These are NOT the complete shows, but the complete shows do not exist on DVD. However, they're showing at the Paley Center in NYC in July 2009--check out [...]. They're also at the Paley Center in LA until July 19, 2009--check out [...].
Five stars for content, 3 stars for quality, which varies a lot, but is noticeably better than the VHS version. There's quite a bit of profanity, so if that bothers you, be forewarned. Pete Townshend's acoustic solos make these DVDs more than worth the price. Sting's solo performances are incredible, too. Phil Collins does "Something in the Air Tonight" with just piano and bass, and it's so taut and intense, it'll knock your socks off! There's an alternate version of Monty Python's "Parrot Sketch" with a surprise ending. Rowan Atkinson does his pianist sketch and a cleaned up version of "Smut" retitled "Schoolmaster". John Cleese is hilarious, as always. Fry and Laurie do "Hedge" and "Silver Dick". The list of sketches is really long:
Pleasure at Her Majesty's
Starring John Cleese, Peter Cook, Carol Cleveland, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett, John Bird, Barry Humphries, Jonathan Miller, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden, Amnesty Staff and Harrod's saleslady, Dame Edna, Neil Innes, John Fortune, Des Jones, and Eleanor Bron.
Playing for the Cameras, A Poke in the Lens, Sunday Morning Rehearsal, Preparing for Court, Funky Business, Brushing Up Their Shakespeare, On Sundays He Goes Rehearsing, A Very Interesting Fact (the Cleese/Cook sketch), With a Sharp Pick, Less Moore--More Jones, Audience with a Housewife Superstar, Ham and Parrot, April Fool's Night, Pet Shop (the Parrot sketch), T.E. Lawrence, Spunk!, Happy Darling?, Miner, Court Room, The Audition, Protest Song, The Last Supper (Cleese/Lynn), Funky Gibbon, Telegram, Mime Artist, Asp, The Japes Lecture, Appeal, So That's The Way You Like It, and Lumberjack Song
The Secret Policeman's Ball
Starring: Peter Cook, John Cleese, Clive James, Eleanor Bron, Pete Townshend, Rowan Atkinson, Michael Palin, John Williams (guitarist), The Ken Campbell Road Show, Terry Jones, Anna Ford, Clive Jenkins, Mike Brearley, and Tom Robinson.
Interesting Facts, Telegrams, Pregnancy Test, Pinball Wizard, School Master (Rowan Atkinson), Cheese Shop, Cavatina, Sensation Seekers!, The Pianist, The Name's the Game!, Glad to be Gay, Entirely a Matter for You, Four Yorkshirement (Cleese, Palin, Jones, Atkinson), Won't Get Fooled Again, andthe End of the World.
Extras on Disc 1:
Bookshop, From Beyond the Veil, Words and Things, all from "The Mermaid Frolics", 1977; Drowned, Damage Your Health?, TV Commercial, Commentaries and Introductions by Martin Lewis.
The Secret Policeman's Other Ball
Starring: John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Alexei Sayle, Sting, John Wells, Chris Langham, Phil Collins & Daryl Stuermer, Pamela Stephenson, Graham Chapman, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Victoria Wood, Donovan (with Danny Thompson), John Bird, Tin Brooke-Taylor, John Fortune, Griff Rhys Jones, Bob Geldof (with Johnny Fingers), Alan Bennett, and Michael Palin.
A Word of Thanks, Beekeeping, What's on in Stoke Newington, Message in a Bottle, Denis on the Menace, Crass Shallow Humor, In the Air Tonight (really nice acoustic version, just guitar and piano), Clothes Off! (Cleese/Stephenson--is this the one you meant, Spiny?), Farther Up the Road, Had it up to Here, Catch the Wind, Top Of the Form, President Reagan's Big One, I Don't Like Mondays, Men's Talk, Card Dance, The Conductor (Atkinson/Beethoven's 5th), Drugs, I Shall Be Released, and Stop Those Credits!
The Secret Policeman's Third Ball
Starring: Ruby Wax, Spitting Image, Kate Bush (with David Gilmour), Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, Joan Armatrading, Lenny Henry, Nik Kershaw, Jackson Browne & Paul Brady, Phil Cool, Duran Duran, John Cleese, Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins, Bob Geldof, Emo Phillips, Lou Reed, Ben Elton, Peter Gabriel, Youssou N'Dour), and Sting.
Preamble, Opening Titles, Reagan and Thatcher, Running Up That Hill, Hedge Sketch, I Love it when You Call Me Names, Lowdown Left-Handed Dirty Hound Dog, Wouldn't it be Good, Salvador, Motorway, Save a Prayer, The Silver Dick Award, I'll See You In My Dreams, Imagine, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, This is the World Calling, An American in London, Tell it to Your Heart, Sex Jokes, and Biko.
Extras on Disk 2: Roxanne, The Secret Policeman's Other Ball World Premiere (March 1982), US Trailer and TV Spot (May 82), Special US-Only Sequences, Commentary and Introductions by Martin Lewis.
The Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball
Starring: Michael Palin, John Cleese, Lenny Henry, Spitting Image, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Tina Bishop (with Kathy Burke and Simon Brint), Dawn French, Chris Langham, Jools Holland, Roland Rivron, Robbie Coltrane, Adrian Edmondson, Jennifer Saunders, John Bird, Rory Bremner, Steve Nallon, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Jimmy Mulville, John Williams, and Ben Elton.
Pet Shop (1989 version), Bad Jokes, The Royal Family and the Poll Tax, The Frog and Peach, Amnesia International Song (Memories), The Argument Clinic, Trevor Nettleford, Jazz Interlude, William Tell, Improvisation, The Last Summer (Cleese/Edmondson), Biggles Goes to See Bruce Springsteen, Gorbachev, Bush, and Thatcher (that would be W's dad), Schoolboy Poetry, Special Branch, Crunchy Frog, Stage Crew, Cavatina, One Leg Too Few, Sick Trigger, Schoolgirl Contraception/I'm a Dancer, and Goodbye.
Extras on Disk 3: Remember the Secret Policeman's Ball? Documentary (2004), Introductions by Martin Lewis.