The SAINTS of SATIRE, The LORDS of LAUGHTER, The HIGH PRIESTS of LOW COMEDY have sold out once again. Michael Palin--globe-trotting adventurer and "Comedian's Comedian"--has somehow managed to sit still just long enough to put together his compilation of the very best of MONTY PYTHON. Of course, the perpetually peripatetic Palin found it impossible to resist a bit of free travel, so he has courteously included an all-new, never-before-seen retrospective visit to the site of the notorious Fish-Slapping Dance. And because he's the nice Python, Michael Palin has included, on this very disc, the world-famous Cheese Shop Sketch. Let's hear it for Michael! Huzzah. Collect all six PERSONAL BEST collections. For the PYTHON lover, they're concentrated joy. For the novice, a dangerously addictive substance to be administered with care.
The sketch selection for this hour-long greatest bits collection would certainly provide fodder for the Argument Clinic (a classic sketch, sadly not included here). But the Fish-Slapping Dance, Michael Palin's self-professed favorite piece of Pythonian silliness is included, as is the absurd, curd-free Cheese Shop sketch and his smarmy turn as the oily host of the game show, "Blackmail." Oddly enough, the bulk of this volume is pretty much as devoid of the amiable Palin as that cheese shop was of cheese. Still, the Tobacconist sketch, the Piranha Brothers sketch, Conrad Poohs and his Dancing Teeth, and the Chemist sketch serve as a nifty Python primer for the uninitiated and a filling sampler for fans who have yet to invest in the complete series
. To be totally frank, I was expecting the Spanish Inquisition, the Dead Parrot sketch, an excerpt from "The Cycling Tour," or any number of Monty Python
classics in which Palin played a key role. On the upside, in newly filmed material, Palin does take time out from his global travels to serve as a tour guide to the actual site where the Fish-Slapping Dance was filmed, and explicates the three stages of this rather silly ritual.--Donald Liebenson