BENNY HILL SHOW: complete and unedited!

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by AndyMcKinney, Jun 28, 2004.

  1. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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  2. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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  3. Brian Thibodeau

    Brian Thibodeau Supporting Actor

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  4. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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  5. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    You'd think they would have gone back to the original filmed stock that made up most of the outdoor footage and restore it (if it's still surviving) and match it up with the remastered video taped segments.

    Or, intercut the better looking filmed sequences from the Best Of sets with the new video sequence restorations.

    All in all it looks like a good, yet uneven quality set.

    I'll have to consider that one.
     
  6. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    My guess as to why the filmed inserts look worse on the new set: they were using the original master tapes of the individual episodes and did little (or no) restoration, and the tape assembled for the compilations had a more thorough cleanup job.
    As to why A&E couldn't intercut the film footage from the compilations? Well, for a start, the compilation DVDs won't contain every filmed sketch, particularly from the earliest episodes, and secondly, that master tape would be in the possession of whichever company distributed the compilations (it wasn't A&E).
    I'd rather have complete, unremastered episodes than edited compilations any day!
     
  7. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Dan if you're a Benny Hill fan I wouldn't put too much of an emphasis on the quality of the filmed segments since the majority of Benny's shows were videotaped. But of course it's your perogative. [​IMG]
     
  8. Brian Thibodeau

    Brian Thibodeau Supporting Actor

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    Any Benny experts here know on which seasons Eddie Buchanan appeared? Got to thinking about him whilst watching the musical guests in this current set. Some okay performers there (Trisha Noble, Kiki Dee, Petticoat & Vine) but it's interesting that after the first six or seven shows, the Ladybirds became the regular vocalists. Was this a financial decision? I know Buchanan appeared more than once, both as musical guest and as a performer in several sketches, but I'm just not sure which season. Were there any other "singers" between him and Louise English having a go?
     
  9. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    I think Buchanan will be in the next round of episodes.

     
  10. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    True, it probably would have been an issue of rights versus restoration. Unfortunately they opted to do nothing. In a perfect world they would have restored the filmed segments to produce an immaculate DVD collection.
    Oh well, I hear that Rolling Stones song in the distance... [​IMG]
     
  11. William B.

    William B. Stunt Coordinator

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    Now, before I answer some questions that I know something about, let me say that it was a revelation about the "Love Will Find A Way" sketch emanating from the second black-and-white show (Jan. 27, 1971); you wouldn't know it as the U.S. syndicated half-hours always showed it in sepia tone.


    Any Benny experts here know on which seasons Eddie Buchanan appeared?

    Mr. Buchanan, who died in 1987, first appeared in Episode #24 (first aired in Britain on Sept. 24, 1975), at the tail end of the sixth series; he remained through the last episode of the eighth series which ran on March 23, 1977 (Episode #31). Thus, his shows are more likely to be on the set after the next, in other words he'll probably be in Set Three. (I reckon Set 2 will cover up to 12 episodes, aired between Feb. 23, 1972 and March 12, 1975 -- before Mr. Buchanan joined.)

    John Howard Davies is often criticised for his decision to "retire" the Benny Hill Show and is painted as the "new guy" who was putting his stamp on Thames.

    In Mark Lewishon's excellent book Funny, Peculiar (no true Benny Hill fan should be without it: probably the only non-biased Benny Hill biography out there), you finally get to hear Davies' side of the story. To him, the main reason for Benny's sacking was twofold: the production costs were escalating far in excess of their profitability.

    Under Thames' previous boss, Philip Jones, Benny and Dennis (Kirkland) usually just told him they needed more money for the next series and it was basically handed to them. When Davies examined the books and saw how Hill's costs were steadily increasing, he examined whether or not it was financially viable to continue on this path, also taking the American syndication market into account. With over 100 half-hours in syndication, he didn't see it as worth it to continue at such high production costs, especially when a new series of Benny Hill would only yield 4-6 new half-hours for syndication.

