Keeping Up Appearances-Series 1 & 2 (1990)

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Released 1-Sep-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 466:00 (Case: 480)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Harold Snoad
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Patricia Routledge
Clive Swift
Josephine Tewson
David Griffin
Geoffrey Hughes
Judy Cornwell
Shirley Stelfox
Mary Millar
Case 4 Arrow-Triple
RPI $59.95 Music Nick Ingman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 No

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

Plot Synopsis

" People who try to pretend they're superior make it so much harder for those of us who really are."

    What really puzzles me, as an ex-pat Englishman, is how Australian audiences can find serious, real-life drama, such as the BBC's Keeping Up Appearances so d*** funny! Don't you know that one has to keep the distinction between the white and blue collar classes, although it has to be admitted that occasional interbreeding, especially at the level of Royalty, does tend to maintain the genetic variation so desirable in today's troublesome times. Anyway, those of you colonials who wish to brush up on their etiquette and social graces could do no better than to carefully study these excellent and informative extracts from the first 2 series of Keeping Up Appearances, filmed in Coventry in the early 90's and I heartily commend these to you.

    Correct ways to handle tradesmen and municipal services are beautifully illustrated by the lady of the house, Mrs Hyacinth Bucket (Patricia Routledge) and please note the correct pronunciation is 'booo - kay'. In these days fraught with the perils of SARS and chicken 'flu I can hardly overemphasise the importance of ensuring that one's milk bottles are returned daily and not intermingled with those with less care for hygiene. The correct way of informing services that you will simply not tolerate electricity or water supply coming via other households is also clearly displayed, preferably using one's Slimline White Telecom telecommunications appliance. Of course it is essential to marry well and Richard (Clive Swift) proves capable of acting as suitable consort and driver of a very nice Rover motor car whilst acting as an indispensable part of the Financial and General department of the local council. It's a great shame that we never get to meet their son Sheridan - one of the finest minds of his generation, he's generally far too busy with his needlework major at university or exploring the intimacies of great literature with his room mate Tarquin whilst clad in pure silk pyjamas. Richard, of course, fails to understand that his frequent phone calls are to keep in contact with his dear mummy and that any requests for small financial considerations are entirely coincidental.

    Every family  has their black sheep and why on earth sister Daisy (Judy Cornwell) chose to marry that uncouth layabout Onslow (Geoffrey Hughes) is beyond imagination. For goodness sake, all he does all day is sit around watching television and consuming large quantities of John Smith beer and potato crisps. At least his ample acreage of bare flesh is mostly covered up by that dreadful canine he keeps on his lap, which spares us the horror of being exposed to the tattoos and beer gut revealed by that tatty, knitted tank-top. You'd think he'd tidy up that dreadful front yard of his council house and fix the front gate, although I have to say that the derelict Morris Marina does provide a cover for that untidy dog which causes poor Hyacinth such consternation.

    At least sister Rose (Shirley Stelfox & Mary Millar) dresses well and apparently spends much of her time with her gentleman friends on her knees, which is more than her dress does - can't understand why the dog gets so excited. Sister Violet also married well, to a rich turf accountant, with a Mercedes and a very large house with a pool and room for a pony, although I have to admit that he does suffer from the sad middle-class penchant for cross-dressing and kerb-crawling.

    Anyway, dear reader, I simply mustn't distract you a moment longer from the comprehensive advice contained within these wonderful DVDs. They really make long-standing references such as Margery Proops, Mrs Beaton's Cookbook or the Karma Sutra quite redundant so I suggest you rush out and study them carefully. BTW if you think this review is just a trifle pretentious I must point out that I went to the same school as John Cleese and enjoyed many happy holidays at Weston-Super-Mare where Hyacinth and Richard spent their honeymoon.

    Episodes from the first two series, filmed in 1990 and 1991 are presented on 3 discs with 5 episodes apiece, each episode running for around 29 minutes. Further information concerning the cult series is available from several excellent web sites.

Disc 1 - Series 1 (1990)

Episode 1 - Daddy's Accident (29:07) - The series starts with an ambulance outside the Onslow household with Daddy being carted off to hospital after a nude pursuit of the milk woman results in minor carnage. We're introduced to the key players, notably the 'lady of the house'.

