Overall | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 1 (1992) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 2 (1992) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 3 (1995) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 4 (1 disc edition) (2001)

Absolutely Fabulous-The Whole Thing... Sweetie! (1992)

Absolutely Fabulous-The Whole Thing... Sweetie! (1992)

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Released 3-Oct-2002

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Overall Package

    Absolutely Fabulous-The Whole Thing...Sweetie! is somewhat misnamed. Certainly it is a compilation of the four seasons of Absolutely Fabulous. What it isn't is The Whole Thing...(Sweetie), as it misses out on Absolutely Fabulous-The Last Shout and the second disc of Season 4 of Absolutely Fabulous, which contains a number of extras (but no actual episodes). It also doesn't include the soon-to-be-released Absolutely Fabulous-New York Special.

    However, what you do get for your money is Season 1, Season 2, Season 3 and disc 1 of Season 4 of Absolutely Fabulous in a gatefold case. I have never been a great fan of gatefold cases, feeling that they lack durability, and this presentation does nothing to change my opinion of that. There are no additional extras or booklet, and the discs are the same as those available separately. However, at less than $100, this box set represents a substantial saving over the $150 plus cost of purchasing the DVDs of Seasons 1 to 4 separately, so is definitely worth considering - Disc 2 of Season 4 is not really all that great a loss when it boils down to it, and certainly not worth going out of your way to acquire specifically.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Other Reviews NONE
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Overall | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 1 (1992) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 2 (1992) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 3 (1995) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 4 (1 disc edition) (2001)

Absolutely Fabulous-Series 1 (1992)

Absolutely Fabulous-Series 1 (1992)

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Released 3-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Outtakes
Featurette-The Beginning
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 175:40 (Case: 195)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bob Spiers
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jennifer Saunders
Joanna Lumley
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $34.95 Music Simon Brint
Simon Wallace


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 English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, copiously
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits Yes, jokes to finish off the credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    "Later on, we'll be taking an in-depth look at acute schizophrenia from 9:20 to 9:23."

    Absolutely Fabulous is one of those comedies that seems hilarious on the first viewing, but seems to lose its punch when you've seen and heard all the jokes before. I say this because rather than laughing at the childish antics of Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), I found myself wishing that Saffron Monsoon (Julia Sawalha) would just get up and leave her mother to live life without anyone to pick up after her. I guess time has soured me to some degree, because I used to find this show to be quite the proverbial crack-up. Still, Saffy and her grandmother, June Monsoon (June Whitfield), keep the laughs coming even when the other two regular cast members have worn their welcome down to bloody stubs. This volume of episodes contains all six from the first series:

    I guess I haven't found Absolutely Fabulous as funny the second time around as was the case when I first viewed it on the ABC some years ago. Still, if you're a fan of this show, then this collection of the first six episodes will keep you laughing for just over three hours, which is certainly good value for the thirty-five dollar asking price.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Unfortunately, BBC television series and poor video quality seem to go hand in hand, with the first series of Absolutely Fabulous being no exception.

    The transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

    The sharpness of this transfer is acceptable, but not anything to write home about. Objects that are distant to the camera are often a blurred, ill-defined mess that could easily be confused with a VHS transfer, but thankfully, the objects which are closer to the camera have a great deal more definition. The shadow detail is poor, but this is acceptable because almost all of the programme on offer is quite well-lit. There was no low-level noise lurking in the transfer.

    The colours in this series tend to be on the muted and dull side, at least until we get to the costumes worn by Jennifer Saunders, which generally look as if someone threw them up. The transfer captures these colour schemes without any bleeding, misregistration, or composite artefacts.

    MPEG artefacts are present in small amounts throughout the transfer, with subtle macro-blocking to be found in the backgrounds of any long shot. If you look at one shot in Fashion at 2:08, for instance, you can see the edges of colours on Julia Sawalha's face becoming blocky, with her cheeks in particular looking a little like pink squares. Film-to-video artefacts are present to a similar, but much less subtle, degree: just look at any shot that contains horizontal blinds, and watch how they shimmer as the camera pans across them. Film artefacts did not seem to be present in this transfer, making me wonder if this series had been shot on video like a lot of other BBC productions that mostly take place indoors.

