As Time Goes By-Series 1 & 2 (1992)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Animation
|Year Of Production||1992|
|Running Time||367:58 (Case: 369)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Sydney Lotterby|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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||No|
As Time Goes By is a BBC television series which follows the story of two "mature" citizens who have a brief affair in their youth, and then meet up again 38 years later. Lionel (Geoffrey Palmer) is your classic dry-humoured, cynical, middle-aged man who is in the process of completing a book about his life in Kenya as a coffee planter (imaginatively titled "My Life in Kenya"). Jean (Judi Dench) runs a secretarial business, and Lionel hires one of her secretaries to help with changes to his book, which is how they meet up again in the year 1992.
When last they met, Lionel was a young officer doing his national service, and Jean was a nurse. They're forced to part when Lionel heads off to Korea in 1954, but he writes to Jean only to have the letter lost in the mail. Jean thinks he hasn't bothered to keep in touch, and both a little heart-broken they continue with their respective lives. Come 1992 and both have since married and become single again - Jean a widow and Lionel divorced.
So as you can imagine there is a lot of history and clearing up involved in the renewing of their relationship later in life, and these initial 2 seasons cover the early stages of this process. The BBC have seen fit to release both seasons in one package, which I think is a great idea, especially when dealing with a long-running series that you want to collect completely before DVD becomes a fossilized medium. The 13 episodes included are as follows:
Before I'd reviewed this DVD set, I'd never watched a full episode of the series - only a couple of small segments when briefly visiting my parents. I must say now that I'm actually hooked, and waiting impatiently for the rest of the series to be released on Region 4 DVD. When just reading the synopsis of the episodes you could be forgiven for thinking it all sounds a bit boring, complicated, or even sordid (if you think of all the different love triangles and squares that are going on, as well as the age differences). If this had been a US production, that's probably how it would have turned out as well, but when you have the pedigree of the people involved in bringing us this series then you're in safe hands.
With a director responsible for producing Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, and Yes Minister, a writer who brought us The Good Life and Please Sir, and actors of the calibre of Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer, you can be pretty sure the result is going to be, at the very least, watchable. The humour is gentle, the characters are real, the script is great, and the story is actually quite engaging. The little pokes at the generation gaps that exist today are very insightful, and Lionel's reactions to them, while sometimes cynical, are never actually mean-spirited.
Although the main pretext for the story is Lionel and Jean somewhat clumsily rekindling their romance, most of the humour is based on them aging, and the way things have changed in society with the problems this can cause for an older generation. I think that's why the series works for a wide audience, because if you're an "older" person then you'll relate exactly to what Lionel and Jean are going through (I think this is the main reason my parents enjoy the programme so much), and as a younger person you can relate to all the weird reactions you've ever gotten over the years from older people.
There's no one character who really becomes the butt of all the jokes, as the humour is spread out pretty fairly, and even the annoying yuppie Alistair gradually grows on you as a character.
So if you're looking for punchy one-liners, rude innuendoes, unrealistically glamorous characters, and catch-phrases galore, then look elsewhere. However, if gentle humour, real characters that you become involved with, and clever observations are more your cup of tea, then I recommend you give this series a look.
The video quality on these DVDs varies depending on the source, but in general is up to the standard you'd expect of this type of production.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which is the way it was originally presented.
In general the transfer is as sharp and detailed as you could expect from a 10 year old television series, however there are a number of outdoor scenes in season 1 which are shot on film and suffer from significant grain and a lack of sharpness (season 2 is all video footage). There are many examples of this, but a few of the worse ones are at 10:53 and 164:53. Fortunately the vast majority of footage is shot inside, but it does provide quite a contrast when we jump to an outdoor scene. Shadow detail is good, and I didn't notice any low-level noise.
Colour is also as good as you could expect from a recent production shot on video, with fairly accurate flesh tones, if a little lacking in vibrancy. The outdoor scenes shot on film are quite dull in comparison to the rest of the transfer, but again are a very small minority of shots. There is no bleeding visible, even in some of the brighter primary-coloured clothing, but there is quite a bit of chroma noise visible in the backgrounds of the sets. Examples of this are at 51:56 and 108:18.
The chroma noise mentioned above does become evident largely due to MPEG compression, and I was quite surprised by the extent of it. With only about 2 hours on each of the 3 discs, I would have imagined that there wouldn't be any issues with compression. I didn't notice any edge enhancement. As you would expect with something of this nature though, there is some aliasing to be seen, mostly evident in the offices which all seemed to have Venetian blinds; 127:16 and 289.03. These are the only obvious culprits though, and aliasing isn't nearly as much of a problem as you might expect. There are the very occasional film artefacts in season 1, but nothing to fuss about.
There is one set of subtitles on these DVDs; English. I found them not to be too accurate actually, as they were a little lazy in reproducing all relevant words. You generally got the gist of what was being said, but it could have been a lot better.
These are all RSDL discs, but the layer changes were placed somewhere between the episodes, as you'd hope with discs of this nature.
This isn't exactly a demo disc, so it's not going to test your home theatre setup at all. It does what it's meant to do though, which is the important thing.
There is just the one audio track on these discs; English Dolby Digital 2.0.
Dialogue was very clear and easy to understand, which is the most important thing in a dialogue-driven programme. I'm sure the clarity is helped in no small part by the very well-spoken actors. I didn't notice any problems with audio sync either, as there doesn't seem to have been any ADR work done at all.
The music is limited to the opening and closing credits' rendition of As Time Goes By, and small cues throughout the episodes. It's certainly not rich in music quantity, but what's there is very appropriate.
There is no surround activity on this track.
You can give your subwoofer the evening off as well.
|Surround Channel Use|
It would have been nice to have some extras included with these discs. I'd have especially liked to see some interviews with the cast, but alas it isn't to be.
The menus are all presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the main menu is animated with the theme tune looping in the background.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;
I was surprised to discover that Region 1 even had this series available on DVD, let alone to find that they have the first 5 seasons already! It seems that they get a slightly better version of the seasons 1+2 set as well, with a couple of extras that we miss out on. From the reviews I could find it seems that there aren't any serious video issues with the PAL-NTSC conversion, and with the current rate of exchange meaning you can get this title from the US for around AU$45 delivered, I'd say the Region 1 version is a very narrow winner.
If you've never really understood your parents and their reactions to modern life, or if you're a parent who wonders if anyone else sees things the way you do, then this is a gently humorous series that you will most probably enjoy. The BBC once again provide us with a character-driven comedy that doesn't smack you in the face with its jokes, but leaves you smiling nonetheless.
The video is perfectly adequate.
The audio is great for what's required.
Extras are sadly absent.
|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|