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Archaeology Today[edit]

'Archaeology Today', which aired the 17th of November 1970 and recorded on the 9th of October 1970, was the 21st episode of the popular British television comedy Monty Python's Flying Circus which was created by the Monty Python group.

Skits[edit]

  • Trailer
  • "Archaeology Today"
  • Silly Vicar and Leapy Lee
  • Registrar (wife swap)
  • Silly doctor sketch (immediately abandoned)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Git
  • Roy and Hank Spim – Mosquito hunters
  • Poofy Judges
  • Mr. Thing and Mrs. Entity
  • Beethoven's Mynah Bird
  • Shakespeare
  • Michelangelo
  • Colin "Chopper" Mozart (ratcatcher)
  • Judges

Trailer[edit]

The trailer includes the theme song and an introduction to this episode of Monty Python: The Flying Circus. It has an animated introduction where there is a large foot that becomes broken and disintegrates into the ground, with no evidence left. Nature continues its natural action and the surroundings grow and eventually has a city built on top of the site. The city becomes condemned and is then bulldozed down with plans for new luxury apartments. While constructing the new, luxury apartments, an ‘artifact’ is found which resembles a very large big toe, and is brought to The British Museum, where it is called the “Archaeological find of the century!” They were able to ‘accurately reconstruct’ the artifact, using the toe as a trunk for an elephant.

"Archaeology Today"[edit]

Character List[edit]

  • Professor Lucien Kastner – Terry Jones
  • Sir Robert Eversley – John Cleese
  • “Archaeology Today” Interviewer – Michael Palin
  • Danielle – Carol Cleveland

Synopsis[edit]

This skit begins with the interviewer introducing Professor Kastner of Onslow University, but the interviewer is immediately preoccupied with height, and especially with Kastner’s height of 5’10”. The interviewer then introduces Sir Eversley and is preoccupied with his stature of 6’5”. The interviewer is very much off topic and acts in a derogatory and demeaning way toward Professor Kastner due to his height, while treating Sir Eversley with high regards discussing things such as Eversley’s “very good speaking voice”. Sir Eversley continues to discuss his findings in which there were Polynesian influences, which causes the interviewer to once again become preoccupied by height, of the Polynesians, to which Sir Eversley replies “has nothing to do with archaeology” causing the interviewer to take an artifact and smash it, in turn causing Professor Kastner to become enraged. This portion of the skit ends with Sir Eversley punching the host and the host replying “I will find you”!

The second portion of the skit shows Sir Eversley with Danielle in the archaeology field set in Egypt 1920. Sir Eversley had been finding great artifacts and was very happy which caused him to break out in song. He finds a Sumerian drinking vessel from the 4th dynasty, which causes him to realize there was Sumerian influence. However Kastner and the interviewer surprise Sir Eversley sitting on each other’s shoulders, making them taller than Sir Eversley, which causes Sir Eversley to have Danielle sit on his shoulders to make him taller, continuing until it turns into an all out brawl, where artifacts are destroyed , ending the skit.

Archaeological Relevance[edit]

This skit is based directly around archaeologists and their finds within digs; however the focus is mostly on the men’s height and the dynamics that occur regarding it. The skit touches on popular culture references to archaeology with the media’s typical representation of archaeologist’s outfits, wearing khakis, and hats with wide brims. There is also the depiction of Sir Eversley in Egypt doing field work when it would actually be an Egyptologist most likely doing the research. The fact that archaeological artifacts were continually destroyed was also a false depiction of archaeologists.

Silly Vicar and Leapy Lee[edit]

Character List[edit]

  • Leapy Lee – Eric Idle

Synopsis[edit]

This skit involves Leapy Lee talking to the audience trying to figure out her name. She cannot remember nor figure out her name when the phone rings and tells her who she is, however she forgets as soon as she ends the phone call. When the audience is about to find out what her name is she is punched in the face, ending the skit.

