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A 'Complete Waste' of CD-ROM Time

October 23, 1994|Chris Willman

In lieu of any Python reunions, the cult will have to make do with "Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time," a CD-ROM that has just been issued (in Windows format only, so far) and already taken its place as one of the most delightful uses of that particular home-computer format yet. It uses clips from the TV show and original game animations that the producers put together from cutouts lying around Terry Gilliam's basement, with minor new vocal and/or writing contributions from all the Pythons save for John Cleese.

"It's presented in such a ludicrously different way that it's really like seeing a new Python show," enthuses Terry Jones.

Gilliam believes the CD-ROM format is peculiarly well-suited for recycling Python. "It's kind of like the shows, where anything can happen, both linearly and spatially--it goes in all directions. It's actually got an extra dimension the television shows don't have. I love the randomness of the thing. . . . Because in a way it's the way my brain works, it just happens to match up with the same kind of synaptic, neuronic structures.

"It's a new technology that's fun to begin to learn, and then to think how you deal with it. Because Python wasn't happening in limbo. It was within the world of television, and using television forms and shifting them around. Then when we moved into films, we were trying to do it with 'Holy Grail,' twisting film a bit, with endings where the policeman blocks the film and it runs out. Things like that, you're playing with the medium itself. And I think CD-ROM is a really intriguing medium that one could do a lot with.

"On the other hand," he adds cautiously, "it may just all be about form and no content. So I'm never certain about it."

For Michael Palin, contributing presented a kind of queasy nostalgia: "I did some voices for it, which was very strange. There was a time 25 years ago when Terry Gilliam used to come around with his tape recorder to anyone's house and just record odd voices and lines which he then used in the animation. And as I lived closest to Terry, he tended to come here first.

"Working with Bob Ezrin (co-founder of CD-ROM company 7th Level), he came around with a tape recorder and we did exactly the same thing, saying silly lines in a variety of silly voices. It was sort of like going back 25 years more than anything else I've done."

He makes it sound as if the deja vu were a little uncomfortable.

"Um, well, it was strange, really," says Palin. "It was like putting me in short trousers and having the headmaster of my prep school tell me about sex again. It was something I thought I'd got through."

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