And now for Monty Python fans who think they have seen everything, the BBC commemorates the 30th anniversary of the debut of Monty Python's Flying Circus with this treasure trove of new sketches performed by the Pythons (m... more »inus spoilsport Eric Idle, and, of course, ex-Python Graham Chapman); new interviews with all the surviving members; classic clips; and recently discovered and rarely seen Python material unearthed from the BBC archives. Volume 1, It's... the Monty Python Story, is a sketchy history, recalling the highs (the first two seasons of the groundbreaking TV series and The Life of Brian) and the lows (the death of Chapman, who in a poignant clip from his memorial service is eulogized by John Cleese as a "freeloading bastard"). Volume 2 really delivers the goods, including a long-lost 10-minute film Monty Python created for the 1971 Pan-European May Day Festival. Michael Palin spoofs his travel shows by giving viewers a tour of "Pythonland." He revisits the actual locations where such classic Python sketches as the Ministry of Silly Walks and the Fish Slapping Dance were filmed. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone offer an animated tribute (the Dead Kenny sketch), while Meatloaf goes behind the music to reveal the inspiration behind the Python's most memorable songs. Volume 3 contains "The Lost German Episode" of Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus, which was created for German television (don't worry; it's in English) and has never been broadcast in the United States. This is comedy's equivalent to a surviving-Beatles reunion, and though the new sketches and animations are hit and miss, it is heartening to see that the Pythons are still loony after all these years. It is a particular pleasure to see the Gumbys banging bricks once again. And Python sexpot Carol Cleveland is holding up rather well, if you know what I mean, say no more, nudge nudge. --Donald Liebenson« less
"This disc has its ups and downs, but enough truly wonderful moments (especially Michael Palin's mock-travelogue "Pythonland") to make it worth buying for fans of the series. Even the "biography" which opens Disc One leaves you wanting more (it jumps from the poorly received Episode One to 'Monty Python and The Holy Grail'), but contains the priceless John Cleese eulogy of Graham Chapman which is absolutely touching and appropriate for Python.Inexplicably, A&E includes only the second (of two) German episodes on the second disc. Why not include both? ("Never broadcast in the United States"... unless you count the few times its been on PBS).There are several actual attempts at doing new sketches throughout the first disc. Although they are mostly bizarre misfires (The Gorilla skit ranks right up there with "Find the Fish" in the Python pantheon of oddball concepts), it is nice to see that Michael Palin hasn't lost a single step, and its always a treat to see Terry Jones doing comedy again. It is nice that the Pythons made the extra effort here. (Cleese's comment at the end of the "Mayday" film is priceless!)"
The Best Python Bio So Far-Lackluster DVD Effort Though
Jason Brennan | Springfield, IL United States | 11/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great way to become aware(or re-aware) of just how great the Pythons still are. There are plenty of clips and new interviews with all of them which are informative and funny. There's even on-set footage of "Holy Grail" and a so-so 10 min May Day film. The best parts though, are the new skits performed by the Pythons(except Idle), a Palin tour through Pythonland, and one of the German episodes of the Flying Circus. It's great to see that they have not lost their ability to be completely irreverent and silly, and it's neat to see what the spots where they filmed their most famous skits look like now. Also the German episode is surprisingly one of the funnier episodes of Circus I've seen. Unfortunately this DVD does have a few flaws that keep it from being the fitting tribute that they deserve. First of all, what is Meatloaf doing on here? They could have at least found someone who has something to do with Python to do this-like Steve Martin or Kevin Kline. I don't even want to think of Meatloaf, then alone see his ugly mug on a Python tribute. Also this was made by A&E, who put absolutely NO effort into their DVD's. Why is the other German episode not included? I know it's in German, but I CAN READ SUBTITLES. The fact that they have a second DVD that has nothing but a 42 minute episode on it is ridiculous. This DVD may have flaws, but it is definately worth getting because, unless by some miracle they all decide to give it one last try, this is the best we're going to get."
A potpourri of priceless python
Rotten Arsenal | Burleson, Texas United States | 10/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 2-disc set features fantabulous material. Disc one contains all sorts of oddball stuff including Graham Chapman's funeral, A python tribute from the South Park creators (including appearances by Cartman, Kyle, & Kenny), a documenatry on filming locations, songs from Python, and other bits of rubbish culled from BBC archives. Disc 2 is even better, featuring one of the 2 "lost" German episodes. This episode was done in English (unlike the other episode, which was actually in German) and features some truly, truly ridiculous bits including "Chicken Panning" and the dumbest fairy tale you'll ever see (featuring a Hammond Organ).
Well worth it, believe me."
Some Brilliant New Material
sloan123 | Toronto, Ontario, Canada | 02/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1999, the Monty Python team marked their 30th anniversary with a big TV special on BBC2. It featured a ton of brilliant new sketches, the lost Python Mayday Special, a one-hour history of the team, a documentary about their music, a South Park tribute, a Michael Palin travel documentary (about Python locations), and "Life of Brian." The special came about after the team couldn't make agreements about a tour or a movie, and while both of those would have been excellent, this TV special manages to capture much of the original Pythonic brilliance. With the exception of "Brian," the 30th anniversary show is presented in this DVD, along with one of the two "lost" German episodes (this one is in English). It has some great stuff, especially the Fairy Tale scene.
On DVD, the anniversary show looks broadcast quality, showing no visual flaws (except in old clips and the lost Mayday special.) The German episode looks fairly grainy, but that is to be expected from a rarely restored show. DVD features are on the second disc with the German episode (unless you count the weblink on disc one.) There is a preview of the first German episode, as well as a quiz and clip show from the "Monty Python's Flying Circus" Season Four discs."
sloan123 | 07/23/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'Fliegender Zirkus #1' is among the funniest TV programmes the group ever did (among many others, of course). So this means I'll have to hold onto my England-imported Guerilla Films VHS copy of the two German episodes for a while longer. Hopefully this wrong will be corrected one day, and 'Fliegender Zirkus #1' (AS WELL AS "Live at the Hollywood Bowl") will get the DVD treatment. But it's too bad they couldn't get it right the first time.With that said, this 2-disc set still makes a fine companion piece to the 45 'Flying Circus' episodes. In addition to 'Fliegender Zirkus #2,' it's got an almost definitive documentary of the Monty Python story, a travelogue of the locations of where the group filmed many of their beloved sketches, a Python song review, new material by the surviving boys (though none of it really adds anything to the Python legacy, but it's still interesting to watch), AND the somewhat legendary, long-lost 7-minute May Day special from 1971 (though, again, it adds nothing to the Python legacy [especially since it uses bits from other 'Flying Circus' episodes], but is still interesting to watch -- and, yes, John Cleese's comment after it ends is priceless....classic Cleese). So pick up a copy of "The Life of Python" today. Apart from that glaring omission of 'Fliegender Zirkus #1,' it's still a must for any Monty Python fan."