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Rykodisc presents

Graham Chapman: Looks Like a Brown Trouser Job (2005)

"I would like to ask all of you, please, for 30 seconds of abuse."- Graham Chapman

Stars: Graham Chapman
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:16m:16s
Release Date: 2005-04-26
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
D- B-FD- C+


DVD Review

The Monty Python comedy troupe is responsible for some of the most outrageous, hilarious comedic moments of the last 30+ years. Whether it's through TV (Monty Python's Flying Circus), live performances, or movies (including the classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail), Chapman was at the heart of 1960s and '70s British comedy.

The son of a chief police inspector, Chapman attended medical school and eventually attained a medical degree. His penchant for medicine soon turned into a love for comedy, as he formed the Monty Python troupe in 1969 along with his friends John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and (the lone American of the bunch) Terry Gilliam. Live performances soon culminated in the group's television show, Monty Python's Flying Circus, which became an instant hit.

After eventually breaking through with American audiences in the early 1970s, the Pythons went on to make the feature films Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life, the former two of which featured Graham Chapman in the starring role. After these features, the Pythons began to branch off into their own independent projects, essentially breaking up.

In the 1988, Chapman began touring college campuses to discuss his life and field questions from students about anything and everything, including some candid discussions about the Python years. Shortly after the tour, in October of 1989, Chapman succumbed to complications from a stroke, as well as throat and spinal cancer, and passed away.

Graham Chapman: Looks Like a Brown Trouser Job is a compilation of footage from the college tour. Chapman begins by allowing the audience 30 seconds of abuse, during which they are allowed to spew profanities and hurl objects at him to, in effect, get it out of their system. This is a very funny bit, and the program only gets funnier, as Chapman tells stories about his interactions with late-drummer of The Who, Keith Moon, his favorite Python sketches, and why the heck they used coconuts to double as horses in Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

Those who are looking for the same laugh-out-loud humor of the Monty Python bits will be disappointed, as mostly Chapman tells some very interesting tales about his life. Still, it's great to have this rare, often funny footage at our disposal. Sure, Chapman can be very long-winded at times, but some of his stories are very touching and quite different from the usual silly (in a good way) humor that was Monty Python.

There is a warning all over this DVD (on the case, before the program, etc.), stating that this footage was compiled from footage that was personally supervised by Chapman himself and isn't up to par with the quality of today's high video standards. This apology is definitely a worthy one, as this footage is actually difficult to watch at times given its horrendous quality. However, the stories and comedy bits that are heard through the audio track are the most important aspects of this project, so this is a rare case where such shoddy video can be at least slightly forgiven.

Rating for Style: D-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This full-frame presentation is beyond bad. It was nice of Rykodisc to warn viewers that they were getting beyond substandard video quality, but the warning doesn't do justice to how bad things really look. The image is almost always out of focus, there is little to no color when there should be, and contrast is horribly handled. This looks like a VHS tape that has been dubbed numerous times.

Image Transfer Grade: F

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The audio isn't much better at all, with the quality of this mono presentation varying, depending on which particular lecture is being shown at the time. Graham Chapman's dialogue (really the only notable audio aspect in the program) comes across clearly for the most part, but it sounds as if the sound is coming from an audience's voice recorder.

Audio Transfer Grade: D- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
4 Deleted Scenes
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Audio Clips: Four audio-only segments with Graham Chapman.
  2. Video Clips: Four Bonus Q&A segments, and three Television clips with Chapman.
Extras Review: There's some nice extras here, including some Audio Clips, during which Chapman talks about why he did lecture tours and the fact that he is a doctor.

Video Clips are here as well, including some bonus footage from the lecture tours, a TV commercial, footage of Chapman bungee jumping, and an Iron Maiden video that he starred in.

Topping things off is a Chapmanography, which details all of the books, recordings, and films that Graham Chapman was involved with. This section also has a Chapman biography and this DVD's liner notes.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

Monty Python fans rejoice, as Graham Chapman: Looks Like a Brown Trouser Job features hard-to-find footage of the comedian during his college tours that he took late in his life. If you can look past the truly atrocious video presentation, Python fans just might have a hidden treasure to add to their collection.

Chuck Aliaga 2005-05-12