Overall | The League of Gentlemen-Series 1 (1999) | The League of Gentlemen-Series 2 (2000) | The League of Gentlemen-Christmas Special (1999) | The League of Gentlemen-Series 3 (2000)

The League of Gentlemen-The Complete Collection (1999)

The League of Gentlemen-The Complete Collection (1999)

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Released 2-Nov-2005

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Overall Package

   The League of Gentlemen: The Complete Collection is squarely aimed at people who enjoyed the show when telecast but did not buy the individual series when they came out on DVD. The set contains precisely the features included in the individual releases and nothing new. The presentation of The Complete Collection is superlative, coming in the form of a lushly produced book with sleeves featuring photographs and images from each series.

    A landmark comedy that came to influence many other programmes including Little Britain, anyone who likes dark and often perverse British humour should invest in this set. Characters such as "the Local People" Edward and Tubbs, butcher-with-a-secret Hilary Briss, Job Search Nazi Pauline and the creepy Papa Lazarou are burned into comedic history. Dare yourself to let them free again!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Other Reviews
impulsegamer.com - AndrewB&TonyF

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Overall | The League of Gentlemen-Series 1 (1999) | The League of Gentlemen-Series 2 (2000) | The League of Gentlemen-Christmas Special (1999) | The League of Gentlemen-Series 3 (2000)

The League of Gentlemen-Series 1 (1999)

The League of Gentlemen-Series 1 (1999)

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Released 14-Aug-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Biographies-Character
Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary
Biographies-Cast
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 176:35 (Case: 174)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Steve Bendelack
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Mark Gatiss
Steve Pemberton
Reece Shearsmith
Jeremy Dyson
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Joby Talbot


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes, minor
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Royston Vasey next stop. This is the end of the line.

    The League of Gentlemen - Series 1 is the most outrageous, black, and hilarious stroke of comedy genius I have witnessed in years. Quite simply, this is British humour at its most inventive and is utterly excellent. Let me just say that within minutes of watching the first episode I was hopelessly hooked. I cannot enthuse enough about this work - I adore this series!

    What...you want more details? Alright then. This innovative series almost invents a comedy genre of its own. Rather than the more mundane sketch show which is becoming the norm nowadays, it takes a series of the most repulsive, inept, twisted and depraved characters and melds them into a near sit-com format. Each episode forms a story in its own right, yet the main plot lines and the character developments continue throughout the series, lending a continuity to proceedings and a depth to the main characters which is rarely seen in comedy shows. Amazingly all of the major roles are played by Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith, but the characters are so varied it is hard to detect at first. (Postscript - writer Jeremy Dyson doesn't actually play any of the characters - Thanks for the correction Terry).

    The basic premise is the life of the denizens of a small (fictitious) Derbyshire town, known as Royston Vasey. The residents are not your normal folk. The characters are hugely varied and each of them has something truly unique to offer. Almost all of them are twisted monsters, either terminally stupid, verging on psychopathic or plain old pathetic. I am sure that every fan will select his or her own favourite (mine happens to be Mr. Chinnery - the world's most benevolent, yet lethal, veterinarian). There are numerous characters to barrack for, but to whet your appetite here are a few of the main contenders. How about Barbara - the transsexual cabby? Maybe the video geeks Henry and Ally will be more your cup of tea? Who could resist the anally retentive Dentons, with their unnatural fondness for urine consumption and toad breeding? Maybe you will fall in love with the depraved monsters Tubbs and Edward Tattsyrup who run the LOCAL shop.

    The disc presents all six episodes of the first series:

    The League of Gentlemen - Series 1 is pants-wettingly funny. If you like your humour dark, surreal and outrageous this will become one of your favourite shows in no time flat. Alternatively, if you prefer the less visceral humour of Frasier or Veronica's Closet, then this will probably be offensive and possibly even leave you scratching your head. Personally, I love it. I have rarely seen a television comedy which had me laughing out loud at several points in every single episode - this one does it without fail. From the opening seconds of the first episode I knew I was in for a treat of the highest comedic order. I cannot recommend this show highly enough - it is utterly superb. If you consider Monty Python funny, like slightly off-kilter movies such as Donnie Darko, and enjoy the odd bit of gross-out humour, then run - don't walk - and buy this DVD immediately. One point to note however, is that some of the references are very British and may not be totally familiar to an Australian audience (these are unlikely to cloud your understanding of the joke however). I cannot wait to watch the second series. This is comedic brilliance!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is reasonable, but not brilliant, and it does suffer from one significant flaw.

