by Hans ten Cate
Sunday, 4 July 1999

Visit A&E's new PythonShop website!!

Recent rumors circulating around the Internet has the American Arts & Entertainment (A&E) cable channel involved in more than a few projects related to Monty Python.

Because October 1999 will mark the 30th anniversary of Monty Python, several establishments (e.g., A&E, Bliss House, Bear Bear & Bear) are scheming to provide Python fans what they truly want: more Python air time, books, videos, DVDs, retrospectives, and merchandise. Some books and DVDs have already been released, but A&E is one of the first major television organizations to take this major step forward.

On Saturday, July 10, A&E will apparently unveil a new Monty Python website (www.PythonShop.com) and will begin airing episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus every week, starting July 10 at 11:00 PM (EST). Also, it has been rumored for sometime that A&E will become the distributors of the original Flying Circus series on DVD, which may become available starting this fall.


From the Digital Bits Website

There will be 2 sets of 2 DVDs each, with each disc holding 3 episodes. The expected street date is September 28th, and each set has a suggested retail price of $44.99.

Set 1 will contain the following episodes from the first half of season one (representative sketch included):

  1. Whither Canada (contains the "Funniest Joke in the World")
  2. Sex and Violence ("A Scotsman on a Horse")
  3. How to Recognize Different Types of Trees from Quite a Long Way Away (contains "The Bicycle Repair Man" and "Nudge Nudge")
  4. Owl Stretching Time ("Secret Service Dentists")
  5. Man's Crisis of Identity in the Latter Half of the Twentieth Century (contains the sketch "Silly Job Interview")
  6. It's the Arts (contains "Crunchy Frog")
  7. Set 2 of the DVDs includes the second half of the first season, with the following episodes (and sketches, among others):

  8. You're No Fun Anymore (contains the sketch "Camel Spotting")
  9. Full Frontal Nudity ("Dead Parrot" and Hell's Grannies")
  10. The Ant, an Introduction ("Lumberjack Song" and "A Man with a Tape Recorder Up His Nose")
  11. Untitled ("Gorilla Librarian")
  12. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Goes to the Bathroom ("Literary Football Discussion")
  13. The Naked Ant ("Falling from Building" and "Upper- class Twit of the Year")
  14. Intermission ("Stonehenge" and "Mr. Atilla the Hun")

These particular DVDs are also reported to include the following extras: MontyKaraoke, Useless Tidbits, Gilliam's Attic, and Pythonisms and Digital Delights. All we have to say is: cool!!

Readers may recall, in fact, that we passed along a news item back in April (see Daily Llama Issue #093) that A&E would be announcing the DVD Flying Circus discs at the 18th Annual Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) Home Entertainment Convention and Exhibition in Los Angeles (July 8 - 10, 1999). Given recent changes to the A&E websites, the DVD rumors might very well be true. A DVD news website, Digital Bits, has also published further information (see inset, left) on the discs, including shots of the DVD packaging. The release of the DVD titles (and even more recent buzz that the series will also be released on VHS video) comes as welcome news to Python fans - particularly those US fans that saw the original Python videos (distributed by Paramount Home Video) go out of print in the early-to-mid 1990s.

The dates of the VSDA convention correspond, very closely, to the unveiling of the PythonShop website as well. Seems like lots of Python news to report on July 10 as a result of this website. One can only guess what delectable Python treats await us there... DVDs?... videos?... Curious? Set your browsers to:


Don't forget to sign in and ask them to send you updates about the PythonShop project.
Further snooping around the A&E website also confirmed that the Flying Circus episodes will, in fact, begin airing July 10 at 11:00 PM (EST). It appears that each half-hour episode will air over a one-hour time slot (undoubtedly with plenty of commercials to fill the remaining time) with repeats airing from 3:00 to 4:00 AM.

This is the first U.S. national airing of Monty Python's Flying Circus in a long long time. American cable audiences haven't been able to see the complete series since Comedy Central aired the original episodes periodically in 1995, starting with the January 1 Python-a-thon. Comedy Central was also the first U.S. cable station to air the original German episodes (also shown that year), quite a treat for fans.

In February 1998, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) announced that they would be re-airing the original series as well, allegedly to lead up to the 30th anniversary the following year. Not every PBS channel in the United States was required to carry the show, however, since each PBS station is run as an independent affiliate. Some PBS stations around the country turned the re-release into an event, though, starting with WTTW PBS in Chicago, which ran almost all of the episodes in late March 1998. The Python marathon was punctuated with portions of a brand new interview conducted with John Cleese, who visited Chicago for the event. The famed KERA PBS station in Dallas, Texas (which originally brought the series to the United States in 1974) was also seen airing frequent re-runs of the series.

In any case, Python fans can breathe a sigh of relief as the original series has come back (for now) to U.S. television.

To keep up with the latest Monty Python listings on A&E Television, visit the Arts & Entertainment TV Listings page.

The Daily Llama would like to caveat that the DVD and video re-release of Monty Python's Flying Circus has not been officially announced by A&E and is subject to change. We make no promises but are hopeful that A&E will bring the Flying Circus back to video stores. Their announcements should not be far off.