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Monty Python's Flying Circus: Complete and Annotated - All the Bits Hardcover – 1 Nov 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal; Complete and annotated ed edition (1 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579129137
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579129132
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 7 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 402,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Monty Python s Flying Circus s influence on television and on comedy is towering. This is truly the definitive book for fans of the show. So comprehensive, the level of detail is staggering. It will provide hour upon hour of pleasure and have you humming The Lumberjack Song and Spam Spam Spam all over again! --Sixty Plus Surfers

It's at times like this that I feel sorry for all those people who've bought Kindles or other electronic devices used for "reading books"... I believe this is the ultimate Monty Python book - around nine hundred pages of text, lavishly illustrated in full colour and containing every script and tons more stuff about the Pythons and the ground-breaking TV programme that turned British TV on its head in the 1960s. Black Dog have produced something extraordinary here - a magnificent tribute to the greatest comedy-sketch show that ever existed - there's so much material contained in this brilliant book that I can't help but make it my joint Nonfiction Book of the Month. A slice of TV heaven, a slice of cultural history the like of which has never been seen since - the inspiration for so many people, and so complete it's awesome. --Books Monthly

A book large enough to kill a parrot with, this collection of scripts for every episode of the Python TV show goes the whole hog, augmenting some of the greatest comedy ever written with reams of unseen pics and interesting notes. --Empire

About the Author

Luke Dempsey is deputy editor of bookish.com and author of the memoir A Supremely Bad Idea. A native of England --and a massive Python fan--he currently lives in Griggstown, NJ.


Customer Reviews

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Sorry, I couldn't resist that title. I was anticipating tearing into this book so much, really immensely looking forward to it, but when it arrived the problem became apparent. I shall now explain it in a rather roundabout way. Luke Dempsey wants to annotate the already published scripts of the Flying Circus television series, and so realises his annotations can fall into the following categories -

1. Information that was left out of the original published script book (descriptions of It's Man sequences, animations, etc.)
2. Ways in which the recorded programme differed from the original and published script (cuts, fluffs, additions)
3. References encyclopaedia
4. Production trivia (anecdotes, sketches that were removed)

And also plop in bits of criticism when he feels necessary. That's fine. So... why all the blank spaces in the margin? There are loads of sketches which go uncommented on, and this is exacerbated by a lot of the comments taking up so much space being very poorly written. Many opportunities for fascinating and important pieces of information to be included are denied in favour of repeating certain entries (Reginald Maudling and Eton are described unnecessarily alongside every mention) and overblowing the hilarity of supposed bloopers (did Chapman really bump into a teenage boy during the Olympic Hide and Seek Finals sketch? Nope) Saying that Palin has to wait for laughter to die down before saying his next line in Interesting People is entirely needless. Some entries are also just plain inaccurate. Dempsey that the word 'mentch' as used in Biggles Dictates A Letter is an abbreviation of mention, when it's plain to anyone watching that he Chapman is saying 'mensch' in the Jewish sense, i.e. somebody who borrows from those around them.
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I was greatly looking forward to this, being a lifelong Python fan and also the sort of nerd who likes to know where jokes come from. (Among my other favourite annotated books are Alfred Appel's The Annotated Lolita and Martin Gardner's The Annotated Alice.)

So this came as a bit of a disappointment. As far as I can tell, Luke Dempsey has annotated the Python scripts from the perspective of an English person who's assuming that American people won't get the jokes. However, his annotations tend to sketchy and tentative, rather than authoritative, and a riffle through the acknowledgements soon reveals that he owes a major debt to a much less attractive but far more magisterial and comprehensive work, a mighty, unauthorised two-volume companion to the Python scripts by a professor of media studies in Utah's Brigham Young University named Darl Larsen. Intrigued, I bought just the first volume of Larsen's work (can't be too careful) and sure enough, Larsen has done the spadework that Dempsey couldn't quite be bothered to do. Larsen is a specialist in Eng Lit of the Renaissance period and his doctoral thesis, which he later reworked into a book, draws parallels between Python and the Elizabethan tradition of college wit. His Python companion continues that tradition, but also shows the extent to which he's really researched the historical background of Python sketches such as the Architect Sketch, with its references to the Ronan Point disaster.
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Oh dear -- I love annotated books, I love Monty Python but this was a bit of a disappointment all round. First, and less important, the scripts themselves are printed in a way that makes them harder to read than they need to be. Secondly, and more to the point, the annotations are generally minor things, mostly intended for non-UK readers and generally facile. As a random instance, "Hire Purchase is equivalent to the layaway plan." Is it? I didn't know that but I do know what Hire Purchase is and a straight explanation might have been useful and informative. Much that is interesting is omitted including basic information like casting not in the scripts (who plays the jury in the multiple murder sketch?), location (where was the cycling tour,really?), music (we all know it's "The Liberty Bell" but that simple note's not in here, or if it is I've not found it) or filming notes. Many sketches are not notated at all and some notes are plain wrong (eg the explanation of why the pepperpots were so called).

Despite this,it's a nice book to have, does contain some useful and interesting information (possibly inadvertently) and is a satisfying thing to have about the house.

I wonder if we could persuade Andrew Pixley to have a go at a Python book?
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Brilliant addition to the long list of titles by and about the Pythons. Brings back lots of memories of the past TV watching and interesting to have annotations which are obviously aimed mostly at non-GB readers/viewers. Well written and well illustrated too.
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