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A&E Home Video presents
Monty Python's Flying Circus: Set Seven—Volume 14 (1974)

"I want a full-scale red alert throughout the world. Surround everyone with everything we've got!"
- Supreme Commander of all Military Forces (Palin)

Review By: Zark Plummer   
Published: September 17, 2000

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

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (exaggerated violence)
Run Time: 01h:30m:00s
Release Date: August 29, 2000
UPC: 733961700886
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ C+C+B- B+

DVD Review

The last three MPFC episodes, where things are definitely falling apart. Now that Cleese is gone, things just aren't the same.

Episode 43: "Hamlet"
Recorded: 11/2/74
Aired: 11/29/74

"It's a model I've been making in the dark for some years now"
— Father-in-Law (Chapman)

Sketches: Bogus Psychiatrists, Nationwide, Police helmets, Father-in law, Hamlet and Ophelia, Boxing Match Aftermath, Boxing Commentary, Piston Engine (a bargain), A Room in Polonius's (sic) house, Live from Epsom, Queen Victoria Handicap

Things are definitely different when the animated MPFC intro isn't the first thing you see. Instead we start with Hamlet seeing a string of pseudo-shrinks who are only concerned with how he plans to make out with a girl. Next is Nationwide, where they study the phenomenon of sitting down. Unfortunately, their reporter on the street has a run in with a Bobbie who goes on about police helmets and takes things from passerbys. This segues into the Father-in-Law sketch where a young couple must deal with her father sleeping in their bed with them. Only after this do we get the show's intro (very disconcerting). On to Hamlet and Ophelia; Ophelia wants to know how Hamlet plans to make out with a girl. Next, a boxing champ is praised by his manager, even though the Champ lost and is literally in pieces. Then we hear the rematch between the Champ and the Killer on the radio in a hospital room. The Champ loses his head in this match, too. But, hey, the ringside fans paid up to $920 thousand million (or was it $1.5 million?) for their seats. After that, Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Gorilla and Mrs. Smoker tell their "non"-counterparts how they bought a piston engine because it was a bargain. Room in Polonius's (sic) House is only a cover for an announcement of European Cup scores. Live from Epsom is a description of the town of Epsom and the site of the Queen Victoria Handicap. And yes, Queen Victoria wins (of course, the deck was stacked - ). One will note that the credits run a listing for one J. Cleese, because although he was no longer with the troupe, some of the writing was his. We sign off with Palin doing a young version of the "It's.." man. Only this time he says, "And then - ".

Strongest moment(s): Queen Victoria Handicap. Must be tough jumping those hedgerows in all that garb.
Weakest moment(s): All the Hamlet sketches. Just seemed like they were beating a joke to death.

Episode rating: Two and a half dead parrots out of five.




Episode 44: "Mr. Neutron"
Recorded: 11/9/74
Aired: 11/28/74

"I'm not an Eskimo!"
— Storekeeper (Palin)

Sketches: Post-Box Ceremony, Mr. And Mrs. Entrail (or) Mr. Neutron, F.E.A.R. (or) Mr. Neutron is Missing, Teddy Salad, Secretary of State and Prime Minister, Bombing, Mrs. Scum, Teddy Salad Explodes, Mr. Neutron Escapes, Conjuring Today

After the animated intro (where it should be), we open with a call-for-arms as the townswomen bring their weapons of mass destruction to the collector's wagon. Then we have a ceremonious post-box "opening" in multiple languages. Next we're introduced to Mr. Neutron, the most dangerous man in the world. The rest of the episode follows the goings-on of Mr. Neutron (which isn't much) and a government agency's desperate (and blindly ruthless) search to find Neutron. The agency is called FEAR—the Federal Egg Answering Room—but that's just a front for FEEBLE—the Freeworld Extra-Earthly Bodies Location and Extermination center. FEEBLE's agent is looking for the one man who can find Neutron—Teddy Salad (yes, as in lettuce, tomatoes, that sort of thing). Salad was a top agent and is now living as a dog in the Yukon. After a few meatballs and walkies, Salad starts to tell the agent where Neutron is. But before Salad can finish, he explodes. Meanwhile the Commander of all Military Forces, who apparently has a body odor problem, orders mass bombings all over the world to flush out Neutron. Unfortunately, all that accomplishes is destroying the planet. Neutron escapes with his new love, Mrs. S-C-U-M. We don't get to se the supposedly expensive and elaborate end of the story, but we do see Conjuring Today, where a magician is going to attempt to saw a woman into three pieces. By the look of the saw he's holding though, he hasn't had much success.