    The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are about ninety percent faithful to the dialogue, and very useful if you have any problems with understanding the shouted or mumbled lines. Some of the jokes lose a little in the translation from speech to text, but not enough to make the best ones any less funny.

    This disc is dual layered. No discernable layer change was detected during any of the episodes.



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

Audio

    There is only the one soundtrack available on this disc: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand most of the time, but Jennifer Saunders' shouting and carrying on like a spoiled child posed a problem on a few occasions. Some words from Jane Horrocks, such as "bon jour", were hard to make out, but this is more because of the way they were delivered rather than any specific transfer fault. There were no subjectively discernable problems with audio sync.

    The music in this series is credited to Simon Brint and Simon Wallace, with a theme song entitled This Wheel's On Fire performed by Julie Driscoll and Adrian Edmondson. The music really has little impact overall, and it is hard to recall any single moment of it actually being present in the episodes. The theme song, on the other hand, is quite an interesting piece of work that deserves to be released as a single.

    The surround channels were not used by this soundtrack. The subwoofer was not specifically engaged by it, either, although some signal from the music was redirected to it by my Dolby Digital processor.



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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static and accompanied by 48 kilohertz Linear PCM audio. It is profoundly counter-intuitive to navigate and not 16x9 Enhanced.

Outtakes

    Entitled Absolutely Not in the menu, this fourteen minute and fifty-five second collection of bloopers is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It is not particularly amusing.

Featurette - The Beginning

   If you've ever wondered who Dawn French was, then you can see her and her acting "skills" in this eight minute and five second featurette that is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Photo Gallery

    The transitions between each still are animated, but that's the only remarkable thing about this gallery.

R4 vs R1

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

    Series One of Absolutely Fabulous is either available separately or as part of a boxed set in Region 1. The Region 1 boxed set also contains The Last Shout, which is distributed by Universal Home Video in this country. The separate version of Series One that is available in Region 1 is identically specified to ours, and it appears unlikely that either version will have a better transfer. I'll call this one even until someone can contact me and tell me of any serious discrepancy in the quality of either transfer.

Summary

    Maybe it is the fact that I am still under the influence of heavy painkillers after having had reconstructive surgery on my jaw, but I found it very hard to laugh during this viewing of Absolutely Fabulous episodes. Then again, watching two children grown older acting like complete morons can really only hold its appeal for so long in my view. Still, if you enjoy this series and need to indulge yourself in another viewing every now and again, then you can't go far wrong with this disc.

    The video transfer is acceptable.

    The audio transfer is unspectacular.

    The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Friday, September 21, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Amy F
The DVD Bits - Dean B
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Kevin S
Cassandra Nunn DVD Reviews - Cassandra N
DVDownUnder - Cassandra N

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Overall | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 1 (1992) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 2 (1992) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 3 (1995) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 4 (1 disc edition) (2001)

Absolutely Fabulous-Series 2 (1992)

Absolutely Fabulous-Series 2 (1992)

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Released 28-Feb-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Gallery-Photo
Outtakes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 176:48
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (97:11) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Bob Spiers
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jennifer Saunders
Joanna Lumley
Julia Sawalha
June Whitfield
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Julie Driscoll
Adrian Edmonson


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 English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Smoking Yes, constantly
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits Yes, hilarious in-credits jokes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Absolutely Fabulous is yet another comedy series filmed on the cheap by the British Broadcasting Corporation, and one that I frankly find has gradually less replay value every time I watch it. I suspect that this is due to the childish, often irritating antics of its main characters, because some of the jokes are exceptionally well-written, and the guest appearances by such British comedy alumni as Christopher Ryan certainly lend it a touch of class. I suppose that watching the show occasionally is the best way, because familiarity certain does breed contempt here.

    For those who want a rundown of the basic plot, here it goes: Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) is some kind of baron in the fashion industry, although what she actually does with herself on a day-to-day basis is anyone's guess. Her best friend, Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), also works in the fashion industry, posing as some kind of reporter for a magazine, and sometimes she actually bothers to show up for work. Her daughter, Saffron (Julia Swalha) is the real adult in this triangular relationship, often making apologies to all present for the truly childish antics that her mother puts on from crisis to crisis. They are also frequently visited by a very batty grandmother (June Whitfield) and the occasional ex-husband (Christopher Ryan being one of them), all of whom have their own commentary to share about the life and antics of the anti-hero.

