At Last the 1948 Show [2 Discs] [DVD]

Though sparsely packaged, Tango's reissue of At Last the 1948 Show should nonetheless be of great interest to fans of Monty Python. It includes five of the show's 13 episodes, along with interviews with Terry Jones and Tim Brooke-Taylor. (Jones did not work on At Last; the same extras are included on Tango's simultaneous re-release of Do Not Adjust Your Set.) The sketches themselves are fairly standard, a straight man or men confront a ridiculous character (in "The Scottish National Ballet Supporters," hooligan Scots disrupt a stuffy theater with their catcalls), and the responses to this increased looniness go from set up to conflict to closing punch line (a fight breaks out, an aristocrat says this is the best time he's had at the ballet). The cast is much more adventurous in their performances than in their writing and many of the tics we associate with Python are in evidence. The cast is fond of cross-dressing and speaking in ridiculously high-pitched approximations of regional accents. John Cleese and Graham Chapman stiffly exaggerate their movements like overexuberant robots. Cleese's lifelong comic persona, the bumbling and absurd upper-middle-class toff, appears more or less fully formed. The performances are backed by a strict professional discipline and there is a marked attention and adherence to the possibilities of physicality. For example, in the "Chartered Accountant" dance, Brooke-Taylor deftly condenses the routine movements in the day of an accountant into a Twist-like teen craze. (The chartered accountant, dressed in Magritte's dark suit and bowler hat, figures as the show's shorthand for corporate dullness.) Overall, the show offers a chance to see the performers perfecting their craft in a traditional way, with touches of experimental hijinks that would explode into surreal zaniness in their later work.
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Special Features

  • New interviews with Terry Jones and Tim Brooke-Taylor
  • Booklet
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