A&E // 2005 // 56 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // August 30th, 2005
Who doesn't love Monty Python? It's one of the most originally zany television shows ever to grace us with its presence. I didn't become aware of this show until I went to college, where my roommate turned out to be a huge fan of the series. From him, I garnered an appreciation of the unique humor of the show. The complete BBC series has long been available on DVD, but I have never given serious consideration to wanting to own it. Why? Because as deliciously irreverent and funny as the show is, there are innumerable bits that drag on for too long or aren't particularly funny to me. With this "best of" release, fans like me can now own a sampling of the show.
This release, the second of six, should perfectly fit the bill and satisfy that Python craving. As each member of the troupe is given the opportunity to pick their "personal best" bits from the series, how could you go wrong? We should see but the crème de la crème and laugh our butts off (be it two- or three-cheeked). It certainly did start off that way with some great stuff, but as is the case for Python, I wasn't laughing at everything. Most notably is the "Dinsdale" sketch, which goes on for at least ten minutes; considering the DVD runs only 56 minutes, that's a huge chunk of time to allot to a sketch that's only borderline humorous. On the whole, Palin did pick some excellent sketches, and even tossed in "The Cheese Shop" and the "Fish Slapping Dance" for good measure. The latter is even used in a new bit to create a theme for the disc. I am surprised at how many skits feature Palin in a supporting role and not the lead.
Make sure you take a moment to read the packaging, for it is riddled with some pithy Python comments, many of which are spot on the mark and could actually spur some interesting discussion. For example, "How the DVD Process Works: The imperfections of the original ANALOG Monty Python shows have been analyzed and painstakingly reproduced as DIGITAL imperfections." It's one of their newer, older jokes, but what better way to summarize what you'll see in the transfers? The show itself is over thirty years old, and that age is apparent in a soft transfer with muted colors, mediocre detail, and a nice selection of dirt, flecks, and scratches. In due consideration, it actually doesn't look quite so bad for something its age. On the flipside, the new bits included on the disc absolutely sparkle. The audio fares about equally as its video counterpart with a clear but somewhat hollow track. Shamefully, subtitles are not included, which would have been amusing during the Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfernschplendenschlittercrasscrenbonfrieddiggerdingledangledongledungleburstein vonknackerthrasherapplebangerhorowitzticolensicgranderknottyspelltinklegrandlichgrumblemeyerspelterwasserkurstlichhimbleeisenbahnwagengutenabendbitteeinnürnburgerbratwustlegerspurtenmitzweimacheauuberhundsfutgumberabershönendankerkalbsfleischmittlerauchervonHautkopft of Ulm sketch.
In an effort to not be complete sell outs, in addition to the sprinkling of new footage with Palin, the disc includes three bonus items. First up is "Michael Palin's Personal Second Best" (11.5 minutes). Included here are three more sketches that are best described as second best. Next up is a fifteen question, text-based trivia game (where I scored a whopping six!), and lastly is a Palin biography.
While the packaging says, "For the Python lover, they're concentrated joy. For the novice, a dangerously addictive substance to be administered with care," I believe that's a bit of exaggerated bravado. Fans may be disappointed with the set, seeing as they probably already own the complete series. But for those in my situation, mild fans of the show, this might be a nice place to start your collection.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 56 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Michael Palin's Personal Second Best
* Trivia Game
* Michael Palin's Biography
* Python Online