Let the Blood Run Free-Season 1 (1990)
|Category||Comedy||Main Menu Audio|
|Year Of Production||1990|
|Running Time||287:35 (Case: 350)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
|Visual Entertainment Group||Starring||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.29:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.29:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In Melbourne during the 1980s, a cabaret comedy team, soon to be known as The Blood Group, performed an unscripted comic soap-opera about a run-down hospital. Completely ad-lib, they performed twice nightly and the show involved a high degree of audience participation. At critical points in the story, the action would stop and the audience would vote on what happens next - the cast would then continue the story based on the audience's vote. So successful was the show that stage versions were produced, taking out awards at the Melbourne and Adelaide comedy festivals. Based on this success, a TV series was commissioned.
Retitled Let The Blood Run Free, the first series screened in 1990, with a second series shown in 1993/4. While now scripted (loosely it seems), audience participation was maintained. At the end of each episode, viewers could phone one of two numbers to decide which way the cliff-hanger ending would proceed in the next episode. This is reportedly the world's first interactive TV programme.
The show achieved a cult following but seemed to vanish from Australian TV after the second series. Its success overseas was amazing for an Australian production, being shown in over 50 countries and translated into seven languages. This presentation is a two disc release of the first series, thirteen episodes in all.
How does one describe this series? Anarchy is the closest adjective I can find. This is a spoof of the soap-opera genre, with its complicated plots, a tangle of character inter-relationships, skeletons in cupboards and human tragedy all lampooned.
The setting is St. Christopher's Hospital, a run down and dirty hospital (think of the NSW health system at its best). The character profiles will give you a good indication of the type of humour to expect.
Dr. Ray Good (Brian Nankervis): A dedicated doctor who wants no more than to rid the world of disease, but who harbours a dark secret and bad fashion sense.
Dr. Richard Lovechild (David Swann): Charming, suave, debonair and a cad. He was once a brilliant doctor, but has now been corrupted by his love of money, golf and women, though not necessarily in that order. He may seem superficial, but deep down he's shallow.
Nurse Pam Sandwich (Jean Kittson): A nurse so dedicated she makes Florence Nightingale look like a slacker. Pure and wholesome, she lives only to be a nurse while she searches for the answers to her past.
Nurse Effie Shunt (Helen Knight): Tragically short, she wants for no more than a life like a Mills and Boon novel. Repulsed by the affections of Warren Cronkshonk, she is infatuated by Dr. Lovechild.
Matron Dorothy Conniving-B**** (Lynda Gibson): Evil, scheming, sneaking - she hates everyone. She is desperate to become the Hospital Administrator and follow in the footsteps of generations of Conniving-B****es, and will stop at nothing to reach her goal.
Warren Cronkshonk (Peter Rowsthorn): The hospital orderly and one of life's perpetual losers. A pathetic, unkempt mess on the outside, he is kind-hearted underneath. Passionately in love with Nurse Effie, he is shunned because of his low wage, slovenly ways, and his broken dribble duct.
Detective Inspector Slabb (Mark Cutler): After 15 years of chasing an axe-murderer, the trail brings Detective Slabb (pronounced Slab-bub) to St. Christopher's where he becomes romantically obsessed with Matron Conniving-B****.
The production is proudly cheap. The sets are intentionally low grade and form part of the routine. Painted corridors that people try to walk into and glass that is clearly Glad-Wrap give the show an amateur look as they send up the cheap soapies that have sets that shake when someone shuts a door. The special effects truly are special. Strings are clearly visible and there is a car chase in Episode 6 that has to be seen to be appreciated. The effects are so intentionally bad you have to laugh.
The humour is blunt and oh-so-unsubtle. Don't expect cerebral humour from this series; slapstick comedy, very bad puns and hilariously funny surgical scenes (complete with animal offal and kitchen utensils) are the staples for laughs here. The cast is obviously having a ball, overacting and playing their TV roles with the exaggerated movements of the stage.
