HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Chloe
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Murder Inferno
Extraction
Overlanders, The
Can You Keep a Secret?
Women in Revolt
Astronaut
Peanut Butter Falcon, The
   
 
Newest Articles
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
   
 

Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray

  Monty Python's Flying Circus was a low budget comedy show that aired on BBC television in a late night slot, starting in the autumn of 1969, but it did not stay there as it quickly gained a fanbase from those hardy souls who stayed up to watch it and through word of mouth spread the news that this was some really funny material. The thought that something so famous, so influential, began as essentially a cult programme in an age when hardly anyone had access to a video recording device (maybe Bob Monkhouse taped it) lends it an air of fascination from the off, but after a few episodes it became clear the BBC had a hit on its hands.

Not that it was successful with the older audience, as this was a show written and performed by twentysomethings whose dedication to irreverence as the world emerged from the hippy era of the sixties into a far less certain landscape of the seventies meant its chief appeal was to the younger generation. You really need to arrive at Python at a tender age to see its allure, as it took potshots at all sorts of authority figures that would be precisely the targets you would want to see taken down at that age, heralding the youth movements of later in the decade, and proving subversive and influential decades later.

Never universally popular, even today, when its classic status is assured, it has ironically hit an elder statesman of humour status that its origins would never have been comfortable with, and has landed it with criticism as a result, making it fashionable to bash it a bit, just as the series would send up its objects of disdain back from 1969-74. Even John Cleese, ever-self-critical, looked down on the work that would be part of his considerable legacy, though Michael Palin in contrast expressed great fondness for it - so who was right? We have to accept that with so many sketches not every one would hit the mark, now or in its original broadcast.



For the fiftieth anniversary of Python, which Graham Chapman did not live to see, his final work being an Iron Maiden video in the late eighties, British label Network released a box set of the entire four series, not only entirely uncut but also fully restored. While Terry Gilliam, the team's animator, had bought the whole shebang from the BBC, subsequent releases and repeats had been on increasingly worn copies and with edits for time and good taste meaning the running times had not been complete for some years, but in 2019, at last, the programme was restored to its former glory and able to withstand the scrutiny of fans and newcomers alike.

In series one, which was released standalone on Blu-ray for those who did not wish to splash out on the complete box set all at once, there were contained within some of the most celebrated sketches, not merely of Python, but of all television comedy. The Dead Parrot Sketch was so well known that it became an albatross around the team's neck (unlike the Albatross Sketch), but watching it afresh you may not realise or remember it carries on far longer than you might expect, given their lack of enthusiasm for punchlines - indeed, the whole thing can be regarded as an attempt to break out of the traditional straitjacket of sketches needed punchlines at all.

There were running jokes, a nod to traditions, but they were bizarre, like the knight in armour hitting characters with a dead chicken, or a sixteen-ton weight crushing others; fair enough, this was probably for reasons of economy as much as being funny, but much of the humour arose from the sheer attacks on conventionality, with Eric Idle and Terry Jones the other performers, making a cast iron group of talents, and it is entertaining to see them all on the same wavelength, some of it hilarious in simple terms (Jones trying in vain to change into his swimsuit) or just a massive mickey take (Chapman's Army General interrupting skits for being too silly).

The soon-to-be accustomed subjects of lampooning current affairs and magazine programmes (how often do we see the cast greeting us from behind a desk, and that's not even counting the line "And now for something completely different"), anybody with even a whiff of authority, and the crushing boredom of mundane, everyday life they divined the absurd in were well established in this first series. It may not feature all the most famous sketches, but you did get Hell's Grannies, The Funniest Joke in the World, The Restaurant Sketch (with the dirty fork), The Lumberjack Song and less-heralded gems such as the policemen communicating in daft voices and Confuse-a-Cat. What Andy Murray thinks of the tennis-playing Scotsman extended bit is unrecorded. The obvious enjoyment the team drew from being this ridiculous, and the enjoyment the audience gained from discovering them, justifies the subsequent admiration.



[Network's Series 1 Blu-ray box set has every episode, restored and complete, and with these features:

Sex and Violence: Reinstated content, studio outtakes
Full Frontal Nudity: Studio outtakes
The Ant, an Introduction: Studio outtakes
Untitled: Extended Ron Obvious filmed material and clean end titles footage.

Every series are also available in one limited edition set. Click here to buy from the Network website.]
Author: Graeme Clark.

 

< Back to Article list

Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: 31 March, 2018