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 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, 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
. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, First St. Martins Griffin ed.,
November 2005., the official Monty Python website. <>.
BBC News. "Took: Comedy with a Twist." <>. Sunday, March 31, 2002.
Hammill, Geoff. "Monty Python's Flying Circus: British Sketch Comedy/Farce/Parody/Satire Series." The Museum of Broadcast Communication (mbc). <>.

New on DVD/Blu-ray (October)

Bewitched - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) The Facts of Life - Season Seven My Favorite Martian - The Complete Series Grace Under Fire - The Complete Collection

10/06 - Bewitched - The Complete Collection
10/06 - Grace Under Fire - The Complete Collection
10/06 - Happyish - Season One
10/06 - I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
10/06 - Party Down - The Complete Series
10/06 - South Park - The Complete Eighteenth Season (Blu-ray)
10/20 - C.P.O. Sharkey - Mr. Warmth: The Ultimate Don Rickles TV Collection
10/20 - The Facts of Life - Season Seven
10/20- King of the Hill - The Complete 13th Season (Blu-ray)
10/20 - My Favorite Martian - The Complete Series
10/20 - Nurse Jackie - Season Seven ((Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, October 13

The Muppets - "Pig Out" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The gang has an epic night out when they run into Ed Helms at Rowlf’s Tavern and they all perform their favorite karaoke jams, but Kermit is not pleased when no one shows up to work the next day. Meanwhile, Fozzie has an unfortunate accident during the show.

Fresh Off the Boat - "The Fall Ball" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
As Eddie’s first school dance approaches, Louis is determined to make the night as perfect as a John Hughes film. Meanwhile, Jessica spends the day with Grandma Huang in hopes of getting on her good side so she will invest in her new business venture.

Grandfathered - "Guys' Night" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Jimmy realizes that he doesn’t know much about Gerald, he decides to take him out for a night on the town. Meanwhile Annelise hires a new mixologist to spice things up at the restaurant.

The Grinder - "The Curious Disappearance of Mr. Donovan" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Convinced that the only explanation for Claire’s non-interest in him is that she’s a mole, Dean tells Stewart that Claire is sharing secrets with a rival firm. Although Stewart dismisses the accusation, Dean is set on proving his brother wrong. Meanwhile, Deb and Claire strike up a friendship, the gossipy nature of which propels Stewart to question whether Claire can be trusted after all.

Family Time - "Forbidden Fruits" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Tony gets a new client, who happens to be a very attractive woman; Lisa and Tony are struggling to complete a ten-day all juice diet.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 12) (All times ET unless noted)

Tuesday, October 13

  • Michael Strahan (Brothers) - Catch Michael on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He also talks about his new book on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Sarah Silverman (The Sarah Silverman Program) - Sarah visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Elijah Wood (Wilfred) - Elijah drops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Sophia Bush (Partners) - Sophia appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Josh Meyers (That '70s Show) - Josh stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Chris is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Scott Weinger (Fuller House/Full House) - Scott and the cast of Aladdin reunite on The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. They will also be on the AOL Build Show at 1pm and HuffPost Live at 2pm..
  • Miles Brown (black-ish) - Miles appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Keshia Knight Pulliam (The Cosby Show/Tyler Perry's House of Payne) - Keshia talks about Will to Love on NBC's Today in the 9am hour. She will also be on HuffPost Live at 1pm.
  • Joe Jonas (Jonas L.A.) - Joe and Charlie Puth announce nominees in six categories for the 2015 American Music Awards on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Nick Jonas (Jonas L.A.) - Nick will be on FABLife, so check your local listings.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Steve visits The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.