“Holy Flying Circus” Review

To have something you hold dear taken lightly, to hear familiar and cherished words crudely imitated for the purposes of entertainment; that’s something Holy Flying Circus has helped me to understand. Like Life of Brian it was incredibly clever and well executed, and the jokes were very very funny, but it made me feel queasy to have the motives of the Pythons and by extension the righteousness of their conduct even questioned. Yes, I realise the irony in all this. It’s made me into Mel Smith in the Not the Nine O’Clock News Sketch, which I’ll now have to post again:

I suppose the major criticism I have, if I try to be objective for a moment, was that the recreation of the Friday Night, Saturday Morning show added nothing to the original. The additional context and the distracting cutaways were superfluous. Watching Palin get so upset in person is far more affecting than seeing it re-enacted. The authenticity is more important than anything else.

Still, you cannot fault it for its respectful treatment of The Nicest Man in the World. To criticise Palin? That would have been blasphemy.

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

4 thoughts on ““Holy Flying Circus” Review

  1. Agreed.  Might have been better to have included footage from the original show.  I bet it was the one big debate they had behind the scenes.  Another way would have been to have simply played it on the reactions of the other Pythons.  But the show had the Palin figure as the spine and not showing him in there would have been like not showing Rocky fight.  I suspect it wasn’t helped by the repeat of #snsm afterwards. 

    1. I think the reactions of the other Pythons might have worked. I’m not so sure using original footage would have meshed… could have been jarring. Although, when Barbara Windsor appeared in Cor Blimey it took me a few moments to realise she wasn’t Samantha Spiro anymore.

      1. The bloke playing Palin was really extraordinary.  I assumed the joke with Steve Punt playing Eric Idle was that he wasn’t.  He was playing Steve Punt.  I decided that was deliberate.

        1. Agree, Steve Punt’s already a bit Eric Idleish, especially in appearance. I guess they reckoned that was enough. Worse was the lazy reliance on a pipe or an American accent to identify other team members. The actor doing Cleese had moments of Cleesiness (uttering the words “jolly good”) that elevated the performance above basic moustache wearing. I read Jones’ tweet that the Rufus Jones looked more like him when he was doing Helen Palin before I saw the show and thought it was a joke – turns out it wasn’t – he really did look Terry Jonesey as Mrs P.

          Though I thought the actor doing Palin looked more like Wilson from House, it really was extraordinary the way he picked up all the Palin speech patterns and characteristics – I’d love to see him in something else now, to know how much is natural similarity and how much was studied mimicry.

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