    The series is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. I am not sure if this is the original televised aspect ratio, but it looks fine to me. The video transfer is fairly soft, and nowhere near as sharp as current Australian digital television broadcasts, but is surely better than VHS quality. There is a fairly significant amount of grain present in many shots, but I understand this was deliberately added to provide a "filmic" feel to the series. Interestingly, the deleted scenes are noticeably sharper and cleaner.

    Colours are generally well rendered although skin tones sometimes look a little unnatural due to the heavy use of make-up. Colour bleeding is not a problem. Black levels vary a little, but are generally good with minimal low level noise and satisfactory shadow detail.

    The transfer is generally free from major MPEG artefacts. There is, however, some truly horrible aliasing present from time to time, and whilst it is not always present, it does distract and is the biggest single flaw with the transfer. Significant examples can be seen on Harvey's glasses at 19:53 in Episode 1 or on the cross at 14:58 in Episode 4. Lesser but still distracting instances crop up on spectacle frames, clipboards, road markings, car chrome and many horizontal edges such as window frames or table tops throughout the series. This aliasing occurred whether I watched the series interlaced or in progressive scan, and whether I used my PC or standalone DVD player. Edge enhancement is not noticeable and telecine wobble is absent.

    The transfer is generally free from significant film artefacts, and this is overall a clean transfer.

    The English subtitles (for the Hard of Hearing) are legible, well timed and true to the on-screen dialogue, albeit with minor edits for brevity.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the noticeable layer change cropping up during one of the early episodes. On subsequent viewings however, I was unable to pinpoint the change.

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

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is as would be expected for a television comedy show and is without major defect.

    The sole English audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo encoded at 256 kbps. The surround flag is not enabled.

    Dialogue is always clear and there are no problems with audio sync.

    The musical score is credited to Joby Talbot, and is serviceable; by the end of the series you will probably be able to remember it - but only just. Music plays a very minor role in the proceedings and is generally limited to the title sequences.

    As might be expected for a television comedy series, the surrounds are unused. Pro Logic will obviously direct some sound to the surround speakers, but this adds little to the viewing experience.

    The subwoofer is not used as there is (unsurprisingly) no LFE track present.

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

Extras

    Most encouragingly for a BBC television release there are several genuine extras provided on this DVD.

Menu

    The menu consists of a photograph of the LOCAL shop and the wind from the moors whistling through the speakers. It comes complete with its own little in-joke. Each episode can be selected independently, or they can be played in sequence. Chapter stops can be selected from any episode and subtitles can be turned on or off. Finally, by selecting Precious Things, the following extras can be enjoyed:

Local People

    A series of silent text-based screens providing an hilarious summary of the major characters seen in Series 1.

Special Stuff

    Divided into two sections (Stage & Radio and Television), a text-based, silent potted history of the fabulous ensemble known as The League of Gentlemen.

Missing

    An extensive collection of deleted and extended scenes from Series 1. They are presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps and in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced. All are available with English subtitles. A brief introductory screen explains the scene you are about to see, and the reasons for its editing or exclusion from the main feature:

Local Gossip

    Despite its understated title, this is actually a fairly major and very unusual extra for a television comedy series. The League (along with director Steve Bendelack) provide an informative and entertaining commentary track for every episode. Unfortunately, as there are frequently several people talking at once, and because the main soundtrack is insufficiently muted, it can be difficult to hear the commentary clearly on occasion.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 release of this series appears to be the same as our own (however www.amazon.com does list "A virtual tour of Royston Vasey" which is not present on the Region 4 release, and about which I can find no other verification). The Region 2 version appears identical to the Region 4. Overall, I would suggest buying whichever you can get your hands on quickest.

Summary

    The League of Gentlemen - Series 1 is marvellously funny. It is without a doubt the best British comedy show I have seen in the past five years. To paraphrase Ripping Yarns, "this is the blackest black comedy I have ever seen. It is so black even the white bits are black". Beg, buy, borrow or steal a copy - this is a comedy experience without equal.

    The video quality is a little patchy in places, but acceptable overall. There are some occasionally annoying problems with aliasing, but this must not deter you from watching the show. If this was presented as a series of Powerpoint slides, I would still buy it. This is simply too good to miss.

    The audio transfer is as would be expected for a television comedy series - serviceable and with no real defects.

    There are some surprisingly extensive extras on the disc. Gidonya BBC.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Sunday, July 27, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - CathyS
The DVD Bits - Damien M
DVD Net - Amy F
impulsegamer.com - Andrew Biz

Comments (Add)
Aliasing - REPLY POSTED
On TV - Daniel B (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
R2 was dual coded upon release - rochford

Overall | The League of Gentlemen-Series 1 (1999) | The League of Gentlemen-Series 2 (2000) | The League of Gentlemen-Christmas Special (1999) | The League of Gentlemen-Series 3 (2000)

The League of Gentlemen-Series 2 (2000)

The League of Gentlemen-Series 2 (2000)

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Released 14-Aug-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Cast and Director
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Deleted Scenes
Biographies-Character
Gallery-Photo
Gallery-Poster
Isolated Musical Score
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 176:39 (Case: 225)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (92:38)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Steve Bendelack
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Mark Gatiss
Steve Pemberton
Reece Shearsmith
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $49.95 Music Joby Talbot


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Welcome to Royston Vasey. You'll never leave!

    The League of Gentlemen - Series 2 is the follow up to the outrageous black comedy following the weird happenings in the fictitious northern English town of Royston Vasey. The first series, reviewed earlier, was some of the most startlingly refreshing comedy television I have seen in years. Does the second series live up to the lofty standards of the first?

    Basically, yes it does. Whilst there are some new characters introduced in this series, you will be delighted to know that almost all of the monstrous creations make a welcome return. Tubbs and Edward, Pauline, Mr Chinnery and even Legz Akimbo are all back with a vengeance. Some of the new creations are simply outstanding, and add a welcome twist to the crazy shenanigans in Royston Vasey. Probably the most striking new character is Papa Lazarou, with his Pandemonium Carnival and his (genuinely) three-legged dog. A twisted creation indeed, his New Orleans style voodoo and travelling freak show are both scary and hilarious. Herr Lipp, a camp German tourist guide brings a group of exchange students to town for some Teutonic fun. Not all of the new characters are welcome however, and personally I found Vinnie and Reenie - the two old biddies who run the Charity Shop - to be more annoying than funny.

    The League of Gentlemen - Series 2 is presented as a two-disc set. The first disc presents all six episodes of the second series, whilst the second disc is full of bonus material. The series is even more sinister than the first, and whilst it is still uproariously funny on occasion, is rather more dramatic and slightly less humorous overall. Once again all of the major roles are played by Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith, but there are more supporting actors on hand this time, to provide a bit more variation to the faces. Foul-mouthed English comedian Roy "Chubby" Brown makes an appearance as the foul-mouthed Mayor - wittily enough, Royston Vasey is actually Brown's real name.

    The first disc provides the six episodes of the second series:

    The League of Gentlemen - Series 2 is possibly slightly less funny than the first. I suppose that this series does not carry the same shock value as the first, as the main characters and their weird foibles are already known to the viewer, however, it remains a highly enjoyable, top quality piece of work. The drama has been ramped up slightly and this series is even darker than the first, often verging on the chilling. I await the third series with much anticipation. This is inspired comedy madness.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is slightly better than the first series. Again however, it is not brilliant, and it does still have some minor defects.

    The series is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. I assume that this was the original televised aspect ratio. The video transfer is once again fairly soft, with quite a significant amount of grain present in many shots. One of the special features points out that this was a post-processing effect, deliberately applied to make the series look like it was shot on grainy film rather than high quality digital videotape.

    Colours are generally well rendered and the transfer is a little brighter than the first series. Skin tones look fairly natural, except when characters are deliberately wearing heavy make-up. Colour bleeding is not a problem. Black levels are pretty deep with no significant low level noise and acceptable shadow detail.

    The transfer is free from major MPEG artefacts. Much like the first series however, there is still a noticeable problem with aliasing throughout the series. It never reaches the annoyingly bad levels seen in the earlier release, but is nonetheless mildly distracting once noticed. The usual suspects are to blame, with spectacle frames and the edges of characters and furniture commonly showing the problem. Edge enhancement is not an issue and telecine wobble is absent.

    The transfer is free from significant film (video) artefacts.

    The English subtitles (for the Hard of Hearing) are legible, well timed and true to the on-screen dialogue, albeit with minor edits for brevity.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the noticeable layer change cropping up just before a scene change at 5:02 during Episode 4. It's disappointing that it wasn't placed more carefully, before the start of the episode.

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

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is typical for a television comedy show and is clean but rather unremarkable.

    The sole English audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo encoded at 256 kbps, as was the first series. The surround flag is not enabled.

    Dialogue is always clear and there are only minor issues with audio sync (for example the dubbed singing at 15:29 in Episode 2 and a hint when the twins speak at 13:46 in Episode 6).

