Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and John Cleese - collectively known as Monty Python's Flying Circus - started a very big thing indeed when their self titled television show appeared on British television in October of 1969. The six comedians had no way of knowing then how influential and popular their brand of irreverent and absurdist humor would become or what an impact it would have on the pop culture of the western world. The television series would last until 1974 and run forty-five episodes in total before spinning off into a series of films and live performances that have helped the enduring comedic legacy of the group to remain as strong today, if not stronger, than it was decades ago.
Part of what made the material in Monty Python's Flying Circus so funny was that in a way it had a personal touch. The group not only wrote the material but they performed it as well, with periodic animated breaks courtesy of Terry Gilliam's quirky and surreal comedic animations. The show was quite experimental and not at all afraid to push the boundaries (and in turn ruffle a few feathers) in terms of what was considered to be in good taste on British television, but naughty or not, the Pythons hit a chord with the public and their unique brand of sketch comedy took off in both its native England and abroad.
Despite what, on the surface at least, could be considered a completely random approach to comedy, the series actually had a fairly rigid structure to it as well as quite a few recurring themes and ideas. From the opening of the show that preceded any credits of any kind to the blunt and often times sudden ending, the show featured its fair share of recurring characters and running jokes while Gilliam's instantly recognizable animation style was part of the glue that held it all together. The series almost always let the male cast members play the female roles in drag (something that The Kids In The Hall would take to the next level on their CBC series in the nineties) and it wasn't uncommon for characters to break into song from time to time. The series really excelled at mixing up the physical side of comedy with bits like The Ministry Of Silly Walks with more political sketches like the numerous digs at the RAF and the British Army with what was at the time current pop culture - Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days being a prime example of that. The end result was a show that was as constantly surprising as it was consistently hilarious.
While the fourth season of the series definitely suffers from the absence of John Cleese (who left because he felt he was basically out of anything worth contributing to the series), even this later batch of shows holds up well. Various sketches, such as the Lumberjack Song and the Dead Parrott Sketch, proved to be so popular that they've taken on a life of their own and in a sense become better known than the series in which they first appeared (this reviewer can remember his late grandfather and his uncle reciting the Dead Parrot sketch from memory of the dinner table at Christmas in 1988!). Pythonesque has become part of the modern vocabulary and has been used to describe plenty of modern day American comedy acts, from Saturday Night Live to The Upright Citizens Brigade - and then there's the most obvious heir to the Python's throne, the aforementioned The Kids In The Hall out of Toronto. The Influence of those six British comedians is undeniable, and in many ways it's been permanently tattooed on the face of modern comedy.
Time passed and the group called it quits for good after churning out a few hysterical films before moving on to side projects such as Cleese's excellent Fawlty Towers and other projects like Jones' Erik The Viking or Gilliam's noteworthy directorial output. Graham Chapman would pass away from cancer pretty much squashing the prospects of a true Monty Python reunion (though the 1998 Aspen show - more on that in a bit - was a good effort) but thankfully the group did leave us a pretty substantial body of work to enjoy time and again.
