Porridge-Series 3 (1977)

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Released 8-Jul-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1977
Running Time 177:07 (Case: 169)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Sydney Lotterby
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Ronnie Barker
Brian Wilde
Fulton Mackay
Richard Beckinsale
Sam Kelly
Tony Osoba
Ronald Lacey
Maurice Denham
Christopher Biggins
Peter Vaughan
Alun Armstrong
David Daker
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Max Harris


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 No

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

Plot Synopsis

    This is the third and final series of Porridge, and is very much a continuation of the characters and situations of series two. The star is of course Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher, an habitual criminal serving five years for burglary. His cellmate is first timer Lennie Godber (Richard Beckinsale). The other regular characters include the severe Scottish warden Mackay (Fulton Mackay), the milquetoast warden Mr Barrowclough (Brian Wilde), the menacing kingpin of the prison population "Genial" Harry Grout (Peter Vaughan), the 'orrible Harris (Ronald Lacey), the gormless Warren (Sam Kelly), the effeminate Lukewarm (Christopher Biggins) and the Glaswegian of West Indian descent McLaren (Tony Osoba), butt of a few non-PC jokes. Also appearing in two episodes of this series was veteran character player Maurice Denham as Judge Rawley.

    Writers Dick Clement and Ian La Fresnais managed to keep the humour fresh in this third series from 1977, developing the characters and their stories rather than just trying to work within the situation in which they find themselves. Rather than try to extend the series onwards, they called it a halt at the end of season three with Godber getting an early parole, although the script left the possibility of a fourth series open. The following year there was a sequel called Going Straight, taking place after Fletcher was released and which dealt with his attempts to go straight, and in which Godber becomes engaged to Fletch's daughter Ingrid.

    After the single season of Going Straight, a feature version of Porridge was made. Shortly after filming concluded Richard Beckinsale died suddenly in his bed of a heart attack aged only 31, and there would be no more adventures of these characters.

    On this disc are the six episodes of series three, originally transmitted in early 1977. They are as follows:

A Storm in a Teacup (28:13)

    'Orrible 'Arris steals some pills from the infirmary, and when searched by Mackay he drops them in Fletcher's tea. Unbeknownst to Fletch of course. When the missing pills threaten genial Harry Grout's pill trade, he suggests to Fletch that he should obtain some replacements. Or else.

Poetic Justice (29:38)

    A third inmate is to be domiciled in Fletch and Godber's cell. It turns out to be none other than Judge Rawley, who sentenced Fletcher in the first place. The judge learns a thing or three.

Rough Justice (28:39)

    The judge's watch goes missing, and Harris is suspected. A kangaroo court is set up to convict Harris of the crime. Meanwhile the judge's lawyers are working on his release.

Pardon Me (30:28)

    Old Blanco Webb (David Jason) goes up for parole, but when it is granted refuses to take it, as he still maintains his innocence of the murder of his wife. His fellow inmates take up a petition.

A Test of Character (30:28)

    Godber is studying for his O level exams, but cannot get any peace to study. Fletch and Warren decide to help out by stealing the exam paper. A young Alun Armstrong makes an appearance.

Final Stretch (29:41)

    Godber is due before the parole board, but football hooligan Jarvis picks a fight with him. Fletcher decides that the only solution is to fight Jarvis himself before Godber's parole is jeopardised. A well-handled end to the show, mixing sentiment and humour judiciously.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The series is transferred in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    As with most British television of the time, some scenes were filmed on 16mm and some on videotape. I have heard it suggested that this was to do with union rules, but I suspect that it is simply a result of the early TV cameras being cumbersome, so while material in studio sets could easily be videotaped, outdoor shoots and scenes in actual locations required something a little more mobile. This seemed to become a standard 'look', so it continued even when TV cameras became smaller and lighter.

    This series has the material in the cells and in the Governor's office on video, and the transitional pieces in and around the common areas on film. As you would expect from television material of this era, the image is not especially sharp. The film segments are a little blurry and the video segments are too, though not to the same extent. There is enough detail present to make the material watchable, but do not expect pristine clarity. Shadow detail is not an issue.

    Colour is a little drab and lifeless, though as I recall this was always the look of the series.

    There are significant problems with the video, especially in episode two, but I suspect that this is due to the source material, not the transfer. There appears to be some Gibb Effect, though the impact of this is minor. In episode two there is a sort of ghosting effect, whereby in most scenes there are a couple of additional outlines to some objects in the frame. This is most noticeable on Fletcher's face. There also seems to be a lot of comet trails, with a slight afterimage each time the characters move. Plus there is cross-colouration and overmodulation throughout all six episodes.

    The prison issue shirts are white with thin blue pinstripes, and the video transfer seems to have problems with showing sufficient detail to prevent the lines from running into each other. There is a faint trace of moire effect present as a result. Finally, there are occasional analogue video tracking errors in the form of brief horizontal black lines, but these are not overly distracting.

    The film segments are awash with film artefacts, mainly dirt but there is the occasional scratch. There is also plenty of grain.

    Subtitles are provided in English only, in white characters with black borders. While not always verbatim, they do convey most of the dialogue. They do appear to be a little small, so on smaller sets this may be an issue.

    This is a dual-layered disc with no layer change.

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

Audio

    The sole audio track is the original mono, presented here as Dolby Digital 2.0, without surround encoding.

    This would not be a reference audio track, but dialogue is clear and distinct, and apart from a couple of instances where the tail end of jokes are drowned out by the laugh track everything can be heard. I did not notice any problems with the audio.

    There is an uncredited and wholly inappropriate closing theme, but that is what the Skip button is for. The music is apparently by Max Harris.

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

Extras

    Unlike the releases of the two previous series, this one has no extras. There would have been room for one of the Christmas specials to be included, so this is a missed opportunity.

R4 vs R1

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

    This is identical to the UK Region 2 release, so therefore there is no reason to prefer one over the other.

Summary

    Classic British comedy, this is still amusing nearly 30 years later.

    The video has some problems.

    The audio is satisfactory.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, July 22, 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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Comments (Add)
Missing episodes -
Xmas specials and Going Straight -