I just couldn’t bring myself to give this set 5 stars. I wish it were possible to give it 4 1/2 stars.First of all, it’s true, the episodes are not 100% complete, however, many people, in my opinion, have been over-reacting about the cuts. Actually, the A&E DVD #1 has a sketch in the 2nd episode called ‘The Wacky Queen’, which was edited out of the show after the first broadcast & was never shown again on TV in the UK or abroad, as far as I know. Seasons 1 & 2 have no cuts, at least none that I spotted when comparing the DVDs to the synopsis in the Monty Python books by Jim Yoakum & Kim “Howard” Johnson. There is a slight edit of one word in the 5th episode of the 3rd season during the ‘Summarize Proust Competition’ which the BBC made to the episode before broadcast. Broadcasts outside of the UK had the uncensored version of the sketch. Unfortunately, A&E got a censored master. In the 7th episode of the same season during the ‘Biggles Dictates a Letter’ sketch, there is a slight glitch which can be blamed on slopply mastering on A&E’s part. It doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the sketch very much. The episode that appears to be worst hit is the 12th episode of season 3. A&E goofed when they included ‘Party Political Broadcast’ on the box to this episode. The sketch was edited from the master tape and hasn’t been seen since the original broadcast in 1973. This material is very probably lost forever. The very end of this episode, which has a trailer for Dad’s Doctors & Dad’s Pooves, is also missing from the episode. This was probably sloppy editing on the part of A&E video as the episode does a fade to black with the BBC TV logo then fades up again with the BBC TV logo again and the ‘Dad’s…’ trailer. The person transfering the episode, who probably had no familiarity with Python thought that it wasn’t part of the episode or something. A&E should have hired one of the US Python experts like Kim ‘Howard’ Johnson, Jim Yoakum, or David Morgan to oversee the A&E transfers so these mistakes might have been prevented. As far as I know, the cuts I just mentioned are the only ones that have been made to these DVDs. Not that much, in my opinion. Certainly not enough to bring this set all the way down to one star. Some have also complained that this set didn’t include the German episodes ‘Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus’. These episodes were produced for German TV & not for BBC TV. In fact, the 1st one, which was done in German, was never shown on British TV. This set does contain all 45 episodes that were produced for BBC television. A&E has released the 2 German episodes. The first one, in German with English subtitles, is in the set ‘Monty Python Live’ and the second one, shot in and in English, is in the ‘Life of Python’ set. Yes, yes, the quality of the picture and sound is not perfect, but still better than any TV broadcast that I’ve seen. I suspect that the quality of the shows as broadcast wasn’t terribly impressive. BBC Television only started broadcasting in color in 1969 (the year Python started) and it was still new technology to them. The sound is Mono. The BBC didn’t go to Stereo until 1988! To do some kind of stereo remaster, one would need access to seperate dialogue, sound effect, and music tracks, which I’m sure don’t exist with the Pythons or the BBC. Such a thing did exist for Holy Grail, which is why Columbia was able to do a remastered Stereo soundtrack. Furthermore, each show had a budget of $6000. These shows were done on a shoestring and the BBC probably didn’t have state of the art equipment, being a Government funded broadcaster.I love Monty Python, and these 45 shows changed the face of comedy. There are a few, very few, bits missing. If you love Python, you should buy it. Some fans have over-reacted way too much about the missing material. If something like the Lumberjack Song, or Parrot sketch, or Cheese Shop, or Nudge Nudge were cut, that would be reason for outrage. Not for the few fairly minor missing bits. Over 24 hours of pure fun.
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As some of the other reviews have pointed out, some bits from the original series are missing or dubbed over. Those writers noted changes in the Summarizing Proust and Australian Philosopher sketches. Add to that list the removal of most of Terry Gilliam’s religious animations from the “Not Being Seen” episode. (The show ends with a fast-forward summation of the episode and you can see a glimpse of what was expunged.)
I saw all of these episodes uncensored in Canada when they were originally broadcast — now 35 years later A&E decides what we can and cannot see, even as we pay to own the set. It’s disturbing for many reasons that BBC comedy that pushes the boundaries with religion and philosophy is wiped clean by the hand of A&E.
This is a set of 14 DVDs which contain all 45 episodes, every sketch you know and love (all 4 seasons, 1969-1974) of the ground-breaking Monty Python’s Flying Circus starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. It comes in a neat and pretty orange and pink box that’s roughly 5.5 x 8.5 inches. In terms of digital format there are some minor blemishes but this show dates back to 1969! Get a grip! Its almost as if the presenters new that people would be complaining about this and wrote on the DVD cases – “…enjoy the original scratches, pops and hisses with crystal clarity.” The bigger complaint you will hear or read about is the fact that somethings (mostly a word or two) have been censored from the original episodes. I admit there is nothing sillier than censoring a completely normal word and yet leaving the topless woman in, but this is a minor detail to having the entire series at the push of a button. I’m not about to hunt down all the VHS tapes just so I can have a few (and I do mean a few) words. I also don’t plan on aging a decade to see if they will bring out another set. If you love this show, I don’t recommend you do that either. This will be the definitive set for quite some time, if not until the next new format arrives, so why wait? Start the lunacy right now! Here are the episode titles and corresponding DVDs. Why? Because I care, silly.
DVD 1 (1-3): Wither Canada, Sex & Violence, How to recognize different types of trees from quite a long way awayDVD 2 (4-6): Owl-stretching time, Man’s crisis of identity in the latter half of the 20th century, Its the artsDVD 3 (7-9): Youre no fun anymore, Full frontal nudity, The Ant-an introductionDVD 4 (10-13): Untitled, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra goes to the bathroom, The Naked ant, Intermission DVD 5 (14-16): Face the press, The spanish inquisition, Deja VuDVD 6 (17-19): The Buzz Aldrin show, Live from the grill-o-mat, Its a livingDVD 7 (20-22): The Atilla the Hun show, Archaeology today, How to recognize different parts of the bodyDVD 8 (23-26): Scott of the Antarctic, How not to be seen, Spam, Royal Episode 13DVD 9 (27-29): Whicker’s world, Mr. & Mrs. Brian Norris’ Ford Popular, The Money ProgrammeDVD 10 (30-32): Blood Devastation Death War & Horror, The All England summarize Proust competition, The war against pornographyDVD 11 (33-35): Salad days, The cycling tour, The nude organistDVD 12 (36-39): E. Henry Thripshaw’s disease, Dennis Moore, A book at bedtime, GrandstandDVD 13 (40-42): The golden age of ballooning, Michael Ellis, The light entertainment warDVD 14 (43-45): Hamlet, Mr. Neutron, Party Political Broadcast