Episode 1: Whither Canada? It's Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart/Famous Death/Italian Lesson/Whizzo Butter/It's The Arts - Sir Edward Ross/Arthur 'Two-Sheds' Jackson/Picasso/Cycling Race/Cartoon- Dancing Soldiers And A Falling Pig/The Funniest Joke In The World
Episode 2: Sex And Violence Flying Sheep/French Lecture On Sheep-Aircraft/Pepperpots Discuss French Philosohpers/Cartoon - The Thinker/A Man With Three Buttocks/A Man With Two Noses/Musical Mice/Marriage Guidance Counsellor/The Wacky Queen/Working-Class Playwright/Scotsman On A Horse/Cartoon - Flying Sheep/The Wrestling Epilogue/Cartoon - Cowboys, Baby Carriage And The Musical Statue/The Mouse Problem
Episode 3: How To Recognize Different Types Of Trees from Quite A Long Way Away Court Scene/The Larch/Bicycle Repair Man/Children's Story/Cartoon - Animals And Clergy/Donkey Rides/Restaurant Sketch/Cartoon - Purchase A Past Commercial/Seduced Milkman/Stolen Newsreader/Children's Inteview/Nudge nudge
Episode 4: Owl-Stretching Time Live From The Cardiff Rooms, Libya/Song (And Did Those Feet)/Art Gallery/Art Critic/It's A Man's Life In The Modern Army/Undressing In Public/Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit/Cartoon - Changing On The Beach/Rustic Monologue/Secret Service Dentists
Episode 5: Man's Crisis Of Identity In The Latter Half Of The Twentieth Century Confuse-a-Cat/The Smuggler/A Duck, A Cat, And A Lizard/Vox Pops On Smuggling/Police Raid/Letters On Vox Pops/Newsreader Arrested/Erotic Film/Cartoon - Charles Fatless/Silly Job Interview/Careers Advisory Board/Burglar/Encyclopaedia Salesman
Episode 6: It's The Arts Caption Costs/Cartoon - The Autograph/Introduction To It's The Arts/Johan Gombolputty/Vox Pops/Cartoon - Closing Credits/Non-Illegal Robbery/Vox Pops/Crunchy Frog/The Dull Life Of A City Stockbroker/Cartoon - Superhero/Red Indian In Theatre/Policemen Make Wonderful Friends/A Scotsman On A Horse/Young Lochinvar/Cartoon - Vicious Baby Carriage/Twentieth-Century Vole
Episode 7: You're No Fun Anymore Camel-Spotting/Cartoon - Band Concert/You're No Fun Any More/The Audit/Science Fiction Sketch/Man Turns Into A Scotsman/Police Station/Blancmages Playing Tennis
Episode 8: Full Frontal Nudity Vox Pops On Nudity And The Permissive Society/Army Protection Racket/Too Silly/Cartoon - Full Frontal Nudity/More Vox Pops/Art Critic - The Place Of The Nude/Buying A Bed/Hermits/Cartoon - Meat Grinder/Dead Parrot/The Flasher/Hell's Grannies
Episode 9: The Ant, An Introduction Llamas/A Man With A Tape Recorder Up His Nose/Kilimanjaro Expedition/Sir George Head/A Man With A Tape Recorder Up His Brother's Nose/Cartoon - Clergyman Selling Encyclopaedias/Homicidal Barber/Lumberjack Song/Gumby Crooner/The Refreshment Room At Bletchley/Hunting Film/The Visitors
Episode 10: Untitled Walk-On Part In Sketch/Bank Robber - Lingerie Shop/Trailer/Arthur Tree/Cartoon - Wooden Impressions/Vocational Guidance Counsellor/David Unction Link/The First Man To Jump The Channel (Ron Obvious)/Tunnelling From Godalming To Java/Pet Conversions/Gorilla Librarian/Letters To 'Daily Mirror'/Strangers In The Night/Cartoon - Animals Eating
Episode 11: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Goes To The Bathroom The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Goes To The Bathroom /Letter - Lavatorial Humor/carton - More Lavatorial Humor/Interruptions/Agatha Christie/Literary Football Sketch/Undertakers Film/Jimmy Buzzard Interview/Cartoon - Undertakers, Ladies And Open War/Interesting People/More Jimmy Buzzard/Cartoon - Coffins/Eighteenth-Century Social Legislation/The Battle Of Trafalgar/The Batley Townswomen's Guild Presents The Battle Of Pearl Harbour/Undertakers Film
Episode 12: The Naked Ant A Signal Box Somewhere Near Hove/Falling From Building/Cartoon - Falling People, Magician, Opening Titles/Spectrum Talking About Things/Visitors From Coventry/Mr. Hitler/The Minehead Bye-Election/Police Station (Silly Voices)/Upperclass Twit Of The Year/Cartoon - Smoking A Pipe/Ken Shabby/How Far Can A Minister Fall?
