by Hans ten Cate
Tuesday, 16 January 1996

As for owners of the Philips-patented Compact Disc Interactive (CD-i) system, you too are in luck! There are a number of Monty Python related titles that, as of yet, cannot be purchased for any other system. Unless CD-i cards become mainstream add-ons for Macintosh and PC computers, you will have to find a way to get access to a CD-i player to see some of these extraordinary Monty Python titles.

CD-i was developed jointly by Philips and Sony during the early 1980s and has since grown into a respectable market for home entertainment. It is the first multimedia format to deliver full-motion video, text, graphics, sound and interactivity for home viewers on their television. Each title comes on a compact disc, but using the CD-i standard designed by Philips, these discs store more than the conventional CD-ROM.

There are hundreds of titles available for CD-i, including games, movies, reference titles, educational software, and instructional software. Interestingly, one of the earliest movie titles available for the CD-i was "A Fish Called Wanda," starring John Cleese and Michael Palin. Movies for the CD-i come on Digital Video discs which can be played on CD-i using the Digital Video cartridge.

Video Arts, the management training company co-founded by John Cleese in 1971, has also capitalized on this format. About 9 titles are currently available from Video Arts and 7 new releases are expected to be released soon. Each disc is a full-length training video (usually around 30 minutes) which trainers can use with a CD-i player. The following discs feature John Cleese:

  • Meetings, Blood Meetings - John Cleese plays a manager who is put on trial for negligent conduct of meetings, before a courtroom run according to his haphazard regard to rules
  • It's Your Choice - John Cleese as "Ivan the Terrible," a manager with poor interviewing skills who causes the wrong person to be hired
  • Straight Talking - John Cleese shows the techniques of assertive behavior in a series of settings and how it does not always guarantee success
  • How to Lose Customers Without Really Trying - a series of sketches, featuring John Cleese, showing how customer care is crucial to an organization's reputation

Coming Soon:

  • More Bloody Meetings - a sequel to the last "meetings" film, John Cleese again plays the manager who, during a trip to the dentists, dreams that the office has become an interrogation room
  • The Helping Hand: Coaching Skills for Managers - John Cleese plays the presenter in a training video on coaching; unfortunately his fictional video features a manager who knows absolutely nothing about coaching
  • The Unorganized Manager - a manager is confronted by St. Peter, played by John Cleese, who sends him back to Earth with a list of his eleven deadly organizational sins
  • Telephone Behavior: The Power and the Perils - video presented by John Cleese on how people's behavior can either wreck a telephone conversation or make it into a highly effective piece of communication

Unfortunately, Video Arts is geared toward companies and corporations who can afford to spend big money on training videos. Each CD-i costs about $850 to buy or $250 for a five day rental. Fortunately, Python fans who want something a bit more affordable can now get three interactive Monty Python titles at about $30 (U.S.) a piece: "Monty Python's More Naughty Bits," "Live Without Monty Python," and "Invasion from the Planet Skyron." Note, however, that the third title was only recently released in Europe and won't be available in the United States for some time.