The New Statesman-Series 4 (1992)

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Released 25-Oct-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 207:22
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (6:51) 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, incl drugs
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    

    Rik Mayall plays the lead character in this English political satire. He is Alan B'stard, now an ex-Tory backbencher, who is extremely right wing and only in politics for monetary gain and sex. The other regular characters are Piers Fletcher-Dervish (Michael Troughton), a very dim colleague of Alan's who basically does whatever he is told and Alan's wife, Sarah (Marsha Fitzalan), who is nearly as evil as he is.

    This disc is the last 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 Series 1 can be found here. The review of Series 2 can be found here. The review of Series 3 can be found here. This final series makes the move to the European Parliament, after Alan's return from the Russian Prison Camp where he ended up at the end of Series 3. This disc also includes a special Who Shot Alan B'stard? which actually fits between Series 2 & 3. Unfortunately, this series is not as good as the excellent Series 3, but there are still excellent moments and some great laughs. This series is probably the dirtiest in terms of jokes about sex, which is saying something for this series. This was the final series.

    The episodes included here are:

  1. Back from the Mort - After three years in a Russian Prison Camp, Alan returns to find he has lost his seat in parliament, his businesses are bankrupt and his wife has had him declared legally dead, thus taking his wealth. On a brighter note, Piers has been appointed a commissioner of the European Union and Alan decides to run for election to the European Parliament. Good episode.
  2. H.A.S.H - The European Parliament are debating whether or not to legalise marijuana. Various interests contact Alan to get him to rig the vote. Average.
  3. Speaking in Tongues - B'stard has a disagreement with the translation office of the European Parliament, and decides to have them moved out of Brussels. Mike from The Young Ones (Christopher Ryan) cameos.
  4. Heil & Farewell - Neo-Nazis riot in Germany (B'stard's constituency) and he decides to become their new leader and buys some interesting Nazi memorabilia from Boris Yeltsin to seal the deal.
  5. A Bigger Splash - Piers is sent by the European Parliament on a peace mission to Herzegovina. Alan buys Robert Maxwell's old yacht and decides to sail to Herzegovina with Piers.
  6. The Irresistible Rise of Alan B'stard - This is the best episode of the series by a long way. Alan hatches a plan to fix Britain's economy, get them out of the European Union and become Prime Minister. A very fitting ending to the series.
  7. Who Shot Alan B'stard?  - Presented here as another episode, this is actually a 1 hour special which was shown in 1990 between Series 2 & Series 3. It covers Alan's recovery from the assassination attempt which ended Series 2 and the Tories wanting to bring back capital punishment. Alan's vote wins the day and he suggests that the right method would be hanging with tickets on sale. After Piers gets involved, Alan ends up on trial for murder. A guilty verdict would result in the death penalty. This is a very good extended episode which should be watched after Series 2.

    So, a weaker season than Series 3, but with the added benefit of the 60 minute special.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is reasonable but fairly grainy.

    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, especially during the credits, and significant grain, sometimes quite bad, such as in the special at 47:40. The shadow detail was ordinary.

    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 and some edge enhancement. There were also some minor tape tracking issues and various specks and lines. Strangely, there was also a small spiral symbol in the top right hand corner of the screen during the special at approximately 16:00 for about 10 minutes.

    There are no subtitles.

    The layer change occurs at 6:51 in episode 5, causing a slight pause.
    

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 were used for occasional atmosphere when played using ProLogicII

    The subwoofer was 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 reasonable season of this English political satire starring Rik Mayall, which not too surprisingly ended up being the last. Also included is a 60 minute special which was shown between Seasons 2 & 3.

    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?)
Thursday, December 09, 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)

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