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A&E Home Video presents

Monty Python's Flying Circus: Set Seven—Volume 13 (1973)

"You spotty sassenach pillock...!"- Louis XIV or XV or.... (Palin)

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

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes, full frontal nudity)
Run Time: 01h:30m:00s
Release Date: 2000-08-29
Genre: television

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


DVD Review

Will the X-Files go on sans Duchovny? Will Spin City recover from the loss of MJF? Did MPFC survive without John Cleese? Well, yes, but not for long...and to think folks complained when Seinfeld closed up shop—after nine seasons!


Episode 40: "The Golden Age of Ballooning"
Recorded: 10/12/74
Aired: 10/31/74

The Montgolfier Brothers, Montgolfier Brothers in Love, Louis XIV, The Court of George III, Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of the Norwegian Party and Zeppelin

"And now, another chance to see a repeat of this morning's re-run of last night's second showing of episode two of the award-winning series, 'The Golden Age of Ballooning'"
- Voiceover

Opens without titles—one of only 2 episodes in the series to skip the opening completely. The foppish Montgolfier brothers (Jones and Idle) prepare for their first flight in their new invention but seem more obsessed with which body parts to wash (or not - .) They receive a visit from their patron, a man posing as (the deceased) Louis XIV (Palin), but seem unable to offer His Majesty a glass of Claret due to their inept butler (Chapman). Accused of NOT being Louis XIV ("All right, Louis XVI!... listen to me, smartarse, when you're King of France,... you've got better things to do than go around all day remembering your bloody number!"), the imposter runs off with the brothers' secrets, leading us into the Court of George III, where he then claims to be Louis XVIII, donning a tam o'shanter and a highlands accent. Followed by a half-naked Joseph Montgolfier, the fake King of France is foiled in his plan to sell the balloon specs to England, and King George promptly goes mad, albeit a tad early.

The closing credits run, but we're not done yet. A brief word from the Norwegian political party, after which the 'The Golden Age of Ballooning' evolves to its next phase, the Zeppelin. The dirigible's inventor (Chapman) is in his airship with a group of German notables, and one-by-one they insist on calling it a "balloon"; one-by-one, he tosses them out; one-by-one they land in a pile in the drawing room of a home below.

Actually, for a one-trick pony, this is a balanced and funny episode. Palin is his smarmy best as Louis whatever and Carol Cleveland is, as always, the trooper, this time suspended from the rafters for an extended scene.

Strongest Moment: The Montgolfiers' conversation as it disintegrates into personal hygiene.
Weakest Moment(s): The noted lack of John Cleese.

Episode rating: 3-1/2 dead parrots out of 5.

Episode 41: Michael Ellis
Recorded: 10/19/74
Aired: 11/7/74

Department Store, Buying an Ant, At Home with the Ant and Other Pets, Documentary on Ants, Complaints, Ant Poetry Readings, Toupees and Different Endings

"What d'you want one of them for! I'm not going to clean it out. You said you'd clean the tiger out, but do you? No...I suppose you've lost interest in it now. Now it'll be ant, ant, ant for a couple of days, then all of a sudden, 'Oh, mum, I've bought a sloth' or some other odd-toed ungulate, like a tapir."
- Mum (Jones)

In front of a department store, a doorman (Palin) opens the door of a Rolls-Royce to assist a customer (Jones) which triggers a short series of injuries. Inside, another customer (Idle) arrives at a counter where an assistant (Chapman) mistakes him for a man called Michael Ellis. After a bit of silliness with various disguises, another assistant (Palin) helps him choose a pet ant and its various accoutrements. As they finish up the deal, Palin accidentally calls him Mr. Ellis, and Idle leaves befuddled.

At home, Idle proudly shows his mum (Jones) his new pet, but she complaints bitterly listing all the animals he brings home, all the while filling food dishes marked gorilla, pachyderm, etc. He sits down to watch the telly and manages to find a show about ants, by which he discovers his pet is missing 2 legs! While Mum manages the tiger, he returns to the store.

Idle is sent to complain to the Toupee Office, but ends up at a Victorian poetry reading, where the theme is 'uh-huh' ants. Chapman is hilarious and stunning in a lavender-ish dress, with a dead animal stole, drunkenly calling the readers to stand. Palin enters as Good Queen Bess, speaking in German and pining for her Albert. The Toupees sketch continues to frustrate our unhappy ant owner, who finally finds the Complaints department, where he is offered a variety of endings for the episode.

