Space Rangers (1993)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||1993|
|Running Time||277:50 (Case: 138)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
David Burton Morris
Beyond Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.29:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This two disc set contains the pilot and five episodes of a series that began production for the Sci-Fi channel but was cancelled just after it got to air. The pilot and the five episodes are all that were made before the cancellation and it is fairly obvious why it was on the hit list. In fact, I am not sure how it managed to get past the pilot stage.
The storylines are trite and poor amalgams/copies of easily identifiable sources. The acting is acceptable but the actors are given little to work with in both action and lines and the special effects are very poor. The basic premise is a sort of cross between the old western frontier and knights of the round table, set in the future at the edge of civilised space.
The series is set in Fort Hope on the planet Avalon (see what I mean) and revolves around a group of police officers called the 'Rangers'. The ranger team is made up of five members. The leader of the team is Captain John Boon (Daniel Boone anyone?) and is a tough guy ranger that often strays outside the rules and has little respect for authority - in other words, stereotype number one. The pilot, Jo Jo, is a female warrior from a planet where there are only females (an Amazon straight out of the legends). The men all left when they were scared off by an attacking alien race but the women refused to give up their homes. The engineer is half cyborg with lots of replacement parts, and in fact the episode where there are problems with his attachments is one of the better ones. He is a grumpy older man and is stereotype number three. Of course we could not have an American show without the young all-American hero and this role is filled by Daniel Kincade. He is young, eager, just out of training and a real pain in the butt - he is the new guy that needs to prove himself. I have saved what is actually the best (for this show) for last: Zylyn is a member of a race of warriors, ones that have extreme emotions and wear an electronic collar to help them stop running around killing people. He is also a priest in a religion that preaches peace and killing only in self defence as well as being a telepathic empath. I got the impression that he would be a lot like the Vulcans before they learned emotional control. There are other references here with him meditating and so on.
Heading up Fort Hope is Chennault, played, as best as the script allows, by Linda Hunt. She has been given the role of the archetypical commander, tough and fair but always backing up her people. Nothing original here, everyone move on. Also back at base is the scientist Mimmer played by Clint Howard which rounds out the stereotypes at number...I have lost count. The Commander's second in command is yet another problem, a by-the-book soldier who has been transferred out to the boondocks against his will and is always trying to undermine the commander.
The sets are fairly basic and the ships that they run around in are barely above a Red Dwarf level of sophistication. There is a constantly running subplot about lack of funding for their equipment and as such their ship keeps breaking down, again and again.
The pilot (46:27) starts out by introducing our characters and their environment then shoots them off on a mission to rescue an old friend and mentor of the Captain's. Things are not as they appear when they arrive at the planet where he is and things get a little sticky for our heroes. There is a subplot started here where the Captain's wife and daughter are living at Fort Hope with him. There are marital problems with John always out chasing the baddies but they obviously decided not to pursue this and the wife and daughter do not make it out of the pilot. He is divorced and they have returned to central when the first episode starts.
Episode 1: Banshees (46:43)
The Banshees are a nasty looking alien that live in between dimensions but have a perverse liking for human flesh. They attack space ships while in transit and eat everyone in sight. We open with a ship being attacked, and during the evacuation a teenage boy is left behind. The rangers have to find the derelict ship and rescue the boy before it is too late.
Episode 2: The Replacements (45:15)
A one episode character is introduced here - an android. The actor playing the android is actually quite good with the body language but the plot is very contrived and has been done many times before. The android keeps showing up the team and the commander's second in command is hoping to replace the expensive and disobedient humans with an all-android force. Of course, everything is all right as eventually the android proves that he is not flexible enough for the rigors of the frontier.
Episode 3: Death Before Dishonour (46:19)
The heads of Fort Hope are all involved with a trade negotiation between humans and an alien race that is composed of warriors that are very easy to offend. Poor old Captain Boon is in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up mortally insulting the head of the delegation. Apologies are not accepted and things end up with the entire team on death row until.....
Episode 4: To Be Or Not To Be (46:48)
A comedian that is well past his use-by date ends up crash landing on a prison planet, one where the inmates are so bad that they drove the guards off planet causing central to simply declare the entire planet a prison and to ignore it from then on. Not being the best place to crash, the ranger team volunteers to go on a rescue mission. Poor tactics on the part of the experienced team members gives Boy Wonder the chance to prove himself.
Episode 5: The Trial (46:18)
Zylyn has been framed for the murder of another of his race. His philosophy dictates that if he is guilty then he must commit suicide. The problem is that he cannot remember anything about the time period in question. As the introduction of his race into the rangers was not a popular move (in fact they are not a popular race full stop) they cannot find a lawyer to take on his defense. There is nothing for it but for the rest of the team, and in particular Captain Boon, to act as his defense team, with predictable results.
As this show was made in 1993 it is most likely that its aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (non 16x9 enhanced) is the original aspect ratio.
Sharpness is good on static objects but drops drastically on movement or camera pans. Shadow detail is good but there is some low level noise.
Colours are well saturated and free of problems.
While there is no blocking evident in the transfer there are big problems when an object moves or the camera pans. There is an after image or sometimes a pre-image that renders the overall image a complete blur. At 4:03 in episode 5 some vertical white light sources in the background show this clearly and 11:52 in the same episode shows just how blurred the image can become. There is no aliasing or wobble and the film source is free of artefacts.
There are no subtitles on these discs.
Both discs are RSDL formatted with the layer changes at 14:13 (episode 1) and 25:46 (episode 4). Both are on scene changes but the audio is interrupted and both are mildly annoying.
Dialogue quality is a bit of a problem as the voice track is often overwhelmed by the special effects making it difficult to understand what is being said.
There are no problems with the audio sync, although at a couple of points such at at 21:07 in episode one, the music track goes silent and a special effect sound plays and then after a second of silence the music returns. There is nothing on screen that matches with this effect so I am not sure what it was meant to be.
The music is actually quite good in places but the tempo seems to vary a little, particularly during the opening credits where it slows down quite a bit.
Activating surround decoding does little for this soundtrack other than on a few occasions. The is also little bass material present.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is presented at 1.33:1 and is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The background is a blurred image of the rangers' spaceship flying past and in the foreground images of the crew float past in little boxes. Menu changes are animated with the launch sequence of the ranger ship.
A quick couple of paragraphs and a picture of each of the main cast members.
A page telling us about the web page of Force Video and information that the interactive player is on the disc and to access the web link easily simply load the interactive player and click the Button. As there is no other interactive content in the player this seems like a lot of work to get to one web link.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There does not appear to be a region 1 version of this disc. There is a region 2 version and it appears identical to ours.
To be honest I had forgotten that this show was over ten years old so maybe the special effects are not too bad taking that into consideration. Mindless fun can be had with this series playing spot the stolen plot - if you are in a group that is knowledgeable about science fiction in general then make a competition out of it.
The video has some problems.
The audio is two channel only.
The extras are barely worth a mention.
|DVD||Skyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||B&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)|