Firesign Theatre, The-Boom Dot Dust (DVD-Audio) (1999) (NTSC)
Featurette-That Billville Sound
Featurette-Behind the Scenes At The Ash & Onion
Featurette-Peter Bergman and Phil Proctor on 5.1 Audio
|Year Of Production||1999|
|Running Time||45:49 (Case: 50)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Harold Bronson|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English MLP 96/24 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
One of the promises of digital radio broadcasting is the potential of broadcasting radio dramas and comedies in surround sound, and this disc is an interesting preview of what that might sound like. The Firesign Theatre (consisting of Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman, and Phil Proctor) has been producing "theatre of the mind" audio comedy for over 35 years, and Boom Dot Bust is a recent example parodying and mocking small town America.
The various tracks on this album are not related but are loosely based on a theme of life in the small town of Billville.
"As you race across America, you'll hit a little bump in the plains. But look more closely - it's not just a bump, it's a bump with a name: Billville."
In the various tracks in the album, we encounter the various inhabitants of Billville: Mayor William C. P'nisnose (Peter Bergman), CEO of Worldwide Syncholistic Systems W. "Bill" Sprawl (Phil Proctor) (the major employer and property developer of the town), football coach Bill Swatt (Davis Ossman), Doctor Guillermo Inferno (Phil Austin) and various other characters. And yes, everyone in the town is named Bill.
Like any other small town, Billville has a local mall (called the Lone Slaughterhouse), a local Asian restaurant (Thai Food Mary's), a local football team (the "No Neckers"), the local radio station (WIL Radio), the local newspaper (the BillVillager), the local bar (The Ash & Onion) and even a Governor Bill Williams Tournado Preserve. Neighbour town Elmertown is also feature in a few tracks.
The local cinema has features such as "Kane!" and "The Good, The Fatt and The Ugly." And, of course, watching programmes like "Super Racearound II" and "The Glue-It-Yourself Show" on the satellite TV are favourite pastimes.
Most of the tracks contain social satire layered with sound effects. Firesign Theatre has been hyped as "America's Monty Python" but somehow I didn't warm to most of the jokes - maybe I need to live in small town middle America to appreciate the humour.
|1. Just Jinkin' Ya!|
2. We Heart Billville
3. Drink Global, Eat Local
4. The Mayor Is The Problem
5. Buy The Numbers
6. Dishnet Sports Wrap-Up
7. Gov. Bill Williams Tornado Preserve
8. That Billville Sound
9. Bless Their Strange Names
11. Super Racearound II
|12. Weather With An Edge|
13. The Digging Of Elmertown
14. Boom Dot Bust
15. Back Room At The Ash 'N' Onion
16. The Glue-It-Yourself Show
17. Collision City
18. Doom Bot Dust
19. Inside The Money Bubble
20. Devilmaster By Infermco
21. The Good, The Fatt An The Ugly
22. Three Schnooks In A Boat
Like most of Warner DVD-Audio discs released to date, the video content on this disc is in full frame NTSC. There are 16 stills associated with "Side 1" and 16 stills associated with "Side 2." The stills on Side 1 are related to the title of the tracks, but they are not presented in the same order as the track order. The stills on Side 2 are snapshots of the cast.
This is a single-sided single-layered disc.
The DVD-Audio section of the disc features an English MLP 96/24 5.1 audio track and the DVD-Video section contains the equivalent in English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kb/s). Both tracks are down-mixable to stereo.
The album, originally released as a stereo CD, has been entirely remixed into 5.1 surround, although the "0.1" in the MLP track is somewhat debatable since I did not notice any strong use of the LFE channel and in fact the subwoofer switched itself off partway through playing the album.
It's fun listening to the voices and various foley effects plus background music spread across all five channels. There is also clever use of reverb to simulate different acoustic spaces.
Dialogue was pretty much crystal clear throughout. The voice recorded around 1:00 onwards in Track 1 (Just Jinkin' Ya!) is plagued by microphone overload but I suspect that is intentional to simulate the sound of someone speaking through a P.A. system.
Initially, I did not really see what advantage high resolution audio would have on a dialogue-based comedy. Especially since in this instance most of the foley effects and background music seem to have been compressed to make it sound like a radio broadcast.
However, upon comparing the MLP and Dolby Digital tracks, I will grudgingly admit that the MLP track sounds far nicer and realistic to listen to. The Dolby Digital track sounded flat and uninteresting in comparison, with harsh sounding voices and most of the subtle reverb cues have disappeared.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menus include three very short featurettes and additional text stills, but these are authored only in the DVD-Audio section of the disc. The DVD-Video section is bare bones.
The menus are full frame and static.
This is a 16 page full colour booklet that includes DVD Audio navigation instructions, track listing, album credits, and various photos of the cast in various themes relating to the material in the album.
This is a short featurette presented in full frame and Linear PCM 2.0 48/16. It provides an introduction to Billville and the characters that live there, including the mayor, the builder, the football coach and the doctor.
This is a short featurette presented in full frame and Linear PCM 2.0 48/16. The cast members of Firesign Theater are shown discussing and editing their material at the recording studio.
This is a short featurette presented in full frame and Linear PCM 2.0 48/16. Two cast members of Firesign Theater discuss the complexities 5.1 audio - including requiring 1.1 extra members, and developing an extra 3.1 set of ears.
This is a set of 12 stills that provides fragments of scripts (plus handwritten corrections) that may or may not have been used as part of the album.
This contains a set of stills providing text biographies and photographs of the members of Firesign Theatre:
In addition, there is a biography of Firesign Theatre itself, presented over 18 stills.
This provides album credits, presented as a set of 6 stills, with the first 2 stills looking like the restaurant menu for Thai Food Mary's.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This disc appears to be identically featured across all regions.
Boom Dot Bust is an interesting example of what multi-channel audio comedy would sound like.
The audio quality is excellent, though don't expect any impressive sound effects.
Extras include three short featurettes and some stills.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Denon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)|
|Speakers||Front and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|