Absolutely Fabulous-Series 5 (2001)

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Released 7-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Bonus Episode-Gay, With Audio Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 237:25 (Case: 318)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Bob Spiers

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jennifer Saunders
Joanna Lumley
Julia Sawalha
Jane Horrocks
June Whitfield
Case ?
RPI ? Music Simon Brint
Deborah Harry
Simon Wallace

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
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

Every superhero has a beginning...

    Absolutely Fabulous - Series 5 is the latest DVD release of the hugely popular BBC television series charting the hedonistic life of Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and her toxic offsider Patsy (Joanna Lumley). All the old favourites re-join the gang with the stunningly funny Bubble (Jane Horrocks) and uptight daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha) complemented by the insane Mother (June Whitfield).

    Personally I felt that the series had gone off the boil in recent years, with the jokes becoming a little repetitive and one-dimensional. In series five Saunders managed to reinvigorate the ageing franchise and all that was once old seems - almost - new again. This three disc collection presents all eight episodes of the fifth series, plus the "feature length" episode "Gay" as an extra. The episodes are as follows:

    Absolutely Fabulous - Series 5 will be just that for all fans of the series. For those unfamiliar with the work of Saunders and Lumley, even without having seen the previous series, the repulsive humour of the two main characters shines through, and really needs no familiarity with the back story to raise more than a few chuckles. Recommended for fans and collectors of the series, and although possibly not the strongest series, it will raise many a laugh nevertheless.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality of this transfer is overall very good. With the adoption of widescreen digital TV in the UK over recent years, the quality of an increasing number of BBC releases is close to as-good-as-it-gets for standard definition. This is no exception.

    The series is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1 and happily it is 16x9 enhanced. This is very close to the original (digital) televised aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The image is always very sharp - unsurprising for such recent digital television fare.

    Colours are clean, vivid and fully saturated throughout the series. There is no evidence of colour bleeding to be seen. Skin tones look natural enough - with the intended hyper-reality of Eddy's fake tan being an obvious exception. Black levels are reasonable and rock solid with no low level noise. Similarly, whites are bright and clean throughout with a broad range of contrast through the series...although perhaps at times a little over-lit? Shadow detail is rarely tested but is always fine where needed.

    I noticed no significant MPEG compression artefacts. Mild aliasing is present from time to time, with moire patterns cropping up frequently in heavily patterned furnishings. Edge enhancement is not a noticeable problem.

    The transfer is free from film (video) artefacts, with only the deliberate specks added to the Huntin' Shootin' Fishin' making any impact.

    The English subtitles are highly legible, well timed and fairly true to the on-screen dialogue (with some edits for brevity). They also provide some audio cues, such as door buzzers, for the hearing impaired.

    The first two discs are in a single sided dual layer DVD 9 format. I did not notice the layer change on either of them however, so I assume that the layer changes are wisely placed between episodes. The final disc is in a single sided and single layered (DVD 5) format.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The overall audio transfer is fine for a television series, but nothing special.

    The English audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo encoded at 192 kbps. It would have been nice to have a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track, but it isn't really needed for the comedy dialogue driven nature of this series.

    Dialogue is always perfectly clear - essential to make out the never-ending torrent of puns and gags. I noted no problems with audio sync at all. There is nothing significant in the way of hiss, pops or dropouts present.

    Music is credited to Simon Brint, but the most notable effort is the theme song and is of course This Wheel's on Fire as written by that mighty master of music (and my all-time fave) Bob Dylan. It is admirably performed by none other than Deborah Harry (Blondie) and Adrian Edmondson (Mr Saunders to you). There is only minimal incidental music elsewhere.

    As might be expected for a television series, the surrounds are unused. The sound from the front speakers is functional with little significant spread. If you make use of Pro Logic II, then some noise - including the grating laughter track - will be redirected to the surrounds.

    Depending on your set-up, the subwoofer may carry some redirected bass, but there is of course no LFE on offer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are some reasonable extras available:


    The menus feature sound and simple animations. Each episode can be played independently, or they can be played in sequence. Chapter stops can be selected for every episode (six for each) and subtitles can be turned on or off. The following extras can also be found:

Disc 1

    Mistakin'. Running for a very healthy 21:00, these bloopers play in a continuous and hilarious sequence. They do contain material from later in the series however, so I would recommend you watch all of the episodes before viewing the bloopers. They are all of finished quality, presented at 1.78:1 with audio courtesy of a Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 192 kbps.

Disc 2

    Photo Gallery. This is a fairly pointless collection of almost two dozen stills from the set.

Disc 3

    Gay. "I'll sniff him out! I mean, how many gay men can there be in New York"? This extended - although by no means "feature length" - special episode from 2002 runs for 54:20. When Eddy finds out that her estranged son Serge is gay, she is delighted. As Patsy is heading across to New York for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, why not follow her over there and track him down? A few guest stars make an appearance including Graham Norton and Whoopi Goldberg.

    Outtakes. A brief collection of bloopers, running for only 2:38 and presented in a ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

    Photo Gallery. Another pointless collection of around eighteen stills from the New York episode.

R4 vs R1

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

    From what I can gather, the Region 1 release of this series appears to be essentially the same as our own. Buy whichever is cheaper.


    Absolutely Fabulous - Series 5 is a worthwhile collection of episodes showcasing the horrific high-fashion victim, nouveau riche, dipsomaniac characters portrayed by Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders. Whilst not necessarily the strongest ever season, it is better than some. Fans of the show will enjoy the clean presentation and reasonable extras. For those unfamiliar with the show, start at the first season to get a grounding before ploughing into the champagne sodden world of Eddy and Patsy.

    The video quality is generally very good, with the most notable flaw being the aliasing and moire present on occasion.

    The audio transfer is fine without being remarkable - more than adequate for a comedic television series.

    There are a few reasonable extras in the set, with some extensive bloopers, a couple of photo galleries and an extra (not quite) feature length New York episode.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880 upconverting DVI player, using DVI 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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