    The musical score is credited to Joby Talbot, and will be recognizable to viewers of the first series. The music seems to have more presence this time around - perhaps due to the more dramatic storylines. Mr Talbot is certainly a talented chap, with several diverse tunes scattered through the series.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are unused, unless you have Pro Logic enabled, in which case there is some reasonable ambience directed through to the surrounds.

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

Extras

    Most encouragingly for a BBC television release there are some extras provided on the first disc, plus a whole second (DVD 5) disc of local goodies:

Disc 1

Menu

    The menu is a lively and spooky Blair Witch inspired affair. It contains much more animation this time around and some suitably scary sound bites. Each episode can be selected independently, or they can be played in sequence. Chapter stops can be selected from any episode and subtitles can be turned on or off. Finally, by selecting Precious Things, the following extras can be enjoyed:

Local Gossip

    As with the first series, The League (along with director Steve Bendelack) provide an entertaining commentary track for every episode. Fortunately, the sound quality is much improved this time, with the main soundtrack sufficiently muted to allow you to hear the commentary track clearly. As with the commentary from the first series, the lads are obviously film fanatics as they reveal numerous references and homage scenes to cinema classics which are scattered through the series.

Pre and Post Examples

    A very interesting, albeit short, extra. This reveals the "filmising" technique applied to the series, in which the images are deinterlaced, frames dropped and a grain effect applied. This explains why the transfer looks the way it does - with the intention of creating a "high budget yet dark and brooding film feel to the series". It uses the "angle" button to allow you to switch between the samples on the fly.

Disc 2

Menu

    The menu is a lively and sinister beast with Papa Lazarou making a creepy appearance against a grating and off-kilter accordion track. It allows the following following extras to be selected:

Behind The Scenes Documentary

    Playable in one sizeable hit (29:22), or via nine selectable chunks. Narrated by Griff Rhys-Jones (Alas Smith and Jones, Not the Nine O'Clock News) and presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps. It covers the early history of the League, and goes into great depth regarding their writing and character generation process, as well as showing behind the scenes rehearsals. This is a great extra, with good video and sound quality throughout.

Local People

    As for Series 1, this is a collection of silent text-based screens providing a hilarious summary of the major characters seen in this series. It really is amazing how many new characters they have managed to create!

Missing

    An extensive collection of deleted and (some subtly) extended scenes from Series 2. Presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps and presented in a ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced. All are available with English subtitles, and run for a total of 21:29:

Series II Scrapbook

    Dozens of (silent) behind the scenes photographs of the cast and crew.

Territorial Army

    A single poster advertising the Royston Vasey territorial army.

Royston Vasey Tunes

    Several tunes from the series in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 256 kbps:

R4 vs R1

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

    This series does not appear to be available in Region 1. The Region 2 release of this series appears to be identical to our own. Buy whichever is cheapest.

Summary

    The League of Gentlemen - Series 2 is arguably a tad less funny than the first season. The drama is more edgy this time around, and whilst there are still some hilarious scenes, there is a much more tangible sense of suspense and occasional pathos in this series. For League Lovers, this will be an essential purchase. Top notch comedy with a nice selection of extras. You don't need to be local to buy this disc - it will be widely available!

    The video quality is better than the first series, but still has some minor issues with aliasing and the (deliberately added) grain.

    The audio transfer is good for a television series, and packs more impact than the first series.

    There is a whole second disc full of extras. Well done again BBC.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Thursday, July 31, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - CathyS
The DVD Bits - Damien M
DVD Net - Amy F
impulsegamer.com - Andrew Biz

Comments (Add)
Crazy pricing - Shane C (read my bio, you will)

Overall | The League of Gentlemen-Series 1 (1999) | The League of Gentlemen-Series 2 (2000) | The League of Gentlemen-Christmas Special (1999) | The League of Gentlemen-Series 3 (2000)

The League of Gentlemen-Christmas Special (1999)

The League of Gentlemen-Christmas Special (1999)

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Released 7-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-The League
Featurette-Tales From Behind The Crypt
Featurette-Jackanory: The Curse Of Karrit Poor
Interviews-Crew-Joby Talbot (Composer)
Interviews-Cast & Crew-In Conversation...(Radio 4 Interview)
Additional Footage-Extended Scenes
Outtakes
Gallery-Fx
Theatrical Trailer-National Film Theatre Trailer
Gallery-Daguerrotypes, Make-Up Designs
Biographies-Character
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 56:22 (Case: 181)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Steve Bendelack
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Mark Gatiss
Steve Pemberton
Reece Shearsmith
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Joby Talbot


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Yule never leave...

