The Lovers' Guide

The Original Guide To Love & Sex

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Details At A Glance

Category Documentary None
Rating r.gif (1169 bytes)
Year Released 1991
Running Time 63:24 Minutes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 3,4,5 Director Simon Ludgate
Lifetime Vision Limited 
Warner Home Video
Starring Andrew Stanway
Eve Karpf
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $39.95 Music David Greenaway
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    As you may have guessed, The Lover's Guide: The Original Guide To Love And Sex is a documentary on a subject that shapes and influences the life of not only every human, but indeed every mammal on the planet. While the copyright notice on this DVD places the production date in the early 1990s, this documentary has apparently been in circulation for much longer than that, and this is supposedly one of the best in this much-maligned genre. Much of this documentary focusses upon the psychological side of sex and sexuality, quite rightly stating that it is just as important as the physical side, if not more (in my humble opinion). Numerous topics are covered in this documentary, which I won't repeat because I'm really here to tell you about the transfer.

    If I could sum up my impression of the film itself in one word, it would be "amusing". The documentary, written and narrated by Doctor Andrew Stanway, seems to labour under a belief that humans are much more methodical and calculating about their sex lives than they really are. In any case, what I have to say about the plot is not going to sway you one way or another, so I will get down into the transfer side of things.

Transfer Quality


    In a word, this transfer is awful. It strongly suggests having been edited together on a videotape-based system, or recycled from a VHS or other composite master.

    The transfer is presented Full Frame, or 1.33:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. If I could sum this transfer up in a single phrase, I'd say that it exhibits every reason why I no longer watch VHS, even when desperate.

    This transfer doesn't even vaguely approach sharpness, which is quite a surprise given that the programme itself is only just over an hour in length and there's only one soundtrack, with no subtitles in the bargain. In spite of this, the transfer has been allocated a bitrate that generally hovers from seven to eight megabits per second, and occasional falls to about five to six megabits per second in one or two shots. As a comparison, one Region 1 NTSC disc that I own has a similarly specified soundtrack, a similar lack of subtitles, and has a constant bitrate of ten megabits per second, in spite of being just under eighty-eight minutes when the menu animation and trailer are factored in. Combined with the awfully low resolution of what I assume the source material was, the results of the compression on this disc are quite ugly. The shadow detail of the transfer is almost non-existent, with blacks being nothing more than blacks, brightly lit subjects being brightly lit, and absolutely nothing in between. Low-level noise is a real problem with this transfer, with any large expanse of colour being quite noisy and uneven, and even some small expanses of colour looking quite noisy in the bargain.

    The colour saturation mostly reflects the subjects of the shots, at least when cross-colouration, dot crawl, and various types of noise don't get in the way. Indeed, at about 0:03, we see the Lifetime Vision Limited logo make its way onto the screen, with a red, green, and blue bar across the screen that exhibits dot crawl to an extent I've never seen on any other main feature, even when using composite inputs. Just to reiterate, I checked my settings quite thoroughly, and I most definitely viewed this transfer through the S-video input. At 5:26, there is a noisy colour bleed at the edge of a young man's pants, which is all this transfer really needed: two composite artefacts joined together. Candles are also a real problem for this transfer, with one shot featuring candles exhibiting colour bleeding, noise within the colour bleed, and a touch of macro-blocking for good measure.

    MPEG artefacts are a problem for this transfer, and there simply is no excuse for this. A sixty-four minute feature with a single 256 kilobit soundtrack and no subtitles should quite easily fit onto a single-layered disc with an almost constant bitrate of ten megabits per second. Amazingly, this transfer has been encoded with a bitrate that usually hovers around seven and a half to eight megabits per second, meaning there is a lot of wasted space on the disc. Indeed, the results can be plainly seen at 54:01, with a shot of a woman lying on a raft in a pool that exhibits several minor, but noticeable, MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts are not a problem in this transfer, which makes me wonder whether this production was captured on video instead of film. To further this theory, film artefacts were mostly absent, although there were one or two hairs reflected on the picture during the feature.


    Thankfully, the audio is in much better shape, although this is very faint praise because there is definitely nothing inspiring about this soundtrack. I think the word I am looking for would be utilitarian, as the soundtrack serves a definite purpose without expanding beyond it.

    There is only one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English dialogue, encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo at the higher bitrate of 256 kilobits per second. While the presence of a DTS 5.1 soundtrack would explain the criminally low bitrate of the video transfer I've just finished ranting about, there is no such soundtrack present. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, within the limits of the thick British accents used by some of the people who speak in interviews that also comprise the narration at certain points. Thankfully, the voices of Andrew Stanway and Eve Karpf are remarkably easy to understand. Audio sync is not a problem because it was very rare to see the person doing the talking, and the one passage where this did occur had no subjective problems.

    The score music by Gavin Greenaway can be described as elevator music, with little or no real relevance to the onscreen action.

    The surround channels were not used by this soundtrack, even to support the usual noises associated with this type of programming. As a matter of fact, the use of the word Stereo to describe this soundtrack is really reaching, as there is little to no difference in the activity between the stereo channels. The subwoofer was not specifically used by this soundtrack, and while there was a small amount of redirected bass in the soundtrack, you could be forgiven for thinking that your subwoofer was turned off when it happened, anyway.



    The menu is static, not 16x9 Enhanced, or enhanced in any other manner. It is, however, easy to navigate.

R4 vs R1

    I couldn't find any resources to even suggest that this title is available in Region 1 or Region 2. Having said that much, the transfer quality of this title is simply awful and I doubt that importing a UK version, which will very likely be censored, or a US version, which will feature NTSC formatting and also possibly be censored, will correct the problem. If you are in serious need of a sex documentary title, I recommend waiting until someone puts something better together.


    The Lover's Guide: The Original Guide To Love And Sex is a documentary that leaves little impression upon me as either a piece of entertainment or as an educational feature. The DVD on which it is presented is terrible, and only just misses out on a place in the Hall Of Shame because I believe that it wasn't originally captured on film.

    The video quality is atrocious, needlessly overcompressed, and strongly suggests an analogue source or composite editing.

    The audio quality is functional, but boring.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
November 23, 2000.
Review Equipment
DVD Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm),  using composite and S-video inputs, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer