June 13, 2007


Monty Python's Flying Circus
(1969-1974, BBC)

One of the most famous TV comedy series is finally available on DVD in the UK

Season 1, 1969, 13 episodes
Season 2, 1970, 13 episodes
Season 3, 1972, 13 episodes
Season 4, 1974, 6 episodes

On release in 4 sets of PAL region 2 DVDs (from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

In the seventies, the classic TV sketches of Monty Python's Flying Circus were constantly quoted, especially in schoolyards. Many phrases crept into the language and whole sketches were committed to memory. There were also Gilliam-illustrated annuals, and more importantly, records aimed at adults (some sketches had swearing). These are all worth seeking out for the sketches which weren't ever filmed. In a time before video, the records were the best way to relive classic sketches from the series.

Sleeve art for Monty Python's Previous Record (now on CD)

The characters and situations impressed me more than the films did, and there's much more of Terry Gilliam's animations to enjoy. The surreal way the programmes are woven together is quite unique - a completely diverse sketch show with a continuous, tenuous narrative.

The first Monty Python tie-in book from 1971 - packed with outrageousness

Much as I love their first film And Now For Something Completely Different (1971, made to try and break the Pythons into the US market), the material had already appeared on TV. The film occasionally improved a few things, but the original TV versions are more tightly performed, and certainly more manic.

Nowadays, the films that they then went on to make, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Life of Brian (1979) and The Meaning of Life (1983), are more famous - always on DVD and TV - but the TV episodes have been hard to see lately.

Odd episodes have turned up on TV, including a long run on the UK Paramount Comedy Channel. But this debut on DVD in Britain is long overdue, much like Batman (1966) in the US is - towering TV classics that should have been the first thing out on DVD. This release also has none of the censor cuts that were imposed by the BBC at the time of the original transmission.

I'm so thankful that I'm finally getting the series on DVD, I'm prepared to forgive the complete lack of extras!

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