On the Buses-Series 2 (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 145:04
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Howard Ross
Studio
Distributor
VCI
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Reg Varney
Doris Hare
Bob Grant
Anna Karen
Stephen Lewis
Michael Robbins
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (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 Yes, very frequent
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    On The Buses - Series 2 is a show I remember fondly from my early youth. It is another of those shows that I used to watch avidly, and found to be rather funny. I also used to own a Sinclair ZX81 computer, with 1K of memory and a membrane keyboard, with programs entered by typing basic listings for hours on end from the early computing magazines. The ZX81 was a passable computer in those days, but is nothing more than an historical oddity now. I fear that the same can now be said for On The Buses.

    The show revolves around the life of Luxton bus driver Stan Butler (the twinkling Reg Varney) and his extended family, living in London during the late 1960s. Butler is supported by his lecherous, chain-smoking offsider Jack, played by Bob Grant. Sexually deprived sister Olive is portrayed by Anna Karen along with her acerbic husband Arthur (the always droll Michael Robbins). One of the standing jokes which runs through every episode of every series (and the three subsequent movies) is the disdain with which Arthur treats Olive. At the time this seemed funny. Now, it just seems sad. The cuddly but slightly daffy Mum is played by Doris Speed.

    Stan and Jack are forever trying to outsmart Inspector Blake (an occasionally funny Hitler caricature by Stephen Lewis). Their main aim in life is to pick up "birds", rort the system as often as possible and do as little work as is humanly possible. The swinging sixties were coming to an end as this series aired, but the sexual innuendo which became so prevalent among comedies of the time is refreshingly underplayed in this one. Some of the set-ups are still mildly amusing, but only because of the naiveté of the humour and the sense of nostalgia they evoke.

    The six episodes on offer are as follows:

    On The Buses - Series 2 is no longer very entertaining. There may be a naive charm about the cardboard sets and the innocent double-entendres, but that's about it. I found the hammy acting and the need to try and get a laugh from every second line (whether funny or not) annoying. Possibly the main redeeming feature is the charm of the characters, who (provided you don't watch too many episodes in sequence) are still capable of raising the odd smile. This is really a series which will best be enjoyed by die-hard fans, or old UK comedy collectors. There is nothing of significant comedy value here for the casual DVD buyer looking for a laugh.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is adequate given its age, but is a little ragged around the edges.

    The series is presented in a fullscreen ratio of 1.33:1, which is of course the original televised aspect ratio. The video quality is rather variable although it has been encoded at a surprisingly high bitrate, averaging over 7 Mbps. The contrast between the grainy outside location shots and the much crisper studio set is rather obvious and somewhat jarring.

    The series is presented in it's original black and white, although cross colouration and overmodulation provide annoying speckles of colour throughout. Greyscale is acceptable generally. Black levels are just acceptable but shadow detail is poor in the darker outdoor shots.

    There is some noticeable aliasing and shimmer in the image, with moire effects cropping up whenever items such as striped pyjamas or shirts appear. Edge enhancement is not noticeable. Telecine wobble crops up from time to time, but is most obvious during the title sequences.

    There are many brief glitches in the video, with the odd dropped frame and jump apparent. The transfer is riddled with scratches, flecks and other film artefacts throughout. These are perhaps unsurprising, but unwelcome nevertheless.

    Unfortunately, given the likely age of its primary audience, there are no subtitles available.

    The episodes are presented on two single layered, single sided (DVD 5) formatted discs, so there is no layer change present on either one.

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

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is acceptable for a television series of this age.

    The sole English audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, encoded at a measly 192 kbps.

    Dialogue is generally clear and there are no issues with audio sync. The canned/studio laughter is often overly loud, as seemed to be the norm in those days, and is mildly irritating. It does manage to drown out some dialogue, for example the punch line in Arthur's dialogue at 22:23 in Episode 1.

    The musical score is used only during the title sequences and is generally jaunty and did bring back a few memories. Music is, however, not a major component of this series.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are, of course, unused.

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

Extras

    There are no extras on these discs.

Menu

    The menus are static, silent, vibrantly coloured cartoons of the main actors in front of a cartoon bus. They each allow the meagre options of selecting individual episodes or playing them all in series.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc does not appear to be available in Region 1. In Region 2, the series is available as two individual discs, featuring three episodes each, or as part of a four disc box set carrying all the episodes from Series 1 and 2. They seem to be similarly bare-boned efforts. Buy whichever is cheapest.

Summary

    On The Buses - Series 2 is television for a different generation. The humour does not stand up well against the best of more recent British shows (Linda Green, The League of Gentlemen) but does stand the test of time better than some of its contemporaries (Love Thy Neighbour for instance). One for fans or collectors only I would suggest.

    The video quality is adequate for a thirty-year old series, but is little better than VHS standard.

    The audio transfer is adequate, given the source material.

    There are no extras present.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Friday, August 08, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. 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.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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