In WW2 France, Rene Artois runs a small café where Resistance fighters, Gestapo men, German Army officers and escaped Allied POWs interact daily, ignorant of one another's true identity or presence, exasperating Rene.
The irreverent Monty Python comedy troupe present a series of skits which are often surreal, bawdy, uncompromising and/or tasteless, but nearly always hilarious. Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
The first few episodes were filmed in front of an older audience, due to the BBC Program Planners. Apparently, some of these older people thought they were actually going to see a circus. Many of the audience members didn't really understand what was happening, and the cast realized they weren't laughing as much as they should. Consequently, they asked family and friends to come to the studio for tapings so that there would be more laughter. Eventually, the BBC Planners recruited younger audience members, but also aired the show at a later hour, making it difficult to get younger viewers at home. As a result, the Monty Python troupe were constantly poking fun at BBC Program Planners, insinuating that they were uneducated and dim: stupider than penguins, easily replaced by penguins, being unable to be a Planner if you've got a degree, and even an entire sketch in "The Light Entertainment War," where particularly stupid Planners sit around a table talking nonsense. See more »
Depending on the content of the individual shows, the credits were changed accordingly, often appearing in anagrams (Tony M. Nyphot's Flying Risccu), with a different title completely (The Buzz Aldrin Show) or with strange additions to the names of the cast and crew, such as various foodstuffs, sex toys and political gambits. See more »
Six blokes getting paid for being silly (oh yes, and changing comedy forever)
With hindsight, it seems possible that we can praise the Pythons too much. But you have to look at what they did in the context of its time.
They blew a massive hole in the conventions of not only television comedy, but television itself. They used (and abused) the medium to what was then the limit of its potential: no thirty-second "blackout" skits, no contrived punchlines (except in the name of self-mocking irony), performers falling out of character and addressing the audience, skits being intruded by characters from a previous sketch, or even an entirely different episode (so you had to pay attention!), stream-of-consciousness animated links, absurd props (the 16 ton weight)... and they claim they merely threw it all together when the BBC approached them to make a "satirical sketch show" in the vein of "The Frost Report" or "TW3".
Not only that, but they have influenced probably every comedy writer and performer of note ever since.
The Pythons are either authentic, top-drawer geniuses, or the six luckiest opportunists who ever lived - probably a bit of both! They caught the BBC with its knickers down and took advantage.
OK, so the shows look their age, and much of the material is rambling, patchy, hit-and-miss stuff. But we only remember the good bits, and it is those good bits which will ensure the place in television history of Messrs Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Palin and Jones for many years to come.
Lavishing praise on a thirty-two-year-old television series? It all seems a bit silly to me...
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