40 years ago today Monty Python premiered. In celebration of that, a bit of an appreciation for one of the most groundbreaking, brilliant, and hilarious shows ever to air. One of my elitist nerd peeves is people who love Monty Python but have only seen Holy Grail. It's not quite blasphemy, probably only a little worse than my opinion that Beckett was a better novelist than playwright, but the Python's made ok films, but the TV series was their best work. Life of Brian is a masterpiece, but Grail and Meaning of Life, which have their moments, really aren't that funny, and can't seem to reconcile the medium with what its trying to deconstruct. I believe this is partially because the series undercut and reacted against television tropes and expectations, but also satirized what they saw as the all-too serious avant-garde cinema of their day (see subtitled French Film), lampooning Pasolini and Godard, and even semi-mainstream directors on the cutting edge like Peckinpah. That their films seem to undercut television (the historian in Grail, and the personalities in Meaning of Life) more so than film. Perhaps there was a fear that undercutting film discourse would be selling out, giving in to the avant-garde of the time, and tried to do so in more conventional narrative ways via the historical epic. In many ways a true adaptation of the series to film would have looked very much like Godard's Week End.
For an exhaustive look into the genius of the Pythons look here at Daryl Larsen's massive reference work.
The Daily Mirror (UK) Compiled their list of 10 favorite sketches here.
Here are 20 of my personal favourites in addition to that list: