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Monty Python Live! (2001) - DVD Review

By Widge - posted 11.12.01 @ 4:26 am
monty python live dvd cover


Directed by: Terry Hughes & Ian MacNaughton
Written by & Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones & Michael Palin


  • Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982)
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: Live at Aspen (1998)
  • Parrot Sketch Not Included: 20 Years of Python (1989)
  • Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus: Episode #1 (1972)
  • "Post-Python Troupe Highlights"
  • "Pythonisms" - a dictionary of Pythonic terms
  • "Bleeding Critics" & "Confusing Musings" - small tidbits from various Python shows

Released by: A&E Home Video
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: N/A, appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Own It.

Those whacked out boys from across the pond return--well, not really, none of this stuff is quite new--but at least they return to DVD. Only two of the four bits included are actually live, but it's Python and it's funny, so who cares? In addition to those aforementioned two live bits, we have the Steve Martin-hosted "Parrot Sketch Not Included" as well as the first of the two episodes that Team Python did for German and Austrian television.

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.

monty python live judges

"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.

monty python live australian

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.

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Widgett Walls is Need Coffee's Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. He is the author of the novel Mystics on the Road to Vanishing Point, and two collections of short stories, Magnificent Desolation and Something Else: The Complete First Season. He is also co-author of the children's book There's a Zombie in My Treehouse! All of those books are available in paperback or for the Kindle from Amazon. He is also the narrator and publisher of the first unabridged recording of Seneca's letters, available here. He is active on both Twitter and Facebook. (If you befriend him on Facebook, do say you came via Need Coffee.) He lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. He hardly ever sleeps.

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