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A&E Home Video presents
Monty Python's Flying Circus: Set Three—Volume 6 (1970)

"Well, don't you see, that was exactly the kind of explicit sexual reference I'm objecting to. It's titillation for the sake of it. A deliberate attempt at cheap sensationalism. I don't care what the so-called avant-garde, left wing, intellectual namby-pambies say... It is filth!"
- A Nude Man (Graham Chapman)

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: July 10, 2000

Stars: John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam
Other Stars: Carol Cleveland, Connie Booth
Director: Ian McNaughton

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes, full frontal nudity)
Run Time: 01h:02m:00s
Release Date: November 16, 1999
UPC: 733961700473
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ C+B-B- C+

DVD Review

To describe the impact of this never-before-imagined humor at the time is just not possible. Neil and Buzz on the moon, sitting in the front row at the premier of Star Wars, the death of John Lennon: there are those moments when you "just had to be there" to understand.

It was high school for me, PBS-WTTW, Park Ridge, Illinois. The guys had discovered this naughty, hilarious program that aired on Friday nights. We (the girls) sat down to watch because that's where the boys were. From the opening titles, I could not believe this was a show on TV—they not only alluded to "naughty bits" but actually SHOWED them—and somehow anything else on TV seemed surreal and mirthless, like "they" had been somehow lying to us, holding something better, back. (Remember, we had the Viet Nam war on the news during dinner every night—or was that just my house?) Some things happen that change us forever, for better or worse, individually or en masse. The latter is often labeled as a "phenomenon," and the Python boys were just that.

(By the way, we eventually dumped the guys, watched it on our own. My little brother recounts this in his review of MPFC Set One—Volume 1 here.)


Episode 17: "The Buzz Aldrin Show"
Recorded: 09/18/70
Aired: 10/20/70

Architect Sketch, How to give up being a Mason, Insurance Sketch, "The Bishop", Living room on pavement, Poets, A choice of viewing, Chemist Sketch and Police Constable Pan-Am.

The thread of this episode is majestically twilled by the ever-popular Gumbys, who out in force to introduce the first skit (again and again). Hearing this annoyance, Chapman tosses water out of the window on them, and thus The Architects Sketch begins. Several clients await presentation from 2 competing designers who have created maquettes for a residential block. The first (Cleese) presents his concept but soon understands he will not be chosen—
Client 1 (Palin): "Excuse me, did you say 'knives'?"
Mr. Wiggin (Cleese): "Ah, rotating, yes."
Client 2 (Jones): "You weren't planning to slaughter our tenants...?"
Mr. Wiggin: "Does that not fit in with your plans?"
—assuming it is because he is not a Mason.... The next architect (Idle) also meets with disaster but as he IS a Mason, well.... On to a very silly bit about how to recognize a Mason which transforms to a Gilliam animation, How to give up being a Mason.

Next, the Gumbys introduce the Insurance Sketch, some lovely nonsense featuring Palin (as Mr. Devious), Chapman as "Straight Man" and something very silly concerning a vicar and a nude lady. As this sketch wears down, in bursts "The Bishop" to save the show. A hilarious send-up on the popular "The Saint" series, complete with its own titles and credits, this bishop (Jones) attempts to save various men-of-the-cloth from impending disasters, always a bit too late. The brief Living room on pavement sketch is only a segue to one about a poet in every home.

A choice of viewing gives us a censorship debate that includes an intolerant Naked Man (Chapman), followed by a Gilliam piece which ends overlaid by the Gumbys introducing the very funny Chemist Sketch. Cleese appears to be a chemist fond of humiliating his customers, and is replaced by a "less naughty chemist" and finally a "not at all naughty chemist." This last, played by Palin, goes above and beyond to assist his customer (Idle) who wants a very specific aftershave lotion. On his journey, we are treated to the types of aftershave various passersby prefer, including Cardinal Ximinez (in a return performance) who claims, "I use two kinds of aftershave lotions: Frankincense, Myrrh...THREE kinds of aftershave lotions: Frankincense, Myrrh, Sanda—FOUR kinds of aftershave lotion: Frankincense...."

We end back at the Chemist's with Police Constable Pan-Am and one last BBC apology, this one to "Buzz" Aldrin.

The Architects Sketch and the Chemist Sketch are the gems here.

Strongest Moment: Cleese as Wiggin, attempting to sell his slaughterhouse-cum-apartment-complex in the first sketch is the highlight of this otherwise ho-hum (!) episode.
Weakest Moment: Sadly, quite a few, although Living room on pavement probably takes the cake (or not, in this case).

Episode rating: A kind 3 dead parrots out of 5.

Episode 18: "Live from the Grill-O-Mat"
Recorded: 09/10/70
Aired: 10/27/70

Blackmail, Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things, Escape from Film, Current affairs, Accidents, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Man Who is Alternately Rude and Polite and Ken Clean-Air System.

"And now—a letter, a hotel registration book, and a series of photographs, which could add up to divorce, premature retirement, and possible criminal proceedings for a company director in Broomsgrove. He's a freemason, and a conservative M.P., so Mr. S., that's 3,000 pounds please to stop us from revealing: your name; the name of the three other people involved; the youth organization to which they belonged and the shop where you bought the equipment!"

Blackmail host (Palin)

We are guided through this episode by Cleese's "And now...." Man who presides over the show from a table at the Grill-O-Mat snack bar in Paignton. It begins with the flashy TV show, Blackmail, hosted by a savvy, sleazy host (Palin in a smashing leopard-print suit and gold bowtie), threatening in his oh-so-charming TV way to reveal the indiscretions of certain individuals unless they call in and pay the price. Very amusing.