Episode 13: Intermission Intermission/Cartoon - Intermission/Restaurant Abuse/Advertisement/Albatross/Come Back To My Place/Me Doctor/Historical Impersonations/Cartoon - Historical Impersonations/Quiz Programme - Wishes/Probe-Around On Crime/Stonehenge/Mr. Atilla The Hun/Psychiatry - Silly Sketch/Operating Theatre - Squatters
Episode 14: Face The Press Face The Press/New Cooker Sketch/Cartoon - Flying European Monarchs, Shaving Tobacconists/Prostitute Advert/The Ministry Of Silly Walks/The Piranha Brothers
Episode 15: The Spanish Inquisition Man-Powered Flight/The Spanish Inquisition/Jokes And Novelties Salesman/Cartoon - Suddenly Animated Head/Tax On Thingy/Vox Pop/Photos Of Uncle Ted/The Semaphore Version Of Wuthering Heights/Julius Caesar On An Aldis Lamp/Court Scene (Charades)/The Spanish Inquisition On A Bus
Episode 16: Deja vu A Bishop Rehearsing/Flying Lessons/Hijacked Plane/The Poet McTeagle/Cartoon - Growing Hands, Cowboy/Psychiatrist Milkman/Complaints/Deja vu
Episode 17: The Buzz Aldrin Show Cartoon - Metamorphosis/Architect Sketch/How To Give Up Being A Mason/Cartoon - Anti-Masonic Therapy/Motor Insurance Sketch/The Bishop/Living Room On Pavement/East Midlands Poet Board/A Choice Of Viewing/Chemist Sketch/Words Not To Be Used Again/After-Shave/Vox Pops/Police Constable Pan-Am
Episode 18: Live From The Grill-O-Mat Live From The Grill-O-Mat/Blackmail/Society For Putting Things On Top Of Other Things/Escape From Film/Cartoon - Escape/Current Affairs/Cartoon - Escape Continues/Accidents Sketch/Seven Brides For Seven Brothers/Cartoon - Piggy Bank Hunting/The Man Who Is Alternately Rude And Polite/Documentary On A Boxer (Ken Clean-Air System)/Host On A Bus
Episode 19: It's A Living It's A Living/The time On BBC 1/School Prize-Giving/If - A Film By L. F. Dibley/Rear Window - A Film By L.F. Dibley/Rinians Rainbow/Foreign Secretary/Dung - Book OF The Month Club/Dead Indian//Timmy Williams Interview/Raymond Luxury Yacht Interview/Cartoon - Sexual Athletes/Registry Office/Cartoon - The Prince And The Black Spot/Election Night Special
Episode 20: The Atilla The Hun Show The Atilla The Hun Show/Atilla The Hun/Secretary Of State Striptease/Vox Pops On Politicians/Ratcatcher/Wainscotting/Cartoon -Killer Sheep/The News For Parrots/The News For Gibbons/Today In Parliament/The News For Wombats/Cartoon - Atilla The Bun/The Idiot In Society/Test match/The Epsom Furniture Race/Take your Pick
Episode 21: Archaeology Today Trailer (BBC Fall Shows)/Archaeology Today/Silly Vicar/Leapy Lee/Registrar/Silly Doctor Sketch/Cartoon - Soccer, Eggs, Diamond, Book Ad/Mr. And Mrs. Git/Mosquito Hunters/Poofy Judges/Mrs. Thing And Mrs. Entity/Beethoven's Mynah Bird/Shakespeare/Michaelangelo/Colin Mozart - Rat Catcher/Judges Again
Episode 22: How To Recognize Different Parts Of The Body How To Recognize Different Parts Of The Body/Bruces/Naughty Bits/The Man Who Contradicts People/Cosmetic Surgery/Camp Square-Bashing/Cartoon - Killer Cars/Cut-Price Airline/Batley Townswomen's Guild Present The First Heart Transplant/The First Underwater Production Of Measure For Measure/The Death Of Mary Queen Of Scots/Exploding Penguin On TV Set/There's Been A Murder/Europolice Song Contest/Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong
Episode 23: Scott Of The Antarctic French Subtitled Film/Scott Of The Antarctic/Scott Of The Sahara/Cartoon - Conrad Poohs And His Dancing Teeth/Fish License/Derby Council v. All Blacks Rugby Match/Long John Silver Impersonators v. Gynaecologists
Episode 24: How Not To Be Seen Conquistador Coffee Campaign/Repeating Groove/Ramsay McDonald Striptease/Job Hunter/Cartoon - Chinese Communist Conspiracy, Crelm Toothpaste, Shrill Petrol/Agatha Christie Sketch/Mr. Neville Shunte/Film Director - Teeth/City Gents Vox Pops/'Crackpot Religions Ltd./How Not To Be Seen/Crossing The Atlantic On A Tricycle/Interview In Filing Cabinet/Yummy Yummy Yummy/Monty Python's Flying Circus Again In Thirty Seconds
Episode 25: Spam The Black Eagle/Dirty Hungarian Phrase Book/Court/Cartoon - Student Demonstration, World Forum Opening Titles/World Forum - Communist Quiz/Ypres 1914 - Abandoned/Art Gallery Strike/Cartoon - Art Gallery Strike/Ypres 1914/Hospital For Over-Actors/Cartoon - Hamlet Linking Gumby Flowers/Gumby Flower Arranging/Spam
Episode 26: Royal Episode 13 The Queen Will Be Watching/Coal Mine/The Man Who Says Things In A Roundabout Way/The Man Who Speaks Only The Ends Of Words/The Man Who Speaks Only The Beginnings Of Words/The Man Who Speaks Only The Middles Of Words/Cartoon - Crelm Toothpaste/Commercials/How To Feed A Goldfish/The Man Who Collects Birdwatcher's Eggs/Cartoon - Spiny Norman, Insurance Sketch Titles/Insurance Sketch/Queen Tunes In/Hospital Run By RSM/Mountaineer (Brief)/Exploding Version Of The Blue Danube/Girls' Boarding School/Submarine/lifeboat/Undertaker's Sketch
Episode 27: Whicker's World Court Scene - Multiple Murderer/Cartoon - Detectives Examine Prisoner/Icelandic Saga (Njorl's Saga)/Court Scene - Viking/Stock Exchange Report/Mrs. Premise And Mrs. Conclusion Visit Sartre/Whicker Island
Episode 28: Mr. & Mrs. Brian Norris' Ford Popular Emigration From Surbiton To Hounslow/Schoolboys' Life Assurance Company/How To Do It - Rid/Mrs. Niggerbaiter Explodes/Vicar/Salesman/Cartoon - Anatomy Chart/Farming Club/Life Of Tchaikowsky/Trim-Jeans Theater/Cartoon - Compere/Fish-Slapping Dance/Cartoon - Nationalistic Fish/World War One - Abandon Ship/The BBC Is Short Of Money/Puss In Boots/"It's" (Chat Show)
Episode 29: The Money Programme The Money Programme/There Is Nothing Quite So Wonderful As Money/Erisabeth L./Fraud Film Squad/Cartoon - Police Hunt For Visconti Impersonator/Salvation Fuzz/Church Police/Cartoon - Heaven/Women In Jungle/Jungle Restaurant/Apologies For Violence And Nudity/Ken Russell's Gardening Club/The Lost World Of Roiurama/Six More Minutes Of Monty Python's Flying Circus/Argument Clinic/Hitting On The Head Lessons/Inspector Flying Fox Of The Yard/One More Minute Of Monty Python's Flying Circus
Episode 30: Blood, Devastation, Death, War And Horror Blood, Devastation, Death, War And Horror/The Man Who Speaks In Anagrams/Anagram Quiz/Merchant Banker/Pantomime Horses/Life And Death Struggles/Cartoon - The Househunters/Mary Recruitment Office/Bus Conductor Sketch/The Man Who Makes People Laugh Uncontrollably/Army Captain As Clown/Gestures To Indicate Pauses In A Televised Talk/Neurotic Announcers/The News With Richard Baker/The Pantomime Horse Is A Secret Agent Film
Episode 31: The All-England Summarize Proust Competition Summarize Proust Competition/Mount Everest - Hairdresser Expedition/Cartoon - A Magnificent Festering/Fire Brigade/Our Eamonn/Party Hints With Veronica Smalls/Cartoon - Communist Revolutions/Language Laboratory/Travel Agents - Sketch/Watney's Red Barrel/Theory On Brontosauruses By Anne Elk