Episode 2 - Vicar's Tea (28:59) - The dishy young new vicar arrives (Jeremy Gittins - Lazlo in Dr Who 1981), so Hyacinth prepares to become acquainted whilst sorting out Rose who is determined to kill herself after yet another failed romantic tryst.

Episode 3 - Carldon Hall (29:16) - We're introduced to some of the finer details of the Onslow household here, notably Daisy's kitchen which reminded me of my student days (except it was cleaner). Hyacinth's mastery of decisiveness and planning is amply illustrated on a run out to the mansion of the local gentry where she does her best to bump into the aristocracy and avoid being seen with the in-laws.

Episode 4 - Ladies Luncheon (29:07) - Onslow and Daisy's sleep-in is rudely disturbed by the news that there's a woman in Daddy's bedroom - of even more concern is her announcement that he took advantage of her and that "he promised me marriage!" - Hyacinth's attempts to command the new lady's son to take her back home are unsuccessful until Rose takes a shine to said son and happily announces that they'll be in-laws after the marriage!

Episode 5 - Going to Daisy's (28:28) - Daisy in tight black leather? You'd better believe it after she borrows Rose's toy boy in a vain attempt to make Onslow jealous.

Episode 6 - The Christening (29:10) - More disgrace as Onslow and Daisy's daughter Stephanie (played by the delightful Laura Sharin) decides to christen her illegitimate child. Trouble is, in the best spirit of free love we're not sure which of the hippy dudes is the child's father and their love-mobile breaks down on the way to the church - Richard and Hyacinth to the rescue!

Disc 2 - Series 2 (1991)

Episode 1 - Emmet Arrives (28:57) - Great concern for Elizabeth's moral integrity arises when a man is spotted, wearing only a bath towel, taking in the early morning milk (Co-Op of course). Hyacinth's attempts to impress the new visitor are hampered by the in-laws arriving in Onslow's ailing 1978 Cortina and Daddy showing up on his bike wearing long-johns and his WWII steel helmet.

Episode 2 - Driving Mrs Fortescue (29:22) - The seemingly proper and very upper middle-class Mrs Fortescue asks for a  run into town, much to Hyacinth's delight. Sadly, things don't go as Hyacinth planned when they all end up down the pub with Onslow and the gang and Mrs Fortescue proves to have hidden talents and more than a little empathy with 'Our Rose'! In one of the funniest episodes to date, we're treated to the sight of Hyacinth cavorting on the back of a tradesman's truck and a rare glimpse of Bruce at the servo decked out as Maid Marian!

Episode 3 - Candlelight Supper (29:26 ) - More intimate secrets from Onslow's bedroom: Daisy - "Onslow, why don't you grow a moustache?" Onslow - "You want a moustache, you grow a moustache!" Meantime, Hyacinth gets down to the serious business of introducing Emmet to one of her notorious Candlelit Suppers.

Episode 4 - Golfing Hotel ( 29:12) - Hyacinth has high expectations of hobnobbing with the genteel classes after she and Richard are invited for a weekend's golf by the Major. Turns out that the Major is busy frolicking in the bedroom, with no intention of playing golf, until Hyacinth herself becomes the centre of his attention!

Episode 5 - Register Office (29:17) - An eventful episode where Onslow gets forced to wear a jacket, Daddy is jilted at The Registry Office and we get to see Violet's lower half and large house with swimming pool, sauna and room for a pony! We don't get to see Bruce, though we hear him, as he's still stuck up in a tree and won't come down!

Disc 3 - Series 2 (1991)

Episode 6 - Onslow's Birthday (29:23) - Much to his disgust, Onslow is dragged away from his TV and dog to go out and celebrate. The only good point is that he can have a drink as Rose's latest conquest, the rich Greek, Mr Marinopolis, has promised to drive them all in his spacious limousine. To Hyacinth's horror the expected limo isn't quite as she expected and she has to disperse the hastily assembled cocktail party in order to avoid embarrassment.

Episode 7 - Singing with Emmet (28:12) - Another feature packed episode with Hyacinth discovering and gatecrashing Emmet's singing auditions, Richard being asked to consider early retirement and Rose ending up in a broom cupboard under the vicar having decided she's going to take the Holy Vows!

