Overall | The New Statesman-Series 1 (1987) | The New Statesman-Series 2 (1987) | The New Statesman-Series 3 (1991) | The New Statesman-Series 4 (1992)

New Statesman, The-Series 1-4 (1987)

New Statesman, The-Series 1-4 (1987)

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Released 25-Oct-2004

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Overall Package

    This four disc set includes the previously released Season 1 of The New Statesman starring Rik Mayall, and three extra discs containing Seasons 2 through 4 plus a special shown between Seasons 2 & 3. Generally, this is a good political satire without ever rising to the heights of great comedy series such as Blackadder, Yes, Minister or Fawlty Towers. Unfortunately, the seasons vary quite markedly in quality.

    The disc quality is reasonable and there are no extras whatsoever.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, December 10, 2004
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | The New Statesman-Series 1 (1987) | The New Statesman-Series 2 (1987) | The New Statesman-Series 3 (1991) | The New Statesman-Series 4 (1992)

The New Statesman-Series 1 (1987)

The New Statesman-Series 1 (1987)

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Released 30-Jul-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 171:13 (Case: 170)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (86:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Geoffrey Sax
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Rik Mayall
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Alan Hankshaw


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, hilariously
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I'll admit it right now - I am just as much a fan of The Young Ones as every half-intelligent human being who lived during the heyday of Pop and the dawn of mass consumer acceptance for the VCR (and gawd what a funny episode that was!). As a result, I am always keen to see a new comedy programme from any of the five leads from that show, be it a piece of vulgarity such as Bottom, or political satire like The New Statesman. The New Statesman could roughly be summarised as a satire of politics in post-Thatcher England, but some of the situations that its main character finds himself in are so timeless that they could be transferred to any society in any era - especially a pseudo-democracy such as Australia.

    The New Statesman concerns itself with the squirming adventures of one Alan B'Stard (Rik Mayall), a representative from the Conservative party who has just been elected to the House of Commons. B'Stard (pronounced with a very short B for those who are wondering) has a very simple policy regarding anything that crosses his path - those who can serve his own best interests get whatever they want. If it involves selling the Police Force guns that explode when the trigger is pulled, or dumping nuclear waste in a tunnel under a school, so be it. The result is actually a very clever satire of British politics, the Conservative party in general, and a few elements thereof which I won't spoil for those who have yet to see this fine programme. While some of the jokes are very British-relevant, most of them will go over just as well with Australian audiences, especially those who have seen the posters for Fred Nile's so-called Christian Democratic Party hanging around on telephone poles in their area.

    Those who are expecting to see a grown-up version of Mayall's character from The Young Ones will be very disappointed, but this is more than compensated for by just how unpleasantly mean this new character can be. The episodes that appear on this disc are as follows:

    To be very honest, I feel this programme is best watched one episode at a time, as watching the whole three-hour season in one hit can be somewhat tiring. While the stories are outright hilarious at points, they can tend to grate a little, as Rik Mayall is virtually carrying the whole show, which results in a certain lack of variation in the routine. However, all of these episodes are utterly hilarious in their own right, and the behaviour on offer from all sides of the political circle will have you shaking your head in disbelief that this country ever ruled nearly half of the planet's surface.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The New Statesman appears to have been shot using video for the indoor sequences, and sixteen millimeter film for the outdoor sequences. This particular arrangement, which is typical of British television, does not result in the best of transfers, although this is certainly not too bad, all things considered.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

    This transfer is not going to win any awards for sharpness. While the indoor sequences are reasonably sharp and defined, the outdoor sequences often look rather indistinct. Most of the sequences that advance the story were shot in a studio, anyway, but occasionally the transfer looks murky enough to look like a recycled videotape. The shadow detail is adequate when called for, and there is no low-level noise.

    The colours in this transfer are acceptably rendered. There is some dot crawl in the titles, but no other major problems were noted.

    MPEG artefacts were not apparent in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were occasionally observed, generally consisting of some minor shimmer in the fine lines of props or locations such as the outside of the television studio. Vertical lines that look like minor videotape dropouts appear in the picture at regular intervals. One example can be seen at 5:50 during Happiness Is A Warm Gun, but they are a fairly constant nuisance. At a guess, I'd say that these artefacts are inherent in the videotapes that were used to shoot the episodes. Film artefacts are plentiful during the sequences that were shot on film, and some of them were quite distracting.

    There are no subtitles of any kind on this disc.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place at 86:09. Since the series is presented as one long title, rather than allocating a title to each episode as has been done with The Black Adder, this is acceptable. The pause occurs just before Rik Mayall says "What have you two been chatting about?", and it is noticeable, more because of the placement than anything else.

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

Audio

    There is only one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 kilobits per second.

    The dialogue is generally quite easy to understand, although there are some moments, such as when Rik Mayall is whispering into his mobile phone at 108:09, where some effort is required to understand what is being said. Dialogue intelligibility was also a little bit of an issue during the announcement of the election results in Happiness Is A Warm Gun. There are no problems with audio sync.

    The music in this series is credited to Alan Hawkshaw, and it is quite appropriate for the theme of the series. The most notable piece of score music in this series appears in the credits, and it does a great job of contrasting the image that British parliament would like to present to the world with the childish, infighting reality. A Dire Straits number also makes an appearance towards the end of Happiness Is A Warm Gun.

    The surround channels were not engaged by this soundtrack. There are precious few sound effects in the programme, so they were not missed.

    The subwoofer didn't get a look-in at all. It was missed mainly because it would have made some of the sound effects for car crashes and exploding guns seem more real, but for the most part, it could have been turned off and nobody would have known the difference.

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

Extras

    A grand total of nothing. It would have been nice to get some commentary from Rik Mayall, but I guess that will have to wait until someone brings out a 25th Anniversary edition of The Young Ones.

Menu

    The menu is static, prone to showing shimmer around the edges of objects (especially text), and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. There is no menu for selecting specific episodes, only scenes.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 2 version of this title appears to be pretty similar to the Region 4 version. This title does not appear to be available in Region 1 as yet.

Summary

    The New Statesman is a British political comedy that is so good that it transcends the boundaries of the British system, and contains tidbits that can well be considered relevant in just about every so-called First World nation. Rik Mayall is at his snivelling, scheming best here, although the supporting cast do not give him a lot to work with, and as a result, he is carrying the series pretty much on his own. Still, those who like to see how decisions are really made will get a good laugh out of this.

    The video transfer is pretty ordinary, mostly because of the source materials.

    The audio transfer is a flat stereo soundtrack that does the job.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Thursday, August 01, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Adrian T
region4dvd.net - Darren R (read my bio (fun for the whole family))
The DVD Bits - Damien M

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | The New Statesman-Series 1 (1987) | The New Statesman-Series 2 (1987) | The New Statesman-Series 3 (1991) | The New Statesman-Series 4 (1992)

The New Statesman-Series 2 (1987)

The New Statesman-Series 2 (1987)

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Released 25-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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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.

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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
Overall | The New Statesman-Series 1 (1987) | The New Statesman-Series 2 (1987) | The New Statesman-Series 3 (1991) | The New Statesman-Series 4 (1992)

The New Statesman-Series 3 (1991)

The New Statesman-Series 3 (1991)

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Released 25-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 143:20
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

    

    Rik Mayall plays the lead character here, Alan B'stard, a 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 plays a much bigger role in this series.

    This disc is the third 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 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. This third series is a significant improvement over the second series. These episodes are much funnier, darker and more political with less silliness and much better plots. It also includes more anarchic humour and violence, moving it closer to The Young Ones. This series was actually made two years after the second series in 1991. In between there was a one off special, Who Shot Alan B'Stard?, which strangely is included on the last disc, with series 4.

    The episodes included here are:

  1. Labor of Love - A newly elected Tory, Victor Crosby, claims that he is the most right wing member of parliament, something which B'stard has always been proud to be. B'stard decides to resort to joining the Labor party if that results in the demise of Crosby. Very funny and satirical episode.
  2. The Party's Over - North Sea Oil is running out and Maggie seems to have been responsible for covering it up. The Tories decide to call an election before the news leaks out and B'stard is put in charge of the campaign. Another top notch episode.
  3. Let them Sniff Cake - B'stard starts getting death threats after agreeing with animal testing. A member of the House of Lords wants Alan to get him some cocaine. A good episode but not quite up to the first two.
  4. Keeping Mum - B'stard introduces a new law to reduce old age benefits and force people to have their parents living with them, rather than relying on the state. Alan's mother turns up wanting to live with him but all is not as it seems. Excellent episode.
  5. Natural Selection - Alan throws a party for some of his important constituents but is told that he has been deselected for the next election to be replaced by a local builder. Piers is running for president of the Parliament Stamp Club, which Alan uses to devise a plan to get his seat back. A fantastic episode, probably the best of a very strong season.
  6. Profit of Boom - Alan is booked for a speaking tour of Russia about capitalism and Piers' Territorial Army unit is sent to Northern Ireland. B'stard is contacted by various spies to help them restart the cold war. Another good episode with a good cliff-hanger ending.

    A much stronger season than Season 2 with more emphasis on political satire and much better writing all round.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is reasonable but restricted by its early 1990s 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, especially during the credits. The shadow detail was reasonable. This season is better quality than Season 2, but is still nothing spectacular.

    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 and some chroma noise on walls.

    Artefacts were certainly noticeable but not too distracting. They included minor shimmering, some comet trails and some edge enhancement. No worse than unrestored television footage of the period is normally when transferred to DVD. Again better than Season 2.

    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. It is slightly better than Season 2 but not by much.

    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 includes 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 very strong season of this English political satire starring Rik Mayall, featuring 6 quality episodes.

    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?)
Sunday, December 05, 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
Overall | The New Statesman-Series 1 (1987) | The New Statesman-Series 2 (1987) | The New Statesman-Series 3 (1991) | The New Statesman-Series 4 (1992)

The New Statesman-Series 4 (1992)

The New Statesman-Series 4 (1992)

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
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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.

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

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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