PBS to Have New Monthy Python Show

PBS finds its holy grail with Python shows (Reuters)

PBS will be the home for six new Monty Python specials this spring. Each special will focus on a member of the British comedy troupe, mixing new footage with clips from Python movies and the group’s television series.

American audiences first discovered Monty Python on public television after PBS obtained the rights to the sketch comedy series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” from the BBC in the 1970s, said John Wilson, PBS’ senior vp and co-chief programming executive.

The new series, spotlighting Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones, will be called “Monty Python’s Personal Best” and is being produced by Python (Monty) Pictures Ltd.

While I will be very inclined to TiVo this program, one can not help but wonder why we need taxpayer subsidies for this sort of thing. Python (admittedly shown originally on the British Government-owned BBC) has been a great commercial success for thirty years now. People are paying $600 apiece for tickets to see “Spamalot” on Broadway. Why could a commercial or cable network not produce this show?

FILED UNDER: General, Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Damned if you do…

    James Joyner notes that PBS will have six Monty Python specials next spring. Then observes: …one can not help but wonder why we need taxpayer subsidies for this sort of thing. Python (admittedly shown originally on the British Government-owned BBC)…

  2. DC Loser says:

    I don’t FOX audiences “getting” the Python type of humor. Maybe the Comedy Channel, but defintely not the big networks.

  3. Brian J. says:

    One must be educated and elite, dear boy, to properly appreciate anglophile wit. Because Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam! flies above the intelligence level of anyone who would go to a Ben Stiller movie or who would watch unwashed lowbrow humour like the Drew Carey Show on network television.

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  6. Suwedo says:

    one can not help but wonder why we need taxpayer subsidies for this sort of thing.

    The article doesn’t indicate the funding source for this show. PBS is a private, non-profit broadcaster which receives most of its money from private sources and royalites. Most government money comes in the form of grants geared toward particular programming.

    Anyone concerned with subsidizing the broadcast industry should listen to Reupblican Representative Chris Cox who has been critical of the $100 billion in digital spectrum subsidies given to private broadcasters over the past few years. This far outstrips the indirect money going to PBS.

  7. McGehee says:

    Anyone concerned with subsidizing the broadcast industry should listen to Reupblican Representative Chris Cox who has been critical of the $100 billion in digital spectrum subsidies given to private broadcasters over the past few years. This far outstrips the indirect money going to PBS.

    I don’t see how criticizing the subsidy that PBS receives is equivalent to defending any other subsidy — and I don’t see how pointing out those other subsidies justifies the one to PBS.

  8. Suwedo says:

    I don’t see how criticizing the subsidy that PBS receives is equivalent to defending any other subsidy—and I don’t see how pointing out those other subsidies justifies the one to PBS.

    I am not justifying subsidies to anyone. James expressed concern about why “taxpayer subsidies” were going to prop up a show with commercial appeal and wondered why a “commercial or cable network [would] not produce this show.”

    My point in bringing up Cox’s critiuqe is that if a commercial network was producing the show they would be receiving subsidies as well.

    In discussions of PBS and NPR there is a tendency to set them up in distinction to commercial broadcasters who operate by “market” principles. The important thing to realize is that the latter are highly subsidized and that the notion that a “free market” dominates the economy of commercial broadcast media is a myth.

  9. ALS says:

    Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

    Yes, absolutely. The brilliance in these skits is utterly astounding.

    (eyes rolling)

  10. Bithead says:

    Don’t go after the Beeb too much, guys.
    Python re-runs are their cash cow, these days… and are getting more in terms of raw viewership than anything they’re turning out currently.

    Which oughta tell you something of the quality of what they’re turning out currently.

    Let’s put it this way; if it wasn’t govenment owned and run it’d have been out of biz a long time gone.

  11. Lt bell says:

    lets see how religiously conservative the right wing nuts can force monty python to become-

    The subsidy is not free you see, we all have to pay for it by watching what the religionists want us to watch.

  12. LJD says:

    Look at the converse and see which rings more true:

    lets see how liberally deviant the left wing nuts can force monty python to become-

    The subsidy is not free you see, we will all have to pay for it by watching new characters, one of every skin color, living in a “non-traditional” “family”.