Robin Williams-Live on Broadway (2002)

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Released 12-Feb-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Featurette-Backstage Before Broadcast
Featurette-Interview:Marty Callner Director of Live on Broadway with RW
Featurette-Noises
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 98:54 (Case: 126)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:21) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Marty Callner
Studio
Distributor

Sony Music
Starring Robin Williams
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The site profanity filter would have a field day with any accurate description of the material on this disc. This is Robin Williams unleashed and running full bore. The show lasts for 98 odd minutes and, apart from pauses to breathe in and some sips of water from his table full of water bottles, there is no let up. The jokes just keep coming as do the inserts of physical comedy. The energy levels are simply astounding.

    Of course the content is rude, crude, politically incorrect (this is an understatement), crass, disgusting, pornographic, and absolutely hilarious. I don't think that there is a single situation, country, race, creed or belief that does not get a complete bagging. The routine starts American-centric but quickly moves to target the wider world.

    This is the final concert in a country spanning tour. The back cover tells us that Williams is returning to his roots as a stand up comedian after 16 years. This final concert was broadcast live on HBO, that is, really live, not just recorded live and sent out later, but straight on the wire. There is a feel about the show which is mentioned in the interview in the special features - this is on the edge. They have unleashed Robin Williams on live TV and have no idea just what is going to happen.

    Since it was not all that long ago that I reviewed a Billy Connelly disc, I could not help comparing the two. Their styles are quite different and don't compare easily. Technically, I thought that some of Williams' leaders between jokes were a little contrived but this is really a very minor criticism. They do have one joke in common, that of a visit to the proctologist, although I am sure that this is related to their own experiences as they both are of that particular age where proctologists take an unfriendly interest in you. They are both real masters of stand-up comedy.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer to DVD has introduced no artefacts to this material. The only problems really relate to the source material and are inherent in video recording.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is in direct inverse proportion to the distance of the shot. Close-ups are nice and sharp. Shots from the back of the hall are much softer. Shadow detail is good which is an achievement under stage lighting and there is no low level noise.

    There are no bright colours to be seen. Williams is dressed in black with dark red panels on his shirt, and the stage only has mustard colours in the backdrop. Despite this, the colours that are present are accurately portrayed and are free of noise.

    There are no MPEG artefacts present in this transfer. Moving objects are blurred, such as Williams' hand at 13:02, but this is probably a video blur rather than related to the transfer. There are no obvious video artefacts other than this, giving a nice clean picture.

    There are no subtitles.

    This is a dual layered disc with the layer change at 55:21. There is no perfect place for a layer change in a program this fast-paced, but this one is probably the best they could do.

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

Audio

    On my Panasonic player, this disc defaulted to the PCM stereo track rather than the Dolby Digital 5.1. You might want to check your settings before getting too far into the programme.

    There are two soundtracks on this disc, the first an English Linear PCM 2.0 track and the second an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I listened to the Dolby Digital track and sampled the PCM. They must have had microphones in the audience, because the surround sound in the Dolby Digital track is very good, offering a very three dimensional sound image with interjections from the audience placed quite accurately in three dimensional space.

    There are no problems with the dialogue quality, with the famous F word in all its variations clearly audible. Nor are there any problems with the audio sync.

    Other than the march-on music, there isn't any.

    The surround usage in the Dolby Digital track is great, giving you the impression that you are present at the concert and having a ball along with the audience. The opening credits include the surround symbol, and although the PCM track (by definition) is not flagged as being surround-encoded, turning on surround decoding brings out the crowd noises as per the usual matrix decode.

    The subwoofer was not used.

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

Extras

Menu

    Presented at 1.33:1 with no audio, the main menu features a large head shot of Robin Williams on the left with the menu selections on the right.

BackStage before broadcast (2:38)

    A hand held camera on Robin Williams in the wings of the stage two minutes and thirty eight seconds before going on. He is warming up in the usual fashion with the usual jokes including a message to the poor director that he is not going on after all. The audio is somewhat muffled and you miss the occasional line. Presented at 1.33:1 with a PCM 2.0 soundtrack.

Interview: Marty Callner (Director) (18:00)

    Robin Williams and Marty Callner in two easy chairs interviewing each other. They talk about the show and the stress in taking such a show live to air. These two very interesting people have a great chat and also tell a few (well, quite a few) jokes. Highly recommended. Presented at 1.33:1 with a PCM 2.0 soundtrack.

Featurette: Noises (2:30)

    All the various vocal embellishments and noises that Williams made during the show cut one after the other into a featurette (of sorts). You just can't help laughing at this one. Also, some of the excellent camera work (remember this is live) is particularly noticeable. Presented at 1.33:1 with a PCM 2.0 soundtrack.

Easter Egg: Parental advisory (2:18)

    Oh my goodness! The F word in more ways and tones and accents than you have ever heard before. Like the previous featurette, this is the many times that the F word is used cut into a single stream. The cuts are fast and furious as each invocation only lasts a very short time. After the first few seconds you are quickly desensitised to the word and sit in amazement at the range of ways that he invents to say this word. In fact, a small part of you may be jealous. By the end you are again in stitches of laughter. Presented at 1.33:1 with a PCM 2.0 soundtrack. This Easter egg is at the bottom of the bonus features page. You navigate down to the bottom where the main menu return and resume icons are and step one further right. A Parental Advisory stamp warning about language appears - select this and off you go.

R4 vs R1

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

    The R1 and R4 versions of this DVD appear identically specified. We don't appear to have suffered from the NTSC to PAL conversion but purists will probably vote for the R1 version as it has been through one less process.

Summary

    Often with stand-up comedy routines there are a limited number of viewings inherent in the material due to the fact that you learn the jokes and know the punch lines. With the sheer speed and nature of this show, I believe that there will be a very large number of viewings possible before you learn even a fraction of the content.

    The video is great.

    The audio is also very good.

    The extras are very unusual but great fun.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 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 DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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Comments (Add)
Good review - Simon O'Connor (I wouldn't suggest reading my bio)
What the @#*! -
Layer changes and cheap DVD players - matty
Layer Change - munster (read my bio)
your 400 dollar dvd player -
My layer change problems -