What Python Hath Wraught?
epsteinsmutha | At the bottom of Juan Epstein's excuse note | 04/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's really thrilling to see this out on DVD stateside, even though if you don't recall much of the late 1970s/early 1980s and aren't up on government history in the UK during the time (and if not, a few hours with the Young Ones will help), you might be at a bit of a loss on certain parts. If you are still moping over Princess Di being in the past tense namewise, you might be squeamish over parts of this as she still had that new Windsor smell at the time these were made.
Okay, caveats aside, the rapid fire satire sketch comedy of the Pythons is prominent here, probably due in large part to Rowan Atkinson's work with the Pythons on the Amnesty International concerts during this time period (this is before Mr. Bean/Black Adder/Thin Blue Line), but Stephenson, Rhys-Jones and Smith (second only to John Tuturro on the humor scale in the blatant Marx Bros. ripoff (albeit still funny as H---) _Brain Donors_) are just as great in this double-disc set.
Highlights? Mel Smith and Rowan Atkinson's parody of the debates over the brouhaha surrounding Life of Brian at the time ("Jesus Christ is John Cleese right down to the same initials!"), the Oi! band parody song about Moseley with Mel Smith singing, Atkinson's ska parody "I Like Bouncing," the cast take on ABBA, footage of the Pope edited to where it looks like he's singing "Jungle Rock," the Royals entering a room to "In the Mood" as fanfare music, and the list goes on and on.
Best line: "Nurse, I can't feel my legs." "Yes, sorry we had to amputate your arms."
This DVD set also has cameo appearances by Amnesty alum Chris Langham of the "How to Speak Japanese in Three Steps" fame, so that's always nice to see.
Rik Mayall said in the Young Ones that he wanted to capture the spirit of the Pythons in that you didn't know what was coming next. Not the Nine O' Clock News did. Sorry Rik, but that's what you get for being a Cliff Richard fan, clever trousers!
BUY IT NOW OR PAY LATER!
Stephenson + Atkinson = Hilarity
David Solomon | East Brunswick, NJ USA | 03/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched "Not the 9 O'Clock News" on PBS about 25 years ago.
I remember it as being absolutely hilarious.
Rowan Atkinson's fans will not be disappointed with this DVD. His genius is as well displayed here as it is in "Mr. Bean" and "Black Adder."
Not many people will remember Pamela Stephenson from her one-season stint on "Saturday Night Live" in 1986 because she was practically ignored in favor of Billy Crystal, Martin Short, and Christopher Guest. Watching her on this disk will make you realize how funny she can be and wonder what she could've done on "Saturday Night Live" if she had been used more often.
One final note: There was an American version of this show called "Not Necessarily the News" that ran for several seasons on HBO.
Alternative Car Park
Robert I. Hedges | 11/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Not The 9 O'clock News" took the baton from "Monty Python's Flying Circus" in the world of British comedy in the early 1980s. Like "Python," the show features fast paced sketch comedy intermixed with real footage and musical numbers, and blends them into an amalgam that is sometimes very original, yet occasionally noticeably derivative of earlier work (notably of "Python" and Peter Cook.) Of the four principals involved here, Rowan Atkinson, of course, became the standout, and in fact already was even at this early stage. Atkinson excels at quirky roles, and is a wonderfully visual performer. His portrayal of the performance artist mime "Alternative Car Park" is the funniest single sketch of the series by far.
I find the quality of the segments to vary dramatically. I recall watching this many years ago and thinking it was hilarious: while I still think most of it is funny, it has not aged as well as "Python," largely because so much of the humor revolves around then-current governmental affairs in England. I generally found most of the musical numbers to be repetitive, with the only true standout being the song "Nice Video, Shame About The Song" by "Lufthansa Terminal," in a hilarious satire of early 1980s art-videos. The trucking sketch, while not especially creative musically, opened up Pandora's box of complaints with the squished hedgehog gag (giving rise to the hilarious "Hedgehogs: An Apology," and "We Want to Know Who Stuffs Hedgehogs.")
Students of Atkinson can find traces of the future Mr. Bean in some of the sketches, particularly where he orders a bathroom from an architect with a rather excessive number of toilets. Stock footage is liberally used (generally with added sound effects) in what is an equivalent linking device as Terry Gilliam's animation in "Python." I found some of it amusing, but not nearly as funny as it seemed twenty-five years ago. Once again, the reason seems to be watching multiple episodes in proximity to one another on the DVD set (versus weekly on television) where repetition becomes more obvious, and also because much of the humor was very specific to people and events that were topical twenty-five years ago. This time I found the show to be much more biased to the left, although one sketch did mock the Social Democratic Party (SDP.) I also found some of the religious pieces to be in poor taste.
Having detailed all the pros and cons, I still recommend this two DVD set to Anglophiles and lovers of anarchist humor. While I definitely think that "Python's" place at the head of the comedy table is assured, this is still a worthwhile venture, and while many of the gags will pass you by if you aren't familiar with the government and economy of Great Britain in the 1980s, the majority of this material is still funny after all these years."