Monty Python's Flying Circus was one of the funniest shows ever put on anybody's TV, and this is a great buy for those who don't own a prior edition. Even if you own a previous edition, you might consider forking over the bucks for this one and giving your older DVDs away to somebody who doesn't have them.
For outright lunatic humor, nobody has ever come close to the Pythons in their prime. John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones managed something timeless when the BBC gave them a show in the late-'60s. American sketch-comedy shows from Saturday Night Live to Mr. Show owe everything to these nuts, who also managed to conquer film with two of the funniest films ever made (Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian).
The first time I saw Python, I was probably about 8 or 9, and growing tired of Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo. The first skit I saw had a screaming Cleese teaching a roomful of students how to protect themselves from people attacking them with fresh fruit. I was hooked.
If there's anything bad to say about this set, it's that it will eat up a lot of your time. I popped in one disc and wound up watching four before I could stop myself. It's the most addictive form of comedy out there. Fortunately, it enriches the brain rather than making it mush.
Special Features: The package includes all of the Flying Circus episodes. On top of that, you also get the movie Monty Python: Live at the Hollywood Bowl, a host of special features on each disc, and two brand-new documentaries with fresh interviews with the surviving Pythons. Before the Flying Circus has the Pythons reminiscing about their influences and the stuff they did leading up to the show. Monty Python Conquers America features not only the Pythons, but also folks like Carl Reiner, Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Judd Apatow discussing how the Python phenomenon got started on our shores. You also get all of the Personal Best Collections, where each Python participated in a documentary about themselves, and a terrific feature in which Gilliam takes you through his animated intros. It all fits into a compact 21-disc set that will be the crown jewel of your DVD collection.
I got a chance to see The Police on their recent reunion tour, and I was impressed. Many of the old songs had new twists, and a lot of the experiments worked (although their rendition of "Don't Stand So Close to Me" was bloody awful). After seeing solo Sting too many times over the years, it was fun to see these three guys making music together again.
This concert, filmed in Buenos Aires, shows the band in fine form. Sting hits most of the high notes; Stewart Copeland is a god on percussion; and Andy Summers mesmerizes on guitar. Upon conclusion of the tour, The Police boasted that they would never perform together again. I really hate it when they say that.
Special Features: This is a Best Buy exclusive, and it comes in a deluxe package that includes CDs of the show. The best reason to get the DVD would be Better Than Therapy, a revealing documentary by Jordan Copeland (Stewart's son) that shows the band behind the scenes. All the rumors about these guys having tension-filled rehearsals are true. It's no surprise that they like to take long breaks from each other.
This rocks, and it's gotten my holidays off to the best start ever. Stephen Colbert can't leave his cabin, because he's being terrorized by a grizzly bear; this means he can't make it to the studio to record his Christmas special. Luckily, many of the stars (like Elvis Costello, Toby Keith and, of course, Jon Stewart) stop by the cabin to contribute.
Because he doesn't want to pay royalties, Colbert performs a lot of his own Christmas carols, and they aren't half-bad. Highlights include Willie Nelson appearing in Colbert's nativity scene. (Willie: "Stephen, I'm so high, you're hallucinating!") Of course, Willie sings a heartfelt ode to weed and gets busted at the nativity scene for bringing pot to the Baby Jesus. Stewart stops by to proclaim the wonders of Hanukkah, which gives us the splendor of seeing him sing. Feist has a very cute moment as an angel operator urging Colbert to be patient with his prayers.
All in all, it's really weird and a lot of fun.
Special Features: The Awesome Video Advent Calendar offers a video message from Colbert every day in December leading up to Christmas. There's also a Yule Log Book Burning video, and some alternate endings. Colbert is insane.