    The list of episodes found in Season Two are as follows:

    This collection of episodes is a little more coherent in terms of storyline than the previous season, but the one limiting factor in its long-term value is how long you can stand two middle-aged women acting like spoiled children. The show constantly walks a fine line between low-brow humour and sheer annoyance, and I do not even recommend watching two episodes back to back. Still, if you found these episodes funny when taken one at a time, then this disc is for you.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    If you've read my review of Absolutely Fabulous, Season One, or any of the Doctor Who releases to date, then you know what comes next. Suffice it to say that this is another show which the British Broadcasting Corporation shot as cheaply as they could, and every hint of their corner-cutting is visible on DVD.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, as one would expect of a show that was obviously never intended to be seen as anything but an analogue broadcast, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

    The transfer is as sharp as you can expect from a television show that was mostly shot on video, and it certainly looks better on this DVD than any other home format one can mention. The shadow detail is limited, but adequate to the show's needs, and there is no low-level noise.

    The colours usually appear stable and well-represented, but they become a little murky during scenes with a lot of smoke in them, which figure prominently during Birth and Morocco. Minor cross-colouration is occasionally evident in car grilles and striped clothes.

    MPEG artefacts were not noticed in this transfer, although the source materials and programme length do push the disc space to the absolute limit. There were numerous instances of film-to-video artefacts, specifically aliasing, in such places as the edge of a table at 2:56 during Episode Four. Film artefacts were not noticed in this transfer, although I feel certain that I may have missed some during the outdoor sequences.

    The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles on this disc contain some major variations from the spoken dialogue, making it hard for me to endorse this disc to those who require them.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place during Episode Four at 8:31. This is one of the most conspicuous layer changes I have seen for a long time, placed in the middle of a scene.

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

Audio

    Again, the British Broadcasting Corporation's insistence on filming with a budget that only Lloyd Kaufman would find generous introduces severe limitations into what can be done with the audio.

    There is one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 kilobits per second.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at almost all times, although some of the babbling from Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley can get on the nerves. I did not detect any problems with audio sync.

    There is very little music in this series, with the only notable piece being a theme song called This Wheel's On Fire, performed by Julie Driscoll and Adrian Edmonson. Thankfully, the version found on this DVD is the original, almost pleasant-sounding version, as opposed to the one that sounds like it was recorded by a toothless drunk on The Last Shout.

    The surround channels and subwoofer were not used by this soundtrack at all.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static, accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and not 16x9 Enhanced.

Photo Gallery

    This photo gallery is unannotated, and basically a series of shots from the episodes, making it of little interest.

Outtakes

    This featurette, entitled Absolutely Not, is a fourteen minute and four second collection of moments when the actors have fluffed their lines. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this is good for an extra giggle, and probably will remain more endearing in the long-term than the programme itself.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    It seems that information about television series on DVD are not easy to find on American sites. However, there does not seem to be any real difference between this DVD and the version sold in the USA. An extensive search of online retailers also failed to turn up any real difference between this version and the Region 2 version, making the local disc the version of choice.

Summary

    Absolutely Fabulous is good as a "watch occasionally" thing, but I still question how funny it is to have two complete morons acting this way. Still, with some sublime acting by Julia Swalha as the real adult in the mother-daughter relationship, this is still worth watching every now and again.

    The video transfer is reasonable given the source materials.

    The audio transfer is a good representation of cheaply-recorded source materials.

    The extras are sparse.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Sunday, March 03, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews
region4dvd.net - Darren R (read my bio (fun for the whole family))
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Magalie S
DVD Net - Amy F
The DVD Bits - Dean B

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 1 (1992) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 2 (1992) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 3 (1995) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 4 (1 disc edition) (2001)

Absolutely Fabulous-Series 3 (1995)

Absolutely Fabulous-Series 3 (1995)

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Released 25-Jun-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Outtakes
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 170:49 (Case: 173)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Bob Spiers
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jennifer Saunders
Joanna Lumley
Julia Sawalha
June Whitfield
Jane Horrocks
Kate O'Mara
Gary Beadle
Naomi Campbell
Lulu
Celia Imrie
Kathy Burke
Ruby Wax
Josie Lawrence
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Simon Brint


