Archive for Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Fliegender Zirkus

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , on March 2, 2018 by dcairns

Tatort is a German cop show that’s been running forever. It can get pretty wild — one would suggest it had entered its decadent phase, except that they had Sam Fuller on it to direct an episode entitled DEAD PIGEON ON BEETHOVEN STREET in 1973 so one has to assume it’s always been that way.

Dominik Graf, maestro of the modern krimi, has directed several episodes. By chance, I obtained a 1995 show he helmed, set at the onset of a blizzard — the perfect viewing for this snowswept March. Decadence this time includes bizarre red herrings like a housing estate where butterflies never go out of season, and a series of references to Monty Python sketches. When the first one showed up (above), it made me momentarily wonder if the Eric the Half a Bee sketch was telling the truth and Marcel Proust really DID have a haddock. I wouldn’t put it past him.

And then we get this — 

Excellent plotting, as in all Graf’s stuff. I interviewed him once at the Edinburgh Film Fest but the stupid machine didn’t record.

Here’s how you do a great mystery, apparently: come up with a good crime. Then work backwards, disguising what really happened under layers of obfuscation, until you arrive at the inciting incident, which also has to be intriguing and unusual. I can never manage to write backwards. I start with a good clue, and then i can’t solve it, or else it leads to a disappointing solution. Backwards is the only way to go. If I could find a co-writer with the backwards ability, I could RULE THE WORLD.



But at what cost?

Posted in FILM, literature, Television with tags , , on September 24, 2016 by dcairns

I was always amused by Terry Gilliam’s animation segment “The Killer Cars” from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, in which — at first — automobiles spring out from alleyways to crush innocent pedestrians. Then, scientists engineer a killer car killer — in the form of a vast, erect, Siamese cat, which devours the homicidal vehicles with alacrity. “But at what cost?” booms the narrator in best William Alland manner*, as the colossal kitty goes on to feast on the metropolis itself, sucking entire tower blocks up like spaghetti.

The cat appears in Terry Gilliam’s illustrated biography, Gilliamesque, an entertaining read, as you’d expect. Turns out the ‘meser was Gilliam’s own, though it never had a name, save for “cat” (unless we count the secret feline name attested to by T.S. Eliot) and the picture of it on hind legs was taken while Gilliam’s dad supported the protesting beast under the armpits. As a Siamese owner or curator myself, I have occasionally had to lift Tasha the Terrible away from danger or valuable treasures, and am always amused by the way her body and back legs go rigid, hanging like a slightly curved hook, like an inverted comma. And I always say “But at what cost?” in a stentorian voice.

*False memory syndrome: watching the clip, I now discover the voice was a plummy, high-pitched squawk, suggestive perhaps of a public information film from the forties, when primitive sound recording colluded with certain voice types to create shrill, honking narrations.

How thrilling! Cat appears in this archive interview at 2.52, licking itself as the interviewer asks “How does the sound work?” in a very BBC manner.

And yes: very sad about the other Terry.