    The League Of Gentlemen is probably the most innovative and surreal black comedy to have emerged from the BBC. Anyone who has read any of my previous reviews would realise that I am indeed a real fan of this unique, chillingly funny blend of humour and horror. For those unfamiliar with the series, take a look at my reviews of Series 1 followed by Series 2 and Series 3 before digesting the Christmas Special reviewed here.

    As ever, the hugely talented Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith take us into the shadowy world of the lives of the denizens of the fictitious Northern village, Royston Vasey. This time around there is a limited range of your favourite characters featuring in this portmanteau (I just learned that word from the extra features) of three stories, but there are numerous cameo appearances through the feature. Those familiar with the Halloween specials of The Simpsons (Treehouse of Horror) will know the format to expect in The League of Gentlemen Christmas Special. Essentially, what we have here is three short scary stories, joined by a linking thread. This link is provided courtesy of the repulsive, hateful local vicar Reverend Bernice.

    This feature has Reverend Bernice keen to get home on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately for her, she keeps getting interrupted by needy parishioners who want her help or absolution. First we have Charlie Hull, whose relationship with the abrasive Stella has reached a new low. He is experiencing frightening dreams and wonders if Bernice can help him to cope. Charlie's love of line dancing is irritating Stella, causing her to hook up with the mysterious, white-masked "Solutions Ltd." in an homage to the movie Eyes Wide Shut.

    No sooner has Charlie told his tale of woes than Bernice is disturbed by Matthew Parker - now a derelict, with unkempt hair and a three foot long beard. Matthew wasn't always this way however...and he recounts to Bernice a sad and horrific tale. During 1975, Matthew, then a young chorister, spent some time in Duisburg at the home of sexually ambiguous choir master Herr Lipp. He slowly comes to realise that not only does Herr Lipp have an unnatural desire for the pleasures of young, male flesh...but also for human blood!

    The tales of mystery and terror do not stop there dear reader. Oh no. When Dr Chinnery, the hapless veterinary surgeon arrives, we are told the sombre tale of Karrit Poor. Chinnery believes that he may be cursed. Given his lack of success in the veterinary field, perhaps the experience of his great grandfather is pertinent? In a flashback, we see how Edmund Chinnery is summoned by Dr Majolica and told to report to the practices of Purblind, Boothby and Canker...in Royston Vasey. When Chinnery arrives for his interview, he is immediately hired on the spot, but warned never to enter the bedchamber of Mr Purblind. When creaking and clanking awakens Chinnery late one night, he cannot suppress the urge to investigate. It is then, in that candle-lit room, that Magnus Purblind reveals to Chinnery the supernatural tale of the Maharajah of Karrit Poor...

    The League of Gentlemen Christmas Special is possibly not as laugh-out-loud funny as any of the main series. It was created between the second and third seasons of the show and first aired in the UK in December 2000. With the superb story-telling, wonderful characterisations and chilling setting it is still however a must-own for fans. The very significant extra features available on this single disc help to add some substantial value - and LoG fun - to the overall package. Recommended for Leaguers everywhere.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is as good as any we have seen in the series.

    The series is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. This is the original (digital) televised aspect ratio. The video transfer is a little soft at times, but feels sharper than the earlier series overall. The now familiar post-processing effect, deliberately applied to make the series look like it was shot on grainy film is still present, but suits the feel of the feature very well.

    Black levels are satisfyingly deep with no major low level noise and reasonable shadow detail. Colours are well rendered and whilst the palette is often muted to suit the individual tales, it is always in keeping with the story. Skin tones look suitably natural - or unnatural - as required.

    The transfer is free from major MPEG artefacts. There is occasional aliasing evident but, whilst noticeable, it never becomes annoying. Edge enhancement is not an issue and telecine wobble is absent.

    The feature is free from significant film (video) artefacts, and overall this is a very clean transfer.

    The English subtitles (for the hard of hearing) are legible, well timed and provide appropriate audio cues including song lyrics. There are some omissions in the subtitles, for the sake of brevity, but none are significant enough to detract from their primary function.

    The disc is dual layered but I did not notice a layer change, so I assume it is placed between episodes.

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

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is very impressive indeed for a television comedy show and is by far the most dynamic on any of the LoG DVDs thus far.

    The main English audio track is, much to my delight, presented on this disc in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps. It is lively, vibrant and has a surprising dynamic range. There is also a lesser Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 256 kbps. This is also very robust.

