Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em-Volume 1 (1973)
|Year Of Production||1973|
|Running Time||201:34 (Case: 200)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (96:35)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||None Given|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|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|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, All episodes have action during end credits|
Before Phantom of the Opera, before P.T Barnum, and yes even before Condorman, Michael Crawford appeared as a skinny, effeminate little man (Frank Spencer) who ruined the lives of all he came into contact with, despite his attempts to always try and fix things.
Some Mothers Do Ave Em was the vehicle for Frank's antics, and each episode could very easily be summed up with the line "Frank destroys everything in sight and drives people crazy". Since that doesn't really make for a detailed plot synopsis though, below is a copy of the first series' 7 episode descriptions from the back of the DVD case, as they sum up each episode quite succinctly.THE JOB INTERVIEW (28:44)
Frank attends an interview for the position of sales rep for a wholesale ironmonger. Putting his best foot forward, he gets stuck in the lift and an unprecedented number of disasters follow. Nevertheless Frank departs, confident that he has got the job.GEORGE'S HOUSE (24:37)
Frank and Betty are staying with Betty's brother George, a futuristic designer who has filled his house with remote control gadgetry. An unfortunate breakage results in a serious water leak and a short circuit of the house's systems.LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR (29:54)
Betty's mother is having a bit of a turn and it's up to Frank to save the day. After breaking a typewriter and destroying his neighbour's latest television scripts in a simple quest to use the phone, one thing leads to another and the police are called.HAVE A BREAK, TAKE A HUSBAND (28.29)
Frank and Betty are taking a second honeymoon. After a long line of mishaps involving a psychic trying to contact his dead grandfather, Frank and Betty are ready for bed - but the bed is not ready for them.THE HOSPITAL VISIT (30:03)
Betty is in hospital and Frank is having to fend for himself. An exploding steak and kidney pudding gets things off to a bad start but the real disasters occur when Frank visits Betty in hospital.THE PSYCHIATRIST (29:35)
Frank has lost his job as a fireman after continually missing the fire-engine. Convinced he is a failure, he consults a psychiatrist. After examining Frank's disaster-riddled past the psychiatrist is convinced Frank is beyond help. Frank leaves the surgery a happy man.THE LABOUR EXCHANGE (30:12)
The new manager at the local Job Centre has been warned by his staff that Frank Spencer is unemployable. One of the consultants can't believe anyone could be that bad. His good faith is rewarded with an incident involving the contents of a tea-urn and an explosive computer.
This series is certainly one of the more well known of the myriad of comedies to come out of 1970s British television, and was also what first brought Michael Crawford into the limelight. I remember as a child growing up in England, Frank Spencer was one of the most impersonated and copied characters in the schoolyard, and his characteristic movements and expressions are still funny to watch today. Well let me elaborate on that; they're not necessarily funny in and of themselves, but the way Crawford carries them off is the sign of a true talent.
Unfortunately the same can't necessarily be said of all the supporting actors, who sometimes appear over-the-top, or a bit ham-fisted next to Frank. In general though this doesn't detract from the humour of the episodes, as Crawford's incredible physical performances are always the main thing grabbing your attention. Some of the stunts this man did for the sake of our entertainment are amazing, and as I saw him dangling from ladders, trains, horses, 20-storey buildings, and so on, I couldn't help but wonder how many actors of today would risk their precious bodies for the sake of the audience.
You do however get the impression that the character is still being developed in the actor's mind for the first few episodes, and I'm still not sure if the shaking hands and lips are very clever acting, or actually indicate that Crawford was very lacking in confidence at the time. All that aside though this is certainly a character that is hard to forget once you've seen him in action, and I think the fact that Michael Crawford co-wrote the scripts is one of the reasons he understands Frank so well.