    The details of which seemed to remind me of the status of, say, The Jackie Gleason Show as of 1970: spiraling costs vs. declining ratings, combined with the age-old hobgoblin known as "demographics." Yet Mr. Gleason's variety show was entirely studio-bound; all the costs went to the pomp associated with the show, and in terms of lifestyle (i.e. money), The Great One was the complete opposite of Mr. Hill; he thought nothing of spending money like water for the most extravagant indulgences possible.

    But Mr. Davies did indeed have his own kind of baggage, albeit different from Mr. Hill's: He produced the first four episodes of Monty Python in 1969; he produced the first series of The Goodies and Python alumnus John Cleese's Fawlty Towers; and as head of Light Entertainment for the BBC he aided and abetted the rise of the alternative-comedy movement in Britain. So in that context (and Mr. Davies' going on to produce the first few episodes of Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean) it's hard not to think of Mr. Hill being "fired," even though the exact details were more like what Mr. Lewisohn described. That, and Mr. Hill's de facto blacklisting from British television thereafterwards.
     
  12. William B.

    William B. Stunt Coordinator

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    Funny . . . I noted similar dichotomies when I travelled to London in 1989 and 1990, to research old editions of The Spotlight (the British casting directory) to see what various supporting and bit players associated with Mr. Hill's show over the decades looked like, so when I saw such an individual I could say, "Oh, that's who it is" (that, and the fact that some people only appeared on one show). The older set loved TBHS while the younger ones -- brainwashed on the endless "Benny Hill bad" drumbeat -- turned their nose (indeed, I got the sense that they hated his guts for merely existing). I also noticed something else: a certain degree of hypocrisy and double standards. So-called "comedy" shows that got away with far worse than what Mr. Hill was merely accused of were high on their lists. I suppose one factor was that Mr. Hill wasn't an Oxbridge mafioso and therefore didn't wrap his particular brand of humor in hoity-toity pretense a la the Pythons.
    But as to this Complete & Unadulterated set: the question I keep asking myself is, why did Comedy Central, when airing TBHS in the early-to-mid 1990's, bypass these earlier shows in favor of the later, more rote and tired, more T&A-dominated editions (which, B.T.W., are my least favorite, but not for the same reasons as those who objected to his show entirely; that is, the overreliance on that factor seemed to at first mask, then accentuate, the overall decline in quality and standards that marred his 1980's shows, that plus that it symbolized how far away from the show's original purpose it got)? That was how funnier those first eleven shows -- and in particular the three B&W editions -- were. Remember, as a New Yorker, I had been first exposed to Mr. Hill via his impersonations, his parodies of TV shows such as Starsky & Hutch, and some musical numbers like The Cotton Mill Boys' way-out rendition of "Orange Blossom Special" (from the May 30, 1978 special). So when they first started airing the Hill's Angels segments, I wondered to myself: Why are they airing this? And what's that got to do with the rest of the show? I suppose we've all since come to know . . .
    And as to the question of why many of those in Britain who grew up, say, in the 1980's treat Mr. Hill like the plague to this day: I suppose that if you had grown up exposed day and night to an endless barrage of anti-Hill hit pieces in the media, and ongoing smear campaigns like Ben Elton's neo-McCarthyite accusations against his show, as these people had, wouldn't you?
     
  13. William B.

    William B. Stunt Coordinator

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    But as to musical guests before Louise English (and, for that matter, Eddie Buchanan; not to mention the late Diana Darvey "The late Diana Darvey?" "I said not to mention the late Diana Darvey!"), and besides The Cotton Mill Boys on the aforementioned May 1978 show, subsequent sets will doubtless have:

    - Sylvia McNeil (from Feb. 23, 1972, Episode #12)

    - The Mike Sammes Singers (from Oct. 25, 1972, Episode #14)

    - The Orange Blossom Sound (from Feb. 22, 1973, Episode #16)

    - Los Zafiros (besides their Oct. 28, 1970 appearance, they were also on the Dec. 5, 1973 telecast, Episode #18)