    Dialogue is always perfectly clear - although for some the Northern accents may require concerted listening at times - and I noticed no issues with audio sync. There are really no significant defects in the way of hiss, clicks or dropouts.

    The musical score is once again credited to Joby Talbot, and he has excelled on this disc. The number of variations on his basic theme are impressive, with a truly cinematic feel to the score. The extra features contain an interesting interview with Talbot. The festive nature of the Special and the historical twist provided by the Chinnery tale allow plenty of scope for improvisation.

    The soundstage benefits tremendously from the use of a surround mix, and all of the speakers get a substantial workout. The surrounds are used to provide a surprisingly immersive feel. There is an impressive use of LFE in this track, and your subwoofer will see some genuine activity. Given the spooky feel of the feature, the surround track is most welcome and most impressive for a television comedy show. It leaves any of the series' audio tracks in the dust.

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

Extras

    There are some really impressive extra features on offer here.

Menu

    The menu is a superbly animated, spooky affair, complete with scary sound effects and some great video wipes. It allows selection of the feature, selection of one of fifteen chapter stops, audio selection, subtitles activation, or viewing the following extras "Stocking Fillers":

Audio Commentary

    The kindly chaps at The League have once again provided a wonderful, lively, informative and - most importantly - very funny commentary track.

Tales from Behind the Crypt

    A slightly tongue-in-cheek discussion with The League on the early British horror films (from Amicus and Hammer) which influenced their approach to this Christmas Special, and to their lives in general. Running for a healthy 21:04, this is presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps.

Jackanory: The Curse of Karrit Poor

    Those who grew up in the UK will fondly remember the children's program Jackanory. In it an actor would tell a story, unassisted by special effects or supporting actors. In this homage, running for 20:27, Mark Gatiss, dressed as a Victorian gentleman, recounts the full tale of the jinxed veterinarians, cursed by the testicles of a Maharajah's monkey. Hilarious, hilarious, hilarious! Presented with added scratches and grain at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps.

Interview with Composer Joby Talbot

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps. This featurette has Joby being interviewed on the sofa by Reece and runs for 13:28.

In Conversation...

    The full, unedited BBC Radio 4 interview with The League from March 2002. The broadcast version ran for thirty minutes. Fans are now presented with the full Monty - running for an impressive 63:12. Being a radio interview there are no visuals, so we are thoughtfully provided with a slideshow of photographs from the show presented at 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Gallery

    Anyone familiar with my reviews will know that I consider these things a total waste of time. Well, this is not a total waste, as we are provided with lots of photos - some of which are annotated. Presented silent but 16x9 enhanced, the pictures are divided into various sections:

Local People

    As for the individual series, this is a collection of silent text-based screens providing an hilarious summary of the major new characters seen in this series...seven of them in this case.

Extras

    A collection of extended and deleted scenes presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps and presented in a ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced. They can be played individually or with a Play All feature.

Easter Egg

    This can be found by (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) clicking on the wire man in the puppet's hand on the "Stocking Fillers" menu and is a little game for all to enjoy! If you solve the puzzle, you are treated to a short (2:41) video clip.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD does not appear to be available in Region 1. The Region 2 release appears to be identical to our own. Buy whichever is cheaper.

Summary

    The League of Gentlemen Christmas Special is possibly not quite as funny as the main series. It takes the form of three short ghost stories tied together by the local church and the impatient gaze of the Reverend Bernice. Nevertheless it remains a sterling example of The League's twisted black humour and, with a very substantial set of extra features, this is well worth a purchase for fans.

    The video quality has some minor issues with aliasing but is generally very good.

    The audio transfer is exceptionally good for a television series.

    There is a wonderful collection of genuinely valuable extras on offer. Well done yet again BBC.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Sunday, October 03, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880 upconverting DVI player, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - CathyS

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Overall | The League of Gentlemen-Series 1 (1999) | The League of Gentlemen-Series 2 (2000) | The League of Gentlemen-Christmas Special (1999) | The League of Gentlemen-Series 3 (2000)

The League of Gentlemen-Series 3 (2000)

The League of Gentlemen-Series 3 (2000)

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Released 9-Mar-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Local Gossip
Featurette-Making Of
Storyboards-End Sequence
Featurette-Edit Your Own end
Featurette-The Dean Tavalouris Lecture
Featurette-All About Yves
Biographies-Character-Local People
Outtakes
Audio-Only Track-Music Score
Featurette-Video Diary
Featurette-SFX Effects
Featurette-Missing
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 172:44 (Case: 300)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Steve Bendelack
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Mark Gatiss
Steve Pemberton
Reece Shearsmith
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $49.95 Music Joby Talbot


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The League Of Gentlemen has to be one of the most innovative and surreal black comedies ever to have emerged from the BBC. For those unfamiliar with the crazy world of Royston Vasey, try taking a look at Series 1 followed by Series 2 before diving into the third instalment reviewed here.

