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Wonderful comedy sketch show with astonishingly talented cast
I have almost worn out my tape of the few episodes of this show I managed to record before it disappeared from the airways. It featured a cast of astonishing talent, who were, as then, not very well known, yet have all gone onto become far better known and for the very good reason that they are all outstanding actors.
I'm surprised it's never been released on DVD given that Hugh Laurie is now starring in the very popular 'House', Emma Thompson has won an Oscar, Robbie Coltrane wowed the critics in 'Cracker' before going onto wow kids as Hagrid in the 'Harry Potter' films and Stephen Fry and Ben Elton are pretty much household names in the UK.
The sketches were, on the whole, imaginative and tightly scripted, the acting was outstanding, and as with "Laugh??? I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee" and "A Bit of Fry & Laurie" the sketches never followed the expected route. As with those shows, some of the sketches were witty and inventive and some didn't quite get there, but the hits far outnumbered the misses. And the same could be said of Monty Python, the spiritual grandfather of so many of the sketch shows that followed them along lateral and surreal paths instead of the beginning, middle, end and punchline format of the past. This was an era of so much good comedy on British television that I think shows like this were taken for granted by viewers at the time. I remember the backlash against Emma Thompson by critics when her own show 'Thompson' came out, another sketch show that was witty and inventive yet greeted with a lacklustre shrug by UK critics who seemed to have a problem with a woman being that intelligent, equally good in comedy and drama, and that successful (and - at the time - married to Kenneth Branagh, then a rising star of the British theatre). It's a pity that a series that showcased so much talent in its early stages is not better known and has never been released on VHS or DVD for another generation to enjoy. I would love to sit down and see the whole series again from beginning to end.
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