Judge Dennis Prince says play that Yakkety Sax again! He's pining for yet another Benny Quickie, aren't you?
Our reviews of Benny Hill Complete And Unadulterated: The Hill's Angels Years: Set Four (1978-1981) (published January 31st, 2006), Benny Hill Complete And Unadulterated: The Naughty Early Years, Set One (1969-1971) (published September 6th, 2004), Benny Hill Complete And Unadulterated: The Naughty Early Years, Set Three (1975-1977) (published November 16th, 2005), and Benny Hill: The Complete Megaset, The Thames Years 1969-1989 (published March 30th, 2011) are also available.
Blanche: Drink and sex. That's what killed your uncle. Drink and sex.
Nicholas Parsons: Are Thames executives against attractive nude women?
That rapscallion of the ribald, Benny Hill, is back in another three-disc volume from A&E Home Video, sure to tickle your funny bone, to tempt you to grin at his egregious goings on, and to titillate…uh…well…it's all quite fun, you know.
Facts of the Case
By 1972, it was clear that Benny Hill was just the act to help buoy the fledgling Thames Television. Although his unapologetic assortment of sexual assertions and seemingly insensitive innuendos should have been a flash pot of controversy, Hill grew an audience that enjoyed an indiscreet snicker now and again. Despite charges that Hill's approach was sexist, look closely and you'll see that, although he did enjoy exposing the…er…talents of the females at hand, it was always the male character who wound up holding the short end of the stick (what with those curious little blue pills not yet invented). Hill's characters were cads, letches, and leering louses, but they effectively tapped a bit of that inappropriate urge in us all. Of course, Hill's audience remained confined to the shores of the U.K. until 1979, when stateside television distributor Don Taffner saw the global appeal of the base Brit's undeniable humor. Whittling the shows from their original one-hour format to a lean 30 minutes, Hill reached even higher heights of stardom as his show became an immediate cult hit, as had Monty Python's Flying Circus some years earlier.
Benny Hill was certainly a writer and performer overflowing with material, and, as such, packed each of his hour-long shows from start to finish with non-stop skits, songs, and other assorted visual treats (or is that "indiscretions"?). Anyway, in this The Naughty Early Years: Benny Hill Complete & Unadulterated Set Two release, which covers episodes beginning with the second half of Season Three through the complete Season Five (each season only featured four episodes, as each show required a full three months to rehearse and record), you'll find Hill at his bawdy best. Here's what awaits you:
• Episode 1
• Episode 2
• Episode 3
• Episode 4
• Episode 5
• Episode 6
• Episode 7
• Episode 8
• Episode 9
• Episode 10
On this new DVD, these complete and uncut episodes look quite good in their standard 1.33:1 full frame format. The color is absolutely striking (far beyond what I recall from those early Eighties UHF broadcasts) and the detail level is quite high, sometimes causing me to cringe a bit at the overachieving patterns and styles of the Seventies fashion proudly on display. There were occasional moments of compression artifacting, but generally the transfers are very clean and stable. The audio is offered in a somewhat beefed-up Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix, slightly expanding the sound field of the original mono tracks. As for extras, A&E outshines most other studios' TV releases by including decent extras—both in this boxed set as well as in the studio's previously-released Benny box—that are sure to please fans. This time around you'll find A&E's original biography production, Benny Hill: Laughter and Controversy. Hosted, as usual, by Peter Graves, the 48-minute program provides an in-depth look into the life of this very funny yet often troubled man. There's also a fun trivia challenge game that will provide some moments of head-scratching hilarity.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Well, if you want to take offense, go ahead—because there's plenty here that will offend the more sensitive among us or those politically-correct afflicted who actively seek out cultural scapegoats. You've been warned, so don't be shocked if you see something here that makes you want to shout out, "Somebody should do something about this!" Prude.
Saucy, silly, and, more often than not, shocking, The Benny Hill Show has enjoyed international acclaim from those who enjoy its unrefined appeal. For fans who have been longing to finally own complete episodes, this second boxed set from A&E Home Video confirms that your prayers have been answered. Enjoy!
While this court can't necessarily issue a condoning statement that the content found in this second Benny Hill boxed set will appeal to all viewers, this court can certainly enjoy a good guffaw from time to time. Benny Hill, of course, is found not guilty of anything truly offensive outside of the intentional rough-edged show. A&E Home Video is likewise found not guilty thanks to this second well-produced release. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
• A&E Biography episode: "Benny Hill: Laughter and Controversy"
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