Milligan, Spike-The Best of (1999)

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Released 9-Mar-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 81:09
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Spike Milligan
John Bluthal
David Lodge
Kenneth Griffith
Michael Parkinson
Bob Todd
Rita Webb
Julia Breck
Alan Cuthbertson
Peter Sellers
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None 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
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    "When I look back, the fondest memory I have is not really of the Goons. It is of a girl called Julia with enormous breasts." 

    - Spike Milligan

    When the Goons broke up, Peter Sellers went on to film fame and fortune (and an early death). Harry Secombe took to singing and working for charity. Spike Milligan wrote some excellent books and made his career in television. This DVD is a compilation of some of his material from two television series.

    This is a programme made for video in 1999. There is a framing device of a faux BBC interviewer discussing Spike's career at his home as they watch the clips on this video. The interviewer is not at all funny, and Spike looks old and frail, though he still comes out with some humorous asides.

    The first set of clips are put together as a newsreel about Milligan's life, and feature some footage from The Last Goon Show Of All, plus a press conference for that show which features both Spike and Peter Sellers reciting poetry, in Sellers' case a hilarious limerick. There is also footage from an early Parkinson show with Milligan reducing Juliette Greco to giggles. Parkinson himself appeared on an episode of Q, and this appearance is shown in full later in the programme.

    The bulk of the programme features excerpts from the 5 season Q series, which ran between 1969 and 1980, with each series numbered from Q5 to Q9. I can vividly recall watching Q8 in the late 1970s, some of which is included here. There are also selections from There's A Lot of It About (1982).

    Milligan also appeared in a series called The World of Beachcomber in the late 1960s, which I can dimly recall as being very good. However, none of it is on this disc.

    Milligan's humour (he co-wrote these two series with Neil Shand) is best described as surreal and silly. When it works, it is hilarious. When it doesn't, it falls very flat indeed. Both extremes are on display here, fortunately more of the former than the latter. None of it is politically correct, and there is something here to offend everyone. The Irish get a pasting, with the Idiot of the Year Show and Irish O'Lympics sketches, but no-one is safe.

    The supporting cast features a host of familiar faces, such as John Bluthal, David Lodge, Rita Webb and Bob Todd to name a few. Also appearing is Julia Breck, the Julia of the quote at the top of this review. Michael Parkinson's appearance on the series was ostensibly to meet "the girl with the big boobs".

    This material is dated and not all of it is funny, but if you remember Spike fondly, you will get some pleasure out of this DVD.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    As you would expect, some of the material has aged, and allowances have to be made.

    Sharpness is average for video material. The 1999 footage looks quite good, as do the sketches from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The earlier footage includes some black and white material that is quite grainy and murky looking. Shadow detail though is satisfactory throughout.

    Colour is average. The earlier colour material looks brighter and warmer than the 1999 material, which looks a little muted, though still realistic.

    Aliasing is present throughout but unless you were looking for it you would not notice it. There are some scratches and flecks on the film material, but one could hardly expect the BBC to spend money digitally restoring this material.

    Subtitles are provided, which include some assistance for the hearing impaired. They are white with black borders and record most of the dialogue. The subtitles are a bit on the small side, and on smaller displays this might be an issue.

    The video is presented on a single layer disc.

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

Audio

    The single audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0. It is in stereo, but only the 1999 material has a stereo signal, the rest being in mono. No surround encoding is present.

    Dialogue is not always clear, particularly when Spike is putting on a silly voice. I had to use the subtitles several times to figure out what was being said. This is undoubtedly a fault inherent in the source material.

    The sound is a little lacking in body and depth, and sounds a little distorted at times, but is still listenable.

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

Extras

    No extras are provided.

R4 vs R1

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

    This programme has not been released in Region 1. It is getting a release in Region 2 at around the same time as the Region 4 and appears to be a clone of this disc, so there is no reason not to prefer the Region 4 on the basis of cost and availability. Technically though this is a draw.

Summary

    Eighty minutes of the wit of Spike Milligan, this will be of interest to fans and to those interested in the development of British television humour. The general viewer may get something out of this, but only if they are prepared to make allowances for changes in taste since the material was first aired.

    The video quality is acceptable.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    No extras are provided.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, March 14, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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