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

Friday, March 24

Lopez vs. Lopez - "Lopez vs Cheating" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When a visiting veterinarian takes an interest in Mayan, she worries that she might be destined to repeat the Lopez legacy of cheating, dating all the way back to her Aztec ancestor Tonto Tecate-Can.

Grand Crew - "Wine & Ojai" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The crew takes a trip to Ojai, and there's wine.

Saturdays - "Skates, Lies & Videos" (Disney Channel, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Paris, Ari and Simone learn that a music video is being recorded at Saturdays; they decide they have to be in it, but they have to age up to look 18.

Saturdays - "Come Back to Me" (Disney Channel, 9:30PM ET/PT)
London begins his new job as the rink's DJ and starts to embarrass Paris; Paris hatches a plan to turn London's world upside-down so her world can be right-side up again.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of March 20)

Friday, March 24

  • Kieran Culkin (Go Fish) - Watch Kieran on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Method Man (Method & Red) - Method Man appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Skylar Astin (Ground Floor) - Skylar is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Woody Harrelson (Cheers) - Woody appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Anna Kendrick (Love Life) - Anna is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Michael Urie (Shrinking/Partners) - Michael appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Toni Collette (United States of Tara) - Toni will be on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Mario Cantone (And Just Like That.../Sex and the City) - Mario is joining Drew in the kitchen to make a sweet potato pie and dish on behind-the-scenes details from Sex and the City on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local lisitngs.
  • Kym Whitley (Act Your Age/Young & Hungry/Animal Practice/Sparks) - Kym joins Sherri on the couch to talk about their NAACP Image Award-winning podcast Two Funny Mamas and her sitcom Act Your Age on Bounce TV on Sherri, so check your local listings.
  • Chyler Leigh (That '80s Show) - Chyler talks about Hallmark's The Way Home on Access Daily with Mario & Kit, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November-March)

Frasier - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Ghosts - Season One Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Ten Growing Pains - The Complete Series

11/08 - Frasier - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
11/08 - Young Rock - Season Two (Blu-ray) (DVD)
11/15 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Seven / The Complete Season Eight
11/22 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/29 - Ghosts - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
12/06 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - 70th Anniversary Ultimate Christmas Collection
12/13 - And Just Like That... - The Complete First Season
12/13 - Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
01/03 - Andy Richter Controls the Universe - The Complete Series (2023 Release)
01/27 - Master of None - Season Three / The Complete Series
02/21 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Nine / The Complete Season Ten
02/28 - Growing Pains - The Complete Series
03/28 - Rick and Morty - Season 8 (Blu-ray) (DVD)
More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

03/24 - Rewind TV Celebrates Mork & Mindy's 45th Anniversary on Earth Day; Disney's 6th Season of Raven's Home on April 9
03/23 - Antenna TV's Earth Day My Favorite Martian Marathon; Neil Patrick Harris Returns on How I Met Your Father
03/22 - Game Show Network Orders Tom Cavanagh Hosted Game Show; A Black Lady Sketch Show Returns for Season 4
03/21 - All That Stars to Reunite for Good Burger 2; Jim Belushi Returns For Another Season of Growing Belushi
03/20 - 2023 90s Con Recap in Hartford; Bel-Air Gets Season 3 on Peacock
03/19 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of March 20, 2023)
03/18 - SitcomsOnline Digest: New Sitcoms for Terry Crews and Wendi McLendon-Covey; Zachary Levi Holding Out Hope for Chuck Movie
03/17 - AXS TV Acquires The Monkees for Retro Night Block; HBO Max's The Other Two Returns in May
03/16 - Monk Returns with One Final Case on Peacock; John Mulaney Gets 3rd Netflix Comedy Special
03/15 - Apple TV+ Orders Comedy with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey; CBS 2023 Season Finale Dates
03/14 - Disney+ Comedy American Born Chinese Premieres May 24; Tim Robinson Comedy to Return May 30 on Netflix
03/13 - New Girl Coming to Hulu and Peacock; Apple TV+ Renews Shrinking for Season 2
03/12 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of March 13, 2023)
03/11 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Beavis and Butt-Head Gets Second Season Renewal; Roles Cast in Bedrock Series
03/10 - Act Your Age Opens as Biggest Launch in Bounce History; Starz Comedy Blindspotting Returns April 14
03/09 - Mary Tyler Moore Film Premieres This May on HBO; Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-Head Returns for Season 2
03/08 - HBO's Barry Returns April 16; Schmigadoon! Trailer for Season 2
03/07 - American Dad! Season 18 Premieres March 27; Hulu's Tiny Beautiful Things Launches April 7
03/06 - Antenna TV Spring 2023 Schedule; Rewind TV Spring 2023 Schedule
03/05 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of March 6, 2023)
03/04 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Rachael Ray to End After 17 Seasons; Fox Renews Krapopolis for Third Season
03/03 - The Thundermans Return; TMZ's New Game Show
03/02 - Fox Renews Krapopolis for Season 3; Disney Channel's New Comedy Saturdays
03/01 - HBO Max Chuck Lorre Comedy Sets Production; New Shonda Rhimes White House Series
02/28 - Apple TV+ Releases Trailer for Ted Lasso S3; More on Chris Rock's Netflix Special
02/27 - Modern Family Star Heads to Season 2 of The Santa Clauses; 29th Annual SAG Awards Winners
02/26 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of February 27, 2023)
02/25 - SitcomsOnline Digest: The Goldbergs to End After 10 Seasons; Decades to Rebrand as Catchy Comedy
02/24 - BUZZR's African American Greats Marathon; Hulu and Onyx Collective Comedy Completes Cast