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163
4.6 out of 5 stars
Ripping Yarns - The Complete Series[DVD] [1976]
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217 of 224 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2004
'Ripping Yarns' has been woefully mistreated by the DVD format. Originally Meridian Entertainment bought the rights from the BBC, and put out six episodes on two DVDs with no extras whatsoever. But they gave up without releasing the final three episodes. Since then, the DVDs have become gold-dust -- just look at the price of used copies on amazon.
Now BBC Worldwide have put everything right and released all nine episodes on two DVDs, with a commentary track from Mike Palin and Terry Jones clearly enjoying themselves as they watch the episodes for the first time in 25 years.

At long last we can see, for example, 'Murder at Moorstones Manor'. I'd only seen it twice before -- both occasions on terrestrial BBC in the late 1970s -- and, like so much vintage comedy, today it's not quite as good as I remember it. But it's still great. Palin always enjoyed playing the obsessive -- whether the car enthusiast in 'Moorstones' or the rain-gauge fan in 'Eric Olthwaite'.

The pamphlet that comes with the DVD package is very informative detailing, for example, the audience figures for both the initial broadcast and the repeat. Amazingly, the best episode ('Tomkinson's Schooldays') had the smallest viewing figures. But that was the price it paid for being the first episode in a series that the 1970s BBC, with zero marketing awareness, failed to advertise.
The commentary track is interesting, although switching it on means that you miss much of the well-chosen dialogue. Michael is very well informed about all the personnel involved with each episode and what they have subsequently achieved, but Terry's knowledge of the series is now so minimal that you wonder whether he ever worked on the project! Personally it's fascinating for me to hear Mike talking about his other projects (e.g. 'Himalayas') and the more recent comedy he's been watching, such as 'The League of Gentlemen'. What I also find satisfying is that Mike and Terry are happy to admit that certain episodes, such as 'Winfrey', don't really work, and they also explain why. You're unlikely to find anything to disagree with in their assessments.
This entire package comes highly recommended. Many of us have gently campaigned for its release, and it's wonderful to have our wish granted.
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89 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2004
A quarter of a century on, "Ripping Yarns" remains for me the ultimate example of British comic genius and I am delighted to see that the full set of nine yarns is being issued on DVD.
Like its much better known brother "Fawlty Towers", "Ripping Yarns" is a product of the Monty Python era and consists of nine stories penned by Michael Palin and Terry Jones and originally transmitted in the late Seventies. Palin himself stars as the central character in all of them - in fact, in some of them he plays several characters - and the series showcases his abilities as a comedy actor as well as demonstrating the brilliance of his and Jones' writing.
The yarns are affectionate spoofs of various aspects of British life in the early decades of the twentieth century, ranging from the rarefied atmosphere of Graybridge public school and its elaborate range of disciplinary measures ("Tomkinson's Schooldays") to the grimness of the Thirties' Depression where Yorkshire lad Eric Olthwaite sprang to national fame in the most unlikely of circumstances.
It is the characters we meet along the way who make the yarns so memorable: Eric Olthwaite, the amazing Uncle Jack from "The Curse of the Claw" and his incredible hobby (true ingenuity here from Palin and Jones!), the crusty old father in "Murder at Moorstones Manor".
Like "Fawlty Towers", this is comedy that has never dated, and its relative lack of familiarity should mean it retains most of its impact of old even amongst those who do remember the programme. Anyone who appreciates this brand of comedy and has never seen the yarns before is in for a rare treat!
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2011
Ripping Yarns is a British television comedy series, shown on BBC 2 from 1976 to 1979. It was written by Michael Palin and Terry Jones of Monty Python fame.

The series grew out of a one-off BBC programme called Tomkinson's Schooldays, loosely inspired by Tom Brown's Schooldays. Palin and Jones both wrote and starred in multiple roles with Palin in all 9 episodes, whilst Jones only appeared in four.
The first series opened with perhaps the best story, Tomkinson's Schooldays which is followed by The Testing of Eric Olthwaite, Escape from Stalag Luft 112B, Murder at Moorstones Manor, Across the Andes by Frog and The Curse of the Claw.