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 English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Smoking Yes, frequently
Annoying Product Placement Yes, but that's part of the plot
Action In or After Credits Yes, a final joke in the credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Absolutely Fabulous, to be very honest, is starting to irritate me, and this is something I find odd. I laughed until I cried at the antics of its two principal characters when I first saw the show in the mid-1990s, but now it is barely raising a giggle out of me. I suspect this may have to do with getting older, having more burdens to deal with, and thus finding little humour in people behaving like the world owes them a living. It is therefore in the interests of producing a balanced review that I will minimise my comments about the plot into something that just gives an idea of what the show and its episodes are about.

    For those who want a rundown of the basic plot, here it goes: Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) is a kind of baron in the fashion industry, a head of a PR company. Her best friend, Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), also works in the fashion industry, posing as some kind of reporter for a magazine, and sometimes she actually bothers to show up for work. Her daughter, Saffron (Julia Swalha) is the real adult in this triangular relationship, often making apologies to all present for the truly childish antics that her mother puts on from crisis to crisis. They are also frequently visited by a very batty grandmother (June Whitfield) and the occasional ex-husband (Christopher Ryan being one of them), all of whom have their own commentary to share about the life and antics of the anti-hero.

    The list of episodes found in Season Three are as follows:

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Absolutely Fabulous was shot using video for the interior scenes, and what appears to be 16mm film for the outdoor locations. This arrangement is fairly typical of a BBC show, and it often hampers the transfer in a noticeable way, so a fair number of the artefacts on display here are inherent in the source material.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

    At first, when Doorhandle started, I was fearing the worst, as the first sequence is filled with blooming lights which messes up the sharpness in a big way. In a minute or two, however, this was revealed to be a dream sequence, and the sharpness of the transfer is actually quite reasonable in light of the production values. There are very few night-time or low-lit sequences in the film, but when they do occur, the shadow detail can best be described as adequate. There is no low-level noise visible in this transfer.

    The colours are acceptably rendered, although the titles at the start of each episode are still showing dot crawl to an extent that leads me to believe said titles were designed on a composite system at some point. A minor cross-colouration effect can be seen on some elaborate railing in the background at 4:41 during Jealous, but this was acceptable considering how much more prominent this artefact could have been.

    MPEG artefacts were not found during the interior sequences of this transfer - the exterior sequences often come out a little hazy and grainy, but this could be traced back to the source materials rather than the compression. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing that was usually minor, but Saffron's glasses were a constant source of this problem, showing minor aliasing at 2:58 during Doorhandle, and varying in intensity according to the closeness of the shot at other times. Film artefacts were present during the outdoor sequences, and they were occasionally distracting, but this was generally acceptable given the source materials.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place between Chapters 2 and 3 of Jealous at 11:11. This layer change sticks out like a sore thumb, and it is really unnecessary, given that it could have simply been placed between episodes.

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

Audio

    There is only the one soundtrack on this disc: an English Dolby Digital 2.0 effort.

    The dialogue is as clear and easy to understand as the acting styles allow - some of the characters speak in such irritating or exaggerated manners that it can make understanding them a little bit dicey from time to time. Fortunately, the director obviously anticipated that some people would get annoyed with the manner in which characters like Bubble speak, and paced such sequences in order to compensate. There were no discernable problems with audio sync.

    The incidental music in this series is credited to Simon Brint. It mainly consists of pipe-organ-like sounds on a keyboard, and while it is not present a whole lot of the time, it is remarkably effective. The old stand-by of This Wheel's On Fire, sung by Adrian Edmonson and Julie Driscoll, is present and accounted for here.

    The surround channels are not used in this soundtrack, so they packed up and left along with the subwoofer. The vast majority of this programme is based on dialogue, so this is not a major concern.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static, accompanied by 48 kHz Linear PCM 2.0 audio, and is not 16x9 Enhanced.

Outtakes

    A sixteen minute and thirty second collection of stuff-ups on the set, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Photo Gallery

    Another collection of unannotated stills that is really only worth looking through once.

