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Now BBC Worldwide have put everything right and released all nine episodes on two DVDs, with a commentary track from Mike Palin and Terry Jones clearly enjoying themselves as they watch the episodes for the first time in 25 years.
At long last we can see, for example, 'Murder at Moorstones Manor'. I'd only seen it twice before -- both occasions on terrestrial BBC in the late 1970s -- and, like so much vintage comedy, today it's not quite as good as I remember it. But it's still great. Palin always enjoyed playing the obsessive -- whether the car enthusiast in 'Moorstones' or the rain-gauge fan in 'Eric Olthwaite'.
The pamphlet that comes with the DVD package is very informative detailing, for example, the audience figures for both the initial broadcast and the repeat. Amazingly, the best episode ('Tomkinson's Schooldays') had the smallest viewing figures. But that was the price it paid for being the first episode in a series that the 1970s BBC, with zero marketing awareness, failed to advertise.
The commentary track is interesting, although switching it on means that you miss much of the well-chosen dialogue. Michael is very well informed about all the personnel involved with each episode and what they have subsequently achieved, but Terry's knowledge of the series is now so minimal that you wonder whether he ever worked on the project! Personally it's fascinating for me to hear Mike talking about his other projects (e.g.Read more ›
If only every olf favourite series got this amount of attention lavished upon it, but I'm just thankful that the BBC have done such a fine job on this release. Excellent.