In my teen and preteen years (the early 1970's and on), I was an avid
anglophile. Having discovered the anarchic comedy of Monty Python
and the fun SF of Doctor Who at about the same time, I soon searched
out other British TV and radio shows such as the Goodies and the
Goon Show, and after seeing the film Bedazzled, became fans
of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. I was also aghast when I discovered
that much of this classic comedy team's work had been erased by the BBC,
like many episodes of Doctor Who. Most, but not all.
In 1990, the BBC managed to piece together six 'episodes' from remaining
footage of their show Not Only... But Also, and this has now been released
on DVD in region one as The Best of... The Rest of... Not Only... But Also...
(For more background on the show and its origins, refer to Paul Mavis'
informative review of this same DVD here.)
This is a hilarious collection of skits that illustrate just how ahead
of their time this comedy duo was and will also make viewers lament that
there's not more available.
Not Only... But Also... is a skit comedy show where Cook and Moore
play just about all of the characters. Like Monty Python that would
come later, their comedy is irreverent and maniacal. In fact many
of the sketches that are preformed seemed to inspire Python's work.
One such bit involved parody of a typical boring TV talk show where the
guest is Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, who the interviewer accidentally
confuses with Sir Arthur Greeb-Streebling, a man who spent most of his
life teaching ravens to fly underwater. Or, more accurately, attempting
to teach ravens to fly underwater because as Sir Arthur freely admits,
it's well nigh impossible.
The program also has its share of parodies, one of the funniest being
a send up of just about all of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Supermarionation
shows; Superthunderstingcar. With Cook and Moore dressing up as marionettes
and bobbing around the stage in that strange way Anderson's dolls did,
both the look and feel of the show was spot-on. The absurd dialog
mimicked the children's shows wonderfully too. If you've never seen
an episode of Supercar, Stingray, or Thunderbirds this skit
will probably leave you smiling mildly to yourself, but fans of the old
shows will be rolling on the floor like I was.
The absolute best skits involve two lower class men, Dud and Pete.
They'll meet in a zoo or museum and discuss the exhibits. In the
classic style of Laurel and Hardy, one is stupid (Dud), and the other is
an even stupider blowhard, but doesn't know it (Pete). In one case
Pete tells Dud that geckos have such short lives because they have to eat
flies. "God created it, like he did everything else in his almighty
wisdom, and all the animals have to eat each other to keep the population
down. And the gecko got lumbered with flies. It's all right
when it's born, its mother brings it up some flies all mashed up, daintily
garnished with a daisy on top of it, so it can't tell what it's eating.
But as soon as it learns to speak, Dud, and communicate, it says to its
mother, 'Excuse me. What's this I'm eating?' And she has to
reply, 'Flies.' Well she sugars the pill a bit by saying, 'Flies,
darling, they're good for you.' But that's why the gecko doesn't live very
long, it can't bear eating the stuff."
In another hilarious skit, which would never have made it on the air
in the US, Dud and Pete die and go to heaven. As Pete puts it, looking
at the white Roman columns and gossamer curtains, "Bloody 'ell. It's
very vulgar isn't it? It's more like Liberace's bedroom than what
I thought it would be like." Later they both decide that they barely made
it into heaven. "I think this is why we've been put in this particular
bit of heaven. This is obviously not the best bit of heaven.
A child can see that. We've been shoved in the suburbs. We're
miles from the centre."
During a lot of the skits it's obvious that Peter Cook is trying to
crack up Dudley. He'll throw in an ad-libbed like that totally throws
Moore off. In one routine Dudley is telling how he went home one
night and found a naked woman in his bed (Jane Russell no less!)
He describes how he got into bed and that it was unusually warm, and then
"I feel a hand on my cheek." To which Cook replies "Which cheek was
that Dud?" It takes a minute for Dudley to retain his composure and
he finally manages to answer "upper left."
There are several musical interludes, usually two per half hour show.
About half of these feature Dudley Moore and his jazz trio. They
were fine for what the do, but they play light jazz which I really dislike.
Other musical guests sing light jazz torch songs, which don't do much for
me either. The one guest that was interesting was Goldie and the
Gingerbreads, an obscure rock band that has the distinction of being the
first all-girl rock group to be signed to a major label.
They also put a poem to music by a "young poet" who appears in the pantomimed
sketch that acts out his work as it is being read aloud. The poet
is none other than John Lennon, and his appearance is worth the purchase
price for Beatles fans.
Note: This review was done
from a test pressing and may not reflect the quality of the final product.
If I get a copy of the retail disc, I'll update this review.
All of these shows have been cleaned up by the BBC, and the audio fares
pretty well. The accents and funny voices are occasionally hard to
understand, but that's a cultural difference rather than a flaw with the
DVD. Luckily there are subtitles for those infrequent times when
it's hard to understand just what Moore and Cook are saying. The
audio is surprisingly clear for a show this old, and though the range is
rather limited due to the technology of the time the show sounds very good.
The full frame image also looks very good for its age. The quality
does vary from skit to skit, but overall the black and white picture has
good detail and nice contrast. The few color segments don't come
across quite so well, with the colors being a bit muted and with some bleeding
present. There are some spots and print damage, but this is never
Also included on this disc is a half hour biography of the pair, Success
Story: Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. This 1974 BBC production
has clips from their skits and Broadway play as well as interviews with
the men themselves. It's entertaining and informative and well worth
Outrageously funny, this disc is a must-own for fans of absurd and surrealistic
comedy. I laughed more times watching this DVD than I do during most
feature films. It's only too bad that there's not more of Cook and
Moore's early comedy still around. Don't miss this one. Highly