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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2012
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
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).

Dempsey may not have been identified all of the artifacts annotated on these pages himself (he does cite other Python books), but he does a service not only including them, but by limiting them to those that are most important, since some of the classic skits are worthy of Joycean-level deconstruction. If I have one wee bit of criticism of this book it's that in the apparent interest of trying to make what is essentially a series of scripts capture some of the 'zaniness' of the shows, certain lines use colored or oversized fonts, which break up the continuity a bit. This really isn't needed. Anyone who buys this book probably already knows these sketches by heart. The font could be Courier 10 point and we'd buy it.

If you're not a Python fan, this book will do absolutely nothing for you. But if you're one of the six guys at my weekly staff meeting who are, it's as much of a necessity as the complete Monty Python's Flying Circus DVD set sitting in front of your complete VHS set or that old scratched up "Matching Tie and Handkerchief" album filed among the Foghat and Frampton LPS in your attic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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. 489: fails to point out that two characters in a sketch are named 'Martin' and 'Feldman,' a clear tip of the hat to one of the most prominent writer/comedians of the Python era.

p. 543: fails to let us know that the Elizabeth sketch is a parody of a very popular program of the time, which was even aired on PBS in the USA.

p. 648: the French phrase "taisez-vous" means "shut up," not "where are you?".

p. 701: fails to point out that the "Dennis Moore" theme song is a parody of the theme from the 1950s TV show "Robin Hood."

p. 770: It might have been nice to point out that Neil Innes also played Sir Robin's minstrel in "Holy Grail" and wrote the famous "Brave Sir Robin" song.

p. 846: refers to MPFC as a "sketch comedy show that began more than 50 years ago." Really? In 1963?

p. 850: the sketch refers to a man and his dog "chasing sticks." For some odd reason, the author thinks this is an allusion to playing "Pooh-sticks." Doesn't he know that dogs chase sticks? "Fetch, boy!"

p. 858: fails to point out a joke that Americans may miss, namely that the sports announcer uses the name "Pratt" about a dozen times. This rude word also resumes on p. 871 with several more Pratts.

p. 872: Fails to point out the appearance of Douglas Adams in the credits, or to explain who Mr. Lloyd George is.

But outside of these few items, the notations were a lot of fun and very informative.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2012
I actually received the book as a gift from the account owner, so it was a complete surprise. I had no idea what to expect of it.

First of all, reading the scripts and the notes let me know all what had been said in the sketches; sometimes they were so fast, with unfamiliar slang and so forth, that I wasn't sure, even after repeated viewings.

The book almost makes clear something you might miss just watching, which is the tremendous amount of work and cleverness that went into producing each episode: the description of the animated segues between the sketches for instance shows how much thought went into them.

Rick Powell's earlier (November 21, 2012) review has already covered many of the additional points I would make, particularly the annotations explaining British expressions that might not be known to everyone and give context to the sketches that refer of British public figures of the show's time period, and in general I agree with his review completely. I would add that the book also includes short biographical notes of the Pythons themselves, which I found informative and interesting.

Basically, if you appreciated the "Monty Python's Flying Circus" television show, this book will probably make you appreciate it all the more.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2012
A grand piano of books about the Python TV series, gloriously illustrated and annotated without being antiquated. It's the perfect companion piece to the book Monty Python Vs. The World too, which tells the insider-scoop on the who and whys and hows the series came together (and almost didn't). Spiffy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2013
With the exception of the dead parrot routine, I am NOT a Monty Python fan; however, my husband is crazy about them. I purchased this hard cover for him for his birthday, and he was ecstatic. He says it's absolutely wonderful, utterly complete, he couldn't be more pleased, etc., etc. So if you are a female -- and your husband or significant other is into Python -- for goodness sake buy the darned thing right now, right this minute. You'll rack up brownie points like crazy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon January 15, 2015
I bought this in a used bookstore for a mere pittance. (That's a hint, these were closeouts at one time so you can find them locally pretty cheaply). My observations are...

* This is a huge doorstop of a book. You could drop this 16-tons on anyone and they'd not be able to defend themselves, even with a banana.

* I set out initially to read on sketch per night. After the second night... I was rather bored.

* The scripts are accurate enough, of course, but they just lose something on the printed page. It's like reading a book about a great outdoor event that only has a few pictures in it. The pythons added so much to the words with their own acting and personalities that it's just not the same all printed out.

* The annotations were at times amusing but often just rather dull tidbits. If I'd been curious about much of this stuff I would have looked it up on my own.

In summary, I love Flying Circus and go about quoting it to people who don't know what I'm talking about all the time but this book... well, it just didn't fly with me. It seemed forced at times and lacking the flavor of the show despite having all the same words as the show.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2013
I bought this because: First, I am a HUGE Python fan, so I just had to have it, and Second, The books I had just were not complete enough. This really does have all the bits. I wish I would have had this book when I first became a fan. It would have been an immense help for someone unfamiliar to certain references (people that is.) Now I know can laugh at the joke, because I get it.
I will cherish this book for years to come. I recommend it to every Python fan. It is a must have!
P.S: Don't know if anyone else caught this, but if you flip through the lower right corner of the pages, you can see every page has a different silhouette of John doing his Ministry of Silly Walks...A Monty Python flip book! That is such a great little addition as well!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2015
Wow.

What a wonderfully gigantic book. We get all of the scripts, hundreds of pictures, and tons of informative annotations to help us understand what we have been laughing at for over 40 years.

I kid you not when I say that this is the biggest, thickest, and heaviest book that I own. The paper that it is printed on is very good quality.

So, if you enjoy the old Flying Circus episodes, you just can't go wrong with this book. It could also be useful in smashing fresh fruit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2013
My wife just bought this for me, and it is perfect for scanning through while watching the show. References I never understood (since I was born 12 years after the show ended and am American) are explained, and the various anecdotes are entertaining. I hope a follow-up about the films comes out sooner or later.
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