Saturday, December 31, 2011

Parrot Sketch Not Included, A Monty Python "Best Of"/Documentary!

The Good: Generally funny and mildly informative
The Bad: Included (on DVD) on Monty Python Live!, Doesn't replay particularly well.
The Basics: A disappointing clip show more than a documentary, Parrot Sketch Not Included has Steve Martin introducing clips from Monty Python's Flying Circus.

I loathe clipshows, especially for network television shows. In fact, one of the most serious detractions to any season of Friends was that while the actors were being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars an episode, there would, inevitably, be a clipshow once per season which did not give fans anything truly new. While Monty Python’s Flying Circus was never network television (at least, not in the United States), the documentary Parrot Sketch Not Included - 20 Years Of Monty Python is little more than a clip show.

Fans of Monty Python’s Flying Circus will likely recognize almost all of the sketches which are included in Parrot Sketch Not Included. This is a twenty-year retrospective "documentary" hosted by Steve Martin. The documentary is in quotes because while there is a little information in this hour-long program about how Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin formed the Monty Python troupe and began doing sketch comedy together, more of the program is examples of those sketches, in the form of twenty "best" sketches from the television series.

Parrot Sketch Not Included has Steve Martin introducing such well-known Monty Python sketches as "How Not To Be Seen" (wherein people called, stand up and are shot until they learn how to stay hidden), "Patient Abuse" (wherein a nurse stabs patients while the doctor makes them fill out excessive paperwork), and "Spam" (where a diner serves only food including Spam in it). In addition to the original sketches, Steve Martin tells viewers about "Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus," the German-reshot episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and a clip from one of those episodes is included. While it is mildly amusing to see "The Lumberjack Song," "Raymond Luxury Yacht," and "The Spanish Inquisition" out of context, some of them actually work better with the rich comedy that surrounds them in the original episodes.

On VHS, at least, there is nothing special on Parrot Sketch Not Included that one does not get from seeing the original episodes. For example, the sketch that was written and filmed for this (which includes Graham Chapman's last appearance before his death) is not included as this is the original broadcast program without any bonus features. Too much is missing for die-hard fans and casual viewers are more likely to want more. In that case, And Now For Something Completely Different offers more, though is essentially the same concept: the "Best Of" sketches from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

As well, the entire documentary appears on the DVD presentation of Monty Python Live! so those fans who cannot live without this will find it a much better value to pick it up that way. For the rest of us, it's just a clip show and we can live without it.

For other documentaries, please check out my reviews of:
Michael Moore Hates America
Super Size Me
Bowling For Columbine


For other movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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