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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > British TV > The Complete Ripping Yarns (Michael Palin/Terry Jones)

The Complete Ripping Yarns (Michael Palin/Terry Jones)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Episodes: B



Soon after Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Terry Jones & Michael Palin struck out on their own and did an underrated, clever, hilarious show called Ripping Yarns.  Now restored for the first time since it original 1975-78 broadcasts, Acorn Media is issuing The Complete Ripping Yarns as a double DVD set loaded with extras and the show holds up extremely well on its 30th Anniversary.  The episodes are:


1)     Tomkinson’s Schooldays (guest star Ian Ogilvy)

2)     The Testing Of Eric Olthwaite

3)     Escape from Stalag Luft 112B

4)     Murder At Moorstones Manor

5)     Across The Andes By Frog (guest star Denholm Elliott)

6)     The Curse Of The Claw

7)     Whinfrey’s Last Case

8)     Golden Gordon

9)     Roger Of The Raj (guest star Allan Cuthbertson)



What the show essentially does is takes genre work closely associated with the British Cinema and literary tradition and do it very well, then when they have got it just right, start sending it up through situations and dialogue.  You do not even need to know which genres to know how purely British is all is.  This is very impressive and is still tied to pulp youth literature, even when it goes beyond that.  It can be said that up to World War II, part of the British get-up-and-go was linked to childhood, something we can say they invented in part as a growing period prior to entering the real world as an adult.  After WWII, The United States took this over and the British equivalent could carry on as a result.  This show was produced in the final years before Neo-Conservative kicked in and put the better aspects of this on life support.  A few years later, the series would not have been possible in the mode it was made.


The 1.33 X 1 image is very interesting, having been restored.  The credits were shot in 35mm film, while the shows were produced in 16mm except the first, which mixed film and video.  It is the softest of the nine, while the rest look better and were shot exceptionally well.  The production design for each is exceptional and it was this expense that sadly ended the show before its time.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is the original monophonic sound boosted to a simple stereo that is also restored.  The combination is fine and far outshines previous VHS releases.


Extras are many and include an excellent booklet about the history of the Python crew and how this show figures into it, as well as information about these episodes and DVDs.  On the DVDs themselves, there is a DVD-ROM segment that allows you to access all the teleplays, while all DVD players can access the nine audio commentary tracks by Palin and Jones, turn off the laugh tracks on shows 5 – 9 if you wish, get deleted scenes, the 1983 Comic Roots: Michael Palin TV special, a stills gallery and restoration clip to show how much work was done to fix these shows.


The Complete Ripping Yarns is a riot and one of the best comedy DVD releases of the year.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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