- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The archival TV specialists at Tango Entertainment (tango-entertainment.com) perform an invaluable service for committed Monty Pythonites and quality comedy lovers of all stripes by releasing two new 1960s rarities, the black-and-white Brit skit series At Last The 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set (two-disc, $29.98 each). They’re our…

DVD picks of the week

As writers and performers, soon-to-be Pythons John Cleese and the late Graham Chapman fuel the five surviving episodes — the rest were sacrilegiously erased back in the day — of 1967’s “At Last The 1948 Show.”

Joined by future Mel Brooks comic sidekick Marty Feldman, a mega-talented Tim Brooke-Taylor and mock-ditzy blonde Aimi MacDonald, the two spearhead an obviously low-budget, sometimes raw but just as often hilarious Python forerunner filled to the brim with brilliant bits.

“1948” highlights include the later Python-recycled, poverty-themed sketch “The Four Yorkshiremen,” Mr. Brooke-Taylor’s strenuous “The Chartered Accountant Dance,” and “Plain Clothes Police Women,” wherein the comics themselves crack up over their own improv antics (retakes were cost-prohibitive).

A few months later, in 1968, the other future Pythons — Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Yank animator Terry Gilliam — launched the nine-episode “Do Not Adjust Your Set,” ostensibly a kiddie show, though it operates on roughly the same clever conceptual plane as the “adult” “At Last the 1948 Show.”

Here, the four future Pythons are ably abetted by David Jason (more recently of the “A Touch of Frost” series), Denise Coffey and the zany Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, whose wild musical acts (e.g., “Death Cab For Cutie”) lend variety to the otherwise sketch-driven program.

The sets include revelatory new interviews with Terry Jones, who chronicles the fates of the early shows and the genesis of Monty Python, and Tim Brooke-Taylor, who explains why he decided to go his separate way. Both collections represent essential viewing.


Elsewhere on the TV-on-DVD scene, the selfsame Tango Entertainment introduces Mike Hammer Private Eye (four-disc, $49.98), starring Stacy Keach as Mickey Spillane’s hard-boiled sleuth in all 26 series episodes, along with a new interview with Mr. Keach, a photo gallery and an eight-page booklet.

Paramount Home Entertainment aims its eyes skyward with Scott Bakula and crew in Star Trek Enterprise: The Complete Second Season (seven-disc, $129.00), beaming down with five featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes, select audio commentaries and more. The same label takes a more earthbound direction with The Brady Bunch: The Complete Second Season (four-disc, $38.99), containing all 24 Season Two episodes.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment finds laughs galore in the 24-episode The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Second Season (three-disc, $29.98), augmented by select audio commentary, the 1973 documentary Moore on Sunday and an all-new documentary look at the show.

Fox also debuts the vintage mystery series Remington Steele: Season One (four-disc, $39.98), starring Pierce Brosnan in 22 episodes, plus select audio commentary and a “making-of” featurette.

The ‘A’ list

A trio of comedies leads the week’s list of recent theatrical titles making their digital debuts:

• Kevin Costner headlines as a jock-turned-deejay who woos single mom Joan Allen in The Upside of Anger, arriving with audio commentary by Miss Allen and director Mike Binder, deleted scenes, featurettes and more (New Line Home Entertainment, $27.95).

• Arrogant businessman Anthony Anderson finds a formidable foe in ex-wife Kellita Smith in Jeff Byrd’s King’s Ransom (also New Line Home Entertainment at $27.95), also bowing in a bonus-enriched edition.

• Stanley Tucci plays a bumbling immigrant who tumbles for widow Bridget Fonda in George Zaloom’s comedy/drama The Whole Shebang (HBO Video, $19.97).

Video verite

In documentary developments, The History Channel presents the double-disc FDR: A Presidency Revealed ($29.95), featuring previously unseen home movies, rare audio recordings, and interviews with FDR authorities, plus two bonus “Biography” episodes.

Warner Home Video launches the Tom Cruise-narrated Imax Space Station ($19.98), packed with extras ranging from audio commentary to featurettes.

Collectors’ corner

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment adds four major World War II combat films to its “War Classics” roster: 1962’s all-star The Longest Day, George C. Scott in 1970’s multi-Oscar-winning Patton, Sean Penn and George Clooney in Terrence Malick’s 1998 James Jones-based remake The Thin Red Line and Gregory Peck in 1950’s Twelve O’Clock High ($14.98 each).

Phan mail

Around 1988 or 1989, Disney did a TV movie, “Polly,” based on the story of “Pollyanna” but set in 1950s Alabama — with Phylicia Rashad as Polly Harrington and Keisha Knight-Pulliam as young Polly. Has this movie ever been available on either VHS or DVD?

Connie Nobles, via e-mail

1989’s “Polly” has yet to receive a home video release, but sounds like a natural for Disney’s DVD lineup.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at phanmedia@aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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