As is usual for this site, I have written a synopsis for each episode on the discs. A word of warning: they contain spoilers. Being in soap-opera format it wasn't possible to explain an episode without giving away what little plot there is. Of course the plot is not why you would watch this insanity, but if you don't want the cliff-hanger episode endings spoilt, skip straight down to Transfer Quality now.
Episode 1 (22:12)
Nurse Pam Sandwich arrives for her first day at St. Christopher's. Matron Conniving-B**** throws the Hospital Administrator out the window to get his job. Dr. Lovechild dumps Nurse Effie who climbs to the roof to kill herself. Will Nurse Effie jump?
Episode 2 (22:01)
Matron Conniving-B**** becomes acting Administrator and starts her reign of terror. Dr. Good fights to save the Administrator's life, but Matron tries to finish him off. Nurse Effie jumps from the roof. Nurse Pam Sandwich is in love, but is it with the good Dr. Good or the cad Dr. Lovechild?
Episode 3 (21:53)
Nurse Pam Sandwich falls for Dr Good, but he cannot return her love. Dr Lovechild tries to bribe his way into the Administrator's job. Matron Conniving-B**** blackmails Dr Good to stop him applying for the Administrator's post, but he applies anyway. Orderly Warren applies for the Administrator's post. Who will be Administrator?
Episode 4 (22:26)
Orderly Warren is appointed Administrator. Effie falls for Warren - now he has a well-paid job - and they unite with the sloppiest kiss in screen history. Dr. Lovechild tries to seduce Nurse Pam Sandwich. An axe-murderer attacks Nurse Pam and she runs into the arms of Dr. Good. Matron Conniving-B**** plots to get rid of Warren. Will she succeed?
Episode 5 (22:05)
The axe-murderer continues to stalk St. Christopher's. Dr. Lovechild is accused of being the axe-murderer when his yeti-boots are seen by Nurse Pam Sandwich. Matron Conniving-B**** drugs Nurse Effie and has her shoot Administrator Warren. Will the senseless violence ever end?
Episode 6 (21:51)
Doctors Good and Lovechild save Warren's life. Matron Conniving-B**** again tries to kill him and Nurse Effie sells her soul to St. Christopher to save him. Matron Conniving-B**** realises the axe-murderer is her lost boyfriend. Dr. Lovechild escapes from custody and is injured when he crashes his Porsche while being chased by Detective Inspector Slabb. Will Dr Lovechild live?
Episode 7 (22:06)
Dr. Good proposes to Nurse Pam Sandwich. St. Christopher arrives to claim Nurse Effie's soul. Dr. Lovechild is diagnosed with CBD (Complete Body Dysfunction), which is incurable. He tells Nurse Pam Sandwich he is dying and puts the hard word on her. Will nurse Pam remain faithful to Dr. Good?
Episode 8 (22:00)
Nurse Effie becomes a Nun. Detective Inspector Slabb goes to India on a wild goose chase. Dr. Good and Nurse Pam Sandwich set their wedding date. Dr. Lovechild and Warren hold a buck's night for Dr. Good (with a real stag movie). Matron Conniving-B**** and Bill the Axe-murderer plot to ruin the wedding. Will they succeed?
Episode 9 (22:09)
The wedding of the year as Dr. Good and Nurse Pam Sandwich tie the knot. All goes well until Matron Conniving-B**** and Bill the Axe-murderer seek their revenge. Will Matron's bomb explode?
Episode 10 (21:49)
Dr. Good and Nurse Pam Good-Sandwich go on their honeymoon. While performing life-saving surgery on Matron Conniving-B**** after she is shot, Dr. Lovechild, his death being near, performs plastic surgery on her as his legacy. Nurse Effie dies in a tragic accident. Warren, distraught by Nurse Effie's death, contemplates suicide. Will he kill himself?