Series 2 only saw three episodes; Whinfrey's Last Case, Golden Gordon (look out for John Cleese's fleeting cameo appearance) and the final episode Roger of the Raj.

This was BBC comedy drama at its best and it promoted Michael Palin as a star in his own right. I can not recommend this highly enough.

I hope this review has been helpful.
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84 of 89 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 10 January 2005
An excellent double DVD package, made with real fans of the series in mind. As well as every episode ever made, there are some really nice touches that put this DVD into the 5 star category. For example, the ability to watch most (7/9) episodes without the audience laughter track (what a great idea), and the original scripts as Acrobat Reader (.pdf) files, is superb. Even the inlay card is great. The booklet is detailed and interesting, and perfect for people like me who use those multiple DVD holder cases...
If only every olf favourite series got this amount of attention lavished upon it, but I'm just thankful that the BBC have done such a fine job on this release. Excellent.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 April 2007
This DVD set contains the original pilot episode "Tomkinsons Schooldays" first broadcast in 1976. The first series of 5 episodes broadcast in 1977 and the second series of 3 episodes originally broadcast in 1979.

The idea was prompted by an old Ripping Yarns annual that Michael Palin had given to Terry Jones as a gift. The episodes are all Pythonesque with many great moments in nearly all the episodes. John Cleese makes a memorable, but brief, cameo role appearance in "Golden Gordon" which is amongst the best episodes.

There are some great extras on the DVD. Perhaps best of all you can watch the episodes without the laughter track. There are commentaries from Michael Palin and Terry Jones as well as a documentary made in 1982 and an additional 1973 comedy starring Warren Mitchell written by MP and TJ.

Very funny and well worth watching over and over.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2012
Of all the post-Python series, this vies with Fawlty Towers as the most consistently funny. There is a distinct Britishness to the whole series, a satire of the mock-heroic adventures of a fading Empire, life when Britain truly ruled the waves. For Michael Palin and Terry Jones, this seems to centre mostly around life in the dull, grey north Midlands on the one hand, and the British soldier posted in unlikely circumstances on the other. The humour is both verbal and visual, consistent if not always concise, with many favourite moments across the nine episodes that were made. Where else but from ex-Pyhtons would we have a plot based around the Germans trying to start WW1 a year early, or crossing the Andes by Frog, or life in a boarding school where on the patron saint's day the senior boys are allowed to nail the juniors to the wall ? This is the stuff of Biggles, Boys Own Annuals and Tom Brown's Schooldays with a distinct and curly twist into the absurd. A must for any fans of British satirical humour. For anyone not familiar with the series, each of the nine shows is a separate story set in about the first three decades of the 20th century in Britain. Like Fawlty Towers, the small number of shows leaves fans hankering for more but no doubt also helps to ensure that the quality remains high.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2013
Make sure you order the 2012 edition.

While I appreciate Network's effort to release over the years many TV productions that have a slim chance of becoming bestsellers or even returning the investment, I tend to purchase their products only if there's no other alternative and if it's a program that I feel I can't afford to miss. That's because almost all of their box sets are lean - lacking subtitles, extras, commentaries, booklets, scene selection or any other feature that I expect to find when I buy a DVD.

It's almost as if their saying to us buyers - be grateful it's available at all, and don't whine about subtitles, extras and overall quality.

Well, this product is a stellar exception to everything I've just said.

The product includes:
- Subtitles (episodes only)
- Commentaries on all episodes by Palin & Jones that are all worth listening to.
- 2 Audio tracks with & without audience laughter (on one of the commentaries Palin & Jones shortly discuss laughter tracks in general).
- 24 pages booklet full of well researched information and well worth reading.
- "Comic Roots" - a very nice half hour 1983 documentary written and presented by Michael Palin about his early years, including short conversations with his mother, Spike Milligan, Terry Jones and other friends from his hometown Sheffield and from Oxford.
- 6 complete original scripts in color PDF format that contain scanned images of the scripts, printed with a typewriter and with Palin's handwriting all over them. Moving and amusing.
- Stills Gallery
- Secrets - A 50 min. 1973 BBC play from a series called Black & Blue, written by Palin & Jones and starring, among others, Warren Mitchell. As this is the only surviving remnant from that series, and a home recording one, it's technical quality is really bad, with all the appropriate warnings on the box and at the beginning of the track, but still worth watching once.
- Deleted scene - 4 extended minutes from the episode "Murder at Moorstones Manor". The parts that didn't make it to the final broadcast version regrettably lack audio, but subtitles in different style appear whenever they are shown. They are great and very funny and it's a real pity they didn't make it to the original broadcast. I can understand why Network chose to include them on this set even though they're in such a deficient format.