Strongest Moment: Jones in the kitchen with the tiger.
Weakest Moment: A bit of a stretch to theme the entire episode on a pet ant.

Episode rating: 3 dead parrots out of 5.

Episode 42: The Light Entertainment War
Recorded: 10/26/74
Aired: 11/14/74

"Yes! Coming to this cinema soon! The tender, compassionate story of one man's love for another man in drag. Thrill! To the excitement of a night emission over Germany. Thrill! When the pilot, Jennifer has to choose between his secret love for Louis, the hot-blooded bisexual navigator and Andy, the rear gunner, who, though quite assertive with girls, tends to take the submissive role in his relationships with men - ."
-Voiceover (Palin)

Sketches:Up Your Pavement, RAF Banter, Trivializing the War, Courtmartial, Anything Goes In, Film Trailer, The Public are Idiots, Programme Titles Conference, Woody and Tinny Words, Show-Jumping and Newsflash—When Does a Dream Begin?

Who could be happier than 2 homeless folks dancing up the street, one with 2 cigarettes in his mouth? The man who runs them over, Alex Diamond? His proctologist, Dr. Emile Koning? Or is it the chairman of Fiat, who once said, "Che cosa e lo succiacatori do polli? (What is a hen-teaser?)"

The next four sketches highlight the exasperating way that Brit "Ol' Boys" have of bantering incoherently to one another—seems they don't quite get it either. Walters (Idle) goes too far and is court-martialed for Trivializing the War. Colonel Fawcett (Palin) begins his prosecution, which eventually breaks down:
Fawcett: What sir?
Presiding General (Jones): How did he oblige them?
Fawcett: to make them happy in little ways, sir. The total value of the uniform could therefore not have been less than....
Presiding General: Did he touch them at all?
Fawcett: Sir! I submit that this is totally irrelevant.
Presiding General: I want to know how he made them happy.
Fawcett: He used to ram things up their. -
Presiding General: All right! All right! No need to spell it out!

The trial falls to the usual over-the-top nonsense, and after Film Trailer we come to the opening credits, and the find out The Public are Idiots, but apparently so are the men in charge of programming at the BBC. In a 1920s-style parlor, we discover what words sound "woody" and which sound "tinny" and which words Carol Cleveland won't stand for.

The episode ends with a nice bit of Motorcross that seems more like Show-Jumping, a reference to The Sound of Music and the musical question "When Does a Dream Begin?"

Strongest Moment: Gilliam as a punkawalla, used as the telly's remote control.Weakest Moment: It continued, I laughed, but it just isn't the same without Cleese.

Episode rating: 2.5 dead parrots out of 5.

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


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: All the discs I have reviewed in this series are pretty much the same—bad source material accounting for a low-quality look. The colors are washed out, black levels weak and outdoor bits showing their age more than the studio scenes. It is a shame these treasures of televised comedy weren't treated with more care in the 25-30 years since their original broadcast. But to their credit, there are really no over-enhancements attempted, no pixelization or color bleeds. No dust or dirt, actually rather clean. I believe A&E did the best we could hope for.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Again, a very good job considering the age and condition of the source material available. The audio is sufficient, even and balanced throughout, and seems to have held up better over time than the image has.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 27 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Useless tidbits and "pythonisms" (definition of Python terms)
  2. Meet the Chaps
  3. "GilliAnimations"
  4. Fliegender Zirkus and Linguistic Lashings
  5. Weblink to A&E's
Extras Review: The standard 5 extras are included on this disc.

- "GilliAnimations", a particularly funny selection from this 30's-inspired animator

- Fliegender Zirkus , a teaser sketch matching German and Greek philosphers on the playing field; Linguistic Lashings features a smattering of mad ramblings from various sketches

The same fabulous interface (even if a bit vertically annoying) with fun, Gilliam-esque animation, a job well done.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

We are obviously near the end of this groundbreaking collaboration in its best and tightest form. It is difficult to say if this final season, sans Cleese, seems to sag without him, or if he was right in his assessment that it was headed that way in either case - . This is not a bad season, not their worst episodes, but a bit like egg bacon SPAM and sausage—without the SPAM.

debi lee mandel 2000-09-17