Monty Python’s Flying Circus Restored for Blu Ray

3 Stars

This just in:
http://www.montypython.com/news_mp50announce/494?fbclid=IwAR2Kcng3dT3eOYFRghifq_3e_h0paqgdm1KxvgYe_l2cGijdvOvTC1xALy0

Network Distributing will release all 45 episodes of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”, on Blu-ray and DVD, fully restored for the first time ever. Each episode has been painstakingly restored using the original video and film elements exclusively for this release. All four series, along with unseen and excised footage, sketches and much more, will be presented in an exclusive 50th anniversary limited-edition box set available exclusively here from 29th July, with all four individual series available to purchase separately at a later date.

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45 Comments

  1. Coressel

    This just in:
    http://www.montypython.com/news_mp5…FRghifq_3e_h0paqgdm1KxvgYe_l2cGijdvOvTC1xALy0

    Network Distributing will release all 45 episodes of "Monty Python’s Flying Circus", on Blu-ray and DVD, fully restored for the first time ever. Each episode has been painstakingly restored using the original video and film elements exclusively for this release. All four series, along with unseen and excised footage, sketches and much more, will be presented in an exclusive 50th anniversary limited-edition box set available exclusively here from 29th July, with all four individual series available to purchase separately at a later date.

    There trying to put me in the poor house. I will be in on this one

  2. StarDestroyer52

    There trying to put me in the poor house. I will be in on this one

    If it's sold by Network and you are in the US, you ain;t kidding. Whatever the actual price of the set, Network shipping is based on weight and it's extremely likely this will move the package into the Expedited only Shipping level — to the US £40 flat rate. Now if you have 20 other things to order, this isn't actually too bad and it will arrive in 2-3 days, but for a single item, it's painful

  3. I'll wait for the eventual US release from whoever owns the home video rights to Python.

    As for "painstakingly restored", that better mean the Pythons have employed all the recent tech the BBC has developed to resuscitate their early 70s catalog to make the show as close to original broadcast quality as possible.

  4. David Norman

    If it's sold by Network and you are in the US, you ain;t kidding. Whatever the actual price of the set, Network shipping is based on weight and it's extremely likely this will move the package into the Expedited only Shipping level — to the US £40 flat rate. Now if you have 20 other things to order, this isn't actually too bad and it will arrive in 2-3 days, but for a single item, it's painful

    Lord Dalek

    I'll wait for the eventual US release from whoever owns the home video rights to Python.

    As for "painstakingly restored", that better mean the Pythons have employed all the recent tech the BBC has developed to resuscitate their early 70s catalog to make the show as close to original broadcast quality as possible.

    It'll either be A&E or Shout Factory for the inevitable North American release.

  5. "I Love Lucy" was that only American T.V. series I ever wanted to own in its entirety.
    But when it comes to the only British T.V. series I ever wanted to own in its entirety;
    it's Monty, it's Python, it's Flying and it's Circus.
    Now I am complete.:)

  6. Lord Dalek

    Isn't A&E Home Video mostly defunct outside of History Channel content at this point?

    The last time I purchased a A&E home video dvd was over 10 years ago. Time for something different like the Shout Factory.

  7. Lord Dalek

    Remember you're brickwalled by 720×576 which is better than NTSC but still far from genuine HD or 720i for that matter.

    While that's true, I do have to say that the Classic Doctor Who episodes I've seen on Blu-ray do look quite nice, taking into consideration the limitations of the source material. Does the BBC even have the original tapes for Python? I wonder, since they were so keen on erasing tapes around the time it was originally shot. If they have the 16mm segments, those could look quite nice, but if all they have for the video material are dupes, I don't know that there's much that can be done to make them look any better than the DVD's.

    Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy also looks nice on Blu-ray, but only if your expectations are reasonable. It looks like extremely stable video, with good compression and color information. Better than the previous DVD release, but nothing resembling true HD material. It's kind of like movies finished at 2K and then upscaled to UHD. The strengths of the UHD format offer some visual benefit over BD, but nothing that is going to knock your socks off when comparing the two formats.

    EDIT: So, it looks like, at the time Python was shot, they were likely using tape with 625 lines of resolution. If they have original material, it could look quite nice on Blu-ray, compared to DVD.

    ANOTHER EDIT: (This post is beginning to read like a Python sketch.) According to this article, the BBC was all set to erase the tapes of the first season. Terry Jones caught wind of it and he and the other Pythons smuggled the tapes out to make copies. The tapes didn't get wiped and, because of the sale of the show to PBS, they survived. Hopefully, they're still in usable shape. Doctor Who fans know the pain of wiped videotapes.

  8. Brian Kidd

    While that's true, I do have to say that the Classic Doctor Who episodes I've seen on Blu-ray do look quite nice, taking into consideration the limitations of the source material. Does the BBC even have the original tapes for Python? I wonder, since they were so keen on erasing tapes around the time it was originally shot. If they have the 16mm segments, those could look quite nice, but if all they have for the video material are dupes, I don't know that there's much that can be done to make them look any better than the DVD's.

    Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy also looks nice on Blu-ray, but only if your expectations are reasonable. It looks like extremely stable video, with good compression and color information. Better than the previous DVD release, but nothing resembling true HD material. It's kind of like movies finished at 2K and then upscaled to UHD. The strengths of the UHD format offer some visual benefit over BD, but nothing that is going to knock your socks off when comparing the two formats.

    EDIT: So, it looks like, at the time Python was shot, they were likely using tape with 625 lines of resolution. If they have original material, it could look quite nice on Blu-ray, compared to DVD.

    The equivalent is 576i, as 625 includes the vertical blanking interval, in the same way that NTSC was 525 lines, but only 480 usable lines because of the VBI.

  9. Well, still better than NTSC DVD resolution, so I guess we'll be able to see all of the image information that is available, small improvement though it be. 🙂 I just hate to find out how much they're going to charge for it. BBC shows on U.S. home video = :emoji_heavy_dollar_sign::emoji_heavy_dollar_sign::emoji_heavy_dollar_sign:

  10. Stephen_J_H

    It'll either be A&E or Shout Factory for the inevitable North American release.

    Which will probably happen 2 years from now based on how long it took for Space 1999 and several other titles. But still no Avengers Seasons 4 or 6 in the US so maybe longer than 2 years

  11. David Norman

    If it's sold by Network and you are in the US, you ain;t kidding. Whatever the actual price of the set, Network shipping is based on weight and it's extremely likely this will move the package into the Expedited only Shipping level — to the US £40 flat rate. Now if you have 20 other things to order, this isn't actually too bad and it will arrive in 2-3 days, but for a single item, it's painful

    Egads. I’ll wait either for the Shout release or hopefully Network release these individually. Are shows like The Saint, The Prisoner, and The Professionals with Network or are those ITV?

  12. StarDestroyer52

    Egads. I’ll wait either for the Shout release or hopefully Network release these individually. Are shows like The Saint, The Prisoner, and The Professionals with Network or are those ITV?

    IIRC Network is owned by ITV PLC.

  13. atcolomb

    It's about time! Have the 16 Ton box set but that was released in 2005.

    Also, it had some unfortunate edits. I sold it long ago and got the UK set from Sony about 10 years ago. Hopefully, this Network set will prove definitive.

  14. StarDestroyer52

    There trying to put me in the poor house. I will be in on this one

    David Norman

    If it's sold by Network and you are in the US, you ain;t kidding. Whatever the actual price of the set, Network shipping is based on weight and it's extremely likely this will move the package into the Expedited only Shipping level — to the US £40 flat rate. Now if you have 20 other things to order, this isn't actually too bad and it will arrive in 2-3 days, but for a single item, it's painful

    It’s true that above a certain weight, Network’s shipping charges take a steep hike. I recall facing this with their UFO Complete series that came with a hefty 600 page book.

    Happily, there were some workable options. Amazon UK and Zavvi.com both carried the product at a higher unit price than Network itself, but at a fraction of the shipping charges. A little while later, Network also issued a version without the book at a much cheaper unit price and a vastly cheaper shipping charge, as it didn’t breach the weight threshold.

    You might not necessarily end up in the poor house, but you may need to skip a couple of meals.

  15. AndyMcKinney

    Also, it had some unfortunate edits. I sold it long ago and got the UK set from Sony about 10 years ago. Hopefully, this Network set will prove definitive.

    It will have the edits. Monty Python chose themselves to cut out Jesus on the telephone poles.

  16. bigshot

    It will have the edits. Monty Python chose themselves to cut out Jesus on the telephone poles.

    Are you sure about that? I just looked on the SOTTAA website, and it doesn't seem to be apparent who ordered the telephone pole cut. All that is know is that it was cut prior to transmission.

    Since the package is supposed to include All four series, along with unseen and excised footage, sketches and much more, I see no reason why this and other stuff that was cut prior to transmission (and for reruns/home video releases) won't be reinstated.

    The only reason I can see for any cuts remaining would be if music clearances cannot be obtained for the ones that were cut for music licencing reasons.

    At any rate, I'm sure this won't have some of the more ridiculous edits that were in the A&E set (such as the deleted line "masturbation" in the Summarise Proust sketch).

    At any rate, I'm sure this won't have some of the more ridiculous edits that were in the A&E set (such as the deleted line "masturbation" in the Summarise Proust sketch). Jonathan Wood is overseeing this (the same fellow who oversaw, among other things, Network's Space: 1999 Series One release. It will be as complete/definitive as possible.

