Saturday, 12 November 2016

Q Volume 1: Series 1 - 3 (1969 - 1977)

Or 5 - 7 seeing as Spike Milligan began his surreal, absurd, sometimes impenetrable sketch show with Q5, with subsequent series being called Q6, Q7, Q8, Q9 and finally THERE”S A LOT OF IT ABOUT. Apparently the BBC thought Q10 would be confusing to audiences who had already sat through an interview with the Queen’s chicken, bionic Vatman and other stuff the like of which audiences had never seen before.

Q5 aired in 1969, ahead of the first episode of MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS, and has often been cited (by Terry Jones and Michael Palin at least) as a significant influence on the show. In fact, Q producer & director Ian MacNaughton was immediately recruited by the Pythons to direct for them.

Even in its heyday, the Q series was regarded as ramshackle, risque (both because of its racially charged jokes and its sexual references) and plain barking mad. Even so, it’s difficult now to appreciate just how revolutionary this show was. Nowadays all you have to do is flick through satellite channels and you’ll come across something anarchic and insane. Back in the 1970s, Q was a lunatic breath of fresh air between DALLAS and PLAY FOR TODAY.

So is it worth watching now? Sadly, much of what was once innovative has now been done better by others - not just the Pythons but in THE YOUNG ONES, THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN and others, and you may find a lot of what's in here a bit hard going.

It’s still interesting, though, and anyone with a serious interest in British comedy history should get to grips with this immediately. Simply Media’s three disc set gives you the three remaining episodes of Q5 (two in black and white) and all six episodes of Q6 and all seven episodes of Q7. Did Q8 have eight episodes? We’ll have to wait for the rest of the Q series to be released by Simply Media in 2017. In the meantime, however, all the material here should be more than enough to fry your brain. There are no extras, and in particular no out-takes, as all the mistakes seem to have made their way into the show anyway.

Simply Media are releasing Spike Milligan's Q Series Volume 1 on DVD on Monday November 21st 2016

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