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 (October/November/December)
10/07 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Classic Christmas Episodes
10/07 - The Flying Nun - The Complete First and Second Seasons (Mill Creek)
10/07 - The Middle - The Complete Fifth Season (Warner Archive)
10/07 - The Office - The Complete Series
10/07 - The Wonders Years - Season One
10/10 - The Wonder Years - The Complete Series - TARGET="_blank">Read Our Review / The Signature Edition / Seasons 1-3
10/14 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season
10/14 - Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season
10/21 - Married with Children - Seasons 5 and 6 (Mill Crek)
10/21 - The Soul Man - The Complete Second Season
10/21 - Square Pegs - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
10/28 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series
11/04 - Hot in Cleveland - Season Five
11/04 - Napoleon Dynamite - The Complete Animated Series
11/04 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Complete Series
11/11 - Dads - The Complete Series
11/11 - Family Ties - The Complete Series
11/11 - My Favorite Martian - Best of Collection
11/11 - Taxi - The Complete Series
11/11 - Wings - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/18 - King of the Hill - The Complete Seventh Season / The Complete Eighth Season
11/25 - Better Off Ted - The Complete Second Season
12/02 - Happy Days - The Sixth Season
12/09 - Barney Miller - The Complete Sixth Season
12/09 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mister Ed - The Complete Series
12/09 - Mork & Mindy - The Fourth Season / The Complete Series
12/16 - The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis - The Final (Fourth) Season
12/23 - My Favorite Martian - Season Two - Collector's Edition
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Monday, October 20
The Big Bang Theory - "The Expedition Approximation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Sheldon and Raj test whether they could survive a dark-matter research expedition in a salt mine by simulating the conditions in a steam tunnel. Meanwhile, Leonard and Penny seek advice from Wolowitz and Bernadette after they fight about money.
The Millers - "Movin' Out (Carol's Song) (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Carol begins her search for a new apartment, causing Nathan and Debbie to race each other to find her a place that is the farthest away from each of them. During the course of her house-hunting, Carol meets and develops an instant bond with Kip Finkle, her new best friend. Emmy Award winner Sean Hayes joins the cast as Kip Finkle.
American Dad - "Blonde Ambition" (TBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Hayley decides she might get more attention if she becomes a blonde, while Steve and Stan search for a new home for the Smiths.
When her efforts to save the planet prove hopeless, Hayley decides that she might get more attention if she becomes a blonde. Meanwhile, Stan and Steve go on a mission to find a new home for the Smiths.
Monday, October 20
- Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) - Watch Jason on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Steve Harvey (The Steve Harvey Show) - Steve appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Casey Wilson (Marry Me/Happy Endings) - Casey stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Jim Rash (Community) - Jim visits The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
- Connie Britton (Spin City/The Fighting Fitzgeralds) - Connie is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Tori Spelling (Mystery Girls) - Tori stops by LIVE! with Kelly and Michael, so check your listings. She also discusses her show True Tori on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She can be heard on the Howard Stern Show on SiriusXM channel 100.
- Lena Dunham (Girls) - Lena chats on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check listings.
- Tom Lennon (Reno 911!/Sean Saves the World) - Tom is a guest on a repeat of @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) - Melissa appears NBC's Today in the 9am hour. She will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check listings.
- The Cast of The Wonder Years - Danica McKellar, Fred Savage and Josh Saviano reunite on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
- Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains/Kirk) - Kirk talks about bringing faith and family back to the holidays in his new film Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Jim Gaffigan (My Boys/Welcome to New York) - Jim talks about his book (Food: A Lovey Story) on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
- Clark Gregg (The New Adventures of Old Christine) - Clark chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. He will also be on HuffPost Live at 12:30pm. He can be heard on Morning Mash-Up on SiriusXM Hits 1 channel 2 at at 9:45am.
- Scott Foley (The Goodwin Games/A.U.S.A.) - Scott chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Michael Rapaport (The War at Home) - Michael is a guest on HuffPost Live at 2:30pm.
- Jonathan Kite (2 Broke Girls) - Jonathan talks about 2 Broke Girls on Arise TV at 7pm on Centric.
- Katey Sagal (Marry Me/8 Simple Rules/Married with Children) - Katey appears on The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 2am on BET.
- Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly) - Mike will be on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 8:50am.