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

Monday, November 11

The Neighborhood - "Welcome to Thanksgiving" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Dave and Gemma host a memorable Thanksgiving in their new home when Dave’s politically incorrect mother, Paula (Marilu Henner), visits from out of town and meets Calvin, Tina and the rest of the Butler family for the first time.

Bob Hearts Abishola - "Square Hamburgers, Round Buns" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After Abishola calls off things with Bob, her Auntie Olu sets her up with a Nigerian pharmacist, and Bob tries online dating. Missi Pyle guest stars as Liz, Bob’s online date and Tony Tambi guest stars as Chukwuemeka, Abishola’s set-up.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 11)

Monday, November 11

  • Will Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) - Watch Will on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) - Thomas visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Adam DeVine (Workaholics/Modern Family) - Adam appears on A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Chris D'Elia (Undateable/Whitney) - Chris is a panelist on Lights Out with David Spade at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
  • Kevin Nealon (Man with a Plan/Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Kevin drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Kristin Davis (Sex and the City/Bad Teacher) - Kristin talks about Holiday in the Wild on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan (check your listings) and on People Now at 12pm.
  • Isabela Merced (100 Things to Do Before High School) - Isabela is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Lisa Edelstein (The Kominsky Method/Almost Perfect) - Lisa will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Kim Fields (The Facts of Life/Living Single) - Kim talks about Lifetime's You Light Up My Christmas on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Jim Gaffigan (The Jim Gaffigan Show/My Boys/Welcome to New York) - Al Roker swaps jobs with Jim on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September/October/November)

My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season Life with Lucy - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season

09/03 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 9th Season
09/03 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fifth Season
09/03 - The Goldbergs - The Complete Sixth Season
09/03 - Single Parents - The Complete Season One
09/03 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season
09/04 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete First Season
09/10 - American Dad! - Volume 14
09/10 - The Jetsons - The Complete Original Series (Blu-ray) (WBShop.com)
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume Two
09/17 - Friends - The Complete Series (25th Anniversary)
09/17 - Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season
09/19 - Angel from Hell - The DVD Edition
09/19 - The Guest Book - Season 1
10/08 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series
10/08 - Life with Lucy - The Complete Series
10/15 - Mom - The Complete Sixth Season
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 1
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 2
11/05 - The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang - The Complete Animated Series
11/05 - Laverne & Shirley in the Army (Animated Series) - The DVD Edition
11/05 - Letterkenny - Seasons 1 & 2
11/05 - Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season (Blu-ray)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Series (Blu-ray Limited Edition)
11/19 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/19 - The Kominsky Method - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

11/11 - NBC Midseason 2020 Schedule; The CW Announces Midseason 2020 Lineup
11/10 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 11, 2019)
11/09 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fresh Off the Boat Coming to an End; Weeds Sequel in the Works
11/08 - Fri-Yay: Thoughts on Netflix's Living with Yourself; ABC Orders More Episodes of American Housewife and Bless This Mess
11/07 - COZI TV's Thanksgiving Weekend Unexpected Guests Marathon; MeTV Salutes Veteran's Day with M*A*S*H
11/06 - Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family & Good Times on Dec. 18; NBC Orders More Superstore Episodes
11/05 - ABC 2019 Holiday Specials and Episodes; E! Sets Date for Reality Sitcom
11/04 - Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas Schedule for 2019; Showtime to Debut New Comedy On-Demand Before Premiere
11/03 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of November 4, 2019)
11/02 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Casting in Place for Punky Brewster Reboot; Happy Days Cartoon Spinoffs to Arrive on DVD

11/01 - Fri-Yay: Thoughts on BoJack Horseman Season 6; Netflix Sets Dec. 5 Date for V Wars
10/31 - Will Arnett to Host Fox Lego Series; Lil Rel HBO Comedy Special Gets Premiere Date
10/30 - HBO Max Announces Lots of News and Series, Including Library Series The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Looney Tunes and More
10/29 - ABC Gets Full Seasons of mixed-ish and More; The Facts of Life Stars Ready to Light Up Lifetime on Christmas
10/28 - Fox Midseason 2020 Schedule; The CW Picks Up Full Seasons of Both Fall Freshman Series

10/27 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 28, 2019)
10/26 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Lizzie McGuire Reboot to Include Original Cast; New DVDs for The Mindy Project and Step by Step
10/25 - Fri-Yay: Sunnyside Becomes the Season's First Cancellation; Maureen McCormick to Co-Host HGTV Christmas Special
10/24 - Antenna TV's Sabrina & Samantha Witch-O-Ween Marathon; Remembering TV Producer Al Burton of Diff'rent Strokes, Charles in Charge and More
10/23 - CBS Renews Freshman Fall 2019 Class; Fox Schedules 9-1-1 Spin-off for Midseason 2020
10/22 - Fox Schedules Comedy Christmas Event; CNBC Gets A-Rod to Get Celebs Back in the Game
10/21 - Fox Picks Up 2nd Season of Bless the Harts; Remembering Bill Macy of Maude
10/20 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 21, 2019)
10/19 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Sunnyside Becomes First Casualty of 2019-2020 TV Season; Our Miss Brooks Arrives on DVD
10/18 - Fri-Yay: Is It Time to Lower Our Expectations for Sitcom Ratings?; Antenna TV's Dennis the Menace Thanksgiving Weekend Marathon
10/17 - Raven's Home Gets 4th Season on Disney; Nick Orders More All That Episodes
10/16 - Sunnyside Pulled, Will & Grace Back Early; CBS All Access Comedy Returns for Season 3
10/15 - Sarah Silverman Returning to HBO with Late Night Series; Craig Ferguson to Host ABC Game Show
10/14 - ABC Gears Up for Halloween with Specials and Sitcom Episodes; truTV Comedy Returns for Season 5
10/13 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 14, 2019)
10/12 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Walker, Texas Ranger Reboot in the Works; South Park Banned in China
10/11 - Fri-Yay: Another Netflix Original to End as BoJack Horseman Announces Final Season; TNT Sets Halloween Supernatural Marathon