Victoria Wood-The Best of (1985)

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Released 9-Sep-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 110:45
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Geoff Posner
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Victoria Wood
Julie Walters
Celia Imrie
Patricia Routledge
Duncan Preston
Susie Blake
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Victoria Wood


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
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

    The Best Of Victoria Wood As Seen On TV brings back some fond memories of UK television comedy in the eighties. Victoria Wood is an undeniably talented writer, pianist, singer and comedian. In her television show As Seen on TV she wisely surrounded herself with some formidable talent including the fantastic Julie Walters (Educating Rita and the Harry Potter films), Patricia Routledge (Keeping Up Appearances) and the very funny Celia Imrie (Wimbledon and Calendar Girls).

    The show was a blend of stand-up monologues, sketch comedy and musical ditties. At the time, Wood's wide-eyed Northern innocence and her observational humour gelled rather well. Unfortunately, the stand-up material looks decidedly old now and is only funny in patches. Not so for the sketch comedy - anyone who has ever seen an episode of her spoof soapie "Acorn Antiques", will be delighted to see that there are numerous examples included on this DVD. (I doubt that it would have been aired in Australia, but this was based on a hammy, but immensely popular UK soap opera called Crossroads). Acorn Antiques sketches included a list of hopelessly hammy actors, terrible fake props, ridiculously contrived plot-twists and above all else - the fantastic Mrs Overall (Walters). I laughed like a drain when these sketches came on and, for fans, they make the disc worthy of a purchase.

    Other highlights of this compilation include the "Swim the Channel" sketch and the well observed performances of Routledge as Kitty - a character that made her famous before she became Hyacinth Bucket...and one which bears more than a passing resemblance to that latter self-important guardian of good taste.

    The passage of time has not been kind to the fashions of Wood - her mullet evolves before our eyes into the most hideous basin-cut I have ever seen. Similarly, her twee songs are generally rather grating in a Pam Ayres kind of way - with the exception of the truly hilarious Barry and Freda which charts the sexual incompatibility of a bored married couple.

    There is some fun to be had from this DVD, particularly for existing fans of Victoria Wood (and indeed her erstwhile partner in comedy Julie Walters in the equally funny Wood and Walters series) and it is sure to bring back some fond memories for those who watched the show when it originally aired. This is a recommended purchase for fans of the show but perhaps just a rental for anyone who wants to sample some of Wood's comedy stylings.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall video transfer of this disc is fairly good, although understandably it varies depending on the source material being viewed.

    The transfer is presented in a ratio of 1.29:1, which is essentially the original televised aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer originates from footage shot almost twenty years ago. It therefore is subject to the limitations of the source material at the time. In general the image looks reasonable on a smaller (4:3) television screen, but the more you enlarge the image, the more apparent the limitations become. Sharpness is variable but provided you are not expecting a modern digital TV quality image, you will not be too aggravated.

    Black levels and shadow detail are generally adequate throughout although they are never really tested in a studio based sketch show. Colours are surprisingly vibrant for the main part, and the transfer belies its age in this respect. There is some evidence of colour bleeding, for example on the yellow overalls at 30:07. Skin tones are generally fine - the overly made-up middle aged female characters notwithstanding.

    MPEG compression artefacts are present, with some pixilation in the backgrounds along with low level macro blocking, but this is at least as good as a VHS transfer. Aliasing was not a significant problem on my progressive scan system, although I suspect it may crop up occasionally on interlaced devices. Edge enhancement is often visible as a halo around the characters. It can be a little distracting - even on smaller screens.

    There is little present in the way of video artefacts and in that respect this is quite a clean transfer. There are a few black and white specks at times (for instance in the Swim the Channel footage around 25:00) but it is never distracting.

    There is an English subtitle track present. It edits the dialogue quite heavily, and although it is clear and well timed, it cannot really do the comedy justice. It includes song lyrics and some unintentional mistakes - one of particular note crops up at 67:45 where Ena Sharples says "put a pikelet in it..." and the subtitles state "put a clit in it...".

    The DVD is formatted as a single sided, single layer (DVD 5) disc so there is no layer change present.

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

Audio

    The overall audio quality of this disc is perfectly adequate for a twenty year old comedy show.

    The sole audio track available is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track, encoded at 192 kbps. It has no really significant audio defects in the way of hiss or dropouts. Dialogue was always clear and audio sync was fine throughout.

    There are a number of songs which crop up through the collection, and they are all presumably penned by Victoria Wood. I found them a little dated and grating - very mid-eighties BBC. They include Skellern in Love, Knock Knock and Barry and Freda. They will certainly have me hitting the chapter skip button on future viewings, with the exception, as mentioned above, of the hilarious Barry and Freda.

    The soundstage is understandably totally frontal in nature. If you activate Dolby Pro Logic II, the major dialogue is redirected to the centre channel with some very minor noise from the other speakers. "Leave it set to stereo" is my recommendation - the main front speakers deliver the audio cleanly and at a suitable audio level, with a reasonable spread across the front soundstage. The subwoofer has nothing to do.

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

Extras

    There are no extras on the DVD.

Menu

    The menu is a static photograph of Wood in character, accompanied by a loop of the theme music from the show. It allows the meagre options of playing the DVD, activating the subtitles or choosing one of a very healthy thirty-five chapter stops.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD does not appear to be available in Region 1. The Region 2 version appears to be identical to the Region 4 release. Buy whichever is cheaper.

Summary

    The Best Of Victoria Wood As Seen On TV is a fairly funny DVD. The songs grate a little and the monologues are well past their prime, but the hilarious Acorn Antiques and some of Julie Walters' contributions remind us just how talented Victoria Wood really is. Dated but still worth a purchase for fans of either of the ladies (and indeed for fans of Patricia Routledge or Celia Imrie). It has quite a decent running time at nearly 111 minutes, so there is sure to be something here for everyone - despite the occasional flat spot.

    The video quality is acceptable.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Friday, October 08, 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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