Strongest moment(s): The bit where the military truck is driving through a bombed-out city and apologizing for bombing them.
Weakest moment(s): All of the Mr. Neutron scenes. The Teddy Salad bit went on too long too, maybe that's why they had him explode.

Episode rating: Two dead parrots out of five.




Episode 45: "Party Political Broadcast"
Recorded: 11/16/74
Aired: 12/5/74

"Beans!!!" — Terry Gilliam

Sketches: The Most Awful Family in Britain, Icelandic Honey Week, Patient Abuse, Brigadier and Bishop, Appeal on Behalf of Extremely Rich People, The Man Who Finishes Other People's Sentences, The Walking Tree of Dahomey, Batsmen of the Kalahari vs. Warwickshire, BBC News

We open this very last episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus with the third place finishers of The Most Awful Family in Britain. We then get a peek at the family who placed second—the first place winners were too awful to broadcast. Next we have the door-to-door sale of honey imported TO Iceland and on to the opening sequence. Then it's modern medical treatment in Patient Abuse, where the patient must fill out a form filled with trivia questions before he bleeds to death. The Brigadier and The Bishop is a thin cover for a near-gay interlude. After an opera singer gets blown up in slow motion in a Gilliam sketch, we have an extremely rich person asking people to send no money to him. The Man Who Finishes Other People's Sentences helps people who have been cutoff in conversations too many times. Then it's a nature show on The Walking Tree of Dahomey, where our intrepid guide never catches up with the migrating plant, but does run across the batsmen of the Kalahari. We then have a chance to view a cricket match between the batsmen and Warwickshire. Since the batsmen are bowling spears, the Warwickshire team (all with the last name of Pratt) loses due to injuries. The closing credit music starts out as an amateurish guitar playing of the Monty Python theme music (Sousa's Liberty Bell March) and then changes to the standard orchestral playing. And last—and least—we're sent off with a woman dancing on a table while sports scores are read by an announcer.

Strongest moment(s): The match between the batsmen of the Kalahari and Warwickshire.
Weakest moment(s): Icelandic Honey Week—yes, it's very weak.

Episode rating: Two dead parrots out of five.


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

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: The picture quality is certainly acceptable for a 30-year-old television series, and is significantly better than the image on the programs from the first season of the show. The quality of the old Python shows was a hit and miss affair in the original showing. Sometimes, they look like they were shot with a Kodak and a flashlight. All in all, as good a quality as can be expected from the source.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The DD 2.0 mono sound is very good for 30-years-old. The sound was never very great in the original series and probably purposely so. I guess they never thought these frivoulous comedy bits with the asides and mangled language would survive this long.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 29 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. A Trivial Quest—"For Gumbys" and "For Upper Class Twits"
  2. Life of Python sketch
  3. Babbling Blokes sketches
  4. Information on how to got to pythonshop.com, the Monty Python web site.
  5. Gilliam's Attic
Extras Review: A Trivial Quest - "For Gumbys" and "For Upper Class Twits" is an amusing chance to show off one's Python trivia prowess.

Life of Python sketch features John Cleese doing a very funny bit as a news reporter celebrating the 30th anniversary of the first broadcast of Monty Python that turns into a rant against the BBC—for which he gets suitably "corrected."

Babbling Blokes is three sketches related to odd word usage featuring the Toad Elevating Moment sketch from episode 26, The Man Who Says Words in the Wrong Order sketch from episode 36, and The Man Who Speaks in Anagrams sketch from episode 30. The first two feature Cleese.

Gilliam's Attic allows followers of Terry's outrageous animations to participate in little interactive bits using illustrations.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

It's clear to see that Cleese had a point in leaving when he did. Some of the sketches don't seem well thought out. This disc is still a must for MPFC completists, but I couldn't recommend it to just anybody.

 


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