It’s an obvious declaration, coming from just one of a zillion devoted acolytes: The Monty Python nexus of Cleese-Palin-Jones-Gilliam-Idle-Chapman was the most inventive and funniest comedy ensemble ever to battle a giant penguin. All the same, die-hard Pythonians have had to make do with beggars’ rations, recycling the same three masterful movies (the skit films hardly count) and hoping with each season that PBS will buttress up a fund drive with Flying Circus reruns. (The LPs helped over the decades, particularly Matching Tie and Handkerchief, which had the most original material on what was in effect three not-so-long-playing sides.) Look how DVD comes to the rescue: a 16-disc brick featuring all 45 Flying Circus episodes, including several sex-choked shows never screened on our public broadcasting. Very few of us need to be told how much of a life jacket this could be on our soggiest days. In fact, only the brothers Marx built such a cohesive body of proto-surrealist work, epitomizing the liberation of irrational élan. Supplements include bios, Gilliam galleries, previews of upcoming episodes (!), post-Python career surveys, etc.—and two extra discs of live performances and an episode executed entirely in German, complete with an all-cow rendition of The Merchant of Venice, subtitled in German and sub-subtitled in English.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 11, 2005