The League of Gentlemen-Series 3 (2000)

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Released 9-Mar-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Local Gossip
Featurette-Making Of
Storyboards-End Sequence
Featurette-Edit Your Own end
Featurette-The Dean Tavalouris Lecture
Featurette-All About Yves
Biographies-Character-Local People
Outtakes
Audio-Only Track-Music Score
Featurette-Video Diary
Featurette-SFX Effects
Featurette-Missing
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 172:44 (Case: 300)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Steve Bendelack
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Mark Gatiss
Steve Pemberton
Reece Shearsmith
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $49.95 Music Joby Talbot


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/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 Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The League Of Gentlemen has to be one of the most innovative and surreal black comedies ever to have emerged from the BBC. For those unfamiliar with the crazy world of Royston Vasey, try taking a look at Series 1 followed by Series 2 before diving into the third instalment reviewed here.

    Once again the immensely talented Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith deliver an imaginative (albeit twisted) peek into the lives of the denizens of the fictitious Northern village. Eagle eyed viewers will spot the normally invisible co-creator Jeremy Dyson making a brief on-screen appearance this time (as a member of the comedy club audience in Episode 3 and again in Episode 5). The most notable feature of this third instalment is the shift further away from outright humour into a much darker and even sadder territory.

    Once again there are a couple of new characters introduced in this series, but many of the old favourites make a welcome (albeit short-lived in some cases) return to the small screen. Amongst my old favourites you will be delighted to know that Tubbs and Edward, Pauline, and awful drama troupe Legz Akimbo put in an appearance. Not all of the old characters are here however, with hapless veterinarian Mr Chinnery and the toad-obsessed Dentons missing in action - oh well, you cannot have everything I guess!

    Series Three could be entitled Quentin Tarantino comes to Royston Vasey. How so? I hear you exclaim. Well, in this series each episode is linked to a single pivotal moment - a van crashing into a brick wall, and injuring...someone. As the series unfolds, the crash scene is witnessed from a different perspective and the true outcome is different from what you understood in the previous episode. There is also a rather clever visual cue in the form of a red plastic bag which floats in and out of the episodes - and is always a sign of impending doom. A clever touch which works very well in an episodic format - take my advice and do not watch the episodes in quick succession if you want to enjoy the "cliff-hangers" as they would have been intended at the time of original broadcast.

    The two disc set provides the six episodes of the third series on the first disc, with a second disc full of extras. The episodes are as follows:

    The League of Gentlemen - Series 3 is, in my opinion, less immediately funny than either of the first two series. It certainly seems that there is a marked increase in swearing and sexual situations in this series, with a much more dramatic turn to the plotlines. Don't get me wrong, this is still utter brilliance, but it has evolved away from sketch-based comedy into a darker, more dramatic, more poignant form. There are still some pants-wettingly funny moments, but the sadness and melodrama is never more than a smile away at any point. By the end of the series, the entire thing falls into place...a little like Pulp Fiction. For fans this will be an essential purchase - albeit not everyone will like the marked shift in emphasis away from obvious sight gags, catch phrases and one-liners. For those not yet acquainted with The League, I would suggest checking out the first series - if you don't "get" that one, this will definitely not be your cup of tea. Classic television with a genuine twist but, for me, not quite as enjoyable as the previous series.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is slightly better than the first series. Again however, it is not brilliant, and it does still have some minor defects.

    The series is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. This is the original televised aspect ratio. The video transfer is a little soft, as has been the norm with previous series. The standard post-processing effect, deliberately applied to make the series look like it was shot on grainy film is still present, but a bit less heavy-handed than the very first series.

    Colours are well rendered and the transfer is a little brighter than the first series. Skin tones look natural - given that some characters are wearing garishly heavy make-up. Colour bleeding is not a problem. Black levels are pretty deep with no significant low level noise and acceptable shadow detail.

    The transfer is free from major MPEG artefacts. Much like the previous series however, there is still a noticeable problem with aliasing throughout the series. It never reaches the annoyingly bad levels seen in the first series, but remains mildly distracting on larger systems. The normal list of culprits are to blame, with chrome and sharp edges occasionally demonstrating the problem. Edge enhancement is not an issue and telecine wobble is absent.

    The feature is free from significant film (video) artefacts, and unsurprisingly given its age, this is a very clean transfer.

    The English subtitles (for the Hard of Hearing) are legible, well timed and provide musical cues. There are some errors and omissions in the subtitles but none are significant enough to detract from their function.

    The first disc is dual layered but I did not notice a layer change during the episodes. The second disc of extras is in DVD5 format (single sided and single layered).

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

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is typical for a television comedy show and is clean and effective.

