Are You Being Served?-Series 1 (1972)

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Released 2-Mar-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Biographies-Cast-Who's Who
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 175:39
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ray Butt
David Croft
Gordon Elsbury
John Kilby
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring John Inman
Mollie Sugden
Frank Thornton
Wendy Richard
Nicholas Smith
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music David Croft
Bernard Lloyd-Jones
John Stout


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None 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 English for the Hearing Impaired
English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    For those who are familiar with the staff at Grace Bros., there is no need to explain the show's premise, but for those who have not experienced this piece of classic British comedy, I have covered the basic premise in my review of Are You Being Served? - The Best of the Early Years so I won't repeat myself here. It is sufficient to say that if the standard British fare of double-entendres, risqué (but never crude) humour and gentle digs at social stereotypes is your style of humour, then Are You Being Served is right for you.

    Being a British show, there are only six episodes in the series. Where the US have series comprising twenty plus episodes written by a number of authors, the British tend to have short-run series with the same writer for every episode. This gives a consistency in the characters and style not always present in US TV series as well as a more even quality to the show as scripts not considered to be best quality can be discarded rather than kept to meet a heavy production schedule.

    This disc comprises the entire first series of this British classic including the original pilot episode, which I had never seen before. This episode was originally produced in colour, but only a Black-and-White copy survives. What impresses most about this series is how quickly the cast settled into their characters. Often with TV shows the first series sees the characters finding their feet and they develop and change throughout the series before settling in the second series. Not with this cast - any episode could have come from any series, so at home in their personas are the cast.

Pilot - Are You Being Served? (28:11)
As usual this episode sets the premise for the series and introduces the characters. Grace Bros. has undergone a re-organisation and the Ladies Intimate Apparel department is moved beside the Gentlemen's Ready To Wear department, taking some of its floor space. Neither department wants to be near the other and each works to get the upper hand in floor space.

Episode 2 - Dear Sexy Knickers... (28:49)
Mr Lucas tries to send a not so subtle note to Miss Brahms but when it falls into the wrong hands he finds himself in trouble. His troubles compound when Mr Humphries shows him a few tricks of the trade which backfire.

Episode 3 - Our Figures Are Slipping (29:50)
Sales figures are down and management decides action is needed. Mr Rumbold decides a course in sales techniques is needed and has everyone stay back after hours to attend.

Episode 4 - Camping In (29:20)
A sudden transport strike sees the staff stranded at work so Grace Bros lets them sleep over for the evening. Some are hopeful that they may benefit from the sleeping arrangements but others are less than happy.

Episode 5 - His and Hers (29:51)
An attractive saleswoman sets up a new perfume display replacing Mr Grange's trouser display stand and causes stirrings in the trouser department. When they see the stand is taking away their customers and commissions the ladies and gents departments join forces to rid themselves of her. A youthful Joanna Lumley co-stars in this episode.

Episode 6 - Diamonds Are A Man's Best Friend (29:38)
This episode also appears on the previous The Best Of The Early Years DVD. A customer loses a valuable diamond in Grace Bros and offers a substantial reward to whoever finds it. The entire staff become obsessed with finding the diamond and allegiances are formed and broken as they try to maximise their profit.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Video is as you would expect for a TV show over 30 years old. Presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio it is quite good for its age. It is unfortunate that the pilot episode seems only to have survived in Black-and-White, but at least it hasn't been lost and the distributors have resisted the temptation to colourise the surviving copy.

    The Black-and-White pilot is grainy and suffers from mediocre shadow detail and somewhat washy highlights. This is not a fault of the authoring process, just a limitation of the video equipment of the day. The quality is good considering the age, but it is clear a full restoration and enhancement has not been done.

    The colour episodes are much clearer with a good dynamic range, although the colours are not as vibrant as you would find on more recently made shows. Again, this is to be expected on such an old show and is hardly a complaint. These episodes are also sharper than the pilot but not as crisp as later TV shows. There are one or two instances of moire patterning and the colours flaring, but these are very few and far between and are a result of the original recording equipment limitations.

    Overall the transfer is good without being excellent. If you are old enough to remember the series being originally telecast the quality will be a nostalgic trip for you, and may actually be better than the flickering image on your old TV.

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

Audio

    Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0, but the reality is everything is pretty much centre speaker. Back in the early 1970s, TV wasn't recorded in anything but mono and, like the video, this disc has a good audio transfer that has not been re-engineered.

    Dialogue is clear and there are no audio nasties to distract you. There is little else to comment on. The show is dialogue driven with very few sound effects and little music. The dynamic range is not stretched but so long as you watch this show without an expectation of benchmark audio quality, you won't be disappointed.

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

Extras

    The menu is static but tasteful and extras are limited but relatively interesting.

    A Who's Who is provided giving a text-based biography of each character and the actor who portrays them and there is a brief Trivia page available for each episode. A plot synopsis is shown at the start of each episode when selected individually from the episode selection menu.

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as I can determine, the Region 4 release is identical to the Region 2 version, right down to the packaging, and the Region 1 version.

Summary

    One of the best British comedies made finally available on DVD as a complete series. Well worth an addition to your collection if you love British comedy, and worthy of a look if you aren't sure. It was a pleasure to sit through clever writing again after years of less than subtle American comedy. Put political correctness aside, sit back and enjoy your visit to Grace Bros.

    Video and audio are both good, but not exceptional. Extras are sparse. The comedy is timeless.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Glen Randall (If you're really bored, you can read my bio)
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-1200Y, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TH-42PV500A 42" HD Plasma. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596
SpeakersRichter Wizard fronts, Richter Lynx centre, Richter Hydra rears, Velodyne CT-100 sub-woofer

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