Release: Nov 29, 2019 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB - more from this series
Comparison between the censored European DVDs by Sony (identical to the American DVD by A&E Home Entertainment) and the uncut British Blu-ray by Network on Air
- 1 scene with altered soundtrack
- No time difference
Censorship on MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS
A few years before the Pythons became immortal with their movies, they rose to fame on British television with Monty Python's Flying Circus. The British original series ran for 4 seasons, while the first three still had 13 episodes each and the final one without John Cleese only had 6 episodes.
After a first US DVD set by A&E Entertainment, Sony 2006 took on the series and released it on DVD in e.g. Great Britain and Germany. On some episodes this meant a clear added value compared to the American DVD release. In Episode 3x05 a well known censorship of the word "masturbate" was finally added in again and Episode 3x12 was even about two minutes longer than the first DVD edition. Nevertheless, among eager fans and thanks to recordings of early TV broadcasts and literature from the Pythons, further censorship and cuts are known. These have been added over the years, especially through syndicated airings in the 80s, but some were even done right after or during the first broadcast. A small summary can be found in the appendix of the two cut reports, in the Blu-ray.com thread e.g. here further examples were collected.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 show some specials were now produced in Great Britain but the big surprise was the announcement of a Blu-ray premiere. Since 04. November 2019 it's now available in Great Britain and the US. We're now diving deeper into the promise that the episodes will not only be elaborately restored, but also "complete and uncut on Blu-ray for the first time". In a Q&A session under their own Facebook post Network on Air wrote "the episodes have been restored to the original UK broadcast length". Shortly before the release, the listing of all special features also showed in more detail which episodes can be expected to contain new material.
The differences in season 2
Now that we have compared all 13 episodes of the 2nd season in the old Sony DVD version with the new Network Blu-ray, we can state that this second season for deviations within of the episodes can no longer rely 100% on the specification of "Reinstated content" in the special features. But most of the time there have been real differences only here. Each episode is otherwise almost identical by the frame and the "Extended & unused film material" promised for 2x04 (The Buzz Aldrin Show) and 2x10 (Scott of the Antarctic) can only be found individually as a bonus. Especially with Gilliam's animations, however, the Blu-ray now shows consistently stronger colors and a larger image framing. So quality-wise it can be recommended.
But there is still one general peculiarity throughout the whole box set. At the beginning of each episode there is a roughly 30-second recording from the TV studio of that time. Here a countdown for the studio audience runs down and occasionally some nice comments from the Pythons can be heard in the background. By default the Blu-ray jumps directly to chapter 2 right afterwards, but this is part of each video stream and explains the longer runtime.
The episode 2x11 compared here (How Not To Be Seen) is one of the best-known cases of censorship. In an animation by Gilliam you can see Jesus on the cross and Satan as a telephone salesman. For years, this was considered lost, but then first appeared as a B/W version in a collector's archive, later also in the original color version. In the bonus featurette "1971 Interview with Ian MacNaughton", this is also mentioned in the 21st minute as one of the censorship interventions required at that time. Anyway, Network was fortunately able to restore the sketch in excellent quality and inserted it back into the episode.
There's a well-known second censorship, the mention of cancer in the "Conquistador Coffee Campaign" sketch. This was NOT reinstated in the episode itself but you can find the uncensored version individually in the bonus material. It's interesting to note that Paul Vanezis, who participated in the production of the set, has commented on details several times in the thread on Blu-ray.com. Here he commented on these two deviations:
Run time specifications are arranged according to the following scheme
Sony DVDs / British Blu-ray
Nothing special to note about the film board in the beginning, just many numbers of the countdown.
22:00 / 22:32-23:05
The cartoon religion speaker is seen a little longer and speaker says "Now, as I..."
The phone rings again.
Speaker: "Hello? What? I can't hear you."
Thereupon you see a soldier hanging from a mast outside; "Hey Harry, we've got a bad connection on line 422, can you switch the points over?"
The screen opens up and you can see that he is hanging on a cross and next to him there are also other crucified people to be seen.
"No, that's still not it, no no, oh the Devil take it."
The animation wobbles a bit and the earth breaks open.
Satan comes out with several billboards; "Did somebody call? Oh, I'm sorry, I think this is rather the wrong moment for sales talk. Terribly sorry, my fault. Excuse me please."
He turns into a bat and flutters away - in the beginning you can still see it flying out of the picture above the follow-up shot.
While the episode itself is still censored at this point in the main version on Blu-ray there's an extended version of the intro sketch stored individually in the bonus section. One actually finds the well-known second cancer mention within the 2nd season uncensored for the first time at 01:57 / 02:28 .
After Eric Idle's "It was a soft cell, Sir" John Cleese says "Finally, these tactless references to leprosy and terminal cancer" at the beginning of the shot when he returns to his seat. Here, too, this part of the shot was unfortunately only inserted by a noticeably worse video source in the middle of the recording and was therefore probably omitted in the HD main version. Otherwise there are no extensions in the extended version of the sketch.