Paul Katz
April 25, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Benny Hill: The Lost Years

Current Status
In Season
Benny Hill

We gave it a B-

If silly is an art form then British comedian Benny Hill was a virtuoso. Benny Hill: The Lost Years, this hodgepodge of clips from his long-running sketch series — nearly four hours’ worth — has never before been broadcast outside of England. Unleashing an arsenal of fake mustaches, foreign accents, and bad ladies’ wigs, the comedic rapscallion creates sly characters who use exaggerated antics to poke fun at their viewing audience’s propriety. Class warfare, the battle of the sexes (which the men never win), and spoofs of icons like James Bond (as when a former paramour of 007 turns up with a bun in the oven) are all topics later exploited by the likes of Monty Python and SCTV, but Hill got there first. A grating laugh track and a slightly fuzzy black-and-white transfer are both unfortunate, but Hill’s off-color humor manages to shine through. EXTRAS The dearth of noteworthy bonus materials, however, isn’t funny at all: just ho-hum cast biographies and 34 minutes of unaired footage, only some of it chuckle-worthy.

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