Episode 32: The War Against Pornography Tory Housewives Clean Up Campaign/Gumby Brain Specialist/Cartoon - Art Appreciation/Mollusks - "Live' TV Documentary/The Minister For Not Listening To People/Tuesday Documentary-Children's Story-Political Party Broadcast/Apology (Politicians)/Expedition To Lake Pahoe/The Silliest Interview We've Ever Had/The Silliest Sketch We've Ever Done
Episode 33: Salad Days Biggles Dictates A Letter/Cartoon - Flying Sheep, Traffic Accidents/Climbing The Uxbridge Road/Lifeboat/Our Lady Snoopers/Storage Jars/Cartoon - TV Bad For Your Eyes/The Show So Far/Cheese Shop/Philip Jenkinson On Cheese Westerns/Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days/Apology/The News With Richard Baker/Seashore Interlude Film
Episode 34: The Cycling Tour Mr. Pither/Clodagh Rogers/Trotsky/Smolensk/Bingo-Crazed Chinese/Cartoon - Jack In A Box
Episode 35: The Nude Organist Bomb On A Plane/A Naked Man/Ten Seconds Of Sex/Housing Project Built By Characters From Nineteenth-Century English Literature/M1 Interchange Built By Characters From Paradise Lost/Mystico And Janet - Flats Built By Hypnosis/Mortuary Hour/Cartoon - Animator Flying Saucers/The Olympic Hide And seek Final/Donkey Rides/The Cheap Laughs/Bull-Fighting/The British Well-Basically Club/Cartoon - Algon Opening/Prices On The Planet Algon
Episode 36: L. Henry Thripshaw's Disease Tudor Jobs Agency/Pornographic Bookshop/Elizabethan Pornography Smugglers/Cartoon - Gay Boys In Bondage/Silly Disturbances/Cartoon - Shooting Gallery/The Free Repetition Of Doubtful Words Sketch By An Underrated Author/Is There? ...Life After Death?/The Man Who Says Words In The Wrong Order/Tripshaw's Disease/Silly Noises/Sherry-Drinking Vicar
Episode 37: Dennis Moore "Boxing Tonight" - Jack Bodell Vs. Sir Kenneth Clark/Dennis Moore/Lupins/What The Stars Foretell/Doctor/Cartoon - Ambulance/"TV 4 Or Not TV 4" Discussion/More Dennis Moore/Ideal Loon Exhibition/Cartoon - Plan 38A/Off-License/Still More Dennis Moore/Prejudice
Episode 38: A Book At Bedtime Party Political Broadcast/A Book At Bedtime/The Red Gauntlet/McKamikaze Scotsman/No Time To Lose/Cartoon - No Time Toulouse/More McKamikaze Scotsman/Cartoon - 2001/Penguins/BBC Programme Players/Unexploded Scotsman/Spot The Loony/Rival Documentaries/Dad's Doctors/Dad's Pooves
Episode 39: Grandstand Thames TV Introduction/Light Entertainment Awards/Dickie Attenborough/The Oscar Wilde Sketch/Cartoon - Charwoman/David Niven's Fridge/Pasolini's Film "the Third Test Match"/New Brain From Curry's/Blood Donar/International Wife-Swapping/Credits Of The Year/The Dirty Vicar Sketch
Episode 40: The Golden Age Of Ballooning Montgolfier Brothers/Cartoon - Montgolfier Brothers Wash Each Other/Louis XIV/George III/Zeppelin
Episode 41: Michael Ellis Department Store/Buying An Ant/At Home With The Ant And Other Pets/Documentary On Ants/Ant Communication/Cartoon - Ants/Poetry Reading (Ants)/Toupee/Different Endings
Episode 42: Light Entertainment War Up Your Pavement/RAF Banter/Trivializing The War/Courtmartial/Basingstoke In Westphalia/Anything Goes In/Film Trailer/The Public Are Idiots/Programme Titles Conference/The Last Five Miles Of The M2/Cartoon - Television Center/Woody And Tinny Words/Show Jumping/Newsflash/When Does A Dream Begin?
