Ripping Yarns-The Complete Ripping Yarns (1976)

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Released 2-Nov-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Michael Palin And Terry Jones
Alternate Audio-Audience Free Track (Except Episodes 1 And 4)
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Comic Roots: Michael Palin
Featurette-Black And Blue-Secrets
DVD-ROM Extras-Scripts
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1976
Running Time 273:34
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Alan J.W. Bell
Jim Franklin
Terry Hughes

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Michael Palin
Terry Jones
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Alternate Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis


'I was 17 miles from Greybridge before I was caught by the school leopard'

'It were always raining on Denley Moor'

'They were so black, even the white bits were black'

    When Monty Python's Flying Circus, the television series, ended in 1974, the various members of the group kept themselves busy in several ways including film projects, television specials, educational films and many other projects. One of those projects was a series of nine half hour television comedies collectively titled Ripping Yarns. They were written by Terry Jones and Michael Palin and all starred Palin in a variety of roles. Jones appeared only in the first one, Tomkinson's Schooldays. One other Python member makes a brief appearance in one episode. The episodes were made sporadically between 1975 and 1979 for the BBC.

    The basic concept of this series is a comedic or satirical take on boys' adventure stories such as were routinely collected into volumes with titles like Boys Own Stories or indeed Ripping Yarns. Of course, with Python style humour added they became rather subversive including lots of sex jokes and similar mischief. Most of these episodes are very funny and one or two are classics. A few are more silly than funny, but overall the quality is very high. Palin, an effortlessly funny man, is wonderful throughout inhabiting each character that he plays, sometimes more than one in each episode. The stories are mostly set between 1910 and World War II, involving mystery, murder, overseas expeditions and Yorkshire.

    The episodes are:

  1. Tompkinson's Schooldays (30:14) - Made as the pilot for the series in 1975, this is classic television comedy and the best of the series. The story involves Tompkinson's (Palin) difficult days at Public School in England including bullying, cruel sports and punishment. Palin also plays the slightly perverted headmaster. Jones appears as one of the masters.
  2. The Testing of Eric Olthwaite (28:38) - Another classic, this one focuses on the story of Eric Olthwaite (Palin), one of the most boring men in Yorkshire, who has an obsession with shovels, black puddings and talking about rain. When his family runs away he becomes a bank robber. Watch out for the racing vultures.
  3. Escape From Stalag Luft 112B (28:52) - Major Errol Phipps (Palin) is a German POW in WWI and has attempted to escape 56 times. He is transferred to a new camp from which no-one has escaped only to find that the other inmates actively try to stop him escaping. Not quite as good as the first two.
  4. Murder at Moorstones Manor (29:38) - Two brothers, car obsessed Hugo and more normal Charles (both played by Palin) return to the family home to visit but as people start dying suspicion falls on one of them, amongst others. More silly than funny.
  5. Across The Andes by Frog (31:21) - Capt Walter Snetterton (Palin) a brilliant botanist thinks he can train frogs to cross the Andes and sets out on an expedition to prove his theory. This episode guest stars Denholm Elliott. An excellent episode.
  6. The Curse of the Claw (32:12) - Kevin Orr (Palin), whose wife has died, is alone in his house left to him by his uncle when an expedition arrives in the middle of the night featuring some Burmese natives in the party. Orr tells the expedition leader the story of his Uncle Jack and the curse of the claw. Classic episode.
  7. Whinfrey's Last Case (31:29) - The Germans are trying to start World War I a year early without informing England. The War Office calls in Gerald Whinfrey (Palin), national hero, to sort the issue out. He refuses saying he needs a holiday and sets off for Cornwall instead. When he arrives at the cottage he has rented all does not seem well and soon he finds he must unravel a mystery to survive. Very funny stuff.
  8. Golden Gordon (31:52) - Palin stars as Gordon Ottershaw, a tragic fan of a perennially losing football team, Barnstoneworth United. When the board decides to sell the club as a scrap yard, Gordon takes matters into his own hands. Classic. Watch out for John Cleese in a walk-on part.
  9. Roger of the Raj (29:18) - Roger is a young man from a privileged upbringing whose father is the Colonel of a regiment which moved to India during WWI. He is expected to be an officer in the regiment but all he really wants is to run away with his sweetheart and open a chemist. Probably the weakest of the series. Features Joan Sanderson who played Mrs Richards in Fawlty Towers.

    Highly Recommended for fans of quality comedy and essential for Python fans.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good considering the age of the material.

    The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout considering the age, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was decent but nothing special. There was light grain throughout which was heavier from time to time, although never really bad.

    The colour was quite good with no major issues to report. There was some obligatory flaring from bright objects and candles.

    The only noticeable artefacts were some mild and occasional edge enhancement and some jagged edges.

    There are no subtitles which is a shame.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is fine, doing all it needs to.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and an alternate track of similar specifications which excludes the audience laughter track. This is a good addition and the track I would recommend. Unfortunately, it is only available for 7 episodes.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync, although the volume generally was quite low, requiring me to turn up my amp by 5-7 dB.

    The music used is very suitable to the episodes.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There is a good selection of extras spread over the two discs.


    The menu included an intro, music, and the ability to select scenes and episodes.


    A booklet is supposedly included in the retail packaging, which if it's the same as the Region 2 will be excellent according to reviews. I did not get a copy of the booklet, only test discs.

Disc 1

Deleted Scene - Ep 4 

    There was a scene deleted after its initial run which involved Jehovah's Witnesses coming to the door of Moorstones Manor. This is a very funny scene which I can only assume caused complaints from Jehovah's Witnesses. Nice extra.

Commentary - Michael Palin and Terry Jones

    A very worthwhile commentary, especially for Python fans, is available for all episodes. It was recorded recently and supposedly they were only going to do it for 3 episodes, but enjoyed the process so much they did all nine. They discuss development, locations, the title, casting, the ideas behind the episodes, trivia including some Python trivia, why Jones only appears in the first one and things they would do differently. They are sometimes guilty of watching and laughing rather than commentating but this can be forgiven.

Disc 2

Comic Roots : Michael Palin (28:59)

    Made in 1983 this is an episode of a series about comedians and their backgrounds. Michael Palin hosts this himself interviewing his mother, friends, university chums, old headmasters and other who influenced his early development and career. It is quite funny and also interesting. Includes interviews with Terry Jones and Spike Milligan. Another quality extra.

Black and Blue - Secrets (53:20)

    The first of a series of six black comedies made for the BBC in 1973, this was the only one written by Michael Palin & Terry Jones. They do not appear in it. The recording used for the transfer is from a VHS recording from when the show was transmitted and is not in good condition. It includes many tape tracking errors amongst other problems. The story involves a chocolate factory where 3 workmen fall into the machines and get included in the chocolates. Unaccountably, sales go up. Not overly funny, but certainly of interest to Monty Python completists.


    Approximately 60 stills divided into the episodes they come from.

DVD-ROM Extras

    Included are the complete original scripts for 6 episodes with bonus coffee stains.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This series is available in Region 1 and Region 2. Our local release seems to be a carbon copy of the Region 2 release, however, the Region 1 release includes a featurette on the restoration process used to restore the video. Reviews I have read indicate that the video quality is excellent on the Region 1 but unfortunately I have no ability to compare the releases side by side. There is nothing major wrong with the video on our local release, so I cannot make a call about which one is better.

    On this basis you may as well call it a draw.


    A classic English comedy series from the late 1970s by two members of Monty Python, Michael Palin & Terry Jones.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is fine.

    The set has a good selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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