Top positive review
40 people found this helpful
on 31 August 2004
Chronologically, this 1968 show fits somewhere between 'Do Not Adjust Your Set' and 'Monty Python'. Although there are elements of wackiness, this is light-years away from the polished lunacy that was the first Python series. John Cleese is very irritating indeed -- no more so than when he introduces each sketch, reading from a tele-prompter in an echo chamber masquerading as a TV studio.
Half the Python team is here: Cleese, Chapman and Palin, plus Connie Booth pretending to have an English accent. The team clearly learnt by the mistakes they make here. I cannot recall Palin ever again browning up to play an Indian, for example. Every sketch here ends on a punch-line -- one of the rules the Python team was determined to abandon.
The other key player is Tim Brooke-Taylor who, it has to be said, plays a very fine old lady -- certainly up to the standard later set by Terry Jones. It has to be said that Graham Chapman also does not put a single foot wrong, but this film was made before the rest of the Pythons became aware of his drink problem.
There are a number of proto-Python sketches -- the 'Freedom of Speech' sketch, for example, is clearly a practice run for the 'Tell us about your latest film, Sir Edward' sketch in the first Python film. The 'First Letter of the Alphabet' sketch is an ancestor of the 'Spot the Brain Cell' sketch you can hear on 'Monty Python at Drury Lane'. Although most scenes were written by Cleese and Chapman, it's intriguing to see Marty Feldman's name appear on the credits.
But in the main, this is sub-Python humour -- an important historical document for Python completists in the same sense as those unobtainable items such as 'Do Not Adjust Your Set' on DVD, the Bert Fegg book and those three missing episodes of 'Ripping Yarns'. Coming to it new, I didn't find it as funny as many of the other reviewers here. Sorry.