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Along with the 1948 Show (which featured Pythons-to-be John Cleese and
Graham Chapman), DNAYS is revered and sought-after as a missing piece
of the puzzle of pre-Python lunacy. Bringing together the other four
Pythons (Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle - all looking impossibly
young - and cartoonist Terry Gilliam) it was an anarchic and silly
series, aimed (supposedly) at kids but with much to offer everyone
Alongside Palin & co. there was David Jason (now a huge favourite of British TV with Only Fools and Horses, A Touch of Frost, and much more), Denise Coffey (now whatever happened to her?) and the musical antics of the wonderful Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band. Basically a dozen or so twenty-something guys (and a girl) letting their hair down and having a laugh would sum up DNAYS perfectly.
Although the series has rarely been re-run - I think two episodes have been on TV in the last twenty years as part of retrospective telly nights, including the Christmas special Do Not Adjust Your Stocking - the good news is that over half the episodes as filmed have survived the ravages of time and the mass wiping of tapes that went on in the 1960s and 1970s. Occasionally liberated from archives for the odd screening, the series holds up well and is extremely off-the-wall and funny. It would be wonderful to see it out on DVD.
'Do Not Adjust Your Set' (subtitled 'The Fairly Pointless Show') is a
vitally important series in the evolution of British comedy. Very funny
its own right, 'DNAYS' directly led to the teaming of the
who would go on to create 'Monty Python'. There were 28 half-hour
of 'Do Not Adjust Your Set', plus a 50-minute special airing on Christmas
Day 1968, titled 'Do Not Adjust Your Stocking'.
Produced by Humphrey Barclay and Ian Davidson for Rediffusion TV, 'DNAYS' teamed future Pythons Palin, Idle and Jones ... plus Idle's musical discovery the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, who performed bizarre comedy songs and surrealistic cover versions of old standards.
The running feature on 'DNAYS' was a mock adventure serial starring David Jason as Captain Fantastic, in pursuit of his archnemesis the evil Mrs Black (played by the attractive Denise Coffey). These segments were splendidly directed by Daphne Shadwell, in a separate production unit from the rest of the series. The weekly Captain Fantastic segment became so popular, it was eventually spun off into a regular segment on the Thames TV series 'Magpie'. Although David Jason is unknown in the USA, he has starred in several long-running and extremely popular comedy series in England. More than any of the Pythons-to-be, David Jason was the most popular cast member in 'DNAYS'.
The last four programmes in this series featured the distinctive cut-out animation of Terry Gilliam. Five months after 'DNAYS' aired its last episode, "Monty Python's Flying Circus" premiered ... and the rest is history.
Finally seeing the light of day again thanks to the release of nine
episodes of the series on DVD, "Do Not Adjust Your Set" is -- along
with "At Last the 1948 Show" -- the clearest forerunner of "Monty
Python's Flying Circus." Written by and starring Eric Idle, Terry Jones
and Michael Palin, with David Jason, Denise Coffey and the Bonzo Dog
Doo Dah Band (as well as some animations by Terry Gilliam in the second
series), "Do Not Adjust Your Set" aspires to be the same kind of
anarchic free-form comedy series, albeit one suitable for children. (It
was, after all, originally meant to be a children's show, but it
quickly developed a cult audience among the grown-up set.)
The DVD only covers the first series, though, so none of Terry Gilliam's animations are present (don't let the packaging fool you). Even so, it's definitely worth checking out.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If it were possible to go through the whole of 'Monty Python' and take
out the adult material, what you'd be left with is 'Do Not Adjust Your
Set'. This delightfully anarchic show was loved by British children in
the late '60's ( I was one ) and gave Michael Palin, Terry Jones and
Eric Idle useful television exposure. Like the much later 'Tiswas', it
revelled in its own silliness.
David Jason and sexy Denise Coffey provided support, as well as writing and appearing in a 'Batman' spoof, made on film, entitled 'The Life & Times Of Captain Fantastic' ( such was its popularity that it went on to be a regular item in the magazine programme 'Magpie' ). It is to their credit that they managed to hold their own in such esteemed company. When Michael Palin fell ill one week, Tim Brooke-Taylor ( dressed as a frogman ) from 'At Last The 1948 Show' took his place.
But the real stars for me were 'The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band'. Their witty, tuneful songs ( such as 'By A Waterfall' and 'I'm The Urban Spaceman' ) made the show. Their lead singer, the late Vivian Stanshall, looked like a hippie version of Leslie Phillips; he really should have done more in the field of comedy writing and performing. Terry Gilliam came aboard for the second season, providing animations ( including a superb one about Christmas cards ) similar to the ones he later did in 'Python'.
When Channel 4 repeated the Christmas Special ( 'Do Not Adjust Your Stocking' ) in the '80's, David Jason, for reasons best known to himself, refused to allow his footage to be included.
