The Vicar of Dibley-Complete First Series (1994) (NTSC)

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Released 1-Oct-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 175:18 (Case: 174)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dewi Humphreys
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Dawn French
Gary Waldhorn
James Fleet
Emma Chambers
Liz Smith
John Bluthal
Trevor Peacock
Roger Lloyd Pack
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Howard Goodall


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    There is never any doubt that you are watching a product of British television. The characters are so believable, the quality is usually very obvious and the comedy is actually funny. So The Vicar Of Dibley can almost be classified as the quintessential British television comedy. After all, would America actually cast a fuller figured woman as the lead in a prime time series? Not on your life. Could you imagine them casting the verger with some slightly goofy looking woman? Yeah, right. It does not matter where you look in The Vicar Of Dibley, you will find the obvious hands of quality British television programming. Superbly cast, well written and brilliantly performed, there is much that can be admired in The Vicar Of Dibley.

    The village of Dibley is the epitome of British conservatism (if a tad eccentric), so when the local priest, the Reverend Pottle (aged 102) carks it, the parish council were sort of expecting to get a boringly traditional replacement at St Barnabas' Church - if one a little younger. What they did not expect was "a babe with a bob and a magnificent bosom" - the Reverend Geraldine Boadicea Granger (Dawn French). Cue the inevitable conflicts as the head of the parish council, noted for his iron handed rule over the village, David Horton (Gary Waldhorn), takes an instant dislike to the idea and seeks to have the new Reverend removed from the parish. The other members of the parish council - Hugo Horton (James Fleet), Letitia Cropley (Liz Smith), Frank Pickle (John Bluthal), Jim Trott (Trevor Peacock) and Owen Newitt (Roger Lloyd Pack) - are not quite so opposed to the idea. So Gerry has some task ahead to convince David Horton - a task not made any easier by the fact that she is blessed with Alice Tinker (Emma Chambers) as her verger - a more vacuous country bumpkin there has never been.

    These eight characters make up the vast bulk of the show and all have their eccentricities. It is those eccentricities that make the whole thing work so well and whilst the umpteenth viewing might not quite have the same impact as the very first, it cannot be denied that the comedy can still draw a smile and the occasional laugh. This is good comedy that only the British seem to be able to make. Enjoy.

    The six episodes making up the first series are:

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Rather unusually for a release from BBC Video through Roadshow Home Entertainment, this is an NTSC formatted DVD. Accordingly, you will need to have a player and/or display device capable of handling the NTSC signal. It would seem that despite there being a PAL release of the series in Region 2, the rights are not owned by the BBC and so Roadshow have sourced the NTSC master being used for the Region 1 release due out at about the same time as the Region 4 release.

    Since the show was made for television, the presentation is Full Frame (1.33:1) and it is not 16x9 enhanced.

    After watching the first ten seconds of the opening credits of the first episode, I was starting to wonder what I had let myself in for. The image had a ghastly, overexposed look that had a very metallic edge to it, aliasing quite readily and with poor definition. Then I remember that this was what the VHS tapes looked like (subsequently confirmed by watching them again) and I returned to the task at hand. It has to be said that visually this is not a great looking series overall. Aside from the rather garish, overexposed look to the opening credits, the episodes themselves are prone to too much light that washes out a lot of the detail in the transfer. However, given the fact that these problems are also seen on the VHS tapes, there is some evidence to suggest the problem is source related rather than mastering related.

    The main difference from the VHS tapes, however, is the fact that the very indistinct look on tape has been replaced with something a lot sharper and better defined. It is still nothing approaching real quality but the result is certainly much more watchable. Ideally, the transfer would be a bit sharper and the detail would stand out a little more. There is a somewhat grainy look to the transfer but nothing really distracting. Shadow detail is not the greatest but in line with the average nature of the transfer in general. There is a distinct aura around faces most of the time during the transfer.

    The colours are nothing more than average overall. They are not well defined, with the need for a heck of a lot more solidity and consistency. Oversaturation is something of an issue during the third episode on the DVD, especially around 26:01. Blacks are well short of depth and really come over more as dark greys. Colour bleed is an occasional problem but is probably more source related than anything else.

    The soft definition means that there is at times a loss of resolution on camera movements, but this could hardly be classified as an MPEG problem. Aliasing is rife through the transfer but mainly of the very minor type - most obvious is aliasing in characters' shoulders such as at 9:15 in Episode 4. Otherwise, there is little in the way of film-to-video artefacts. There are no obvious film artefacts in the transfer.

    This is a Dual Layer formatted DVD with three episodes mastered on each layer.

    There are no subtitles on the DVD, which is rather disappointing for the hearing impaired.

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

Audio

    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

    The soundtrack does not have much to do, just presenting the dialogue clearly. It does this well and you can understand everything quite easily. There are no apparent audio sync issues with the transfer.

    The original music for the series comes from Howard Goodall. Pretty much on a par with what we expect from television series, especially comedy series. In other words, nothing really exciting.

    There is nothing much to say about the soundtrack. It is clean, clear and very functional.

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

Extras

    Nothing at all.

Menu

    A bit of audio and animation is all that rises this above ignorable.

R4 vs R1

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

    The equivalent Region 1 DVD is due for release on 7th October and appears to be the same as the Region 4 release. The Region 2 (UK) release apparently includes the additional special episode "The Christmas Lunch Incident" as an extra. With this additional inclusion, the balance is well tipped in favour of that release.

Summary

    The presentation on DVD is not the best that I have ever seen, even for modern television series. The NTSC formatting is surprising and a tad disappointing given that a PAL master is by all accounts available. Still, ignoring all this, the show is well worth suffering the problems for. Almost quintessential British television comedy, The Vicar Of Dibley is an enjoyable romp through conservative English traditions.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Saturday, September 27, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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Comments (Add)
Region comparison - Daniel B (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
I Agree with Daniel B - Jeff D
Region 2 disc has extra episode... - Jeff D REPLY POSTED