Quite often the problem with Morecambe and Wise "Greatest Hits" compilations is that they home in on the handful of sketches and routines, which are repeated to the point of nauseam--a dancing Angela Rippon, for example. There are certainly a few such chestnuts here--Glenda Jackson in the play "what Ernie wrote", the breakfast striptease routine and "Singing In The Rain", though that particular classic can bear up to any number of repeated viewings.
Much of the stuff here, however, is less familiar. There are seemingly inconsequential sketches of Eric and Ernie in their flat and even--Laurel and Hardy-style--in bed together in which their oddly intimate, bickering relationship is better explored than in some of the stagier items. Much of the scripts and skits here haven't stood the test of time--old innuendos or obsolete references that seem to belong to the 50s, let alone the 70s. But even the creakiest material is rescued not just by Eric's punctually daft persona but also the often-patronised little Ern who, as this selection shows, was no passenger. Among guest highlights, the sight of Arthur Lowe breaking, surreally, from a Captain Bligh into a Humphrey Bogart impression is one of the many ad-lib gems here.
On the DVD: Full screen, special features consisting of scene selection and artist profiles, in which it is outlined just how many years Morecambe and Wise toiled and honed down their act, in music hall radio, film and TV. By the time of their 1977 zenith, when 28 million people watched their Christmas show, they had worked together for over 30 years. --David Stubbs
Compilation of sketches featuring the much-loved funnymen Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. Includes 'Anthony and Cleopatra' with Glenda Jackson, 'Monty in the Bounty' with Arthur Lowe, the famous 'Singing in the Rain' routine, and Eric and Ernie making breakfast to the sound of 'The Stripper'.