It’s… Throwback Thursday! ScienceFiction.com’s ongoing column dedicated to the great science fiction of the past. Today, we have something completely different for you, and that’s ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus” “Science Fiction Sketch.”
We all know and love Monty Python for prancing around the countryside with coconuts pretending to be horses, and singing on crosses that we should “always look on the bright side of life”, but I don’t think the TV show of surreal sketches about anything from barbers dreaming of being a lumberjack who dress in women’s clothing to philosophers having soccer match gets enough credit for its genius (and it gets a lot of credit already!).
That’s why we are going to look at “Science Fiction Sketch” from Season One of ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’. With a name like “Science Fiction Sketch”, you’d think that it would be a pretty bland plot, but I guarantee you that it’s not. The premise is the sort of premise you wish you were in the room for, because the way to starts and the way it ends is so wacky it just leaves you guffawing. Essentially, there is a race of intergalactic blancmanges that are turning all of England into Scotsman so they can win Wimbledon because, apparently, the Scots are awful at tennis.
Feel free to read that sentence again if you don’t believe it… because every part is true.
Now, this doesn’t really sound like science fiction, and it really isn’t. It asks no moral questions, predicts no futures, and the only comment it seems to make on society is that the English are dicks to the Scots. What “Science Fiction Sketch” really is is a brilliant parody of B sci-fi movies that usually have harebrained plots with the zaniest premise they could put on it, and I think that makes it close enough to sci-fi to warrant an article on it.
“Science Fiction Sketch” begins as an ordinary day, focussing on what you think will be the main characters. You know.. the usual way these sorts of plots work. Then, the camera immediately pans away to a different person who promptly turns into a Scotsman. Soon, everyone in England, including a baby, put on a kilt, grow a beard, and walk North toward Scotland to the sound bagpipes. All that is left is a dystopian England so empty that a man waiting for the bus must first go get the bus, and then drive the bus to himself in order to let himself on.
The scientist that needs to solve the case has a piece of arm candy that is far too hot for him, and mugs to the camera consistently about how dumb she is. Then the scientist proceeds to do nothing helpful whatsoever except explain the bizarre plot of the intergalactic blancmanges, and proceeds to not save the day at all.
Far more goes on, including police officers chiding people for not telling them earlier about their suspicions of intergalactic blancmanges (they would have been believed, really!), but the penultimate scene is Angus Podgorny (a Scotsman employed to make kilts for the blancmanges) playing the finals of Wimbledon with a blancmange. He loses horribly until the ordinary people the camera panned off of at the beginning of the sketch go in with spoons and eat the alien blancmange.
It’s… kooky, weird, borderline offensive and sometimes drags… but it’s… definitely ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’, and there’s always fun in that.