Cleese moves us on to the Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things sketch. The Society is holding their annual meeting with the President (Chapman) at the helm:

President: "But there is one cloud on the horizon. In this last year our Staffordshire branch has not succeeded in putting one thing on top of another! I call upon our Staffordshire delegate to explain this weird behavior."
Mr. Cutler: "Er, Cutler, Staffordshire. Um...well, Mr. Chairman, it's just that most of the members in Staffordshire feel...[the] whole thing's a bit silly."

This leads Chapman to flee the scene into the segue Escape from Film, which sends the gents through a Gilliamation and takes us back to the Grill-O-Mat where Cleese orders up our main course—prawn salad. Current Affairs is the usual nonsense talk show skit and moves us to Accidents in which Idle, by no fault of his own, appears to cause calamity, destruction and death whilst awaiting a Mr. Thompson.

Cut to the Society gents still on the run, ducking into a school theater where we begin Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the highlight of which is the appearance of a very youthful Connie Booth. Next is a Gilliam piece about Teddy and Neddy hunting piggy banks that leads to The Man Who is Alternately Rude and Polite, then back to the Grill-O-Mat and on to dessert—Ken Clean-Air System. The episode ends with apologies from Cleese, now atop a double-decker bus as the closing credits roll.

Not a huge favorite, some sluggish moments when their fabulous timing is just not there.

Strongest Moment: Palin as the Blackmail host.
Weakest Moment: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers...not much there.

Episode rating: 2.5 dead parrots out of 5.

Episode 19: "It's a Living"
Recorded: 9/10/70
Aired: 11/03/70

The time on BBC 1, School prize-giving, Films by Mr. Dibley, The News, Free Prizes, Timmy Williams interview, Raymond Luxury Yacht (listed, but actually not here - included in episode #22 on the next disc!), Getting Married and Election Night Special.

"Well, it's 5 past 9 and nearly time for 6 past 9...on BBC 2 now it'll shortly be six and a half minutes past 9. Later on this evening it'll be 10 o'clock and at 10:30 we'll be joining BBC 2 in time 10:33. And don't forget tomorrow when it'll be 9:20. Those of you who missed 8:45 on Friday will be able to see it again this Friday at a quarter to 9. Now here is a time check. It's six and a half minutes to the big green thing...."

—Voiceover (Michael Palin)

The opening title piece, It's A Living is a talk show hosted by Idle that explains where the program fees go. The above quote follows, making for a riot that goes downhill from there. If you haven't figured it by now, this is likely the sorriest disc in the lot.

From there we move through a Gilliam animation, in which there is a 20 second black screen during the title theme—something I imagine drove the network crazy when it first aired. We have Cleese as anchorman at a blacksmith's interrupting, a string of apologies, straight to the School prize-giving sketch. Here we have a variety of men claiming to be official only to be dragged under the dais and slapped about, replaced by the next and so on.

Films by Mr. Dibley features Jones as the not-so-successful short filmmaker being interviewed on a talk show. The News continually cuts to two "foreigners" putting people in a basket and tossing it into a pond. Next we have a thread in which the attempted delivery of a large amount of dung is featured that comprises Free Prizes. It ends with a couple won by an officer in a police raffle.

A Gilliam piece about classical dishes follows (Michelangelo's Adam on a sandwich, etc.). This leads into Timmy Williams interview where Idle, at his smarmy best, meets his down-on-his-luck friend (Terry Jones) and whilst the friend tries to pour his heart out, Timmy has his crew on hand to record it all.

Getting Married is a delightful "Who's on First" sort of sketch about, well, getting married.... An interesting bit of Python trivia comes in the next bit, another Gilliamation now known as the "Gangrene" sketch. About a black spot that meets another and multiplies, it was originally meant to be a cancer spot but it seems the network censors wouldn't go for it. Lastly, we have Election Night Special with a variety of Sensible and Silly Party candidates.

It may sound blasphemous to fans, but this episode is missing that certain Python something. Interesting spots within, at times, laborious skits, is the best I can say about it. No standout treasures.

Strongest Moments: Getting Married is an excellent calamity, but my favorite is the opener, The time on BBC 1.
Weakest Moments: The concept of the title piece was funny, but the sketch does not deliver.

This one was disappointing. Two dead parrots (one slightly decomposed).

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This transfer is about what we can expect from the source material. There is certainly some deterioration, mostly noted in the outdoor scenes that are soft and bleedy. Sad truth, this seems one of the better transfers in the A&E series, when other episodes are more deserving.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: As with the image, we have here only what there can be. The mono is even and all dialogue comfortably audible. As I wax nostalgic for MPFC, I find that the imperfections somehow add rather than detract. Nothing seems lost, and we should be grateful for that.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Useless tidbits and "pythonisms" (definition of Python terms)
  2. Weblink to pythonshop.com
  3. "A Trivial Quest"
  4. "Monty Queries" (quiz show sketches)
  5. "Gilliam's Attic"
Extras Review: The regular suspects. The trivia quizzes are "For Gumbys" and "For Upper Class Twits". Gilliam's Attic is a lot of silliness presented as behind-the-scenes photos. We will always want more, but this is easily fun stuff.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Completist Python fans, queue up. This A&E set is a blessing and there is nothing like finally having the entire series at our command. I have no memory of a single episode failing, so I think what we have here is that there are just some things that stand up better over time than others. While this particular disc is an unfortunate lot, it remains a must have.


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