Release: Nov 24, 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 cut
- 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 2x06 compared here (It's a Living) we already mentioned in the appendix of the old cut reports to the US DVDs, because a particularly striking audio censorship cannot be overheard here. In the sketch with the black spot the word "cancer" was replaced by "gangrene" at the first broadcast. The rest of the story is told by a female voice while "gangrene" is obviously overdubbed by a dark male voice. So at least this change has been done rather grotesquely as it should be with the Pythons. It was tried already to undo this censorship the Personal Best DVD edition by inserting the short word "cancer" from the movie Monty Python's And Now for Something Completely Different. Here the sketch was re-recorded and has only been seen or heard uncensored. However, the change of voice was also clearly noticeable this way due to the different source. For the Blu-ray Network could now access the original sound recording of that time again for the first time, so it finally sounds flawless again in the course of the sentence.
On top of that, the "gangrene" version, which has become famous over the years, is still available separately in the bonus section of the Network release. Another extra bits to this episode are the "Extended Election Night Special" and the "Extended School Prizes filmed material" - both separately and not integrated in the episode itself.
Run time specifications are arranged according to the following scheme
Sony DVDs / British Blu-ray
For this episode there was no video board at the beginning.
22:24-22:26 / 22:25-22:27
In the "Prince and the black spot" animation, the cause of the Prince's death was defused: in the original version, he dies of "cancer". On both the US and the German Sony DVDs, one only hears a quite conspicuous "gangrene" placed over the soundtrack.
No real deviation, but in the 23rd minute the background of the animation (as in several such moments across the series) is now completely black on Blu-ray. The old DVDs often had a blue-grey mixture instead.