The New Statesman-Series 2 (1987)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 25-Oct-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 170:17
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Graeme Harper
Geoffrey Sax
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Rik Mayall
Michael Troughton
Marsha Fitzalan
Case ?
RPI Box Music Alan Hawkshaw
Bryce Clayton
Phil Cooke


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, and drug taking
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

   

"I was lying to attract attention. I'm a politician"

    Rik Mayall can be a very funny man indeed, but as with all comedians, he can also be a victim of the quality of the writing. He was great as Rick in The Young Ones and fantastic as Flashheart in Blackadder (Woof, Woof). He is the right actor to play the lead character here, a Tory backbencher,who is extremely right wing and only in politics for monetary gain and sex. The character, Alan B'stard, has more than a bit of Flashheart in him.

    This disc is the second disc in a newly released 4 disc box set of all 4 seasons of The New Statesman. The first series had previously been released a couple of years ago and so is not available for repeat review. The review of that series can be found here . Based upon that review and my dim memories of the first series, I get the impression that the quality dropped between the first and second series, as to my mind the political satire gets missed regularly here for more tits and ass jokes. Certainly, I agree with the previous reviewer that Mayall virtually has to carry the whole series, excepting perhaps the episode here starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Having said that, Michael Troughton as Piers Fletcher Dervish, the only other permanent character, does have some good moments in this series.

    The episodes included here are

  1. Fatal Extraction - B'stard finds oil in Hackney Marshes and tries to get control of it by making a deal with a local Labor MP.
  2. Live from Westminster - B'stard becomes a TV personality after appearing on the broadcasts of Parliament. This is certainly one of the stronger episodes in the series and has some very funny moments.
  3. The Wapping Conspiracy - B'stard forms a committee for young girls' recreation but gets himself in trouble by getting too involved with the young girls.
  4. The Haltemprice Bunker - This is the best episode of this series and includes Stephen Fry as a finance journalist who is more of a b****** than B'stard himself. Hugh Laurie also features as a waiter who attempts to serve them in an upmarket restaurant. The story involves B'stard trying to get publicity by 'discovering' an old Nazi hiding in England.
  5. California Here I Come - This episode does not fit with the rest of the series at all. B'stard and Piers travel to America to try to sell an idea to a Hollywood Producer.
  6. May the Best Man Win - Piers is getting married to Clarissa who is more than a match for B'stard. B'stard tries to stop the wedding going ahead by using his membership of the House Stale Food committee.
  7. Piers of the Realm - While B'stard is away, Piers gets a promotion to Junior Minister. B'stard wants to find out why. This is a strong episode, however, the scene involving Piers' teddy bear is taken too far.

    So, a mixed bag of episodes, some funny, some odd and unnecessary. This is a funny series but considering that it is now 15 years old some of the references (unless you lived in England in 1989) will be very difficult to get. If you are a fan you will want to own this set, otherwise you might be better to rent.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is reasonable but restricted by its 1980s TV origins.

    The feature is presented in a 1.29:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout, although only as good as television of this age ever looks, with no evidence of low level noise. The clarity is occasionally affected by some shimmering on camera pans and some light grain. The shadow detail was reasonable.

    The colour was reasonable, however a little dull as English television of this age tends to be. There were also occasional colour artefacts mostly taking the form of rainbow style effects, especially on clothing.

    Artefacts were certainly noticeable but not too distracting. They included minor aliasing such as on a typewriter in Episode 1 at 5:00, some comet trails, some tape tracking artefacts, some macro-blocking especially on people's faces and some edge enhancement. No worse than unrestored television footage of the period is normally when transferred to DVD.

    There are no subtitles.

    The layer change occurs between episodes.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is fine but certainly nothing spectacular.

    This DVD contains one audio option, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s. There is nothing particularly wrong with it, but it lacks dynamism.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The music by Alan Hawkshaw is pretty much restricted to the theme tune, which certainly provides a good introduction.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer are not used.

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

Extras

    None!

Menu

    The menu included the ability to select individual episodes.

R4 vs R1

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

    This box set is available in Region 2 in exactly the same format. Buy whichever is cheapest.

Summary

    A patchy but intermittently hilarious season of the English political satire starring Rik Mayall.

    The video quality is reasonable.

    The audio quality is fine but a little lacking in dynamism.

    The disc has no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE