With Cleese absent from this series, Gilliam contributing less animation, and Chapman and Idle - apparently - not writing an awful lot of material, this series more or less rests on the shoulders of Palin and Jones. In fact I'd go further and say this is more Palin's series (in his Diaries, he even notes that one episode is more or less his own work). It's certainly the strangest Python offering, and you know what? I think it's the best series.
I know, I know, that sounds like I'm being deliberately awkward - this series features none of the famous sketches at all, the most celebrated member isn't in it, and at times isn't even conventionally funny - but I find this one the most watchable. When it's funny, it's very funny, and when it frequently goes bafflingly weird, that's when I like it best! More than any other Python series this connects more with today's surreal comedies. Cleese once said of Reeves and Mortimer "Even when they're not being funny, they intrigue me... I like the strange stuff"... and I think the same about this batch of episodes.
Half the series is an attempt to make half-hour stories rather than unconnected sketches, which takes the series into even odder areas. A story about buying ants manages to include Oueen Victoria, Jimmy Hill, unconvincing wigs, kiddie's vasectomies and desks on fire; another show keeps lapsing into thinking its Hamlet. It's like Spike Milligan's Q series if it had been much, much better.
And then there's an episode called Light Entertainment War which is one of the very best Python shows of all time; very funny and quite dreamlike. More than at any other time, the sketches weave in and out of one another, constantly reference each other, and all the while led along by a Neil Innes song which crops up throughout the episode in different musical styles... it's a very odd show, like a labrynth of sketches that you, the viewer, are trying to find your way out of, only to find you're back where you started. So, unexpectedly, a little like David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE.
There's no Dead Parrots here, or silly walks, or Spanish Inquisitions; this is SO much better.