Frank is one of those tragic comic figures who sometimes leaves you not knowing whether to laugh or cry at the fates that befall him, as he continually tries to put things right and please his long-suffering wife Betty (Michele Dotrice). In comparison, characters like Laurel and Hardy, or Inspector Clouseau are positive success stories. It's this painful factor that makes it a bit hard to sit through a whole series without any decent breaks. Although still being just as funny today as they were all those years ago, I'd recommend that you don't watch more than one or two episodes in a row.
My initial reaction to this transfer was pleasant surprise at its sharpness, as I wasn't really expecting much from a 1973 TV series. I ended up doing a comparison between this and the Fawlty Towers DVDs, and for something that was shot almost half a decade earlier this transfer stands up very well.
This disc is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is obviously not 16x9 enhanced. This is the original aspect ratio of the material.
The sharpness throughout is generally better than I expected, although the outdoor scenes (which are shot on film rather than video) leave a lot to be desired. These tend to be grainy and indistinct, and are quite a contrast to the relatively sharp interior shots. A couple of the worst examples of this grain can be found at 84:17 and 139:14. Shadow detail is also not good in these outdoor scenes, evidenced by scenes such as 69:00 and 180:10. I didn't notice any low level noise in the darker scenes though. The good news is that these outdoor shots make up only a small part of the episodes.
Colour is what you'd expect from an old TV series such as this - faded and not very realistic. However, they are nice and solid, and don't display any chroma noise (which can be quite a common problem with these types of TV series). The outdoor scenes shot on film have slightly better colour, but they still aren't exactly vibrant.
Aliasing is pleasantly absent for the most part, although it did start to become noticeable in the last episode, such as around the "enquiries" sign at 173:56. There is quite a lot of moire on suites and clothing (such as 150:40), which you'd expect from a taped production such as this. There is also the occasional overmodulation, with one very obvious example at 56:42 where Frank's Mother-in-law's hat leaves a big blur behind as she moves her head. I didn't notice any film artefacts in the outdoor scenes.
There are no subtitles on this DVD.
This is an RSDL disc, and for some unknown reason the DVD authors have decided to put the layer change in the middle of one of the episodes rather than in between them. The change occurs at 96:35 and is noticeable, but not overly bothersome.
The audio is the most mediocre thing about this DVD, with some problems in hearing dialogue.
There is only one audio track on this disc; English Dolby Digital 2.0, recorded at 192kbps.
Dialogue is the main problem with the track, in that sometimes people's voices come out of the speakers at different volumes - some almost inaudible. One example of the volume suddenly decreasing is at 176:45. The clarity isn't bad when there's enough volume to actually hear, and there aren't many problems with sync at least, since it appears there was little ADR work done on the episodes. The only exception is some of the outdoor scenes, such as 170:40 where things are a little out of sync, but this is very much the exception.
The theme music would have to be one of the most annoying themes I've ever heard. Fortunately it isn't played much during the episodes themselves until we get near the end of the series.
The surrounds and subwoofer aren't used at all.
|Surround Channel Use|
You know you're in for a barren time when the only listed extra is the menu. This is a shame as it would have been nice to find out more about what went into creating the character of Frank Spencer.
The menus are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced. The main menu has the theme music looping, and the episode selection menus also have audio looping in the background, with a quote from Frank relating to the selected episode.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
As far as I could tell there is no Region 1 version of this DVD yet, and the Region 2 equivalent appears to be just that - exactly the same, so there's no point importing this one.
Some classic physical comedy from a genuine talent who's since gone on to much greater things. These episodes can be a little painful, but unless you hate the character I think you'll have great difficulty not getting some laughs out of Frank Spencer's antics.
The video is above adequate considering the source material.
The audio leaves a bit to be desired with some dialogue hard to hear.
Extras? What extras? There aren't even subtitles on this disc!
|DVD||Omni 3600, using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 1252QM CRT Projector, 250cm custom built 16x9 matte screen. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS797- THX Select|
|Speakers||Accusound ES-55 Speaker set, Welling WS12 Subwoofer|