On the Buses-Series 1 (1969)

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Released 22-Apr-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1969
Running Time 171:17
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stuart Allan
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Reg Varney
Cicely Courtneidge
Michael Robbins
Anna Karen
Bob Grant
Stephen Lewis
Rudolph Walker
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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

    For the uninitiated, On The Buses is a famous British TV series by Ronald Wolfe and Donald Chesney that first aired from 1969 until 1973. It focuses on a middle class family (definitely at the lower end of the scale) who live in London and lead a rather uneventful but fulfilling life. This show was so popular in its day that they even decided to make not one but three movies based on the show. The first was called On The Buses (1971), followed by Mutiny On The Buses (1972) and then Holiday On The Buses (1973).

    The main characters of this household are son Stan (Reg Varney), brother in-law Arthur (Michael Robbins), daughter (and also Arthur's wife), Olive (Anna Karen), and Mum (Cicely Courtneidge), whom they all still live at home with. Mum is played by Doris Hare from Series 2 onwards. Stan is the main breadwinner of the family as Arthur and Olive always seem to be in between jobs. Stan is always complaining about the situation but there are plenty of excuses and reasons that prevent the married couple from gaining employment. Stan's occupation is as a double-deck bus driver and his conductor and good pal is Jack (Bob Grant). The pair are always getting up to mischief, much to the disappointment of their Inspector (Stephen Lewis).

    Series one includes the following seven episodes;

The Early Shift
Being the first episode, this starts out slowly and provides a good background for each character and their "place" in the show. Stan is frustrated with the new early shift that he is forced to work and his frustration ends up causing a strike of all the bus drivers. Mum and the other family members are furious when they have to walk home in the rain due to the bus strike. Stan is proud of his strike but soon learns to keep it quiet from the family.

The New Conductor
Stan gets a new "clippie" (a conductor) on his bus run who replaces Jack. The catch is that it's a she and she has taken quite a fancy to Stan. Mum is concerned that Stan may leave home to stay with his new woman, but who would provide money for the household? Looks like the family will have to come up with a plan to spoil the couple's courting.

Olive Takes A Trip
Olive decides to get a job as a "clippie" even if was done by fudging the answers to her employment. questionnaire. But when Olive gets travel sick on Stan's bus, there is just one mess after another landing him in hot water with the Inspector.

Bus Driver's Stomach
Stan catches every driver's worst nightmare - 'Bus Driver's Stomach' - and he is forced to go on a diet. Is it possible to stick to the diet and keep up with the fried canteen food and Mum's cooking?

The New Inspector
Money always being a problem in the household, Stan decides to earn some more by applying for a job as an Inspector. When he gets the job, things change because to his mates he is no longer a driver but a reviled Inspector.

The Canteen
The canteen food at the Bus Depot is getting worse and the workers decide to run it for themselves to lift the quality of food and service. But can they make a profit when Olive is employed as the new cook, and is this really an upgrade to food quality?

The Darts Match
Stan and Jack have a darts competition against two clippies. Things get out of hand when one clippie resorts to using her sex to put Stan off his shots. Does good prevail over evil?

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Transfer Quality

Video

The video transfer on this DVD is essentially no better than VHS. The transfer is presented in its original made-for-TV aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Unfortunately, the image is not sharp. This can be attributed to the age and quality of the source material. Shadow detail was a problem in some low light scenes, particularly at 5:44 in the first episode. Admittedly, this was set in the early morning, but a little more detail would have made it easier to see the scene. There is low level noise throughout every episode.

This series is entirely in black and white and it was not until later episodes that colour made its way onto the show. The levels of grey are defined enough to have good delineation between objects and areas such as the contrasts on the characters' skin and clothing.

There were MPEG artefacts in the form of posterization. Aliasing is very rare and very mild when it does occur. There are occasional tape tracking errors resulting in lines running horizontally across the screen. At some stage (Episode 3 most notably), this transfer has been processed in composite format as there is cross coloration around the fine lines of Stan's collar. There is also a small rotating wheel in the top right hand corner that of Episode #2 from 48:47 to 49:03 which is distracting and may also attributed to a marker used during the transfer but I cannot say for certain. Episode #3 suffers from marks on the camera lens but as they last across scenes it was more likely a blotch that was on the equipment used to make the actual transfer copy. Film artefacts are mild and not overly distracting to the viewer.

There are no subtitle tracks on this disc.

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

Audio

    There is only an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack on this disc and playback results in only the centre channel being used (i.e. it is a mono track).

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. There is some minor hiss apparent.

    Audio sync was not a problem with this transfer.

    There is little music during the show, and what there is is mostly confined to the theme music. Occasionally during an episode there are some quick ditties but these are usually reserved for a scene or location change. At no stage does the music drown out any dialogue.

    The surround channels are not used by this Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack.

    The subwoofer is also not used by this soundtrack.

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

Extras

     There are no extras available.

Menu

    The menu design is themed around the movie, and consists of a static image montage with the main characters and a bus caricature. Like the main feature, it is full frame but contains no audio.

    You have the choice on each disc of either selecting a particular episode or selecting the "Play All" option.

R4 vs R1

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 2 version of this disc misses out on;     I was unable to find any reference to a Region 1 DVD and since the movies were never released there, either, that came as no surprise. Instead, I compared it to the DVD release in its home country of Britain (Region 2). Both versions are identical in content and from what I have read the quality is the same as well.

Summary

     Watching On The Buses brought back good memories of living in the country and having to watch whatever the ABC broadcast back on channel 6. The episodes were not as funny as I remembered but the shows shot in colour were funnier anyway.

    The video suffers from numerous problems, so expect this to be of the same quality as your current VHS copy.

    The audio is also of very average quality.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Saturday, July 05, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersWhatmough Classic Series C31 (Mains); C06 (Centre); M10 (Rears); Magnat Vector Needle Sub25A Active SubWoofer

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