Monty Python Live! (2001) - DVD Review
By Widge - posted 11.12.01 @ 4:26 am
Directed by: Terry Hughes & Ian MacNaughton
Released by: A&E Home Video
My Advice: Own It.
This is actually a very decent set of Python. Having seen everything before (except for "Parrot Sketch Not Included", which somehow I missed first go-round), this disc is a welcome reminder that the material just defies getting old. "Hollywood Bowl" has some classic moments that I had forgotten, including Eric Idle's refusal to end the "Travel Agent" sketch and John Cleese selling "Albatross!" at the top of his lungs in the audience. Most excellent.
Probably the funniest segment on the set, though, is the "Live at Aspen" presentation. It's hard to tell what's scripted and what's not as they discuss the past with host Robert Klein--and even the late Graham Chapman puts in an appearance, housed in a small urn. The bit that follows involving said urn is so silly it beggars description, and it shows that none of them (Graham included) has lost their knack for being completely out of control.
"Parrot Sketch Not Included," once you wade through the Steve Martin intro, is actually a really good compilation of Python's Greatest Hits for the majority of its running time. And the Fliegender Zirkus episode is worthwhile, if for no other reason than to see cows performing Shakespeare in German. With subtitles.
As far as extras above and beyond go, the careerographies for the Pythonites are rather good. Even the Pythonism dictionary has some humorous bits to offer. As for the "Critics" and "Musings," they're just snippits of various Python sketches for a couple of minutes, and seem like something you'd find as an afterthought on the Comedy Central.
The only beef I have with the set is not the aforementioned subtitles for the German episode, but the second set of subtitles. If it sounds like something out of Python sketch, maybe that was the point of A&E trying this. But anything that was not covered by the already existing English subtitles is taken care of here. I mean...everything. Everything from little bits that need no translation like the word "Nein" to sound effects like applause and mooing. It's just annoying as hell to be able to understand that cows are mooing and have to deal with "(mooing)" coming up on the screen. In some cases, the subtitles obscure what's going on in the episode--which is just over the top obnoxious. And the capper is that you can't turn the bloody things off. I'm all for subtitles for those who have problems hearing, but at least make them optional for the rest of us, please.
Other than that, I'm very pleased with this set, as I march further towards having a complete DVD Python collection. Anyone else wanting a good dose of silliness should purchase as well.