Monty Python alive and well on CD-ROM and the 'Net
What's that? You say the penguin has left the telly and is now on your monitor? Hmm ... sounds like Monty Python is back.
And indeed they are. The offbeat British comedy troupe has announced they're reuniting for a tour, they have a new computer game out (see the accompanying review) based on their movie "The Meaning of Life." and they're all over the Internet.
Yes, it's been 30 years since Eric Idle, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and the late Graham Chapman started Monty Python for the BBC, and 15 years since their last movie together, but like The Beatles or Star Trek, Monty Python is a cult cum big business. Their TV show remains in reruns, their movies can all be found at the local video rental shop, and their decision in March to reunite fulfilled a longtime demand from their rabid and slightly batty fans.
And, again like Star Trek and The Beatles, Monty Python is a virtual institution on the Internet, spawning Web sites and newsgroups.
Pythonline is the official Monty Python site. It is, as one would guess, pretty silly. There is an insult page where you can send Pythonesque insults via e-mail, an online guide to the "alternet," and a games section (not yet finished when visited). The site is a bit buggy, with quite a few bad links. It's also pretty low-tech, and, frankly, pretty disappointing. The one area here that's really good is the chat area, especially the "Swedish Message" area where visitors can post messages. It's pretty busy, what with all the Pythomaniacs discussing their favorite skits and trading gossip on the members of the group. Most of those posting have adopted nom de Pythons, such as "Mr. Bounder" or "Sgt. Major" or any of the other looney characters from the show and movies.
Far more polished if less entertaining is the Monty Python page hosted by Panasonic Interactive Media, publisher of the Monty Python computer games. While they don't yet have an area dedicated to the new "Meaning of Life" game, the above page does have quite a bit of info on their earlier Monty Python CD-ROMs: "Looney Bin" and "The Quest for the Holy Grail."
The best of the "official" sites is easily the BBC's Monty Python page. The site is low-key (befitting the British) but has a nice biography and favorite characters section on each member of the troupe. It's colorful, professional and entertaining.
Running a Monty Python search on any of the major search engines will turn up hundreds, even thousands of hits, ranging from news stories (like the BBC's announcement of the pending Python reunion to fan sites. There are so many Python sites that Lycos has a "Community Page" set up to list them.
Of the dozens of fan sites listed by the search engines that I visited, one of the largest is David Stuart's Random Monty Python Skit Server. It's a text-based site, but each time you go there you get the transcript of a different Monty Python skit. There is also a hot-linked list of all the skits on his site at the bottom, so you can browse through them if you prefer.
Another fan site, Nigel Aves', has lyrics to most Monty Python songs (including ones that have only appeared on record).
But the very best fan site perhaps the best Monty Python site of all is run by Stefan Gmoser of Austria. Stefan clearly has far too much time on his hands, as he has assembled a nearly comprehensive collection of Python skits, songs, trivia, biographies and clips. The amount of Python material here is beyond any reason or excuse. For instance: The man has the full script for the short film about the renegade insurance firm that runs before "The Meaning of Life."
Quite frankly, for hardcore Python fans the type who take over family reunions by reciting en masse every MP skit this site will be invaluable as you age and your memory deteriorates. You can find every song, every skit, here and continue tormenting your neighbors far into your senility.
Then there are the Usenet newsgroups devoted to Monty Python alt.fan.monty-python, alt.fan.monty-python.silliness, sanet.monty-python and alt.binaries.sounds.monty-python. The alt.fan.monty-python newsgroup on the Usenet even has its own home page, http://www.dcscomp.com.au/sdp/afmp/, which is a nice place to get a feel for the newsgroup.
As mentioned, there are thousands of Monty Python sites on the 'Net, and you can easily spend not hours, but days, weeks and years just visiting all of them.
© Copyright Jim Trageser
All rights reserved