4. They're Not Funny Anymore
Like all sketch shows, the Flying Circus had its misfires, but when the team were on form not a moment was wasted or a potential set-up squandered. The Pythons were seasoned pros who had served their apprenticeships as gag writers or bit players (apart from Gilliam, who was weird and American). As a group, the rivalries at play between the different writing partnerships (Cleese/Chapman v Jones/Palin v Idle) meant that the best episodes, and the best stretches of their movies, are dense games of comic one-upmanship. When they branched out...results were varied. Gilliam and Jones moved into directing semi-serious films while Palin found success as a dramatic actor and host of a popular series of travel documentaries. Cleese wrote Fawlty Towers, which is a sitcom masterwork, but he also played Basil Fawlty-types to diminishing returns in too many films to mention. Idle, gleefully describing himself as a 'greedy b*****d', appeared in anything with a paycheque, like the multi-Razzie winning 'An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn.' Putting it charitably, a recurring theme with the individual Pythons has been their tendency to avoid projects that require the full range of their comic talents. Naturally they're going to be out of condition as writers and performers, but these shows won't be judged on the quality of their lighting or set design. They'll be judged on the quality of the laughs. And with a collective resume like that, their funniest work is very much behind them.