Blackadder-Back and Forth (1999)

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Released 11-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Bonus Episode-The Cavalier Years
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Baldrick's Video Diary
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 33:40 (Case: 78)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Paul Weiland
Studio
Distributor
Sky
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Rowan Atkinson
Tony Robinson
Miranda Richardson
Tim McInnerny
Hugh Laurie
Stephen Fry
Rik Mayall
Colin Firth
Kate Moss
Patsy Byrne
Simon Russell Beale
Jennie Bond
Crispin Harris
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Howard Goodall


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.20:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Aside from the four series of Blackadder, there have been several one-off presentations, like the Christmas special which was released on DVD some time back. This disc includes two such items, plus some additional material.

    The main programme is the title episode, originally made to be shown in the Millennium Dome. This episode is set on New Year's Eve 1999. Lord Blackadder has the cast regulars for a dinner party, with Stephen Fry (Melchett), Miranda Richardson (Elizabeth), Tim McInnerny (Darling) and Hugh Laurie (Bufton-Tufton) in attendance. Baldrick (Tony Robinson) serves dinner. Blackadder reveals that he has a time machine, and bets 10,000 pounds with each of his guests that he can retrieve any object from history. It is intended as a scam, but Baldrick has built the time machine from plans made by Leonardo da Vinci, and unfortunately for Blackadder it works, sending the pair back into various time periods.

    This is an amusing show, though it is not as funny as the regular series. There are encounters with various Melchetts and Darlings through history, and Queenie and Nursey appear briefly. Colin Firth, Kate Moss and Rik Mayall make guest appearances. I can't say that this disc houses the best of Blackadder, but fans of the series will not hesitate to acquire this release.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Unlike the previous series of Blackadder, this material comes in widescreen. The transfer is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. According to the IMDb the original aspect ratio was 2.20:1, but I did not notice any obvious signs of cropping.

    One wishes the original series could have looked this good. The transfer is nice and sharp, with considerable detail present. Contrast is excellent, and the darker sequences actually show some detail, unlike the murky looking Series 1.

    Colour is well rendered, with some bright colours all looking solid and clean. Blacks likewise are solid, and whites are pure.

    The only film to video artefacts were minor aliasing and some mild Gibb Effect, but the latter was barely noticeable. There were no film artefacts.

    No subtitles are provided.

    As the disc is single-layered, there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    There are three audio tracks. The default track is Dolby Digital 2.0, but I did not listen to this track. Instead, I listened to both the DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in full.

    Dialogue on both tracks was very clear, and well recorded. I had no trouble with any of the dialogue. Both surround mixes sound exceptional, with directional effects very clear and well judged. Rear channels get a lot of use, and low frequency effects are also well integrated. These were especially noticeable during the dinosaur-underpants sequence.

    There is not much difference between the DTS and Dolby Digital tracks. If pressed, I guess that the channel separation was clearer on the DTS track, and the individual sources of sound better pinpointed in the soundstage. The differences are very slight, so if you don't have DTS capability you will not be missing anything.

    The score is by Howard Goodall, who wrote the famous theme tune to the original series. It is quite unintrusive, though not particularly distinguished.

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

Extras

Menu Animation & Audio

    A well done animation featuring the various characters from the main feature, complete with the title music.

Bonus Episode-The Cavalier Years (15:02)

    This is an older piece done for Comedy Relief, made in 1988. This time the time period is the Civil War. King Charles (Stephen Fry) is in hiding in Blackadder's house from the roundheads led by Oliver Cromwell (Warren Clarke). It is somewhat amusing but again not as good as the original series. The video quality is about as good as series one, that is, not very, with lots of grain and lacking in sharpness. The aspect ratio is 1.33:1.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Baldrick's Video Diary (29:42)

    This is a making-of documentary about Back and Forth, in 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced. It features behind the scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew members. The best bits of this documentary are the scenes that were deleted from the final product, some of which are quite funny.

R4 vs R1

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

    This release is identical in content to the Region 2 release.

Summary

    Maybe this isn't top drawer Blackadder, but it is still pretty good.

    The video and audio quality are both excellent.

    The extras are relevant and entertaining.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, November 10, 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.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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