situations they are put in by the script, and today's viewers may not understand the blackface number is a parody of a show that was current at the time DNAYS was first broadcast that would not get airtime today.
The whole thing is saved for me by David Jason and Denise Coffey as the arch rivals "Captain Fantastic" and "Mrs Black".
Yes, you'll see some wonderful sketches that were so good I remembered them all these years. You'll also see some clunkers. And everything was aimed somewhere around the 12 year old age demographic. You are duly warned.
There *is* a rather neat, if short, custom version of the Bonzo's "The Intro and the Outro" which a collector would find worthwhile I think.
And you may recognize stuff that made it into the later show, Monty Python's Flying Circus. The last episode, for example, is clearly the inspiration behind "Election Special".
This set is series 1. I don't know what happened to series 2, and why it isn't in the same set. You do get a couple of interviews on disc 2, one with Terry Jones and one with Tim Brooke-Taylor (little known in the USA but a mainstay of great comedy in the UK). Perplexingly, both interviews mainly concern the missing discs from the USA set - the ones containing "At Last The 1948 Show".
Worth what I paid. Four stars only because of the obvious idiocy of irrelevant interviews and splitting the set.
Between the two, DVDs Do Not Adjust Your Set is not as funny. There is some suggestion that this program was intended as a children's show which may explain some of its lack of adult appeal. I cannot see it as being warmly received by grammar or even middle school students. This is also not Sesame Street. There is no shortage of slapstick and the ongoing episodes of Capt. Fantastic might appeal to the superhero fan seeking a satire. Ultimately the humor is a mismatch of sophistication and curbed punches that are likely to fail all age groups.
The antics of the Bonzo dog Doo.band are definitely a value-added feature. I had hoped to report that their rendition of the Monster Mash was the debut of this satirical piece but alas they not the original artists for this song. They did engage in a very wide variety of creative, comedic, and strange music-based sketch pieces. I would like to think they were in early subversive influence on later British rock idols by inspiring them to don outlandish makeup and costumes. I have no evidence to support this but if true it would make for nice story.
I enjoyed seeing Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Tim Brooke-Taylor (guest appearance), working an early form of their later Monty Python madness. Terry Gilliam is present as an animator but not in his signature unique surrealism meets, comedic form.
Given my general disappointment with Do Not Adjust Your Set, my strongest recommendation is that this is for those of you who, like me have an interest in enjoy the antecedents of the Monty Python team. Several of the skits will return in a funnier, better form once the full M P team assembles.