Sunday, August 31, 2008
It's time for another edition of TV Rebels. We originally had special permission to publish the first 6 essays on TV shows and actors that will be featured in the upcoming book TV Rebels: 100 People and Programs That Shaped the Medium by authors Lou Orfanella and Oscar De Los Santos...and as we mentioned in April, we have now gotten rights to 6 additional essays (for a total of 12!), so we will be bringing you one each month until at least November! Upcoming TV Rebel columns coming soon are about Rod Serling and Desi Arnaz. The book is in the works and will be released in 2009.
So without further adieu, we bring you the ninth essay of TV Rebels:
Monty Python's Flying Circus: "-and now for something completely different!"
by contributing author Kelly L. Goodridge
It was 39 years ago when Monty Python's Flying Circus and the satirical comedy of six men known as the "Pythons" altered the face of television comedy. John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, and Graham Chapman, all Pythons and graduates of Oxford and Cambridge, created a kind of side-show television circus sketch comedy that commented on, questioned and poked fun at life. Monty Python's Flying Circus is known for its ingenuous brand of "Pythonesque" humor and for subverting the standard formats that other sitcoms deemed necessary in the late 1960s. The show includes satire, farce, sarcasm and parody, and is difficult to categorize, especially with sketches such as "The Funniest Joke in the World," the "Dead Parrot" sketch, "The One-Man Wrestling Match," and "The Ministry of Silly Walks." Michael Mills, BBC's Head of Comedy, initially gave the Python team thirteen 30-minute shows, the first of which aired on BBC-1 on October 5, 1969. However, 44 more episodes followed and aired over four seasons. The show was produced by John Howard Davies and the first 39 episodes were titled Monty Python's Flying Circus, but the final six episodes, which aired without Cleese, were called Monty Python (The Museum of Broadcast Communications). Although the final episode aired on Dec. 5, 1974, the television series and five Monty Python films have a cult following today (The Pythons Autobiography By The Pythons).
Originally, the comedy series was to be called "Baron Von Took's Flying Circus," after a comment made by Mills. However, Barry Took, the comedian that is credited as "London's Longest Laugh," and who Mills coined "Baron Von Took" brought the Pythons to the BBC and suggested the show unite two teams of young writers -- Michael Palin and Terry Jones alongside John Cleese and Graham Chapman (BBC News "Took: Comedy with a Twist"). "The content of Monty Python's Flying Circus was designed to be disconcerting to viewers who expected to see typical television fare" (The Museum of Broadcast Communications). The show's humor is evidenced in each of the comedic actors' ability to play diverse roles and characters, including women. In addition, each Python also refined character traits such as "Captain Fantastic," off the wall language accents and trademark lines such as Cleese's "You bastard!" The show's sketches are loaded with innuendo and risqué humor, sight gags, disrespect for authority and animation merged with live action. Gilliam's arrangement of cut-out art and skewed scale set against surrealist landscapes offered something new. Gilliam asserts, "Nobody had ever seen anything like it and I was animator. Just like that" (The Pythons Autobiography By The Pythons 119).
Rather than following traditional sketch format, the Pythons were innovators and rebels of sorts with their jokes and sketches, which have had a lasting effect on the medium (Saturday Night Live and SCTV). In fact, The BBC credits Monty Python's Flying Circus as "one of the most popular comedy series ever" (BBC News "Took: Comedy with a Twist"). At any rate, the television series was a precursor to their films and if the official Monty Python website, Pythonline.com is any indication -- the show impacted and continues to impact culture. Pythonline offers "The Daily Python" news, books, audio recordings, clothing, toys, a 16 DVD boxed set of "The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus" with all 45 television episodes, as well as DVD's of their films -- And Now For Something Completely Different (1971), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974), Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979), Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982), and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983). The website also includes the "Latest Global Python Sightings" and appearances of the Pythons (with the exception of Graham Chapman, who died of cancer in October 1989), polls for visitors to take where one can select their favorite movie or "Vote for the Top Ten Monty Python Skits of all time!!", as well as a link to buy tickets for their current musical hit comedy Spamalot on Broadway or in Las Vegas, London, or Melbourne.
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and
Michael Palin with Bob McCabe. The Pythons Autobiography By The
Pythons. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, First St. Martins Griffin ed.,
Pythonline.com, the official Monty Python website. <http://pythonline.com/>.
BBC News. "Took: Comedy with a Twist." <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/1903971.stm>. Sunday, March 31, 2002.
Hammill, Geoff. "Monty Python's Flying Circus: British Sketch Comedy/Farce/Parody/Satire Series." The Museum of Broadcast Communication (mbc). <http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/M/htmlM/montypythobn/montypython.htm>.
The Big Bang Theory - "The Itchy Brain Simulation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Leonard tries to keep Sheldon from overreacting when a past mistake comes to light, but Sheldon punishes Leonard by making him walk a mile in his shoes. Meanwhile, Penny confronts Raj’s ex-girlfriend, Lucy.
The Big Bang Theory - "The Scavenger Vortex" (CBS, 8:30PM T/PT) (Repeat)
When the entire gang competes in a scavenger hunt designed by Raj, it brings out the best – and worst – in everyone.
