Dad's Army-The Best of-Volume Two
|Category||Comedy||Featurette-Don't Panic-The Dad's Army Story|
|Year Of Production||?|
|Running Time||149:46 (Case: 200)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Roadshow Home Entertainment
John Le Mesurier
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This is Volume Two of this "Best Of" Dad's Army series. Our review of the first volume can be read here. Dad's Army is one of those incomparable British comedies. The difference between this sort of humour and the unfortunate American humour that seems so prevalent on our screens these days is like night and day. This is so much more subtle and in my opinion far funnier - can you imagine trying to sit down in 30-odd years and watching one of those American comedies?
The cast of Dad's Army is a fascinating collection of actors. As mentioned in the accompanying documentary, John Laurie and Arnold Ridley were of an age where their careers were coming to a close when they suddenly found themselves in roles that made them famous. John Laurie had a long and distinguished career on the stage as a Shakespearean actor and Arnold Ridley was a writer of many successful plays.
In May 1940, the British government broadcast a message asking for volunteers to join the Local Defence Volunteers, and in August of the same year the name was changed to the Home Guard. At this stage of the war it was looking like an actual invasion of England was imminent and the Home Guard was to form the first line of defence. In the early days they were very poorly equipped - some brought their own weapons, and others had little more than bayonets welded to steel rods. The plan was for the Home Guard to meet the first wave of the invasion and buy time for the regular army to organise a line of defence. The response to the call for volunteers was overwhelming with over 750,000 volunteering in the first month. These volunteers came from those not already in the regular army - those too old, too young or those employed in essential industries. They were eventually issued more equipment, but often this was WW1 surplus. This is not to belittle the job that they did or the dedication and bravery these men showed, it was just the reality of wartime Britain.
In true British style, Dad's Army is a gentle comedy based on a fictitious Home Guard unit based at the imaginary town of Walmington-On-Sea. Their leader is Captain Mainwaring, the local bank manager. Second in charge is Sergeant Wilson who also works at the bank. Next comes Lance Corporal Jones and then the privates Frazer, Walker, Godfrey and Pike round out the regular characters.
It is Frazer's turn to clean the machine gun, and when inspected by Captain Mainwaring it is discovered that a very important spring is missing. In an effort to find the spring they go to Frazer's workshop where he cleaned the gun. The spring is not found in the workshop. The only other place it can be is in the coffin that he made earlier that day. Unfortunately, the coffin has already been put to use.
Captain Mainwaring decides that the unit needs to recruit some women auxiliaries, so each of the men brings in someone they think is appropriate with predictable results. It is not the men that look like they might get into trouble but Captain Mainwaring himself.
This is one of my all-time favourite episodes. Captain Mainwaring and his men are manning a machine gun post on the end of an old pier. The middle of the pier is missing as it has been blown up to prevent the enemy from using it as a landing point. To reach the post they need to use a row boat. As always, things do not go exactly to plan and the squad is in real danger as a sea mine is drifting towards the pier.
Poor old Jones is in charge of a very large amount of money that has been donated by the local businesses towards a new canteen for the troops. He brings the money around to the bank to deposit it and to everyone's surprise the money has gone missing. In its place is a half pound of sausages. The search is on - could it possibly be in poor old Mr Blewitt's chicken?
Much to Captain Mainwaring's horror, Sergeant Wilson has inherited a title. The local townsfolk are very impressed and this leads to jealousy and problems when it comes time to present the key to the town to a visiting hero of the Soviet Union.
The transfer is presented in what is undoubtedly its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and it is consequently not 16x9 enhanced.
The image is quite soft and is further degraded by ever-present grain. Shadow detail is not bad considering, but there is a fair amount of low level noise. Overall contrast is a bit lacking and there are some scenes with brightness problems, particularly at the top end. For example, the tablecloths in the restaurant at 18:33 in Mum's Army are overexposed.
The colours are also muted with only occasional flashes of near full saturation. The low level noise and grain have also taken their toll on the colours.
Unfortunately, the MPEG process has not been kind either, with signs of overcompression in many scenes. This takes a slightly unusual form, with pixelization occurring in lines and often the lines are not vertical but on an angle. In No Spring for Frazer at 6:25, examine Walker's face as he enters the room and again at 9:10 in Mum's Army where the lady enters the room. Other than grain, there are relatively few film artefacts.
The subtitles are easy to read and mostly accurate to the spoken dialogue. Only occasionally do they have to paraphrase to keep up.
This is an RSDL disc but I saw no evidence of a layer change during any of the episodes. I have to assume that it is between the episodes.
There is a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack present on this disc. There were no problems with the dialogue quality nor with the audio sync.
It only takes a couple of bars of the theme song from this series for the tune to be running through my head for days. The music is from the years of the war and adds a wonderful backdrop to the series.
Of course there was no activity from either the surrounds or the subwoofer.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is a short but interesting look at Dad's Army, told through a series of interviews with those cast members that were still with us at the time this feature was made; Clive Dunn (Jones), Frank Jones (Reverend Farthing), Jimmy Perry (Writer), Ian Lavender (Pike) and many others. It is intercut with footage from the series, including some black and white from the very first episode. This appears to be a cut down version of the 50 minute special that was aired on TV to celebrate ten years of the show - it's a shame we didn't get the entire show.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
As this disc contains one of my particular favourite episodes, I can class this as a "Best Of". Others may have their own favourites. Dad's Army features timeless humour with great acting and a great story in every episode. You can hardly go wrong picking up this disc and its companion.
The video is good for its age.
The audio is also showing its age but this does not detract from the viewing experience.
The extra is welcome but could have been better.
|DVD||Skyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||B&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)|