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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Do Not Adjust Your Set
Do Not Adjust Your Set
Tango // Unrated // July 26, 2005
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Robert Spuhler | posted August 20, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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Have you ever tried to actually watch children's television today? Most of it appears to be written by a writing staff dropping acid or people who think kids lack the ability to process anything that isn't hit-over-the-head-with-a-hammer obvious.

Do Not Adjust Your Set, a British television show from the late 1960s, is what children's programming should look like: A show that the family can appreciate together, with clean material and laughs for kids and adults alike.

The five member cast of Do Not Adjust Your Set is a pretty incredible group of talent – Pythons-to-be Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin team up with David Jason and Denise Coffey. The Pythons wrote all of the material, which was good training since Monty Python's Flying Circus premiered five months after the conclusion of Do Not Adjust Your Set.

There are shades of what would eventually become the Python aesthetic in Do Not Adjust Your Set. The "Concorde" sketch, along with some excellent French-bashing, looks like a prototype for any of a number of Python sketches involving a boss, a subordinate and an office (think "Crunchy Frog"). Meanwhile, take the "Lumberjack Song" and put it in the forest with British soldiers and you get the "British Food Song" that closes out episode six.

A sketch listing for each show is both difficult and lengthy; one of the few nods to its intended audience is in sketch length. Some sketches on the show are less than 30 seconds long, an excellent reminded that brevity is the soul of wits (or puns, as the case may be). Each episode features a musical performance by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and a recurring serial called "Mr. Fantastic," which is silly and, by today's standards, doesn't hold up as well as some of the other material. But with Do Not Adjust Your Set, all you have to do is wait a minute – the crew will be on to a new concept shortly. In one thirty-minute episode there is an average of more than 13 sketches or segments.

Idle ends up as the most valuable player of the five. He does much of the stand-alone material, including the very silly "Science for Sixth Forms" in the first episode. Palin also excels in that "British everyman" role that led to so many memorable Python characters.

Jason, meanwhile, went on to be one of Britain's most respectable television actors, while Coffey had a solid career as well. But the Python boys are the main attractions here, and they shine over the course of the nine episodes on this two DVD set.

It should be noted that Do Not Adjust Your Set actually aired for 28 episodes. These seem to be the only ones that Tango, the DVD manufacturers, could round up.

The DVD

Video:

The nine episodes of Do Not Adjust Your Set that survived look…much like episodes of a 60s television series would look. The quality is extremely poor by today's standards (noise, tape wear, etc.), but certainly still viewable.

Audio:

The 2.0 track (in reality, a mono track forced through two speakers) is clear enough, especially considering the age of the elements involved.

Extras:

The two extras included in this two-disc set are interviews with Terry Jones and Tim Brooke-Taylor. The extras appear on both this set and the DVD presentation of At Last the 1948 Show. The Jones interview gives a lot of interesting background on Do Not Adjust Your Set, while Brooke-Taylor's spot deals solely with At Last the 1948 Show.

Final Thoughts:

If only children's television looked like this today. Do Not Adjust Your Set is a throwback to a time when television and television writers refused to condescend to kids. With only a few exceptions, it is just as interesting for children as it is for adults.

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