R4 vs R1

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

    Once again, the whole Absolutely Fabulous series is available as a four-disc set in Region 1, with the fourth series also available on DVD with an audio commentary by the producer and Jennifer Saunders. There are also additional extras on the other three discs, making it hard to recommend the local version to those who want to own a definitive version.

Summary

    Watching one episode of Absolutely Fabulous every now and then is perfectly fine, but watching a whole series in rapid succession tends to magnify how horrid and annoying some of the principal characters really are. Still, fans of the series will find the transfer on offer here to be perfectly adequate, and this is really as good as the series is ever likely to look.

    The video transfer is good, considering the source materials.

    The audio transfer is good.

    The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Saturday, June 22, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - Dean B
DVD Net - Amy F
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Andrea G

Comments (Add)
My favorite season - "Sex" and "Happy New Year" are classics! - Byron Kolln (HELLO FOOLS! Read my Bio!)

Overall | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 1 (1992) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 2 (1992) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 3 (1995) | Absolutely Fabulous-Series 4 (1 disc edition) (2001)

Absolutely Fabulous-Series 4 (1 disc edition) (2001)

Absolutely Fabulous-Series 4 (1 disc edition) (2001)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 8-Aug-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Jennifer Saunders and Jon Plowman
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 175:47
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Bob Spiers
Christine Gernon
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jennifer Saunders
Joanna Lumley
Julia Sawalha
June Whitfield
Jane Horrocks
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI Box Music Simon Brint


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Smoking Yes, even two at once with a lighter to match!
Annoying Product Placement Yes, very obtrusive, especially Apple Computers
Action In or After Credits Yes, every episode has a epilogue segment at the end

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

Plot Synopsis

    Absolutely Fabulous Series 4 started filming almost five years after the third series so it isn’t surprising to see that many of the actors are finally starting to grow up. What’s that I hear, ”Absolutely Fabulous, growing up?”. Well, sort-of; time still marches on even if you only act half your age. But it isn’t just the characters that are changing. The storylines and to some extent the basic essence of what was Asolutely Fabulous is also changing. Although this change is likely to alienate some fans, it is necessary as the show has been feeling a little dated and the effectiveness of the comedy was beginning to wear off. The big question is - will this change be enough?

    In stead with the theme of change, this release also brings us the next six episodes in glorious widescreen, complete with a commentary that many will find very interesting. We are also treated to the inclusion of the new pilot episode, “Mirror Ball”, which I am sure will catch anybody who hasn’t seen it with as much surprise as it did I. "Mirror Ball" was the proposed new series replacement for Absolutely Fabulous however based on the lukewarm reception it received, Jennifer Saunders decided to continue the existing series for at least one or two more seasons. The inclusion of “Mirror Ball” is not without reason as it becomes quickly apparent that Jennifer Saunders, who both writes the series and plays the character Edina Monsoon (and incidentally recorded the commentary), is trying to rescue long-term interest in the series by migrating to a structure more like the proposed "Mirror Ball" format. This release includes:

    The first few episodes introduced us to the new look and feel of Ab-Fab but by about episode three the script was in full form and really brought back the entertainment I seemed to remember from the series when I first saw it. Also impressive was the way in which Jennifer Saunders managed to reveal some of the negative repercussions of Edina and Patsy’s raising of Saffron without overdoing it and leaving the audience feeling heavy. In addition this release includes, and cross references many times in the commentary, the pilot episode ”Mirror Ball” which is of great interest in more ways than one.

    Although not destined to please everyone, Absolutely Fabulous Series 4 is likely to please more people than it displeases and represents the series in fine form.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The main transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This is simply the best Absolutely Fabulous has ever looked and I hope this is a sign of what to expect from the BBC in the future. The video is near reference quality with only a few minor issues causing it to miss the mark.

    The transfer was extremely sharp and detailed throughout with only a few scenes suffering from loss of detail due to what appeared to be poor focus. This would, when apparent, affect all shots of a particular scene from a particular angle, Episode 2 - 11:55 and 11:58 are good examples and likewise Episode 4 - 2:49 and Episode 6 – 8:46. Thankfully this did not happen often and was not too bad when it did. There was no low level noise, film grain or chroma noise evident. Black levels were absolutely spot-on and shadow detail was exemplary. White levels were similarly ideal with only a few shots suffering from some overexposure (Episode 3 – 8:52, Episode 4 – 5:14, Episode 6 – 1:02 and Episode 6 – 4:26 are examples) but nothing major.