Episode 8 - Toy Store (29:16) - Daddy escapes again and this time is found bedecked in a silver spacesuit gunning down the aliens at the local Debenham's with his laser pistol. A close encounter with Rose finally brings a smile of appreciation to Emmet's face.

Episode 9 - Three-Piece Suite (29:17) - The imminent arrival of a new 3-piece suite presents a perfect opportunity to show off to the 'snobbish' Baker-Finches at No 23, especially as the suite is an exact replica of furniture found in Sandringham Palace and the delivery van carries a Royal Warrant. As per usual, the best laid plans of Mice and Hyacinth go awry but never fear, Onslow is ready and waiting to step into the breach and boldly go where no delivery man has gone before.

Episode 10 - Picnic (29:31) This time Daddy would rather make off in Richard's nice new 216 Rover than being subjected to a formal picnic with his favourite daughter. Luckily, Onslow is on hand with his trusty '78 Ford Cortina to join the pursuit until his gasket blows and they are all rescued in turn by the Vicar. Several opportunities are presented for the Buckets to get up close and personal with a couple of hairy canines.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall standard of this video transfer is good and it presents as a very clean transfer from recent source material.

    The aspect ratio is kept in its broadcast format of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The overall sharpness of the transfer is good though I note there is a definite soft focus to distant detail to frustrate exact identification of shooting locations. There are very few low-lit scenes so no lack of low level detail is evident nor is there intrusive low level noise. There are occasional grainy scenes where the codec miscalculates but they are few and far between.

    The colours are cleanly and realistically rendered without significant artefact.

    Not surprisingly given the duration of content on these discs and their degree of detail, there are infrequent examples of aliasing such as on the car trim at Disc 3, Episode 1, 7:21 and the shutters on Disc 2, Episode 5 27:57. There are mild instances of pixelization around the faces of the actors but these aren't intrusive. As the feature was obviously shot on video we don't see the customary film artefacts of the medium.

    There are subtitles in English and they are a reasonable, though not exact, rendition of the spoken word.

    All three discs are dual layered DVD-9s but the transitions seem to be placed between episodes and so I didn't see any layer change pauses. The total time of all the episodes is a whopping 466:00. (I wondered why the review took so blooming long!)

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

Audio

    The soundtrack is of good quality but isn't required to perform any auditory heroics.

    There is just the one track in English recorded as Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo in keeping with television requirements.

    The clarity of the dialogue is not only testimony to the soundtrack but also to the high quality actors and actresses, many of whom have extensive stage experience.

    I could see no examples of audio sync mismatch.

    The jolly semi-military theme tune was composed  by Nick Ingman. Otherwise there is limited incidental music which is so forgettable that I can't remember any of it. Audience applause, though present, was also unobtrusive.

    There is no subwoofer or surround usage in this version - wait for the new version of Hyacinth Meets Godzilla which I am sure will be in full 5.1.

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

Extras

 Menu

    Nicely presented in 1.33:1 with live video insets of the episodes which are conveniently chaptered. Individual episodes can be played or segued together without interruption. And that's yer lot unless you count the nice photo of Hyacinth inside the DVD case - having achieved cult status, though, there are plenty of websites to be found with trivia, competitions and even an MP3 of the theme tune if you're that desperate.

R4 vs R1

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

        There doesn't seem to be an exact equivalent package in R1 - what they do have is a 4-disc set containing all of the episodes from the first 2 series together with holiday specials, outtakes, a profile of Patricia Routledge as well as 5 of her sketches 'The Kitty Monolgues'. Video aspect ratio and audio formats are the same in both regions.

    The Region 1 package would have to be the clear winner on grounds of content.

Summary

    The video quality is good and easily up to the job.

    The audio quality is quite adequate for the purpose.

    There aren't any extras and I, for one, find this reasonable. I'd rather have the video footage on the discs and leave any extras hunting to surfing the web. It would be good, though, to have the more complete package as presented in Region 1.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Friday, April 23, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMR-E20, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersB&W 602 front/rear. B&W LRC6 Centre / Solid (AKA B&W) 500 SW

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