As a kid, Benny Hill was the ultimate taboo comedian. He had a reputation for making the sort of bawdy television we just couldn’t get away with here in the States. And to a kid’s eyes at least, his stuff was hilarious. But Hill isn’t quite so appealing to these adult peepers. What appeared to be wild and crazy then, comes off predicable, repetitious, and just plain dumb now.
Parents of pre-teens: Have you ever noticed how almost every grade school joke somehow alludes to farting? To such immature joke-sters, merely saying the word “fart” is sometimes side-splittingly funny by itself. But if maturity has its way, one day even these kids eventually grow up, and (hopefully) their sense of humor expands, too. But for those that miss that last boat trip to maturity, there is always Benny Hill.
Benny Hill Complete and Unadulterated - the Hill's Angels Years, Set Four (1978-1981)
US DVD: 31 Jan 2006
Perhaps Hill gets away with consistently playing the dirty old man, because he always has an obvious twinkle in his eye. He says and does what most red-blooded men probably want to say and do, yet does so in the name of comedy. In nearly every sketch throughout this three-DVD set, women are treated like sex objects. And somehow this is supposed to be okay, because—once again—it’s done in the name of comedy. Hill’s dirty old man is really nothing more than a curious little boy—albeit in grown up skin and bones—that simply wants to sneak a peek at some girl’s private parts. The TV scenery may morph around him, and the time period might skip from past to present to future, but Hill’s tired old plot remains unchanged: Will Hill finally get just one leering glance at some unsuspecting lust object this time?
When he’s not running after skin and pubic hair, Hill fancies himself a singer. Once again, however, his looks consistently change while his songs remain the same. For Hill, every singing performance is little more than a double entendre-filled limerick. Believe it or not, Hill even applies this comedic formula to a Bob Dylan impression at one point. It’s worth the price of admission just to see Hill standing on stage, strumming an electric guitar, while all the while made up with the big hair Dylan sported back in the ‘70s.
This DVD collection gets its title from the name with which Hill dubbed his dancers. It’s a troupe moniker that is a play on the name of an otherwise scary biker gang. These dancers offer seriously lustful breaks from Hill’s tired comedy sketches. Dressed in skimpy, skintight outfits, these buxom babes do their dances while the camera focuses intently on their natural T&A. This gives the viewer an opportunity to girl-watch, albeit without all the bad jokes. In case you’re interested, there’s also a bonus feature about Hill’s girls included here.
The set features many recurring Hill characters. One of these is Fred Scuttle, who is kind of a know-it-all type. Scuttle is regularly interviewed by a straight man, which is always played by Henry McGee. Scuttle’s much-repeated tag line is, “A lot of people don’t know that.” Another significant cast member is Jackie Wright, who is a short and bald man. Wright is forever the physical brunt of Hill’s jokes.
It’s hard to think of Boots Randolph’s hyperactive “Yakety Sax” instrumental tune, without also envisioning the closing moments of The Benny Hill Show. That’s because every episode ends with Hill and his cast involved in a speeded up chase scene, which is always choreographed to this same music. Tenor saxophonist Randolph is also known for his Nashville studio work, but his melody has become almost synonymous with Hill’s antics.
The Benny Hill Show would never fly in today’s overly politically correct world. Hill’s constant woman-chasing and racially insensitive characters—such as Chow Mein—would only infuriate countless special interest groups these days. If your sense of humor leans toward The Three Stooges, but is a far distance from, say, Woody Allen, this collection has been released specifically with you in mind.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.
"PopMatters (est. 1999) is a respected source for smart long-form reading on a wide range of topics in culture. PopMatters serves as…READ the article