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>.
New on DVD/Blu-ray (June)
06/02 - Parks and Recreation - Season Seven - The Farewell Season
06/02 - Parks and Recreation - The Complete Series
06/02 - Soap - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
06/02 - The Abbott and Costello Show - The Ultimate Collection
06/09 - The Facts of Life - Season Six
06/16 - The Cosby Show - Season 7 (Mill Creek)
06/16 - The Cosby Show - Season 8 (Mill Creek)
06/16 - The Cosby Show - Seasons 7 & 8 (Mill Creek)
06/16 - Laverne & Shirley - The Complete Series
06/16 - The Odd Couple - The Complete Series
06/16 - Two and a Half Men - The Complete Twelfth and Final Season
06/16 - Two and a Half Men - The Complete Series
06/23 - George Lopez - The Complete Fourth Season
06/23 - Workaholics - Season Five (Blu-ray)
06/30 - The Donna Reed Show - Season 3 (MPI Home Video)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Saturday, July 4
The Millers - "Diggin' Up Bones" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
In an attempt to get Carol to be more daring, Kip encourages her to confront her former Central Elementary School work nemesis at the woman’s retirement party. Molly Shannon guest stars as Miss Pam, Carol’s former work rival.
The Millers - "When the Pope Comes Marching In" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When the Pope is scheduled to come to town, Nathan’s planned week-long series of reports hits a snag when Ray gets a job offer to become the cameraman for a rival field reporter.
The McCarthys - "Gerard's Engagement Party" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
The McCarthy family is reluctant to celebrate Gerard and Katrina’s engagement, but when Gerard gets on the wrong Boston Harbor Cruise ship, Marjorie is forced to bond with her soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Meanwhile, Sean hits it off with Katrina’s mother, and Arthur judges Jackie for how her baby was conceived. Jean Smart guest stars as Lydia, Katrina’s mother.
The McCarthys - "Cutting the Cord" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When the McCarthys realize they have become extremely dependent on one another, they make a family bet to see who can be independent the longest. Meanwhile, Jackie hides her pregnancy while on a date.
Monday, July 6
- Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) - Watch Melissa on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Hannah Simone (New Girl) - Hannah appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation) - Aziz is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Cristela Alonzo (Cristela) - Tune in to see Cristela on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Debra Messing (Will & Grace) - Debra stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Damon Wayans Jr. (New Girl/Happy Endings) - Damon appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Nick Jonas (Jonas L.A.) - Nick drops by The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
- John O'Hurley (Seinfeld) - John appears on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
- Lea Thompson (Caroline in the City) - Lea is a guest on a repeat of The Queen Latifah Show, so check your local listings.
- Raven-Symone (That's So Raven/Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/The Cosby Show) - Raven-Symone chats on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
- Zachary Levi (Less Than Perfect) - Zachary talks about Geeks Who Drink on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET. He will also be on People Now and the AOL Build Show.
- Sara Rue (Impastor/Malibu Country/Less Than Perfect) - Sara discusses her new TV Land comedy Impastor on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Ashley Tisdale (Clipped/The Suite Life of Zack & Cody) - Ashley is tentatively scheduled to appear on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Sheryl Lee Ralph (Instant Mom/Moesha/It's a Living) - Sheryl is tentatively scheduled to be part of the Plugged-In panel on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso appears on The Boris and Nicole Show, which airs on select Fox-owned stations, so check your local listings.
- Nicole Ari Parker (Second Time Around) - Nicole and her husband Boris Kodjoe are guests on People Now.