  17. I think it was Terry Jones who mentioned it in an interview. They received mail on it and reconsidered it as a group. There's still a snippet of it in the fast forward version of the show at the end. I think the cut was made around the time of Life of Brian and they were getting flack. The cancer edit wasn't their choice. That was the BBC, and I think that one was done earlier. I might be wrong though. I'm working on decades old memories.

  18. I think the first 2 seasons you can only do so much. I remember hearing that S1 and S2 were to be overwritten and the tapes reused.

    Some quick googling turned up this

    There is, however, an alternate universe nightmare scenario that almost came to pass that would have diminished Monty Python’s legacy. In 1971, as the troupe was both preparing for a third season and working to produce a German-language comedy special (Monty Python’s Fliegander Zirkus), writer/performer Terry Jones got a call from someone at the BBC, letting him know that the tapes featuring the first season of their show were set to be erased and re-used.

    Understandably aghast, Jones and the Pythons quietly smuggled the original tapes out and made VHS copies, preserving their legacy and that of the hundreds of creatives informed by sketches like “The Lumberjack Song,” “Crunchy Frog” and “The Dead Parrot Sketch.” That’s right: the world came perilously close to never seeing John Cleese and Michael Palin go toe-to-toe over the purchase of a Norwegian blue who has ceased to be, is bereft of life, and has joined the choir invisible. Or as Jones put it in Mike Sacks’ book Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers:

    However, this notes that when sold to other markets, it was sent on 16mm

    Mostly, there wasn’t a mind toward preserving works like this for future historians or fans. If they thought they could re-sell an original program to a new market, they would often record them onto 16mm film and ship the tapes off to another network. This is how the BBC has been able to recover many of the lost Doctor Who episodes, as they’ve turned up in the archives of TV stations in Nigeria, New Zealand and Hong Kong. This is what wound up preserving Monty Python’s Flying Circus in the long run; the BBC was eventually able to sell broadcast rights to PBS, thereby bringing the show to a new audience and blowing the minds of comedy fans in the years before the first commercially produced VHS versions of the series were released.

    https://www.pastemagazine.com/artic…n-hero-who-saved-monthy-pythons-flying-c.html

  19. bigshot

    I think it was Terry Jones who mentioned it in an interview. They received mail on it and reconsidered it as a group. There's still a snippet of it in the fast forward version of the show at the end. I think the cut was made around the time of Life of Brian and they were getting flack. The cancer edit wasn't their choice. That was the BBC, and I think that one was done earlier. I might be wrong though. I'm working on decades old memories.

    dunno. I do recall that the whole bit in a third series episode in the funeral parlour ("surely, you're not suggesting we eat her") got a lot of complaints and (like a certain grisly scene in I Claudius) was actually erased from the master tape. That bit only ever got recovered from a NTSC North American syndication tape years later.

  20. Philip Verdieck

    I think the first 2 seasons you can only do so much. I remember hearing that S1 and S2 were to be overwritten and the tapes reused.

    I found this quote, from a 2001 Radio 4 interview with Terry Jones:

    "I'm very surprised that Python has lasted as long as this, partly because of the nature of the programmes, and more so because they were nearly wiped in the early seventies. We were tipped off by a friend in the archive department that they were about to wipe the first series of Python, and we, sort of, clandestinely smuggled the tapes out of the BBC and put them onto Phillips VCR cassettes, which was the only domestic video available at the time, and I had them in my cellar, and for a period of about six months we thought that was going to be the only record of our TV series left. And then what happened was, the BBC suddenly sold the shows in America and so they didn't wipe them, and we were saved by the bell, but it was a very close run thing."

    http://sotcaa.org/history/sotcaa2000/forum/forumarchive02/forum2289.html

    The VCR format in question:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_Cassette_Recording

  21. AndyMcKinney

    dunno. I do recall that the whole bit in a third series episode in the funeral parlour ("surely, you're not suggesting we eat her") got a lot of complaints and (like a certain grisly scene in I Claudius) was actually erased from the master tape. That bit only ever got recovered from a NTSC North American syndication tape years later.

    That would be the Undertaker sketch from season 2 episode 13 Royal Episode 13 or The Queen Will Be Watching

  22. Coressel

    I asked Paul Vanezis about it on Twitter. Here's his response:
    https://twitter.com/PaulVanezis/status/1144505376777351168

    Larry:
    Saw your link above. The big hurdle for US viewers (even if the disc isn't region-locked) is that fact that all of the original film inserts will be 25fps, and the original VT will be PAL/50, so most likely, this will be a 1080i/50 release for the UK market. I'm sure most UK fans (and purists like myself with multi-system equipment who don't want any standards conversions going on) would not be happy if this release was slowed-down to 1080p/24, or converted to 1080i/60.

    Probably the best thing for us all to hope for is a 1080i/50 release from Network for the 'home' market, and a US releasing partner (like Shout! Factory) to release a US-compatible version. Hopefully, a bit quicker than the US release of Space: 1999.

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