They’re Not The Messiahs – They’re Very Naughty Boys

Please watch Holy Flying Circus.

Describing it is something altogether more difficult.  Essentially this is a BBC comedy-drama that charts the events of 1979 when the Pythons, fresh from making the Life of Brian are trying to get it out on general release. They face opposition from a well-meaning group of Christians with speech impediments (curiously like the group from Citizen Smith), local councils (off-screen pandering to the English chattering class) and it all culminates in the famous debate between Palin, Cleese and some of their detractors on a chat show.

It also features some of the best swashbuckling puppets I’ve yet seen.

Yes you did read that right.  It’s hard telling where the fantasy stops and the realism begins.  Real events are woven in between fantastical flights that name checks Pythonesque while still feeling fresh and it’s very funny.  There’s lots of  littles details that add to the story – Palin’s wife is portrayed as Terry Jones female persona and John Cleese has his very own “On behalf of…” to make it clear that this is a fictional rendition and he’s not actually Basil Fawlty (hilarious).  While I mention these two characters I also need to mention that the casting is sublime.  Not only do the Pythons look like their real-life counterparts but they sound and act just like we imagine them: Palin is the nicest man on the planet, Cleese is difficult, Terry Jones obsessed with cinema, Graham Chapman is gay and smokes a pipe while Terry Gilliam is the maverick always trying to animate the hell out of every idea – oh, and he’s the token American.  It’s amazing watching it all come together.

This film needs to be seen.  It needs to be discussed.  If you’ve any doubts about the BBC this is the sort of drama that makes having it worthwhile.

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