The Man Who Came to Dinner (2000) (NTSC)

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Released 28-Sep-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 165:22
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jay Sandrich
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Nathan Lane
Jean Smart
Harriet Sansom Harris
Jack Arendt
Jozef Fahey
William Duell
Stephen DeRosa
Ryan Torino
Linda Stephens
Julie Halston
Mary Catherine Garrison
Kit Flanagan
Julie Boyd
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Can live theatre work on television? And if so does it translate well to DVD? And even if it does come across well, how does it compare to the experience of actually seeing a play live? Plays by their very nature are mostly not particularly interesting visually as they are restricted by their setting on a stage. Once taken from their live setting and converted onto the screen in your living room, this issue becomes more pronounced. However, if you enjoy live theatre, there is no reason you cannot enjoy this - just don't try to compare it to the latest cinema blockbuster.

    The Man Who Came To Dinner is the first of a series of live television presentations of live theatre productions on the US PBS network. To my knowledge this is the first one available on DVD in this Region. This production was first shown on the PBS network on October 7, 2000 and was shown live to air with the intermissions in the production being filled in with discussion by the hosts, Liam Neeson & Natasha Richardson, and pre-recorded interviews with various members of the production crew and documentary style footage regarding the play, its origins and history. Although this format makes sense for a live television broadcast, to my mind the DVD could have done without the intermission filler or at least had them as extras. I found that they disturbed the flow of the play. The play was staged on 42nd Street in New York City by the Roundabout Theatre Company.

    The play itself is a classic farce written in the late 1930s by Moss Hart & George S. Kaufman and tells the story of critic and socialite Sheridan Whiteside (Nathan Lane), who while dining at the home of a wealthy Ohio family, The Stanleys, slips on their doorstep and winds up unable to travel for six weeks. He immediately takes over their house and orders them to keep out of his way. The house is soon swarming with his friends and bizarre gifts such as penguins and a cockroach farm. The friends include his secretary, Maggie Cutler (Harriet Harris), an actress, Lorraine Sheldon (Jean Smart), the local newspaper man, Bert Jefferson (Hank Stratton) and many other madcap visitors including the local doctor, his nurse, a professor and an actor friend of Whiteside.

    The story really takes off when Maggie takes a shine to Bert Jefferson and Sheridan tries to get in the way because he doesn't want to lose Maggie as his secretary.

    Despite being a little old fashioned this is a witty play with a lot of good lines and acerbic wit. You probably need to be a fan of this style of farce to enjoy it as otherwise you might think the whole thing is just a little bit silly. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to fans of the theatre, although please read the transfer quality sections below before deciding.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is poor.

    The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was lacking in clarity and sharpness, mostly driven by the extremely low bit rate and noticeable grain. I did not notice any low level noise, however there was little chance for it to occur as the picture was mostly of a brightly lit stage.

    The colour was decent, however, there was noticeable chroma noise and some rainbow effects.

    MPEG compression artefacts were everywhere and very noticeable. This disc contains 165 minutes of footage which is crammed onto a single layered, single sided disc. The bitrate mostly hovered around 3 Mbps. There is significant macro-blocking on all open surfaces, especially the walls of the set. These were quite distracting. There was also some aliasing and evidence of excessive noise reduction resulting in parts of the picture moving seemingly for no reason. There was also some minor edge enhancement. In short, the artefacts were very bad indeed.

    There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

    The audio quality is better than the video but not by much.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was reasonable, however, due to the fact that it was captured in a theatre, it was sometimes echoey and indistinct. There was no problem with audio sync.

    The only music used is some old time jazz during the intermissions.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

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

Extras

    None.

Menu

    The menu allowed for scene selection, however, the program auto-starts so unless you actually choose to there is no need to see the menu.

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc is exactly the same in other regions and is not region coded.

Summary

    A fun, witty and slightly old fashioned farce of a stage play as broadcast live by the US PBS network.

    The video quality is poor.

    The audio quality is decent considering the restrictions of a live theatre performance.

    The disc has no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Sunday, February 13, 2005
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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