The Steam Video Company was a British television series that aired during the mid 1980s with a solid cast of terrific character actors. Although not quite in the same league as "Monty Pyhton," I found this series to be funnier than John Cleese's "Fawlty Towers," which I also found to be quite pleasing. Although there are similarities to "Monty Python's Flying Circus," this series isn't a conventional sketch comedy, for there is an arch in every episode, ranging from a spoof on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to a clever espionage spoof titled "I Was Hitler's Bookie." This series lasted all of one season and ended with just six episodes of varying degrees of humor and entertainment. What could make this series more appealing to viewers than "Monty Python's Flying Circus" is that the cast was represented by both sexes. A bunch of gents comprised the cast of "Monty Python," while "Steam Video" boasts the talents of both Anna Dawson and Madeline Smith.
The acting and writing on Steam Video were both top notch. Franklyn is marvelous in his many roles, reciting a tale while soaking in a bubblebath, portraying Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, earning an Oscar at the beginning of the show but forced to relinquish it when he overacts. Anna Dawson is sharp as a burlesque queen singing the song "Underneath the Lamposts of Old Berlin" and playing a put-upon Irish waitress under the watchful eye of a French cook. Barry Cryer is first rate as an oddity promoter trying to get Franklyn to bankroll his findings, which he outperforms in his clever Groucho Marx portrayal. But for me, the real stars of this series were Bob Todd and Madeline Smith.
Bob Todd, a husky-voiced old character actor is donned in many costumes throughout the series, ranging from a humanoid spider with the desire to give Madeline a few squirts from his poison gland that rests between his legs to his Ho-Chi-Min Sisters skit with Maddy. Dressed up as a Geisha girl, Todd and Maddy perform on stage with each actor draping a handkerchief on their bosom. Bob Todd performs feat of magic with his false breasts that the busty Madeline Smith is unable to perform with her natural breasts.
The series isn't quite a non-stop laughfest, but it tries. Plays on words abound, which will keep those persons unimpressed by fart jokes entertained. The jokes do delve into the crude at times, but never too shocking. Franklyn hands Dawson a twelve-inch ruler as a measure of his affections, and with Madeline Smith in the cast, there is opportunity aplenty for breasts jokes, given the ampleness of her bust. The show is quite funny and although it lasted for one season, isn't too difficult to locate on the internet. Give it a watch--I'm certain you'll be entertained.
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