The efforts put into the box set production with the full co-operation of Palin and Jones, suggest the writers hold this work in high esteem, and I can certainly understand why.

There are 9 (6+3) 30 min. episodes, in various degrees of quirkiness/ Surrealism. Some of the episodes suffer from the 30 minutes limitation unable to develop the story/plot. While it is not sketch based, but rather mini feature films (or "semi movies" as Palin puts it in one of the commentaries) , with a pace not as hectic as, say, Fawlty Towers, and a more subtle humor, there are still many laugh out loud moments and most of the episodes left me wanting more.

Many well known actors and faces that will keep you amused (for some you'll probably need the help of the commentaries), and even John Cleese as a passer by at one episode.

The original production is also as sleek as the box set with well constructed sets, costumes, makeup and guest actors, and apparently, as we learn from the commentaries, was an expensive production, which may have led to the second series ending after only 3 episodes.

In Michael Palin's diaries he mentions, for example, the production of the episode "Across the Andes by Frog":
"... our cameraman Peter Hall was directing a lighting rig the size and scale of which made Jabberwocky look like home movies..". This episode includes great performances by Denholm Elliot and Don Henderson !!

As far as Video and sound quality - don't expect any miraculous restoration work, but rather a typical and
acceptable 70's TV production standard (I've seen both better and worse than this one).

I'll conclude with a 40+ age restriction warning, as I feel younger viewers might find it a bit too slow and dated, but I'm sure that anyone who grew up in the 70's and had the patience to read my review to this point - will be delighted !
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2006
This is the Complete Ripping Yarns, something which may not be clear from Amazon's product information. Compared to the incomplete DVD released in the US a few years ago, the difference is just a couple of episodes, but as one of the "new" episodes is 'Murder at Moorstones Manor', I thought this edition was well worth it.

An absolute winner with this edition is sound tracks without laughter for most episodes. A downside is the lack of subtitles, which makes it difficult for the hard of hearing and foreigners with limited English skills to grasp all the details.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
`Ripping Yarns' ran for three years with a pilot episode broadcast in 1976, a first series of five episodes broadcast in 1977 and a final run of three episodes in 1979. In a world hungry for more Monty Python it was an assured success.

Written by Michael Palin and Terry Jones, the Oxford University contingent of Python, whom were also to be it's stars although Jones took a back seat after the pilot to allow Palin to shine on his own. Each episode was a self contained story entirely shot on film which was perfection in every aspect except for an annoying laughter track which fortunately can be omitted when playing as from the DVD.

The stories were `Ripping Yarns' as they were on the main affectionate parodies of the `Boys Own' adventure type stories that were popular with schoolboys all over Britain with Adventures such as Quartermain and Hannay forever saving England from fiendish communist Jew threats of war and adventure.

The Quality is so high it is difficult to pick out favourites but I never tire of watching `Across the Andes by Frog', `The Testing of Eric Olthwaite' and `Golden Gordon'. Ripping Stuff.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 10 January 2005
An excellent double DVD package, made with real fans of the series in mind. As well as every episode ever made, there are some really nice touches that put this DVD into the 5 star category. For example, the ability to watch most (7/9) episodes without the audience laughter track (what a great idea), and the original scripts as Acrobat Reader (.pdf) files, is superb. Even the inlay card is great. The booklet is detailed and interesting, and perfect for people like me who use those multiple DVD holder cases...
If only every old favourite series got this amount of attention lavished upon it, but I'm just thankful that the BBC have done such a fine job on this release. Excellent.
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