August 12, 2014 10:48 AM EDT

If not for the efforts of five Britons (and one American animator), paid for by the BBC and imported by PBS, nerds the world over would still have to impress each other by quoting the periodic table of the elements. Python made erudition cool by tearing out the final stones in the Hadrian’s wall between high and low culture, showing that Sartre references and “botty” jokes could live together in hilarious sin. The show’s droll, Dadaist sketches—I won’t try to list them, but your brother or nephew in college will be glad to—hold up so well decades later because they focus on the timeless: philosophy, the class system and, of course, the eternal issue of transvestitism in the lumber industry.

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