Eric Idle’s Personal Best
Airing: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 at 9:00 p.m. (Check your local listings)
With the Hollywood Bowl as a backdrop, Eric Idle, dressed as a reporter, takes viewers on a colorful look back at the classic skits that made him the “funniest of the Python boys.” The special includes some of Idle’s most memorable characters and over-the-top performances. Who can forget the “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” guy or the straitlaced host of “The Money Programme,” who breaks into song and dance? Idle’s “Personal Best” features such classic skits as the 27th Silly Olympiad, which includes sporting events like the 100-yard-dash for people with no sense of direction, the 200-meter freestyle for non-swimmers and the marathon for incontinence. The episode also features uproarious skits like the International Hairdressers Expedition to Mt. Everest, the naughty version of “Story Time,” stuffy English barristers who strip down to reveal sexy bustiers and thigh-high stockings, and the swishy lockstep performed by a not-so-tough army. Idle may be best remembered for the droll Lumberjack Song.
Graham Chapman’s Personal Best
Airing: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 at 10:00 p.m. (Check your local listings)
“Graham Chapman’s Personal Best” is a comical yet bittersweet tribute to the late comedic actor. John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones share their favorite memories of Chapman, who died on October 4, 1989, at the age of 48. A licensed doctor, Chapman traded in his stethoscope to pursue a career in comedy. His funniest sketches usually showed him playing straitlaced characters or daft middle-aged women. He may be best remembered as the uptight Colonel. Other sketches included are the solo wrestler, the accountant who decides he wants to be a lion tamer and the middle-aged couple who invite John Cleese into their living room to make a documentary about the sex lives of mollusks. Chapman also appears in such memorable Monty Python sketches as the bury-the-cat skit, Spam Restaurant and the pantomime horse as a secret agent. Though Chapman is gone, he will be remembered for his brilliant contributions to this legendary comedy troupe.
John Cleese’s Personal Best
Airing: Wednesday, March 1, 2006 at 9:00 p.m. (Check your local listings)
John Cleese’s one hour special features the star at “age 96” at his home in Santa Barbara, California. Celebrity journalist Dayna Devon interviews the wrinkled actor about his favorite Monty Python episodes. Between long-winded rants that the classic series was anti-French, anti-Danish and of course anti-Belgian, fans are treated to some of Cleese’s preferred sketches: the brain specialist, the dueling reporters and the ever-popular confuse-a-cat skit. Who can forget Cleese’s self-defense teacher who shows his students how to protect themselves against fresh fruit? Or the Townswomen’s Guild, featuring prissy housewives re-enacting the battle of Pearl Harbor — which turns into a slapdown mud fight? When questioned about his biggest regret, Cleese declares it’s the deprivation of a knighthood. He senses the reason may have something to do with the Upper Class Twit of the Year sketch, showing several stuffy men competing in a series of challenges such as running over old women, taking bras off mannequins and finally shooting themselves in the head. Though Cleese suffers a massive heart-attack at the end of the show, the good news is that it was caught on tape. Cleese’s epitaph reads, “Gone But Never Missed.”
Terry Gilliam’s Personal Best
Airing: Wednesday, March 1, 2006 at 10:00 p.m. (Check your local listings)
Fans of the wickedly absurd cartoons featured on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” are in for a treat when they tune into “Terry Gilliam’s Personal Best.” The entire show is a sampling of his offbeat and brilliant animation, created for “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and characterized by odd shapes and moving cutouts from vintage photographs. The special features such classic cartoons as the killer cars, Royal Nay Vee, the voluptuous charwoman and the popular house hunters, who track down houses too dangerous to live in. Viewers see the famous foot as it squishes various objects, brooms that sweep groups of people off cliffs and the naughty full frontal nudity bit. This program gives viewers a look at the remarkable animation that added such distinct charm to the Monty Python series.
Michael Palin’s Personal Best
Airing: Wednesday, March 8, 2006 at 9:00 p.m. (Check your local listings)
Michael Palin may be best remembered for “fish slapping,” one of the landmark skits from “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” In his one-hour special, Palin highlights his favorite performances, which can best be described as “classic Python.” Fans will delight in sketches such as the tobacconist; the cheese shop that has no cheese; the chemist sketch; and of course the Scotsman on a horse. In addition, the hour features Palin’s memorable performance as the cheeky host of “Blackmail”; the mosquito hunters; and the semaphore version of Wuthering Heights, in which the characters manically wave flags instead of speaking. Palin’s tips on “fish slapping” include the approach, delivery and whack on the side of the head. Piranhas are not recommended.
Terry Jones’ Personal Best
Airing: Wednesday, March 8, 2006 at 10:00 p.m. (Check your local listings)
Surrounded by lavish furnishings, Terry Jones credits himself as the creative genius behind “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” For the first time, Jones shares with viewers his favorite sketches, which include the killer joke skit in which people “die laughing”; F.G. Superman, who turns into the bicycle repair man and saves the day; the bishop; the final round of the Olympic Hide and Seek; a casualty hospital where people are constantly being injured; and the poets. Other famous Jones skits include the Spanish Inquisition, in which inquisitors torture an old woman using soft cushions and comfy chairs, and an offbeat version of the song “Anything Goes,” highlighted by the appearance of a roller skating priest. Jones’ fans will be delighted by his classically absurd bits — still funny after all these years.