    Once again the immensely talented Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith deliver an imaginative (albeit twisted) peek into the lives of the denizens of the fictitious Northern village. Eagle eyed viewers will spot the normally invisible co-creator Jeremy Dyson making a brief on-screen appearance this time (as a member of the comedy club audience in Episode 3 and again in Episode 5). The most notable feature of this third instalment is the shift further away from outright humour into a much darker and even sadder territory.

    Once again there are a couple of new characters introduced in this series, but many of the old favourites make a welcome (albeit short-lived in some cases) return to the small screen. Amongst my old favourites you will be delighted to know that Tubbs and Edward, Pauline, and awful drama troupe Legz Akimbo put in an appearance. Not all of the old characters are here however, with hapless veterinarian Mr Chinnery and the toad-obsessed Dentons missing in action - oh well, you cannot have everything I guess!

    Series Three could be entitled Quentin Tarantino comes to Royston Vasey. How so? I hear you exclaim. Well, in this series each episode is linked to a single pivotal moment - a van crashing into a brick wall, and injuring...someone. As the series unfolds, the crash scene is witnessed from a different perspective and the true outcome is different from what you understood in the previous episode. There is also a rather clever visual cue in the form of a red plastic bag which floats in and out of the episodes - and is always a sign of impending doom. A clever touch which works very well in an episodic format - take my advice and do not watch the episodes in quick succession if you want to enjoy the "cliff-hangers" as they would have been intended at the time of original broadcast.

    The two disc set provides the six episodes of the third series on the first disc, with a second disc full of extras. The episodes are as follows:

    The League of Gentlemen - Series 3 is, in my opinion, less immediately funny than either of the first two series. It certainly seems that there is a marked increase in swearing and sexual situations in this series, with a much more dramatic turn to the plotlines. Don't get me wrong, this is still utter brilliance, but it has evolved away from sketch-based comedy into a darker, more dramatic, more poignant form. There are still some pants-wettingly funny moments, but the sadness and melodrama is never more than a smile away at any point. By the end of the series, the entire thing falls into place...a little like Pulp Fiction. For fans this will be an essential purchase - albeit not everyone will like the marked shift in emphasis away from obvious sight gags, catch phrases and one-liners. For those not yet acquainted with The League, I would suggest checking out the first series - if you don't "get" that one, this will definitely not be your cup of tea. Classic television with a genuine twist but, for me, not quite as enjoyable as the previous series.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is slightly better than the first series. Again however, it is not brilliant, and it does still have some minor defects.

    The series is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. This is the original televised aspect ratio. The video transfer is a little soft, as has been the norm with previous series. The standard post-processing effect, deliberately applied to make the series look like it was shot on grainy film is still present, but a bit less heavy-handed than the very first series.

    Colours are well rendered and the transfer is a little brighter than the first series. Skin tones look natural - given that some characters are wearing garishly heavy make-up. Colour bleeding is not a problem. Black levels are pretty deep with no significant low level noise and acceptable shadow detail.

    The transfer is free from major MPEG artefacts. Much like the previous series however, there is still a noticeable problem with aliasing throughout the series. It never reaches the annoyingly bad levels seen in the first series, but remains mildly distracting on larger systems. The normal list of culprits are to blame, with chrome and sharp edges occasionally demonstrating the problem. Edge enhancement is not an issue and telecine wobble is absent.

    The feature is free from significant film (video) artefacts, and unsurprisingly given its age, this is a very clean transfer.

    The English subtitles (for the Hard of Hearing) are legible, well timed and provide musical cues. There are some errors and omissions in the subtitles but none are significant enough to detract from their function.

    The first disc is dual layered but I did not notice a layer change during the episodes. The second disc of extras is in DVD5 format (single sided and single layered).

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

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is typical for a television comedy show and is clean and effective.

    The sole English audio track is once presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo encoded at 256 kbps, as were the previous series. The surround flag is not enabled.

    Dialogue is always clear and I noticed no issues with audio sync. There are no obvious defects in the way of hiss, clicks or dropouts.