Registrar (wife swap)[edit]

Character List[edit]

  • Man - Terry Jones
  • Registrar - Eric Idle
  • Wife – Barbara Lindley
  • Referee - John Cleese
  • Doctor – Michael Palin
  • Watson – Graham Chapman

Synopsis[edit]

A man walks into a wedding registrar’s office with his bride. He goes up to the desk and insists on swapping his old wife that he married last week for this new one that he brought with him. The registrar says that that is not possible and the man tries to haggle with him by asking if he could just have the new wife for the weekend. The man begins to talk about what he wanted to do with his new wife in an explicit manner and a whistle goes off in the background and a referee comes into the office. The referee takes down the man’s name in his book and asks him his number. The man turns around and there is a large number eight on the back of the man’s jacket. The scene cuts through to another office where a man named Dr. Watson is talking to another Doctor behind a desk. The two have a miscommunication where the Doctor behind the desk cannot understand and take down Dr. Watson’s name correctly.

Archaeological Perspective[edit]

This skit illuminates a field of study within the archaeological/anthropological realm, marriage. This skit brings up the question of what is the “proper” form of marriage. Many cultures around the world have different definitions of a marriage and who may be married. Some other {types of marriage} practices include: {monogamy, polygamy, polyandry}. The name “Watson” comes up often in this skit which could be a reference to Dr. Watson of the {Sherlock Holmes} series. This highlights a stereotype of Archaeologists as Detectives* (From Stonehenge to Las Vegas, Archaeology as popular culture, Cornelius Holtorf, Page 34).

Mr. and Mrs. Git[edit]

Character List[edit]

  • Party Host – Graham Chapman
  • Mrs. Dreary Fat Boring Old Git – John Cleese
  • Norah Jane Stokes & Nun – Carol Cleveland
  • John Stokes – Michael Palin
  • A Sniveling Little Rat-Faced Git – Terry Jones

Synopsis[edit]

The party host introduces John Stokes to his friend “A Sniveling Little Rat-Faced Git” and then leaves them to an uncomfortable conversation. John is visibly uncomfortable with saying Git’s name which is further exacerbated by the introduction of Mr. Git’s wife, “Mrs. Dreary Fat Boring Old Git”. John’s wife Norah comes over to join the conversation and John then reluctantly introduces his wife to his new acquaintances. Mr. Git then proceeds to talk about his children and how they are teased at school and they have equally strange names (Dirty Lying Little Two-Faced). Mrs. Git sneezes rather disgustingly and then Mr. Git invites the Stokes over for their child’s birthday and talks about how their house is painted with “warm pus”. The Stokes’ try to avoid the Gits’ and try to leave immediately. Then the scene cuts to the “Nice Version of the Same Skit”. Where John Stokes is introduced to the same “Mr.Git” but instead of Git the man’s last name is Watson. The scene then cuts to a nun who tells the audience that she “preferred the dirty version”. She is then knocked out by a boxer.

Archaeological Perspective[edit]

This skit highlights an anthropological concern of the “Culture Clash” of modern globalization. The mixing of people with different cultural backgrounds can cause situations where someone’s name and daily life practices can make others in a social situation feel uncomfortable. The mixing of cultures makes life more interesting but more complicated. The reference to the nun liking the “dirty version” also could be viewed as her saying that she preferred the real version not the censored one, preferring a “real life” situation then one created for public consumption.

Roy and Hank Spim – Mosquito hunters[edit]

Character List[edit]

  • Hank Spim - Graham Chapman
  • Roy Spim - Eric Idle
  • Narrator - John Cleese

Synopsis[edit]

