In the history of sketch comedy, Monty Python's Flying Circus stands as The Beatles of humor. Not only were members Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, and Terry Gilliam geniuses at the short skit format, but they redefined the configuration and expanded its realm of possibilities. Celebrated like rock stars and elevated to the status of gods, such success begs the question: does the origin of this myth --- i.e. the TV show from several decades ago -- still hold up. The answer, without a doubt, is a resounding yes.

Spread out over four series (the UK answer to seasons) from 1969 to 1974, the group created 45 fantastic installments of pure British lunacy. From slapstick to scathing satire, the ridiculous and the surreal, the former Oxford and Cambridge grads took the British Broadcasting system by storm and the maelstrom is still going strong almost 40 years later. By now, fans all have their favorite bits -- the "Dead Parrot" sketch (a customer returns to a pet shop to complain about his lifeless purchase), the "Spanish Inquisition" (in which members of the famed Church torture tribunal use such horrific devious means as the comfy chair and the soft pillows to elicit confessions), and the "Ministry of Silly Walks" (pure physical comedy greatness in motion). While the troupe would go on to create three of the greatest big screen comedies of all time, the TV show equally illustrates their range as well as the reasons for their longevity.

Continue reading: Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Complete Series Review