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Case Number 08708: Small Claims Court

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Monty Python's Flying Circus: John Cleese's Personal Best

A&E // 2006 // 56 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // March 1st, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Eric Profancik is actually a wizard named "Tim."

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus Collector's Set (published November 19th, 2008), Monty Python's Flying Circus: Sets 1 and 2 (published October 7th, 1999), Monty Python's Flying Circus: Sets 3 and 4 (published November 23rd, 1999), Monty Python's Flying Circus: Sets 5 and 6 (published May 1st, 2000), Monty Python's Flying Circus: Set 7 (published December 4th, 2000), Monty Python's Flying Circus: Eric Idle's Personal Best (published October 12th, 2005), Monty Python's Flying Circus: Graham Chapman's Personal Best (published March 21st, 2006), Monty Python's Flying Circus: Michael Palin's Personal Best (published August 30th, 2005), Monty Python's Flying Circus: Terry Gilliam's Personal Best (published April 5th, 2006), and Monty Python's Flying Circus: Terry Jones' Personal Best (published March 15th, 2006) are also available.

The Charge

Gone, but never missed.

The Case

At the age of 96, John Cleese left this world. He left a legacy of brilliant humor that will long entertain us. Many will remember him as Basil Fawlty, others will be more current and think of him as Q, but his enduring legacy is as one of the infamous members of the famous Monty Python's Flying Circus.

So goes the overarching theme of this release, the death of John Cleese. No, he really isn't dead, but that doesn't stop the DVD from pretending he is. That's one of the things I really like about these "best of" releases; they try to give you just a bit more than just clips. Instead of only slapping together a few bits onto a disc, they dream up some theme, create some new material, and end up with a touch of extra value. (The Best of Michael Palin DVD, for example, centered on the fish dance sketch.) As John is giving his last interview before his passing, he talks about the show and what he liked—or what he thinks he remembers he likes. Then we see the clips and think how much we like them too.

But there's an odd problem with this disc: there's not a lot of Python. The running time is 56 minutes, but the first 15 minutes is just one sketch (John's favorite fairy tale involving a king who loves his electric organ and gives lethal tasks to suitor princes). During the next forty minutes, a good ten minutes of that is the faux interview, leaving only 30 minutes for other bits. Maybe because the skits are still funny and fresh after all this time, it doesn't seem like you get much. It passes by too quickly. There just isn't much "best of" in this best of release.

In addition to the deathbed interview, the disc has a few more extra goodies. First up is a quick featurette, "A Look into the Real John Cleese." It purports to show you that John isn't dead, isn't 96, and isn't quite that cranky and senile. Yet, in true Python fashion, you still don't get the real John Cleese, just more silliness. Rounding things out are a John Cleese quiz (fifteen questions) and a Cleese biography.

What do the transfers look like? Nothing spectacular. Neither the audio or video have any errors, but the older television footage looks its age, with muted colors, soft blacks, weak details, and some dirt. You won't have any problems hearing anything, however. The new interview footage looks quite good and is crisp and clean.

I've never been willing to shell out the big bucks for the complete Monty Python set, so I've believed these "best of" releases are a good idea for some segment of the audience. And though this disc contains perhaps my all-time favorite skit, "Upper Class Twit of the Year," I have to hold back a recommendation. There's just not enough material to warrant a purchase.

Court adjourned.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 75

Perp Profile

Studio: A&E
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 56 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Foreign
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Behind-the-Scenes: A Look into the Real John Cleese
• Trivia Game
• Biography

Accomplices

• IMDb








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