The beauty of the Monty Python comedy gang is that their comedy has not aged or dated itself like many troupes of their generation. Long after they are all gone the sum of their work, from Monty Python and the Flying Circus and their trilogy of films to the individual contributions they have made to the art of comedy, will be heads and shoulders above any other. And while their works have been released and rereleased, many times the reflection back has not stopped just yet. And for those who didn’t want to buy an entirely new set for Python sketches merely for a couple documentaries and the “missing sketch,” The Other British Invasion is a two-disc DVD set designed for you.
Invasion is comprised of two discs, with a documentary on each:
Before the Flying Circus is a documentary on the six chaps about their time before Python. Presented in Black and White, it’s an absolutely fascinating look at the early days of the Pythons before they came together as Monty Python. Featuring all sorts of material they were in during the 1960s on the BBC, including rare pictures of early performances on Broadway in their 20s as parts of various acting troupes, it’s a no holds barred look at their comedy careers. Featuring interviews from everyone involved outside of Chapman, obviously, its must watch viewing on the Pythons. It follows them from childhood to their peak years, spending plenty of time on their work beforehand in tremendous detail. You get to see early sketches and the foundations of the brand of humor that would turn into some of the characters and sketches that would become comedic history. It’s a rare look at the group of men who wanted to do what they wanted to do on their own terms, a rare set of “arrogance” as Cleese says, who reinvented British comedy in a way that’s still felt today.
Monty Python Conquers America is a piece on Python’s influence on American comedy. Featuring Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the men behind South Park), Luke Wilson and other American comedy stars. Focusing on how the series came to America, the Pythons’ first attempt was And now for something completely different which didn’t get a release in the United States in part to the “Twit of the Year” sketch until long after it had been filmed. Python would gain a foothold in America via their comedy albums, which resulted in a release amongst New York area hipsters. They relate a story about their first exposure to U.S audiences, on the “Tonight Show,” which was an absolute disaster. Selling it to PBS as perhaps their best chance of finding an audience, it’s a retrospective on how the troupe came to be as popular as they became back in their heyday and still are.
Presented in a full screen format with Dolby 2.0, this is a rather lackluster transfer. Comprised mainly of grainy older footage, as well as black and white for the first documentary, it’s good enough to watch but isn’t quite up to the snuff that most other A&E releases usually have in terms of a/v.
Both extra features are located on the first disc.
Animated Gilliam is a sixteen minute feature with Gilliam discussing some of his animation that went into the show, some of which he hadn’t seen in years.
Politically Incorrect is the “lost” Python sketch “Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of the Conservative and Union Party” and was included in the last Monty Python and the Flying Circus complete series.
Unless you passed on the new Monty Python set because you owned the first, this DVD release doesn’t’ rehash anything new beyond a feature with Gilliam’s animation. Unless you didn’t trade in your old set for the new one like plenty of people did, don’t buy or rent this.
A&E presents The Other British Invasion: Monty Python. Starring John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam. Running time: 110 minutes. Not Rated. Released on DVD: October 27, 2009. Available at Amazon.
Tags: Monty Python