LIFE OF PYTHON
Review by Michael Jacobson
Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Standard 1.33:1
Features: Trivia games, website promo, clip from the first German episode
Length: 168 Minutes
Release Date: October 31, 2000
The best comparison I can make of Monty Python is to the
Beatles. Both were legendary
British groups, and though they worked in different fields of entertainment, the
Pythons revolutionized and forever changed the face of comedy the way the lads
from Liverpool changed music. They
became an assembly of superstars and household names, yet despite that fact,
none would ever be as well known for what they did individually as they would
for what they did as part of the group.
A&E is the studio who brought DVD fans the entire Monty
Python’s Flying Circus television show in a series of attractively
packaged double-disc sets. Now,
they bring us one more to complete the Python experience:
Life of Python. This
two DVD set is bound to be a real treat for all Python fans, as it includes,
among others, a very good documentary featuring fresh interviews with the
surviving members, insights into their development and creative processes, the
entire ‘lost’ second German episode of the show, a look at their most
popular musical numbers, the group’s contribution to the BBC’s May Day
Festival special (not seen since the original broadcast), and, oh yes, a few
brand new skits sprinkled here and there by the remaining members! Yes, Python works together again at last, if only for a few
The centerpiece of disc one is “It’s…the Monty Python
Story”, a BBC production that documents the group’s rise to fame on British
TV and eventually the movies. All
surviving members are interviewed, and we even get a glimpse at Graham
Chapman’s funeral service, which naturally erupts into Python levity instead
of being a solemn occasion. The
second program, “Pythonland”, follows Michael Palin on a trip to some of the
locations used in the troupe’s memorable skits.
This is followed by the aforementioned lost May Day Special and “From
Spam to Sperm”, hosted by Meat Loaf, which looks at the Pythons’
contribution to music. This is all
wrapped up by a hilarious South Park tribute to Monty Python, which starts as a
spoof of the famous parrot sketch and ends up ingeniously poking fun at Terry
Gilliam’s unforgettable animation style.
Disc two boasts the lost German episode #2 (in English),
which is hysterical. You won’t
forget the philosophical football game, or the story of Happy Valley, where the
people are always happy, or else!
If you love Python, this two disc set is a real treat.
It shows you the ins and outs of some of the famous sketches and films,
takes you up close and personal with the members of the troupe, gives you some
hysterical and hard to find goodies, and shows the boys together again, doing
what they always did best.
No real complaints…this looks about as good as an old
television show could look, and in some cases, considerably better than re-runs
of the Flying Circus you might have caught on late night TV over the
years. There are some natural
limitations owing to the videotape sources, but nothing bad or distracting, and
nothing that could be considered a transfer flaw.
Likewise, this is a serviceable Dolby Stereo mix, which
sounds fine, but is unspectacular by nature, and if it occasional hints at its
age, that’s to be expected. There
certainly are no issues of clarity or distracting noise, so you can consider it
an adequately satisfying experience.
In a set as full of material as this is, it’s difficult
to ascertain what the features are, if any, but I think you can count the
website promo, two trivia games, and the clip from the troupe’s first German
episode as bonuses, because they aren’t listed on the box.
Like Python? Try Life of Python, a terrific double-disc compilation of rarities, information and treats to those of us who know all the words to the Lumberjack Song or can recite the Spanish Inquisition sketch verbatim.