Episode 43: Hamlet Bogus Psychiatrists/Nationwide/Police Helmets/Father-In-Law/Hamlet And Ophelia/Cartoon - Paratroopers/Boxing Match Aftermath/Boxing Commentary/Piston Engine/A Room In Polonius' House/Dentists/Live From Epsom/Queen Victoria Handicap
Episode 44: Mr. Neutron Post Box Ceremony/Mr. Neutron Arrives/Teddy Salad/Bombings/Mrs. S.C.U.M./Conjuring Today
Episode 45: Party Political Broadcast Most Awful Family In Britain/Icelandic Honey Week/A Doctor Whose Patients Are Stabbed By His Nurse/Birgadier And Bishop/Cartoon - Opera Singer/Appeal On Behalf Of Extremely Rich People/The Man Who Finishes Other People's Sentences/David Attenborough/The Walking Tree Of Dahoney/The Batsmen Of The Kalahari/Cricket Match/BBC News (Handovers)
But wait! There's more! Aside from the complete Monty Python's Flying Circus television series, the set also includes the following:
Disc 15: Before The Flying Circus is an interesting look at what the principal cast were up to before they started the now famous comedy troupe. Witness some early homes movies and plenty of clips and bits from early, preliminary comedy sketches. There are some neat archival photos used here as well as interviews with the likes of Humphrey Barclay, Ronnie Corbett, David Frost, Robert Hewison, Aimi McDonald, Davis Nobbs, Dennis Norden and Shiela Steafel. If you've ever wanted to know how and where it all began, this is definitely worth a watch.
Disc 16: Monty Python Conquers America: This is the most recent feature in the collection. It's essentially a look at the influence that Monty Python had (and still has) over American pop culture then and now. Aside from interviews with those who were there and saw it happen, we get insight from the likes of Judd Apatow, Hank Azaria, Richard Bowman, Carol Cleveland, Jimmy Fallon, David Hyde Pierce, Howard Kissel, Trey Parker, Carl Reiner, Matt Stone, Luke Wilson and more.
Disc 17: Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl: Released to theaters in 1982, this film was, well, filmed live at the Hollywood Bowl in California. While a lot of the classic sketches are here, the real treat is the new material that wasn't performed in the TV series of films that they made together. Regular 'guest stars' Carol Cleveland and Neil Innes help the boys out on stage, which ties the film back to the original television series quite nicely. The fans we see in the film are absolutely rabid, reciting lines back to the performers and hanging off their every word, waiting for that punch line to hit then immediately igniting into laughter.
Monty Python's Flying Circus: Live at Aspen: This reunion special from 1998 saw the five surviving members live on stage in Aspen joined by the late Graham Chapman's ashes. Here the group receives an AFI award as they look back on their history and accomplishments together before Idle trips and dumps what's left of Chapman all over the stage.
Disc 18: Monty Python Live: Parrot Sketch Not Included (20 Years of Python): The last true reunion to feature all six members of the troupe, this 1989 television special was hosted by Steve Martin and it included a 'greatest hits' reel of sorts showcasing many of the shining moments from the television series (though the Parrot Sketch really wasn't included). While there isn't a ton of new material here, the Pythons only appear for a few minutes outside of the archival clips that are used, it definitely has some historical significance and is worth a watch for Martin's clever commentary.
