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Monty Python?s Flying Circus: Complete and Annotated...All the Bits Hardcover – November 13, 2012

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A Look Inside Monty Python's Flying Circus: Complete and Annotated...All the Bits

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Characterized by a level of detail that firmly plants Dempsey (A Supremely Bad Idea), the deputy editor of Bookish.com, in the obsessive fan-boy camp, this annotated transcription of all 45 Monty Python episodes occupies a ludicrously colorful and silly space between scrapbook and bible of the absurd. Including stills of more than 2,000 key scenes, as well as a litany of trivia for each sketch, this is a perfect supplement to the British troupe's subversive comedic oeuvre. Dempsey keeps his comments and criticism to the margins of the page, allowing classic sketches like "Dead Parrot," "The Ministry of Silly Walks," and "The Lumberjack Song" to speak for themselves. But it's in those margins that readers will likely find the most gold, as Dempsey's running commentary covers everything from expected Python minutiae, gaffes, and in-jokes, to British history and culture, effectively situating the show's crisp writing and sly references in their proper context. Clocking in at nearly 900 pages, folks won't be toting this book far from the coffee table, but the engaging combination of asides, fun facts, illustrations, and screen shots (not to mention the episode transcriptions themselves) make for an immersive and addictive read; Python fans needn't look any further?it's all here, literally. 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal; Complete and annotated ed edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579129137
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579129132
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 2.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Rick Powell on November 21, 2012
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Luke Dempsey's "Monty Python's Flying Circus: Complete and Annotated ... All the Bits (2012)" is a must-have for Python-philes! Although I purchased "The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus: All the Words (1989)" many years ago, and loved it, Dempsey's book offers many excellent enhancements over the 1989 book. Like the 1989 piece, Dempsey's book includes the scripts from all 45 "Monty Python's Flying Circus" episodes (1969-1974). However, unlike the 1989 work, this book liberally peppers every page with wonderful color stills from the original sketches (on high-quality glossy paper), so the script seems to come alive for those of us who remember the sketches. More importantly, it also includes entertaining and informative annotations about each sketch. These annotations explain obscure references to British politicians, entertainers, sports figures, and other notables of the era, as well as little British towns and suburbs with funny-sounding names. They also point out where the filmed scenes deviated from the script -- due to budgetary reasons, or just bloopers. Even the brilliant John Cleese flubbed his lines on a couple of occasions! But what I found most amusing were the annotations about some obscure British slang terms. Even though I have been a Python-phile since the 1970's, I must confess that I did not know what some of these terms meant (e.g., "kipping" means "sleeping," "treddle" means "prostitute," "go spare" means "go crazy," "right on my uppers" means "to have no money," and "mush" means "pal.") The Brits are unsurpassed when it comes to slang!

Anyway, if you love Python, then you'll love this book. Even if you don't, it is quite heavy (almost 3" thick), so it will be quite handy if you have to put your budgie down!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Louis on December 18, 2012
If you're a male aged, say, 30 or older, here's a test. At your next staff meeting, assuming that you're sitting around the table with other men of your age, quietly whisper, "Spam!" in a funny voice at some point. Chances are, at least half of your male coworkers will start chiming in, "Spam, spam, spam, spam!"

That's the influence of Monty Python's Flying Circus on those of us who grew up in the 1970s and 80s. Perhaps only Star Trek has a more rabid following, but you don't see us Python fans going to conventions dressed as Dennis Moore and Kamikaze Scotsmen (and if you don't get this right away, this book is not for you). Instead, we buy Python paraphernalia--books, records, biographies, autobiographies, and, until recently, that First Folio of Pythonalia, the two volume "All the Words" set.

Those two books still occupy a honored space on my bookshelf, but Dempsey's book will soon send them to Ebay. Not only is this gigantic, coffee-table-worthy book gorgeously designed, with copious photos from the various shows, but Dempsey's superb annotations finally explain so many of the uniquely British cultural and historical references that totally blew by me back and still do today. Considering how anchored the Python series was to its time and geography, it's a tribute to the excellence of their writing and performing skills that Americans found the shows to be hilarious without understanding these references. For example, growing up I didn't need to know who the notorious Kray brothers were to appreciate the infamous "Ethel the Frog" documentary on the Pirhana Brothers (jokes about heads being nailed to tables are always hilarious when done properly).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By PianoGuyFromSC on January 31, 2013
If you are a Python fan but your collection is limited to video only, this is definitely THE book to buy. It contains all 45 television scripts, one-page bios of the actors (and a couple of other short features), plus hundreds of photos from the episodes. I bought the complete scripts years ago, but those books completely lacked the visual element, especially Terry Gilliam's cartoons, which are amply represented in this new collection.

Because I already had both books of scripts, the huge Python biography, and several related volumes, I didn't want to load down my shelf with this family Bible-sized book. So I took it out from the library in order to read the feature that REALLY interested me: the hundreds of annotations by Luke Dempsey that explain obscure vocabulary, cultural references, historical figures, and production notes. These annotations are especially helpful for Americans, who have no clue who Reginald Maudling is, or where you can locate Paignton or Slough.

If I had no Python books, I would have given this five stars. But because (for me) most of the book was superfluous, I only gave it four. And I'd like to add this list of missing items that I'd like to see Mr. Dempsey include in a future, expanded edition:

p. 337: The man whose face is used in the animation at the bottom of the page is US Civil War general Benjamin Butler.

p. 366, note 55: thanks for telling us who Arthur Negus is, but you missed explaining the real joke here, namely the slang meaning of the word "Bristols."

p. 370: "wainscoting" is a fairly obscure word, at least in the USA, but it's not defined.

p.
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