If you love 'Python', you should love this too. And remember: the evil Mrs.Black and her Blit Men are still lurking out there somewhere...
Just gotta shout it: This show is AWESOME! I've just watched my DVD of "Do Not Adjust Your Set" and it's really, really good! I read about it in a book about Monty Python, and at that time, no copies were know to exist. I thought it was dead forever. Then one day I found out that some had been found and it was on DVD. I was expecting it to be pretty good, but no-- it's REALLY good! So much fun. This show is much more "Pythonic" and slightly less dated than John Cleese and Graham Chapman's show "At Last the 1948 Show." Since it was supposedly a kid's show (but not really), it gets wonderfully silly. The way Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin appear in this series, they sound just like they do in Flying Circus. Yet D.N.A.Y.S. is its own scene, and it's groovy, man! And it's got the Bonzo Dog Dooh Dah Band from The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour playing weird, cool songs each episode. As if things couldn't get any better. And then they do-- Eric Idle occasionally plays and sings with them. Lovely! Whoever thought is was a good idea to erase this series deserves to be tarred and feathered. But he's probably dead by now anyway.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This program was the first comedy show for kids that wasn't childish.
Instead, it was silly but in an adult way. A way that we would
eventually come to describe as 'Pythonesque', the style its
contributors went on to develop with their Flying Circus.
Originally screened before the 6 o-clock news, during what used to be called rather patronisingly 'Children's Hour', the show had sufficient comedy appeal to be re-scheduled after the news for the benefit of adults.
Amongst the Python crew, David Jason cut his television milk teeth, anda very young Kenny Everett also featured from time to time, though he is not credited. David Jason played 'Captain Fantastic', a super-hero spoof based upon an earlier show called 'Captain Moonlight'. His nemesis was a prematurely-emancipated 'Mrs Black' (her absent spouse was never explained). With her lethal handbag - which contained only knobs and dials - but which could effect all manner of chaos, and her 3 cybernetic stooges called 'Blit-Men', she roamed free to wreak disaster, always one step ahead of the Captain.
The excellent Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band with their bizarre musical mix of rag-time and surrealism suited the show perfectly. Who can forget 'I'm The Urban Spaceman', 'The Intro And The Outro', or the classic 'Love Is A Cylindrical Piano'? Most of their stuff is available through I-Tunes.
Today it would probably seem ludicrously dated, like so much earlier stuff, so I'll just keep my memories unsullied, even if it appears on DVD.
They don't make the 60's like they used to.
I just finished watching the first season of "Do Not Adjust Your Set".
I was interested in this show because it was a pre-"Monty Python" show
starring and written by several people who were to become part of Monty
Python. Seen in that context, the show can be interesting. In many of
the sketches you can see the budding of what was to become just a short
Though the show is interesting in showing what was to become, as entertainment, it has not aged very well. Oh, the show is not without its bright spots. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band contribute some amusing and tuneful songs. And every so often there's something that will make you smile a little or chuckle a little. But for the most part, the humor comes across as very lame. You'll be able to figure out the punchlines for many of the sketches, for one thing. Much of the attempted humor is also not as aggressive or biting as on Monty Python. The worst part of the show has to be the Captain Fantastic sketches. They go on forever, and you'll be in agony waiting for them to end.
I will entertain the possibility that when the show was first aired, it was fresh and funny, with nothing like it before. But in the decades that have passed, with more jabbing comedy teams and shows that have come up, today the show seems like feeble stuff. If you have fond memories of the show when it first aired, I would suggest let them remain memories and not revisit the show.
I was a kid in the 1960's and this was my favorite show on TV. I suppose I was about 9 or 10 when I was watching it. When I watch clips of it now on youtube I can't understand why I thought it was funny back then. This was the pre-humor established by the Pythons which people didn't find funny until the mid-1970's (and even then not everyone found it funny). This humor was way beyond it's time, so back then it shouldn't have been funny, especially not for a child, but I really did enjoy it. It was probably one of the first shows (if not the first show) to establish that link between the staid soaps, sitcoms and standup comedy humor of the 1950's and the 1960's and what came later, starting with Python. Strangely enough, when I was old enough to stay up late and start watching Python (around 1972) I didn't find it funny at all. However, it was "in" to watch Python and talk about it at school the next day, so I pretended back then to like it. But DNAYS was a show that I actually watched because I really enjoyed it, and nobody talked about it at school the next day (as I said, we were only about 9 years old). Before I started watching clips on youtube, the only people I remembered from the show were David Jason, Denise Coffey and Eric Idle. I didn't remember the other Pythons being in it at all. And of course I remembered the Bonzos. By the time I was 16 I had all their LPs. Now there was a band who should have had a much bigger cult following!
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