If you enjoyed Irish comedian Dave Allen in his prime, then this is a package of vintage delight.
Here are 92 minutes of Dave Allen, collated by Dave Allen himself from BBC shows which spanned two decades, from approximately 1971 to 1991. Interestingly, he got his television start here in Australia, hosting Tonight with Dave Allen in 1963 and 1964 for Sydney's Channel 9. At least, I presume it was in Sydney -- Melbourne of course had its own irreplaceable resident genius, Graham Kennedy.
It's wonderful to see this irreverent master of stand-up (actually sit-down in Allen's case) comedy. Perched on a stool, a glass of water or gin or vodka at his side, cigarette constantly being dragged to death, Dave Allen took his live studio audience through the then-taboo subjects of sex, death, religion and anything else which might amuse and/or shock.
He was anarchic in subject matter, but beautifully structured, delivering his seemingly casual comedy with finely-honed professional skill. His lightning-fast assumption of different characters and emotions were bewilderingly kaleidoscopic -- and his whole persona and delivery-style have stood the test of time.
Unfortunately, a lot of his material has not passed that same savage test. Television standards have changed a lot since Dave Allen's heyday -- just a quick look at ABC Television's totally brilliant comedy series The Glasshouse shows just how much is acceptable today, which would have seen Dave Allen swept off the television screen for good back in the 1970s and 1980s. After all, look how Graham Kennedy was banned from television for a time for just doing bird impersonations!
I'm sure that if Dave Allen had been presented back then with the same sort of freedom offered the Glasshouse gang, he would have taken the new climate in his stride, and been as topical and riotous as ever. As it is, accept that you're seeing a master at work, but also accept that you're seeing him work within the television strait-jacket of the time.
The material has been dragged from programs presented over 20 years, and video quality varies dramatically from excerpt to excerpt. There's some black-and-white material mixed within later colour material, and all show signs of video deterioration -- this is not prime archival stuff by any means.
But that said, if you're not expecting perfection of image, there's nothing here to severely shock or disappoint you. The image is never bad enough to impede enjoyment, and the mono soundtrack is clear enough for its purpose.
There are no extras of any kind.