The Crazy Ones - "The Monster" / "The Lighthouse" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Season Finale)
"The Monster" - Simon and the team try an out-of-the-box idea in order to save a library from being shut down, and Gordon literally becomes the unwilling poster boy for the campaign. Brad Garrett returns as Gordon Lewis, Gayle King guest stars as herself and Melody Thomas Scott guest stars as Flora, the librarian.
"The Lighthouse" - When a corporation wants to buy out Lewis, Roberts+Roberts, Gordon calls in the board to vote, and Simon’s ex-wife and Sydney’s mom has the final say. Brad Garrett returns as Gordon Lewis and Marilu Henner guest stars as Simon’s ex-wife and Sydney’s mother.
Surviving Jack - "Rhythm Is a Dancer" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
It's homecoming night, but Frankie is bummed that his crush, Heather (guest star Lili Reinhart), is promised to another date and Rachel is protesting the school's "No Grinding" policy. Meanwhile, with the kids out of the house, Jack and Joanne (Rachael Harris) are planning a passionate night to themselves.
Community - "Basic Sandwich" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Season Finale)
The group learns the history of Greendale’s first Dean, Russell Borchert (guest star Chris Elliott, “Eagleheart”), a reclusive, wealthy genius who disappeared amid a personal scandal in the 1970s. Once Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and Hickey (Jonathan Banks) locate the school’s blueprints, Annie (Alison Brie) and Abed (Danny Pudi) lead the search for Borchert’s old computer lab, which was sealed off years ago. Subway returns to Greendale with plans to take over the campus for a Subway University and they enlist Chang (Ken Jeong) to secretly keep tabs on the study group. Meanwhile, Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) make a grown-up decision about their futures.
Parks and Recreation - "One in 8,000" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) run a charity auction to raise funds for the unity concert. April (Aubrey Plaza) steps in to manage Andy’s (Chris Pratt) schedule, while Donna (Retta) asks Ron (Nick Offerman) for help with her ex-boyfriend (Special Guest Star KEEGAN MICHAEL-KEY).
Sirens - "Itsy Bitsy Spider" (USA Network, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Hank fears spiders; Brian encounters his suicidal doppelganger; Johnny gets payback.
Saint George - "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" (FX, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Hit Me with Your Best Shot - George kicks Alma out of his house and discovers he misses fighting with her.
Anger Management - "Charlie Catches Jordan in the Act" (FX, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Charlie goes ballistic when a drunk Jordan makes out with a prisoner.
- "Buy Any Jeans Necessary" (Nick at Nite, 8:00PM ET/PT)
After Gabby is held for shoplifting for returning a pair of jeans with the sensor still on, Stephanie and Charlie take sides. Meanwhile, James is selling their unopened wedding presents to make extra cash.
See Dad Run - "See Dad Teach Emily to Drive" (Nick at Nite, 8:30PM ET/PT)
David takes Emily out driving, but his "coaching" makes her nervous, and he insists Emily's not ready for the responsibility. Later, Janie discovers Dr. Monkey Chunks was run over in the driveway, and now everyone is a suspect.
Thursday, April 17
- Billy Crystal (Soap) - Catch Billy on a repeat of The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Tony Hale (Veep/Arrested Development) - Tony appears on a repeat of The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Brooklyn Decker (Friends with Better Lives) - Brooklyn is part of the guest panel on Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
- Tracy Morgan (30 Rock/The Tracy Morgan Show) - Tracy visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Judy Greer (Mad Love/Arrested Development/Miss Guided) - Judy drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- David Duchovny (Californication) - David talks about the new season of Californication on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
- Max Greenfield (New Girl) - Max speaks about the new film About Alex on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings.
- Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea chats on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi talks about her new Lifetime movie A Day Late and a Dollar Short on The Wendy Williams Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
- Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) - Edie talks about Nurse Jackie on NBC's Today between 7-9am.
- Heather Graham (Californication) - Heather talks about Californication on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- Jeremy Piven (Entourage/Ellen) - Jeremy is a guest on The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
- Margo Martindale (The Millers) - Margo will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Doogie Howser, M.D.) - Neil discusses his new role on Broadway in Hedwig and the Angry Itch on ABC's Good Morning America between 7-9am.
- Jason Alexander (Seinfeld/Listen Up) - Jason is a guest on Larry King Now at 2/5pm PT/ET on Ora.tv and Hulu.
- Valerie Harper (Rhoda/The Mary Tyler Moore Show/Valerie) - Valerie talks about Signed, Sealed, Delivered on Fox & Friends on Fox News Channel. She will be on Fox News Radio at 8:45am. She takes a SiriusXM Radio tour with Perri Peltz Shade 45 with SWAY, Morrning Jolt with Larry Flick, Entertainment Weekly Radio between 9:35-11:20am.
- Marlo Thomas (That Girl) - Marlo will be on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York at 9:20am.
- Ana Ortiz (A.U.S.A./Kristin) - Ana chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. She also talks about the new season of Devious Maids (premieres April 20 at 10pm on Lifetime) on Arise TV.