    The musical score is once again credited to Joby Talbot, and will be recognizable to viewers of the previous series although it has been "souped up" (much to the disgust of some fans apparently). The heightened sense of drama in this series means that the music is more heavily used to build tension during the episodes. There are a number of (often ominous) themes spread across the series and they all serve their purpose admirably.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are unused, unless you have Pro Logic II enabled, in which case there is some reasonable ambience directed through to the surrounds. The soundstage is appropriate for the material presented.

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

Extras

    Once more The League provide a two disc set with a large number of excellent extras to delight both local and international fans alike:

Disc 1

Menu

    The menu is a very nicely animated musical affair, which scrolls past horizontally featuring images and sound bites from each episode in sequence. It allows each episode to be selected independently, or they can be played in sequence. There are six chapter stops for each episode, and these are menu selectable. Finally the subtitles can be activated, or the following extras selected:

Local Gossip

    As with the first two series, The League provide another entertaining commentary track for every episode. The main soundtrack is sufficiently muted to allow you to hear the commentary track clearly. As with the previous commentary tracks this is well worth listening to as they excitedly talk over one another. Once again there are endless film references in the series and the team reveal some of those which you may have missed during the commentary.

Easter Egg

    A fun extra running for 16:28. Steve Pemberton takes his personal video camera behind the scenes of an outdoor shoot. Understandably the video and audio quality is of home camcorder standard, with video glitches and pixelization aplenty. Presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound encoded at 256 kbps. To access it you must (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) watch the animated menu screen all the way through, until a silver St.Christopher appears. Selecting it will play the extra footage.

Disc 2

Menu

    The menu is again nicely animated with a lovely piano piece playing in the background. It allows the activation of subtitles and access to the following extras:

The Making of Series Three

    Narrated by Adam Buxton and presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps. This documentary features a quite detailed travel through the writing, filming and post-production process - right up to the reading of the press reviews of the series. This is very interesting and of course rather funny. A good solid extra running for 27:55.

End Sequence Storyboards

    Running for 4:49 this is a direct comparison between storyboard drawings and the final video footage, as they run alongside each other in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps.

Edit Your Own End

    This fun extra allows you to select six from twelve available video clips, and combine them into a hideously deformed end sequence all of your own.

The Dean Tavalouris Lecture

    Hopelessly untalented magician Dean takes you through one of his home-made training videos on close-up magic. Running for 6:20 this is a very funny extra. Just listen out for the phone-call which interrupts his video! Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps.

All About Yves

    The lads interview costume designer Yves Barre for 15:02. A strange, but strangely interesting extra presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps. Wind noise and shaky camcorder shots abound.

Local People

    As for Series 1 and 2, this is a collection of silent text-based screens providing an hilarious summary of the major new characters seen in this series...almost two dozen of them!

Out Takes

    A collection of bloopers from Series 3. Presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps and presented in a ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced. All are available with English subtitles, and run as a montage for a total of 6:51.

Music Score

    Several of the excellent musical numbers played over a static background with audio in LPCM 2.0 encoded at 1536 kbps:

Video Diary

    Feel the pain of the creative writing process as the guys tear their hair out trying to come up with the script ideas. Presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps. Running for a lengthy 26:30 this is intriguing and often funny. The Smith & Jones rip-off is hilarious.

SFX Footage

    A brief (1:25) montage of the CGI and green screen effects applied in the series. Presented silent at 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced).

Missing

    A collection of deleted scenes running in sequence for 11:48, presented at 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 256 kbps. There is some funny stuff tucked away in here.

Gallery

    A collection of dozens of photographs of the characters, silently presented at 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced).

R4 vs R1

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

    This series does not appear to be available in Region 1. The Region 2 release of this series appears to be identical to our own. Buy whichever is cheaper.

Summary

    The League of Gentlemen - Series 3 is arguably not quite as funny as the first two series. It takes a slightly different approach - more dramatic, more twisted (if that's possible) and more poignant. The device of having all six episodes culminate around the same van crashing through a wall is novel and works very well indeed. Highly recommended for fans of this bunch of comedy geniuses, but for those new to The League, you will have to watch the previous series first to have any kind of clue as to what is going on. Top notch stuff, just a little different to what you may have come to expect.

    The video quality has some minor issues with aliasing but is generally very good.

    The audio transfer is good for a television series.

    There is a whole second disc full of extras adding tremendous value to the package. Well done again BBC.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Terry K
AllZone4DVD - CathyS

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