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/July)
06/14 - Ballers - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
06/14 - The League - Season 7 - The Final Fantasy
06/14 - The League - The Complete Series
06/14 - Maude - The Complete Fifth Season
06/14 - Survivor's Remorse - The Complete Second Season
06/21 - Workaholics - Season Six
06/24 - The Monkees - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
06/28 - Two Guys and a Girl - The Complete Series
07/08 - The Monkees - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
07/12 - Grady - The Best of Grady
07/26 - Family Mattters - The Complete Seventh Season
07/26 - Where's Huddles? - The Complete Series (WBShop.com)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Monday, July 25
Mom - "Death, Death, Death and a Bucket of Chicken" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Christy tries to be supportive when a health scare throws Bonnie into a tailspin.
2 Broke Girls - "And You Bet Your Ass" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Caroline continues meeting with studio writers in an effort to make her life story into a movie, but she is torn when they reveal they would not portray Max in the project. Also, Max is being spoiled by her new Hollywood beau, Randy (Ed Quinn), who sets Caroline up on a date with his friend, Bob. George Hamilton guest stars as Bob, a former studio mogul.
Angie Tribeca - "The Coast is Fear" (TBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
A member of the Coast Guard is murdered, leading Tribeca and Geils to somehow connect it to Mayhem Global.
Best Friends Whenever - "Princess Problems" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
A princess named Daisy has come through the time rift from the 16th century and finds herself at Cyd and Shelby's school.
Monday, July 25
- Danny McBride (Vice Principals/Eastbound & Down) - Watch Danny on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Denis Leary (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll/The Job) - Denis stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Allison is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Mila Kunis (That '70s Show/Family Guy) - Mila appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Christina Applegate (Up All Night/Samantha Who?/Married with Children) - Christina visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Jim Jefferies (Legit) - Jim is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Abby Elliott (Odd Mom Out) - Abby stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. She dishes on her upcoming September Wedding on People Now at 8:30am.
- Joe Morton (Grady) - Joe appears on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
- Anna Gunn (Down the Shore) - Anna talks about her new movie Equity on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Niecy Nash (The Soul Man/Getting On/Reno 911!) - Niecy guest co-hosts Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
- Christian Slater (Breaking In) - Christian guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.