Saturday, September 24, 2005

DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET 2-DVD SET (Tango Entertainment)

During my mid-teen years I was what some (not necessarily you) would call a big fan of MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS, and such a big fan at that I was more'n willing to yack about 'em to just about anyone stupid enough to get in harm's way. In retrospect, it was a fairly healthy obsession for someone such as I who would even inject various Pythonian asides into classroom discussions (once in Psychology class my teacher told us captives that he thought that we, and the students in the school in general, were more or less fans and followers of the likes of such caramel candy television programs as APPLE'S WAY...when I told him that most of the kids here were beyond that sort of pablum he asked me what is was that the youth of his fair school were watching these days and I replied MONTY PYTHON...he had to hold in his laughter!) and you can bet that I'd watch as much of the program as I could amidst soaking up other snide-aside seventies sarcasm (Zappa, SNL, sneak-peeks at NATIONAL LAMPOON) as I could which sure helped get me by all of that sickening Pollyannaish bile I was forced to endure not only in school but at home all the time. Y'know, those older generation images of youth as this misguided but altruistic vaguely Donny and Marie-looking mounds of clay just begging to be formed into upstanding breadwinners without a flyspec of grit or dirt anywhere. Like Roland Kirk said, "Real Hershey Bar with Almonds eaters!"

By the time I vamoosed the hallowed halls of learning and humiliation, I began to toss off a lotta the gulcheral entertainment that had captivated me during my high school days. Zappa didn't relate that much to me after his ZOOT ALLURES fiasco, and although the SNL/NATIONAL LAMPOON axis still held a semblance of meaning at least until the infamous Ackroyd/Belushi split, the plain fact that seventies snide humor just didn't translate into eighties social concern dampened any chance of entertainment that show would have for me. And as for MONTY PYTHON, well that was being jettisoned from the local PBS schedule around the same time which did seem fitting considering how much it had been run into the ground, but would you (non-Amerigans) believe that PBS didn't even have the BRAINS to run any of the PYTHON spinoffs from RIPPING YARNS to RUTLAND WEEKEND TELEVISION?!?!?! Well, it would figure since they didn't even start airing MONTY PYTHON until after the show was axed in Blighty, but you woulda thunk they were smart enough (given that this was Public/Educational television and all) to continue on a roll and air all the spinoffs other'n FAWLTY TOWERS which remains an entertaining series but doesn't exactly count. But feh, by this time I couldn't care, having written off MONTY PYTHON as merely GREEN ACRES with a British accent.

I also used to wonder why PBS never aired DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET which not only featured future Pythoners Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin with the Bonzo Dog Band and comedy standbys David Jason and Denise Coffey, but at least PBS had a good reason not to...y'see, the show had been LOST for a longer time than anyone could imagine! But they've been found and readied for this 2-DVD release that fans of the form should snatch up faster than Richard Gere snatches up gerbils, for DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET, while (true)of "historical" value to those scarfing up British television/humor and all that rot, is just a plain good ol' engrossing series that woulda made for worthwhile PBS filler had these been discovered a lot earlier.

In many ways I gotta prefer DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET to PYTHON because it's a nicer program. Oh, I gotta admit that I liked PYTHON as well as SNL and the rest of the comedy attack brigades of the seventies because their targets were wide-ranging, going after everyone (long before the days of political correctness deemed that the sufferings of protected groups greatly outweighed those of standard runna-da-mill people w/o any racial/societal ginchiness), but it does make for a pleasant change sitting down to watch a show w/o cringing at the thought that something you hold near and dear is going to be suddenly skewered!!! Considering that DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET was originally created as afternoon kiddie fodder it is pretty out-there, especially with the political humor and proto-PYTHON bizzaroids tossed in giving you a weird foreshadowing thirtysome years after the fact!

In fact DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET looks like a dress-rehearsal/pilot for PYTHON, with Idle, Jones and Palin pretty much getting their act together even if the humor for the most part looks about as 1968 British as you can get. (And, since the show is monochrome, it looks 1962 even with the longish hair sported on the likes of Idle and the definite "mod" references.) Terry Gilliam is credited with animation, but other'n the closing credits I dunno what "they're" talking about, and as for the rest of DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET's cast...David Jason seems more fitted for the British sitcoms he ended up doing than hip sketch humor as does Denise Coffey, but the two work together well on their own as they do in the "Captain Fantastic" skits which I must admit to liking despite Elton John's hijacking of the name. But then again, it all works out spiffingly well with a late-sixties attitude that, when thrust into the mad anti-everything non-PC humor of the seventies, made more than household names (even inna U. S. of Whoa) outta many of the future stars of this show.

And as for the Bonzo Dog Band, well, it's finally great to actually see 'em performing rather'n just look at all those stills outta some old issue of GORILLA BEAT. I never was what you'd call a fan of the Bonzos and in fact must admit to not owning any of their records or having even heard "Canyons Of Your Mind" for that matter. I once owned a copy of Grimm's ROCKIN' DUCK but got chewed out by a Bonzo fan for having it ("Yech, that has NOTHING to do with the Bonzos or Scaffold even!") so I got rid of it, so let's just say that watching the likes of Vivian Stanshall, future PYTHON Neil Innes and band romping through a variety of rock kitsch like a hip English take on Paul Revere and the Raiders was pleasant enough that I'll probably download "Canyons" as soon as I post this mess.

And if you're interested in the rest of the proto-PYTHON bunch, Tango also has a patchwork edition (meaning, they got whatever they could find!) of AT LAST THE 1948 SHOW where John Cleese and Graham Chapman could be seen alongside the likes of Marty Feldman!

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