The handful of Monty Python apps released to date have been of mixed value. The Angry Birds ripoff Cow Tossing was amusing but not fulfilling, while the "Holy Grail" companion The Holy Book of Days offered a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at everyone's favorite Python movie.
Now comes Python Bytes, a collection of 22 sketches from the first season (or "series," to use Brit-speak) of the "Monty Python's Flying Circus" TV show.
Among the highlights: "Albatross," "Dead Parrot," and "Lumberjack Song." In other words, there's ample comedy gold to be mined here.
The first time you run it, the app starts playing a random sketch. You can shake your iDevice to skip to another one, or tap the screen to pause playback and access the menus.
Those menus give you access to three options. The first is Sketch Commentary, in which Pythons talk about the currently selected sketch. It's a nice extra, but annoying in that you can't pause the audio. If you tap it again, it simply starts over. The only way out is to wait for it to finish or return to the sketch.
The Manage Sketch screen lets you scroll through the available sketches and, if you want, choose one to watch. You can also remove one or more sketches from the rotation, which to me seems a little pointless, but OK.
Finally, the really weird option: App Signing, which reveals that on May 3, 2012, at the Regent Street Apple Store in London, Python alums Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin will be on hand to answer questions and, well, sign your app. And, sure, enough the app has the equivalent of an autograph book built right in, complete with your choice of pen sizes and ink colors. You can even send an autographed page to someone or save it to your photo library.
For $2.99, Python Bytes offers lots of laughs, especially for newcomers to the troupe (namely college freshmen, for whom exposure to Python is a rite of passage). However, it's worth noting that nearly every "Flying Circus" sketch can be viewed for free on YouTube. The only real value here is the commentary, which, even for this Python die-hard, is just "meh."