Episode 11 (22:17)
A new Administrator is appointed and she is attracted to Dr. Good. The new improved Matron is unveiled and she falls in love with Dr. Lovechild. Warren tries to kill himself, but pulls himself together. Dr. Lovechild's CBD is put into remission by Matron's love for him. Nurse Pam Sandwich announces she is pregnant. Dr. Good and Nurse Pam discover they are really brother and sister. What will become of their marriage?
Episode 12 (22:17)
Dr. Lovechild and Slabb fight over Matron Conniving-B****. Matron Conniving-B**** reverts to her former self. Angie, the new Administrator and Dr. Good inject Dr. Lovechild with their new cure to try and save his life. Warren helps Nurse Pam Sandwich prepare for her baby's birth. Angie declares her love for Dr. Good. Will Warren deliver nurse Pam's baby?
Episode 13 (22:29)
Dr. Lovechild dies on the operating table, but is given a second chance at life by heaven's receptionist, Nurse Effie; but he must marry within 24 hours. Dr. Good reverts to a mental age of 7 after being hit on the head. Nurse Pam Sandwich gives birth to a baby boy. Slabb proposes to Matron Conniving-B****. Warren inherits the title "Earl of Cronkshonk". A mystery woman arrives in reception claiming to be Matron Conniving-B****'s lost daughter. The hospital is under a demolition order. Will the hospital be demolished?
This disc presents the programme in its original televised aspect ratio of 1.29:1. There is, of course, no 16x9 enhancement.
Video suffers from the problems you would expect from a TV series done on a budget that could be politely described as modest. The image is a little grainy and is not always sharp, particularly on wide shots. Not that the transfer is poor, it's quite reasonable, but it is a result of the source material being 15 year old video tape.
Of course, high quality video would be out of character for this series. It goes out of its way to appear cheap and shoddy, and does a marvellous job of it.
Colours are good and there are very few artefacts. The worst problems occur in Episode 4 with two very obvious video drop-outs. At 00:17 and 02:36 the screen flickers to white briefly. There is also an obvious analogue tape drop out in Episode 12 at 17:04. These are very obvious and quite annoying and are most likely the result of the age and/or quality of the source material. Other than these, there were no major artefact problems.
As with the video, audio is as expected for a 1990 TV series. Presented on these discs in Dolby Digital 2.0, the sound is predominantly centred with only occasional excursions to the left or right when some special effect demands it. The rears and sub-woofer have little to do.
The show is mainly dialogue based, and dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout. Background music (where used) is adequate, but it's not intended to be ground-breaking quality, rather it is used for comedic effect.
There is no hiss or other audio nasties, but neither are there any audio wonders.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static with the show's theme playing over it.
There are no other extras, unless you count the advertisement.
Each disc starts straight into a 02:03 minute advertisement for the distribution company (no particular title, just a snapshot of some of the titles they offer). You can skip the advertisement and go straight to the first episode on the disc, but not to the menu. If you want to watch Episode 4, for instance, you either have to sit through their promo, or skip to Episode 1 then jump back to the menu. This is senseless and annoying. I don't mind distributors promoting other titles in their range, but include the previews as extras and give me the option of whether or not to watch them - it's annoying to sit through ads every time you watch the feature.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This is an all region disc. A check of some of the on-line retailers failed to track down any other version, so this version seems to be the only option.
Confession time: I didn't see this show when it was televised. My wife saw this on the site's available for review list and insisted I review it. I requested it out of a desire for domestic harmony, and approached the review sceptically. I was pleasantly surprised. While not the funniest comedy series I have ever seen, this is still good for a lot of idle laughs. Check your sanity at the door, sit down and enjoy the ride and 287:35 of silly fun can be had.
The humour will not be to everyone's taste, but if you like your laughs to smack you in the face you may enjoy this disc.
Video is average, but acceptable.
Audio is basic but without problems.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-1200Y, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig M84-210 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Richter Wizard fronts, Richter Lynx centre, Richter Hydra rears, Velodyne CT-100 sub-woofer|