On November 18th, A&E Home Video will release a new collector’s edition of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Supposedly, this is THE definitive box set of the series. I knew that the complete series had been available to own on DVD before, so I decided to do a little research to see just how many “definitive” Flying Circus box sets have been released.
2000 – The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus Megaset – 14 discs
This set has all 45 episodes (in chronological order) of the Flying Circus – meaning all episodes produced for BBC TV (it does not include the German episodes ‘Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus’, produced exclusively for German TV).
Cool, the entire series. Sounds good, until …
2004 – The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus Megaset with Bonus Life of Python – 16 discs
This set has all 45 episodes (first 14 discs are the same) plus the 2 disc The Life of Python. The Life of Python includes “The Lost German Episode” of Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus – which is technically German Episode #2 (I don’t know why they included episode 2 and not 1).
Much better. The complete series, plus The Life of Python. Sounds great, until the following year:
2005 – The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus 16-Ton Megaset – 16 discs
This set has all 45 episodes (first 14 discs are the same) plus 2 discs of Monty Python Live. This means you also get Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982), Live at Aspen (1998), Parrot Sketch Not Included: 20 Years of Python (1989), and Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus: German Episode #1 (I don’t know why they included episode 1 and not 2).
Oh hell, which one? Do I want The Life of Python or Monty Python Live? Why couldn’t they have released one set with both - release an 18 disc set? Well, its a good thing I didn't buy either because now we get:
2008 – The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Collectors Edition Megaset – 21 discs
This is basically an upgraded version of the 16-Ton Megaset. It has all 45 episodes (first 14 discs are the same) plus 2 discs of Monty Python Live (Hollywood Bowl, Aspen, Parrot Sketch Not Included, and German Episode #1). You also get a guide booklet to the series and all contents in the set. In addition, you get all SIX of the Personal Best specials, and two NEW documentaries never before released in the U.S. – Before Flying Circus and Monty Python Conquers America.
So if you buy the newest 2008 Megaset, you get everything available before EXCEPT The Life of Python. Since they threw in the Personal Best specials (already available to purchase individually), why didn’t they just throw in The Life of Python???
Whew, I’m exhausted! I think I will pick up the newest Megaset, mostly for the new documentaries. With all the documentaries and specials, I don't know how much more there is to learn about the history of Monty Python. But I can't help myself. For the chance to hear any of the Pythons look back and talk about Python history, I will shell out more money. I will also pick up The Life of Python used on amazon.com or ebay for about 10 bucks. Then I will have it all.
By the way, I went to www.amazon.co.uk to see what the region 2 releases looked like, and my head exploded.