The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus

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The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus

And now for something completely repackaged…

Creator: Monty Python's Flying Circus
Studio information: A&E Entertainment, 1479 minutes on 14 discs
Extras: Pythonisms Glossary, Gillianimations, Troupe Career Highlights, Trivial Quest, Useless Tidbits, more

Even the best comedy shows in the U.S. tend to outlast their ingenuity, limping past their prime to retire as beloved (if somewhat banal) chestnuts.

Such was the fate of the last seasons of M*A*S*H and Seinfeld, two of the all-time great comedy series. But in the U.K. it seems quality is often valued over quantity. While the two seasons of The Office is a recent example, Monty Python’s Flying Circus is the true standard-bearer. Though it was produced for only four seasons over 30 years ago, it remains the seminal sketch comedy show; the yardstick for all things funny that are beamed through a cathode ray tube. Countless lines from the show became shared language, identifying anyone who quoted them as a member of the club (or should we say cult?). This augmented reissue of the complete series adds the previously released two-DVD Monty Python Live set for a whopping 16 DVDs. So while there isn’t anything brand new here (aside from more-compact packaging), the box is an essential work in the canon of television comedy. While viewing each episode, one is reminded of the impact the show continues to have, from the extended storyline of the Piranha brothers (see Mr. Show’s Ronnie Dobbs or the Upright Citizen’s Brigade’s Little Donnie Foundation) to keen political satire such as “A Party Political Broadcast” (see SNL at its best or Chappelle’s Show). Even more remarkable is how well the material stands the test of time, while other American shows of the period, such as Laugh-In, aren’t even good camp any more.

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