    The sole English audio track is once presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo encoded at 256 kbps, as were the previous series. The surround flag is not enabled.

    Dialogue is always clear and I noticed no issues with audio sync. There are no obvious defects in the way of hiss, clicks or dropouts.

    The musical score is once again credited to Joby Talbot, and will be recognizable to viewers of the previous series although it has been "souped up" (much to the disgust of some fans apparently). The heightened sense of drama in this series means that the music is more heavily used to build tension during the episodes. There are a number of (often ominous) themes spread across the series and they all serve their purpose admirably.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are unused, unless you have Pro Logic II enabled, in which case there is some reasonable ambience directed through to the surrounds. The soundstage is appropriate for the material presented.

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

Extras

    Once more The League provide a two disc set with a large number of excellent extras to delight both local and international fans alike:

Disc 1

Menu

    The menu is a very nicely animated musical affair, which scrolls past horizontally featuring images and sound bites from each episode in sequence. It allows each episode to be selected independently, or they can be played in sequence. There are six chapter stops for each episode, and these are menu selectable. Finally the subtitles can be activated, or the following extras selected:

Local Gossip

    As with the first two series, The League provide another entertaining commentary track for every episode. The main soundtrack is sufficiently muted to allow you to hear the commentary track clearly. As with the previous commentary tracks this is well worth listening to as they excitedly talk over one another. Once again there are endless film references in the series and the team reveal some of those which you may have missed during the commentary.

Easter Egg

    A fun extra running for 16:28. Steve Pemberton takes his personal video camera behind the scenes of an outdoor shoot. Understandably the video and audio quality is of home camcorder standard, with video glitches and pixelization aplenty. Presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound encoded at 256 kbps. To access it you must (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) watch the animated menu screen all the way through, until a silver St.Christopher appears. Selecting it will play the extra footage.

Disc 2

Menu

    The menu is again nicely animated with a lovely piano piece playing in the background. It allows the activation of subtitles and access to the following extras:

The Making of Series Three

    Narrated by Adam Buxton and presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps. This documentary features a quite detailed travel through the writing, filming and post-production process - right up to the reading of the press reviews of the series. This is very interesting and of course rather funny. A good solid extra running for 27:55.

End Sequence Storyboards

    Running for 4:49 this is a direct comparison between storyboard drawings and the final video footage, as they run alongside each other in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps.

Edit Your Own End

    This fun extra allows you to select six from twelve available video clips, and combine them into a hideously deformed end sequence all of your own.

The Dean Tavalouris Lecture

    Hopelessly untalented magician Dean takes you through one of his home-made training videos on close-up magic. Running for 6:20 this is a very funny extra. Just listen out for the phone-call which interrupts his video! Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps.

All About Yves

    The lads interview costume designer Yves Barre for 15:02. A strange, but strangely interesting extra presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps. Wind noise and shaky camcorder shots abound.

Local People

    As for Series 1 and 2, this is a collection of silent text-based screens providing an hilarious summary of the major new characters seen in this series...almost two dozen of them!

Out Takes

    A collection of bloopers from Series 3. Presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps and presented in a ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced. All are available with English subtitles, and run as a montage for a total of 6:51.

Music Score

    Several of the excellent musical numbers played over a static background with audio in LPCM 2.0 encoded at 1536 kbps:

Video Diary

    Feel the pain of the creative writing process as the guys tear their hair out trying to come up with the script ideas. Presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps. Running for a lengthy 26:30 this is intriguing and often funny. The Smith & Jones rip-off is hilarious.

SFX Footage

    A brief (1:25) montage of the CGI and green screen effects applied in the series. Presented silent at 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced).

Missing

    A collection of deleted scenes running in sequence for 11:48, presented at 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps. There is some funny stuff tucked away in here.

Gallery

    A collection of dozens of photographs of the characters, silently presented at 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced).

R4 vs R1

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

    This series does not appear to be available in Region 1. The Region 2 release of this series appears to be identical to our own. Buy whichever is cheaper.

Summary

    The League of Gentlemen - Series 3 is arguably not quite as funny as the first two series. It takes a slightly different approach - more dramatic, more twisted (if that's possible) and more poignant. The device of having all six episodes culminate around the same van crashing through a wall is novel and works very well indeed. Highly recommended for fans of this bunch of comedy geniuses, but for those new to The League, you will have to watch the previous series first to have any kind of clue as to what is going on. Top notch stuff, just a little different to what you may have come to expect.

    The video quality has some minor issues with aliasing but is generally very good.

    The audio transfer is good for a television series.

    There is a whole second disc full of extras adding tremendous value to the package. Well done again BBC.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
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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