    - Berry Cornish (also on Dec. 5, 1973)

    - Anne Shelton (from Dec. 27, 1973, Episode #19)

    - Design (vocal group; appeared on Feb. 7, 1974, Episode #20)

    - Judith Durham (from March 13, 1974, Episode #21; a show which would be Nicholas Parsons' TBHS swan song)

    - Dilys Watling (from Dec. 17, 1975, Episode #25, and March 23, 1977, Episode #31)

    - Brenda Arnau (from March 24, 1976, Episode #27)

    - Reflections (another vocal group; appeared on Jan. 26, 1977, Episode #29; one of that group's members, Linda Robinson, played Joanna Lumley's Purdie character in a parody of The New Avengers on that show)

    I.M.H.O., a few musical numbers from some of the guests in question are as much my favorite as many of the sketches, parodies and impersonations. Los Zafiros' musical number from Oct. 28, 1970 somehow got into one of the U.S. syndicated half-hours, and I truly liked that number -- don't know what it is, and I can't understand what they're singing, but I like it. I also liked that Cotton Mill Boys version of "Orange Blossom Special." I've also become fond of the performance from Luis Alberto del Parana and Los Paraguayos as on the Feb. 4, 1970 show. The Ladybirds' numbers -- well, almost like watching an episode of Your Hit Parade, let's put it that way.

    Speaking of which . . . I seemed to notice that on their last on-air appearance on March 13, 1974, they had a different member than on their previous shows. Oh, Marian Davies (the blonde) and Maggie Stredder (the bespectacled one) were still there, but it seemed that Gloria George had left (having last appeared with her 'Bird-mates on the Dec. 27, 1973 show). I was curious as to who replaced her at the time?
     
  14. paul_austin

    paul_austin Second Unit

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    the video was "Anything She Does"
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    I'm trying to remember if I've seen that Genesis video or not.. hmmm... *scratches head
    I'd like to point out that if you take the Benny Hill quiz on disc 3 there is a wrong answer that is counted as being right.
    Question #12:
    [​IMG]
    The quiz has the correct answer as being C) Orson Buggy but in fact the correct answer should be A) Tommy Tupper.
    I don't much like the Ladybirds' singing myself, but it's a great reminder of a period in time when popular music was put through a sweatener and presented on TV, radio or in department stores, definitely elevators! Benny's comedy is timeless, the Ladybirds are very much of the period. But that's not necesarily a bad thing in my book. Part of the reason I love the fact that they're releasing his entire episodes is that they are time capsules.
     
  16. William B.

    William B. Stunt Coordinator

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    Mr. Harrison's connections to the Pythons are indeed very well known -- but I read somewhere that John Lennon, some months prior to his death, said he watched Benny Hill. Go figure.
    But not only did Mr. Hill mention Mr. Jagger in the sketch you may be referring to -- back in the BBC days around 1965, he actually impersonated him (and, for that matter, in closeups the other members), albeit referring to the band as "The Strolling Ones."
    As to the second set, we're likely to see:
    - The Woodstick festival for the elderly (from Oct. 25, 1972; Hugh Paddick's only Thames TBHS appearance as straight man, as apparently neither McGee nor Parsons were available at the time)
    - How differing films, plays and TV shows would've handled the story of Little Bo Peep (with the Ironside "episode" "The Case of the Stolen Sheep") (from Dec. 27, 1973; also featured Fred Scuttle supervising construction of the Channel Tunnel)
    - His parody of My Little Chickadee and gender-reversal takeoff of Baby Doll (from Feb. 7, 1974)
    - "Coalpits," the parody of the British action show Colditz (from March 13, 1974, Nicholas Parsons' last show; also featured Fred Scuttle as head of an escort service)
     
  17. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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  18. Jerry R Colvin

    Jerry R Colvin Stunt Coordinator

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  19. Jerry R Colvin

    Jerry R Colvin Stunt Coordinator

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  20. Eric F

    Eric F Screenwriter

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