Do Not Adjust Your Set
Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, David Jason, Denise Coffey
Animations by Terry Gilliam
BBC Television 1967-68
Black and white
2 DVD Set
Distributed by KOCH Entertainment
The 2 DVD set Do Not Adjust Your Set is an absolute must for any fan of British sketch comedy and a bit of a holy grail for those who like Monty Python (pun intended) and remember the radio show I’m Sorry Can You Read That Again. Originally a BBC children’s show that ran for a year or so in the mid-sixties, this series brought together most of the soon to be Pythons together. In addition to David Jason and Denise Coffey, who went on to successful careers of their own, this series was written by and starred Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam (who did the animation work). It also featured regular comedic bits involving the Bonzo Dog Doo-dah Band and the very weird Captain Fantastic (David Jason).
The 9 episodes featured in the Do Not Adjust Your Set each run 30 minutes and are very much a precursor to Monty Python’s Flying Circus in set-up, tone, surrealist comedy, outdoor chase scenes, short comic sketches, and just about everything else. Unlike a lot of British humour, the jokes in this series cross the pond very well. Everyone will laugh at Fiver’s Club with Aunty Denise (Denis Coffey) a take on children’s shows where the host is inept and the assistants basically sabotage everything she does. The regular feature Bonzo Dog Doo-dah Band will amuse people who like musical comedy and weird, funny bands although it was not a personal favorite.
What is particularly eerie and immensely enjoyable is how many of the sketches already bear the Python stamp, especially those where you see Eric Idle behind the counter of some kind of shop and dealing with a customer (in this case Terry Jones but a role John Cleese would often do in Flying Circus). This is particularly true of Family Grocer in episode 1. Another reason Do Not Adjust Your Set (and Monty Python’s Flying Circus) are so enjoyable is very few of the comedy sketches suffer from Saturday Night Life fever where the funny bit was over half way through the skit. There are exceptions here of course, such as Sport in episode 5 with guest Tim Brooke-Taylor or the Espionnage / Custard Factory bit of episode 6, but these are very few and far between.
The picture quality of the episodes is generally excellent with only a couple of slightly fuzzy moments here and there. The menu has a couple of subtle tips of the hat to Monty Python (check out the bit of Life Of Brian poster on the wall). A very picky viewer will wish for the ability to surf within the episodes either with the menu or while a particular show is playing. Extra features on DVD 2 are fresh interviews with Tim Brooke-Taylor of At Last The 1948 Show which has been released at the same time as this collection and with Terry Jones. Both Do Not Adjust Your Set and At Last The 1948 Show include a foldout comedy tree map that is fairly incomprehensible yet looks really cool.
- 85Almost the true story of Monty Python
- 78David Walliams and Matt Lucas are back for more on this BBC comedy
- 76early Benny Hill which means that you have to listen closely
- 76fun for Monty Python fans as a historical document
- 70Brilliant, hilarious, dark, intelligent, British situation comedy