In 1967, David Frost approached Tim Brooke-Taylor (later of "The Goodies") and John Cleese (later of "Monty Python's Fying Circus") to do a TV comedy show. They immediately brought friend, fellow ex-Cambridge revue alum, and Cleese's writing partner, Graham Chapman into the fold. As the fourth cast member, they chose writer Marty Feldman. Frost was nervous about Feldman's appearance and Feldman himself was a bit apprehensive as it has been some time since he had performed. Luckily, he joined up and "At Last the 1948 Show" was born. It ran for two series and, amongst its admirers, were three writers/performers (and one animator) of the kid's TV show, "Do Not Adjust Your Set:" Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, & Terry Gilliam. In 1969, Chapman & Cleese joined up with Jones, Palin, Gilliam, & Idle to create "Monty Python."
As was the standard practice at the time, the videos for the show were erased after the show was broadcast and the show was lost to time. Or so was the belief until recently when five of them were rediscovered in the vaults of Swedish television. They have now been released, along with "Do Not Adjust Your Set," on DVD.
I'm happy to report that "At Last the 1948 Show" is hilarious. Much of the hard edged humor that Chapman & Cleese would bring to Python is in evidence, though everyone was still very much concerned with giving scenes a "proper" ending, a practice that would be ditched with "Python." The team works wonderfully together, with the antic, diminutive twosome of Brooke-Taylor & Feldman providing a nice complement to the authoritarian roles essayed by Graham & John. Indeed, the material on the show is so strong, some scenes would later be pilfered by Python in later years (notably the "Four Yorkshireman" sketch which appears in "Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl" and the "Bookshop" sketch which gets an airing on a Python CD but does not actually appear on this set).
On the whole, the show is stronger than "Do Not Adjust Your Set" even though that show is somewhat closer in form to what "Python" would be. The downside is, there are far fewer of them than "Do Not Adjust." But, fans of "Python" should grab this title without thinking twice as it is absolutely hysterical.