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"Just you and me... and an Arab."
on 23 September 2009
The Missing Link between The Frost Report and Monty Python - indeed, the show's famous Four Yorkshiremen sketch is often misattributed as a Python sketch - this compilation of surviving sketches from the 1967 series teaming Marty Feldman, Tim Brooke-Taylor, John Cleese, Graham Chapman and the lovely Aimi MacDonald (with bit parts by Eric Idle and a beardless Bill Oddie) veers from the inspired to the silly. Moving away from the satire of the Frost Report into more music hall sketch territory, parts of it can be heavy going. Much of the first episode might even be enough to put you off the rest, though it's worth persevering for the sketches that do work, such as the Chartered Accountant dance demonstration, the Let's Speak English show, Tim Brooke-Taylor guiding a party of Arabs through a live broadcast of a Forsyte Saga-like show while Feldman's randy sheik tries it on with the leading lady as John Cleese adlibs desperately, the belligerent Scottish and English ballet hooligans (a sketch foreshadowing a later episode of The Goodies), the game show where Cleese's fascist host Nosmo Claphanger makes no attempt to disguise his utter contempt for the contestants, and the empty-headed egotistism of Aimi MacDonald - sorry, the Lovely Aimi MacDonald's links.
Although only six of the original 13 episodes survive in variable quality, this two-disc set only includes five 24-minute compilation episodes re-edited for Swedish TV, and those are ordered rather haphazardly - the first episode actually includes part of the last episode while a follow-up gag to the Make Ami MacDonald a Very Rich Lady Appeal appears before the appeal is launched in the subsequent episode. The remainder of the misleading 157-minute running time is taken up with two interviews with the undervalued Tim Brooke-Taylor about the show and Terry Jones about Do Not Adjust Your Set carried over from the DVD of that show. And to add to the haphazard feel of the discs, despite being labelled as PAL, they actually seem to be NTSC DVDs...
However, avoid the double-bill double-sided DVD of this and the inferior children's show Do Not Adjust Your Set that's available - that only includes half of the episodes of each title on a double sided disc.