The new If You Like series of books from the Hal Leonard publishing empire is a fascinating one. The books are actually released under the Limelight Editions imprint, but I suppose that is only of particular interest to bibliophiles and the employees of Limelight. What the If You Like books do is point readers towards other material they may enjoy as fans of the subject matter at hand.
The first of these was fully titled If You Like The Beatles…Here Are Over 200 Bands, Films, Records, and Other Oddities That You Will Love by Bruce Pollock. The idea was so good that it was carried on with If You Like The Sopranos… Here Are Over 150 Movies, TV Shows, and Other Oddities That You Will Love . This is one of those great ideas that could (and should) go on forever. Neat stuff.
The latest is If You Like Monty Python…Here Are Over 200 Movies, TV Shows, and Other Oddities That You Will Love. One thing I have to say right off the bat is how much I enjoy the variety the company is employing here. The Beatles is a pretty obvious choice, but The Sopranos is a little out of left field. And as great as Python were, they are still (at least in the U.S.) considered relatively obscure.
One thing I really enjoyed about this book is the way Handlen opens it - with a discussion of the roots of the comedy of Monty Python. While it may not be a stunning revelation that the members of the troupe found inspiration in the Marx Brothers, his mention of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts was a bit unexpected - as was Bob Newhart’s 1960 debut comedy LP; The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart.
As the book progresses, Handlen details the history of Monty Python’s various works, plus the many other programs and such that they inspired. It is little surprise that Saturday Night Live and SCTV are included. But there are some pretty cool connections the author makes which I intend to look into as well. Although I have seen Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971) many times, the mention of it in this context is interesting - and provides me with yet another excuse to watch it (as if I needed one).
Surprising connections one may not have initially made are what make the If You Like Monty Python book such a worthwhile read. This is a great series, and I certainly hope that the publisher continues with it.