Sunday, August 31, 2008

TV Rebels: Monty Python's Flying Circus

Since it is Labor Day weekend, our ratings report is off this week. Stay tuned next week for the return of that...as today we will give you a TV Rebels column!

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.

Works Cited
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.,
November 2005.
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>.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, February 17

The Simpsons - "Krusty the Clown" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Homer finds his calling as a TV recapper, but his harsh grading causes a brawl with Krusty; after almost killing Homer, Krusty hides out at a real circus and finds happiness there.

Bob's Burgers - "Better Off Sled" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Teenagers take over the Belchers' sledding territory, inciting an epic turf war; Bob steps in to help Linda, who's in a time crunch to get three scarves knitted before Christmas.

The Simpsons - "The Clown Stays in the Picture" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Krusty reveals the untold story of his past in his movie "The Sands of Space"; while working as personal assistants on the movie, Bart and Lisa learn about the early years of their parents' relationship.

Bob's Burgers - "Every Which Way But Goose" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Tina, discouraged by not being asked to the prom by Jimmy Jr., forms an unhealthy attachment to a goose from the nearby park; Linda joins a dating app to help Gretchen find a match.

Family Guy - "Trans-Fat" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Peter is mistakenly identified as transgender, which leads to an unexpected event and him learning an important lesson.

Family Guy - "Dead Dog Walking" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Brian's marriage to Jess is not what he envisioned; at Peter's suggestion, Brian lets himself go, causing Jess to make a surprising decision.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 11)

Friday, February 15

  • Tracy Morgan (The Last O.G./30 Rock/The Tracy Morgan Show) - Watch Tracy on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Rosie O'Donnell (Gimme a Break!) - Rosie appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Ken is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS. He talks about Fox's The Masked Singer and Netflix's You Complete Me, Ho on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta) - Brian appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Morris Chestnut (Out All Night) - Morris talks about The Enemy Within on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Cavemen/My Secret Identity) - Jerry guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings. Jerry and his wife Rebecca Romijn talk about the 2019 American Rescue Dog Show on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Henry Winkler (Barry/Out of Practice/Happy Days) - Henry stops by The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Lori Loughlin (Fuller House/Hudson Street/Full House) - Lori talks about When Calls the Heart on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Dan Cortese (What I Like About You/Veronica's Closet) - Dan is part of the panel on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Daniel Radcliffe (Miracle Workers) - Daniel is a guest on Couch Surfing at 8am.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (January/February)

Fuller House - The Complete Third Season The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fourth Season The Game - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season

01/08 - Family Guy - 20 Greatest Hits
01/22 - Fuller House - The Complete Third Season
01/22 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fourth Season (WBShop.com)
01/29 - Ballers - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
01/29 - Crashing - The Complete Second Season
01/29 - The Game - The Complete Series
01/29 - Kidding - Season One
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 1 - Volumes 1-5
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 2 - Volumes 6-10
02/05 - Family Guy - Part 3 - Seasons 10-14
02/05 - First Lady of Television - Betty White Collection (40 rare and acclaimed episodes from her early days in television)
02/05 - Mama's Family - Seasons 1-6 - The Complete Series
02/12 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-3 (Blu-ray)
02/12 - Step by Step - The Complete Fourth Season
02/26 - What I Like About You - The Complete Fourth Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest