Manchild-Series One (2002)
|Year Of Production||2002|
|Running Time||200:53 (Case: 202)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Anthony Stewart Head
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"Time it right, and your fifties could once again be a full-time, full-on, hedonistic quest for pleasure".
Written by Nick Fisher, Manchild is quality television from the BBC. On watching the first couple of episodes, I was immediately impressed by the image quality and, of course, the high standard of the acting. I was not overly enamoured by the basic plot as it is very character driven, dialogue heavy and more cerebral than the American television comedies I had been watching recently.
The program is occasionally referred to as Sex and the City for men. Whilst there are many similarities, the tone of Manchild is considerably different. It is not as titillating as the adventures of Carrie Bradshaw and her chums, but it is considerably funnier. What Manchild offers is a well-observed study of the lives of a bunch of affluent, self-centred yuppies now in their fifties, and their treasure hunt for personal fulfilment. While this often (well, almost always) revolves around the opposite sex, there is more dramatic depth to this series than I ever found in Sex and the City. The lives of this bunch of wealthy, spoiled fifty-year old kids are more complex and the characters are more multi-dimensional. Ex-wives, spoiled children and failing plumbing help to lend a sense of reality to the proceedings. It certainly does seem that this series is written by men, about men, and for men. It makes a very refreshing change to see such an intimate exploration of men's issues without it becoming a documentary, and with such incisive, mature humour.
The standard of acting is very high indeed. The characters develop through the series to the point where you genuinely care about what happens to them — even if you can't help feeling a bit jealous of their ridiculously affluent lifestyles. Nigel Havers (Terry) (Chariots of Fire, A Passage to India, Dangerfield) is magnificently cast in this role. His narration ties together the threads of each episode into a consistent polemic on different aspects of being 50 and a man. James is very well played by Anthony Head, best known for the role of Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and again his casting is spot-on. The repressed Gary (utterly believable performance by Ray Burdis) is possibly the wealthiest of the lads, but is also the most grounded, having made his money in the not-so-glamorous world of lumber yards. The ultra-smooth Patrick is ably played by Don Warrington. I haven't seen this actor in years, and fondly remember him as the student Philip Smith, in that classic British comedy Rising Damp.
The disc presents us with all seven episodes from the first series, and a brief synopsis of each is provided below:
Manchild is a television series with very high production values and some excellent acting. The scripts are extremely well written, and I had several laugh-out-loud moments in each episode. These are balanced by some genuinely touching moments, that (provided nobody else is about) may have you choking back some (very manly) tears. Give it some time — it may take a couple of episodes to really draw you in, but soon you will start to care about the characters, and to really appreciate the witty scripts and excellent delivery. Well worth watching — I am eagerly awaiting the start of the next season.
The overall video transfer of this disc is very good for a television series.
The series is presented at 1.78:1 which I assume is its original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is generally sharp and demonstrates only occasional minor grain. It appears slightly less sharp than the very best shows on Australian digital television, but is far superior to older analogue broadcasts — not least due to the wonderful widescreen transfer.
Shadow detail is good and blacks are solid. There is no low-level noise evident. Colours are very natural throughout, with no hint of over-saturation or colour bleed. Skin tones (and there is quite a lot of skin) are spot on.
The transfer has no major MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts crop up more regularly with some fairly frequent aliasing that I found to be mildly distracting on occasion. Edge enhancement was not noticed.
The transfer is very clean, as would be expected for such a recent production, and I did not notice any significant film artefacts.
There is a single English for the hearing impaired subtitle track present. The subtitles follow the dialogue pretty closely with the normal minor paraphrasing for the sake of brevity.
This is a dual-layered, and probably RSDL formatted disc, but as I did not notice the layer change, I assume it was wisely placed between episodes.
The overall audio quality of this disc is good, with no defects noted at all.
There is only one audio track available. Presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 recorded at a lowly 192 kbps, it was perfectly acceptable, if not particularly remarkable .
Dialogue was always crystal clear and audio synch was never a problem.
Original music is credited to Simon Brint, but the most memorable music is an eclectic mix of pop-songs from the seventies. The pop songs add greatly to the overall feel of the series, and are a treat in themselves.
The soundstage is very frontal, with surround channel activity barely noticeable other than for the musical tracks, thanks to the magic of Dolby Pro-Logic. This is not unexpected given the nature of the (television) source.
The subwoofer was generally not needed in this dialogue driven presentation, but (in my set up) did carry some bass activity from the musical numbers.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no real extras on this disc.
The menu is functional, featuring a static and silent photo from the show. It allows the selection of individual episodes, the option to play all episodes in sequence, chapter selection and the activation of subtitles.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This DVD does not appear to be available in Region 1 yet. The Region 2 disc appears to be the same as the Region 4 release.
Manchild is top-shelf television. The scripts are witty, incisive and entertaining. The direction and acting are of a very high standard. The themes are poignant and pertinent. Particularly for men, this is outstanding stuff and comes highly recommended.
The video quality is very good for a television series.
The audio quality is good, but uninspiring.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|