This episode begins with brothers Hank and Roy walking through what seems to be fairly rough country terrain. As Hank pulls a bazooka out of the back of a trailer, the narrator explains how the fearless backwoodsmen brothers have chosen a life of violence in a world where only the fittest survive. It is the brothers thirst of adventure that lead them off mosquito hunting. When they are asked why they don’t simply use fly spray, Roy answers “well, where’s the sport in that?”. Suddenly, Hank spots the first mosquito of the day. Viewers are left tense as they watch both brothers crawl through the bushes to ambush the mosquito. As Roy fires of a bazooka, Hank quickly follows by shooting off a machine gun. As the smoke from their shots begins to dissipate, the brothers, with delight, notice that they have successfully killed the mosquito. However, just as a measure of precaution, Roy approaches the body and fires off a few more rounds from his machine gun. Hank then proceeds by pulling out an enormous curved knife and skins the mosquito. It is said that the wings of a fully grown mosquito can be sold for anything up to point eight of a penny of the open market. After a long and hard day of hunting the two bothers return to their camp for a restful night. Before they can rest, the two brothers, surrounded by their trophies, discuss a much great task than the one performed earlier: they are planning a moth hunt. In preparing for the moth hunt, Hank describes how he will use a helicopter to lure the moth away from the flowers. This will present Roy with the perfect opportunity to come along in his Lockheed Starfighter and attack the mother with air-to-air missiles.

Archaeological Perspective[edit]

This article can be related to the field and study of archaeology in many ways. As will be explained it relates to the field in relation to the appeal of adventure and the fashion. As noted in Timothy Clack and Marcus Brittain’s book Archaeology and the Media, in the clip we can see that both Roy and Hank match the description. Both brothers are seen throughout the clip dressed in typical colonial wear. The action of hunting the mosquitos is also greatly dramatized to give it more of an archaeo-appeal. The hunt is also very glamorized and portrayed as being very dangerous. To simply kill a mosquito, both brothers use weapons of mass destruction instead of simple fly spray. The various ways in which in which archaeology as a field is glamorized is also noted and further explained in Cornelius Holtorf’s book From Stonehenge to Las Vegas and in Archaeology as a Brand!. Glamorizing a field like archaeology can be used as a method of attracting more people and gaining their interest.

Poofy Judges[edit]

Character List[edit]

  • First Judge - Eric Idle
  • Second Judge - Michael Palin

Synopsis[edit]

Two judges enter a dressing room and are assumed to be homosexual in their mannerisms. They begin to talk about their day in court and what they said. The two men joke about how they use “masculine voices” when delivering verdicts in court. They also talk of the flirtations and outfits they wear and experience in court.

Mrs. Thing and Mrs. Entity[edit]

Character List[edit]

  • First Pepperpot - Eric Idle
  • Second Pepperpot - Graham Chapman

Synopsis[edit]

Two women characters sit on a bench and begin a conversation. The women speak of the trials and tribulations of their day (which seem to be easy tasks to the audience). They then compare their daily tasks of making tea and chatting to that of women in the past that had more difficult morning chores such as stirring the mynah bird for [Beethoven]. The screen then fades to a “flashback” which upset one of the women but she is comforted by her companion say that is indeed “just a flashback”.

Beethoven's Mynah Bird (Shakespeare, Michelangelo, & Colin "Chopper" Mozart (ratcatcher))[edit]

Character List[edit]

  • Mrs. Beethoven - Graham Chapman
  • Beethoven - John Cleese
  • Shakespeare - Eric Idle
  • Michaelangelo - Terry Jones
  • Mozart - Michael Palin

Synopsis[edit]

Cuts to Beethoven's living room where Beethoven is sitting at his computer. He is clearly agitated with difficulty composing new music. He only becomes more agitated as his wife, Mrs. Beethoven, beings nagging him about a sugar bowl. Beethoven figures out several notes but is once again irritated by his wife. The scene then cuts to Shakespeare, Michaelangelo, and Mozart all discussing the names of their current projects comically while discussing their issues with their home life. Mozart then goes to help Beethoven with rats and finds them in the piano. The scene then cuts back to the judges who are still chatting about various random topics.

Judges[edit]

Character List[edit]

  • First Judge - Eric Idle
  • Second Judge - Michael Palin

Synopsis[edit]

See "Poofy Judges"