PBS Paints Picture of Terry Gilliam’s Animation

If you’re a fan of the highly original and wacky animated sequences featured on the groundbreaking series Monty Python’s Flying Circus you shouldn’t miss a special program airing on PBS this week. Part of the new Monty Python’s Personal Best series, this week’s episode centers on the animated world of Terry Gilliam, who went on direct classics such as Time Bandits, Brazil, The Fisher King and 12 Monkeys.

Viewers are treated to Gilliam’s 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. Alos included are sequences featuring the famous foot as it squishes various objects, brooms that sweep groups of people off cliffs and the naughty full frontal nudity bit. In a reversal of the original show, live-action segments link the toons in a surreal collection of killer cars, sprouting hands and dancing teeth.

Each of the five living Pythons’John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin’produced and wrote his own episode, and collaborated to create the sixth special in honor of deceased member Graham Chapman. The episodes will continue to air in two-hour blocks on PBS through March 8. For more info, visit. www.pbs.org. A&E Home Entertainment will release the complete series as well as the individual episodes on DVD on March 28. Each hour will be available for $19.95, while the complete six-part set will be priced at $79.95 ($55.99 on amazon.com).

The Pythons burst onto the scene in October 1969 when “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” debuted in Britain on the BBC. The series’ 45 episodes ran until December 1974. American audiences were first introduced to such phrases as “nudge, nudge, wink, wink,” “naughty bits” and “nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!” when local PBS stations obtained broadcast rights to the series in 1974.