Porridge-Series 1 (1974)

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Released 27-Feb-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Biographies-Cast
Featurette-Ronnie Barker Interview
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 202:04 (Case: 201)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Sydney Lotterby
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Ronnie Barker
Fulton Mackay
Richard Beckinsale
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Porridge is a classic comedy series made during the height of Ronnie Barker's dominance over the BBC. Not only was Barker starring in Porridge, but he also had The Two Ronnies and Open All Hours running simultaneously. These three series were the ratings giants of their day. It is a rare achievement to star in two classic comedy series but three all made in the same period is unheard of. To say that Ronnie Barker is a comedy genius is an understatement - his timing and delivery is flawless and he is as good an actor as he is a comedian.

    The series revolves around Barker's character of Norman Stanley Fletcher, a petty thief who is sentenced to Slade Prison for five years. He befriends a young first time inmate, Lennie Godber (Richard Beckinsale) and it is this relationship that is the heart and soul of the show. Fletcher takes Godber under his wing and teaches him life's lessons and disappointments. Watching the friendship of these two characters grow into a father/son dynamic is a delight and is as poignant now as it ever was. Indeed, the show has not dated over the past 30 years for that reason. The themes developed during the series such as friendship, overcoming adversity, and maintaining the human spirit are not cheap gimmicks as seen in a lot of inferior comedies but are well written and flawlessly acted character studies. A special mention must be made of the script writers, Dick Clement and Ian Le Franais. Their work is so polished that, unlike in a lot of other comedies, the actors did not have to ad lib lines to spice up the show. In fact, Barker makes special mention in an interview that they were so well written that all he had to do was show up and read what he was given, nothing more. This is evident watching Barker and Beckinsale exchange witty banter - they have such chemistry together it appears unscripted, it is natural, believable and most importantly, hilarious.

    There are, however, two other characters that deserve special mention - the two head guards, Mr Mackay and Mr Barrowclough, played respectively by Fulton Mackay and Brian Wilde. Watching the hard-nosed Mr Mackay trying to catch out the devious Fletcher and his fellow cons while pilfering or running games of chance is priceless. The sweet-natured Mr Barrowclough, always the optimist, being taken advantage of by the inmates is another example of well developed material, flawlessly portrayed.

    The DVD contains the first six episodes of the series and is a must-see for anyone who relishes well-written and superbly acted comedy.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Porridge is presented as originally shot for television in an aspect ratio of 1:33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness levels are acceptable, if somewhat lacking in places, due mainly to the age of the material. There is sufficient shadow detail but there is an abundance of grain throughout the DVD. In fact, there is grain continuously on display, but I would suggest that this is a fault with the source material.

    Colours are washed out with flesh tones having a grey appearance, but once again we are talking about a 30 year old show, so this is acceptable.

    There are a constant array of video artefacts throughout the six episodes and they could do with some cleaning up, but I would suggest that the shows look as good as could be without a complete restoration.

    The disc is dual layered with the RSDL change occurring at around the 102 minute mark, 12 minutes into Episode 4.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Porridge has been given an English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track with the surround flag set.

    Dialogue is always clear and there are no drop outs. There are no audio sync problems.

    Music is seldom used if at all during the episodes, but what there is goes unnoticed.

    Surround channel usage is non existent, with this being a frontal track only. The sound is clear and sharp and is not wanting considering the type of show this is.

    The subwoofer is barely used, and is not necessary.

    Overall, this is an adequate sound track to showcase a great show - what more could you ask for?

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

Biographies-Cast

    Brief biographies for the main cast. A nice addition, but they could have been more in depth.

Interview - Ronnie Barker

    Running for about 15 minutes, this is a recent interview with Barker that will be a treat for fans as he offers several amusing anecdotes.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is no Region 1 version of this disc available. The Region 4 and Region 2 versions are identical.

Summary

    Porridge is a classic comedy that is a must-see. This disc presents Series 1 with a decent transfer and adequate audio. There are also some brief but well presented extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Greg Morfoot (if interested here is my bio)
Thursday, April 03, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony HT-K215.
AmplificationSony HT-K215
SpeakersSS-MS215

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