Monty Python Live: German Episode This is an odd one. Presented here uncut for the first time (having aired slightly trimmed on cable a few years before this release) is one of the two episodes that were done for German audiences. While a fair bit of it is just the BBC material dubbed over, there is quite a bit of new material to be found in between the older pieces. It's certainly an unusual experience to see classic moments like The Lumberjack Song done in Bavarian, but here it is in all its glory for the first time.
If you've seen the earlier releases of Monty Python's Flying Circus on DVD you'll have a good idea of what to expect with this set in terms of video quality is there's no real discernable difference between these transfers and the older ones. As far as the episodes go, image quality is a bit uneven. Much of the material that was shot indoors looks alright but some of the outdoor bits are murky looking. There's some minor print damage evident throughout the series as well as a bit of softness to the image. Colors are a little bit on the faded side in some scenes and fine detail isn't exactly super revelatory. That said, this is a television series that is fast approaching its fortieth birthday and when you take that into consideration, it doesn't look too bad. This isn't reference quality by any stretch but most of the issues are thankfully of the minor variety. The Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl feature is on par with the television show in terms of quality.
The newer material that is included in this set looks noticeably better, not surprisingly. Monty Python Conquers America, Monty Python Live: Live at Aspen, Monty Python Live: Parrot Sketch Not Included (20 Years of Python), Monty Python Live: German Episode all look a fair bit better than the vintage material - the transfers are stronger, more detailed and have better colors.
The television series sounds alright in English language Dolby Digital Mono, while the newer material, most of which is in Stereo, sounds just a bit cleaner. There aren't any problems with hiss or distortion to complain about and the levels are fine.
A&E has spread a wealth of supplements throughout the twenty-one discs that comprise this mammoth collection starting with the Personal Best episodes showcasing the comedic talents of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. They play out like so...
Disc 19:Graham Chapman's Personal Best: The following skits are included: The Colonel/Agatha Christie Sketch/It's The Arts: Sir Edward Ross/Colin 'Bomber' Harris Vs. Himself/Theory On Brontosauruses By Anne Elk/Fish Slapping Dance/Oscar Wild Sketch/Vicational Guidance Counsellor/Molluscs - Live TV Documentary/Ken Shabby/Ministry Of Silly Walks/Albatross/The Pantomime Horse Is A Secret Agent Film/Dead Parrott/Exploding Penguin On TV Set/Twentieth Century Vole/Mrs. Premise And Mrs. Conclusion/Spam/Argument Clinic. Aside from that, look for Graham Chapman's Personal Second Best, a Trivia Game and a Graham Chapman Biography.
Disc 19: John Cleese's Personal Best: Skits include: A Fairy Tale/The Epilogue/Gumby Brain Specialist/Self Defense (Against Fresh Fruit)/Exploding Version OF The Blue Danube/Life And Death Struggles (Pantomime Horses)/Rival Documentaries (Fighting Interviewers)/Confusing-a-Cat/A Little Bit Of 'The Cheese Shop'/Rogue Chedder/Raymond Luxury Yacht Interview/Picasso/Flying Lessions/Animation: Baby With Pacifier/It's Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Famous Deaths)/The Battley Townswoman's Guide Presents The Battle Of Pearl Harbor/Fish Slapping Dance/Upperclass Twit Of The Year. Also on this disc are Behind The Scene: A Look Into The Real John Cleese, a Trivia Game and a John Cleese Biography.
Disc 20: Terry Gilliam's Personal Best: Bits on this disc (mostly animatd) include: Conrad Poohs And His Dancing Teeth/Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairies/Catching A Bus/The Killer Cars/The Killer Cats/Securer Ambulances Ltd./Venus Dancing/Introduction, Fish Slapping Dance, And Nazi Fish/Royal Navy Advert/"Sit Up" Sequence/Garden Of Hands/Crelm Toothpaste/Charles Fatless/Purchase-a-Past/We're Being Watched/Searching A Prisoner/Cemetery/Apology For Repetition/Sexual Athletes/Jack And The Beanstalk/Five Frog Curse/The Prince With The Black Spot/Powder My Nose/Charwoman/Reconstructing And Elephant/Baby Carriage/And Now- Music/Acme Toilets/Lovely Weather/Eggs Diamond/Hands Up/The Royal Society Of Putting Things On Top Of Other Things Escapes/Flying European Monarchs/Shaving/Cartoon Religions, Ltd./Full Frontal Nudity/Caterpillar Metamorphosis/No-Time Toulouse/Bad For Your Eye/The House-Hunters/Gay Boys In Bondage/2001. Also on this disc are Terry Gilliam's Featurette, a Trivia Game and a Terry Gilliam Biography.
Disc 20: Eric Idle's Personal Best: Skits include: Sit On My Face/Greasy Compere - Kenny Lust/Can I Have 50 Pounds To Mend The Shed?/World Forum - Communist Quiz/Schoolboys/Nudge Nudge/Silly Olympics/Philosopher's Football/Blood, Devastation, Death, War And Horror/Mount Everest - Hairdresser Expedition/Travel Agents Sketch/Never Be Rude To An Arab/Face The Press/Hermits/Children's Story/How To Do It - Rid The World Of A Known Disease/Army Camps It Up/Bruces/Queen Victoria Handicap/Money Programme/Sviatoslav Richter And Rita/Pouffy Judges/Climbing The Uxbridge Road/Whicker Island/Lumberjack Song. Also on this disc are Eric Idle's Personal Second Best, a Trivia Game and a Eric Idle Biography.
Disc 21: Terry Jones' Personal Best: Skits include: The Funniest Joke In The World/The Ratcatcher/Wainscotting/Killer Sheep/The News For Parrots/Working-Class Playwright/Housing Project Built By Characters From 19th Century English Literature/Mystico and Janet - Flats Built By Hypnosis/Bicycle Repair Man/The Olympic Hide-And-Seek Final/Mrs. Niggerbaiter Explodes/The Bishop/Living Room On Pavement/Poets/A Choice Of Viewing/Fish Slapping Dance/The Cycling Tour (Hospital Scene)/The Spanish Inquisition/Homicidal Barber/The Lumberjack Song/Up Your Pavement/RAF Banter/Trivializing The War/Court-Martial. Also on this disc are Terry Jones' Personal Second Best, a Trivia Game and a Terry Jones Biography.
Disc 21: Michael Palin's Personal Best: Skits include: The It's Man/Flying Sheep/Dirty Hungarian Phrase Book/A Duck, A Cat, And A Lizard (Discussion)/Come Back To My Place/Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfernsch-plendensch... Von Hauptkof of Ulm/The Chemist Sketch/School Boys/The Piranha Brothers (Esthel The Frog)/Undertakers/Blackmail/The Semaphore Version Of Wuthering Heights/Man With A Tape Recorder Up His Nose/Leaving The Army/Man With A Tape Recorded Up His Brothers Nose/Architect Sketch/Scotsman On A Horse/Mosquito Hunters/International Wife-Swapping/Post Box Ceremony/Cheese Shop/Fish Slapping Dance Also on this disc are Michael Palin' Personal Second Best, a Trivia Game and a Michael Palin Biography.
Included inside the packaging is a nifty booklet that outlines what skits are contained on what disc and acts as a guide to the content contained in this collection. It also contains very brief write ups on each of the six performers, noting their most famous characters and providing random trivia.
While there isn't really anything new here, those who don't already have enough Python in their lives can absolutely consider The Complete Monty Pythons Flying Circus - Collectors Edition Megaset highly recommended. The content has aged better than a fine wine and the wealth of supplemental material that accompanies it is both interesting and ridiculously funny. The A/V quality isn't stellar, but it's decent enough and the quality of the content more than makes up for that.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.