    Colours were likewise exceptional, with completely natural skin tones supported by natural lighting and wonderful saturated colours where appropriate. There was no other evidence of any problems with colour bleeding or cross-colouration.

    MPEG artefacts were almost completely absent with the only obvious occurrence of problems being in the opening credits, however I’m inclined to blame this more on digital zooming that actual compression artefacts. There was no telecine wobble, no hairs, no scratches – in short the film transfer was pristine. Aliasing was apparent but only minor and almost impossible to avoid on items such as cars (Episode 1 – 10:16), dishes (Episode 2 – 0:52), chrome chairs (Episode 4 – 20:50), glasses (Episode 5 – 16:47) and of course blinds (Episode 4 – 11:12). Moiring was present and quite distracting in some cases where it plagued Edina’s pink hat in Episode 3 at 10:56, 14:21, 19:03, 25:40, 27:04 and a plasma screen at Episode 5 – 0:53 as the worst offenders. There was also a small period of minor camera shake at Episode 5 – 16:13.

    There were two groups of subtitles on this disc, of which only the English subtitles are listed and selectable via the menu, however Dutch subtitles can also be selected during play. The subtitles are only for the main presentation and are not available for the commentary. The accuracy of the subtitles left much to be desired. For instance, almost every single passage was paraphrased similar to the following:
Spoken: “… it’s not beyond the realms of possibility”
Subtitles: “… it’s not impossible”
Personally, I find this unnacceptable.

    This disc is dual layered, but no layer change is apparent during any of the programming. The episodes are wholly contained on one or the other layers.

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

Audio

    This is a simple but effective audio transfer which suits the material well.

    The main presentation includes two audio tracks. The default is an English Dolby Surround encoded 2.0 track for the main presentation with a second Dolby Surround encoded 2.0 track for the commentary.

    The audio was well synchronised with the video, displaying no audio sync delays. The dialogue was distinct and clear at all times.

    Apart from the re-recorded opening titles music “This Wheel’s on Fire” by Simon Brint and sung by Julie Tippett and Adrian Edmondson, the brief sing-over by Hermine Demoriane with ”Ziggy Played Guitar” in the closing titles and a few snippets of music during some scene changes; there is very little else to be said about the music for Ab-Fab.

    There is only moderate surround activity, mostly being dedicated to live studio audience applause. Unfortunately this does ruin the illusion at at least one point when there is separate applause from both the primary audience (the live one) and the extras audience in Saffie’s play within a play segment where the pair of them sound truly at odds with each other (Episode 5 – 26:26).

    The subwoofer is alive but rarely used and isn’t really called for much anyway.

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

Extras

Main Menu

    The main menu is simply animated with appropriate background music. It is far more intuitive to operate than previous Absolutely Fabulous attempts.

Commentary

    The audio commentary by Jennifer Saunders and John Plowman is very enlightening, especially Jennifer’s inputs. This is the sort of commentary that explains in great detail the history, design and various bits of trivia behind the scenes and script writing for the series. I enjoyed the commentary and found that it added significantly to my understanding of the main presentation. All in all this was a fine effort and worth listening to, if not just to understand some of the more European/British jokes and humour references.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;

    The comparison here is somewhat moot given the fact that this particular disc is not actually available individually for purchase (the individual release is a 2 disc set including the above extras), but is part of the 4 disc Absolutely Fabulous - The Whole Thing...Sweetie! box set compilation. However, given that the likely intended aspect ratio of this particular Series of Absolutely Fabulous is 1.78:1, the Region 4 version of this DVD would remain the version of choice.

Summary

    Absolutely Fabulous has never looked or sounded as good as they do on this almost flawless disc.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are mostly of very good quality and enhance the presentation.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael S Cox (to bio, or not to bio?)
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplayJVC Interiart Flat 68cm Display 16:9. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3802
SpeakersFront LR - NEAR MainMast, Center - NEAR 20M, Surround LR - NEAR Spinnaker DiPoles, Rear LR - NEAR MainMast-II, Subwoofer - NEAR PS-2 DiPole

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