Bit of Fry and Laurie, A-Complete First Series (1987)

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Released 6-Jul-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Animation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 211:25
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter Orton
Kevin Bishop
Roger Ordish
Bob Spiers

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Stephen Fry
Hugh Laurie
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Simon Brint
Hugh Laurie
Philip Pope

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 Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Hugh Laurie & Stephen Fry have been in everything except the kitchen sink since they started working on English television in the 1980s. They probably were first noticed in their excellent supporting roles to Rowan Atkinson in the classic English comedy series Blackadder, where they played various characters. Following their roles in that show, they got together and made a pilot for the BBC in 1987. This pilot was for their own sketch comedy series, A Bit of Fry & Laurie. This disc contains the pilot from late 1987 and the 6 episodes of the first proper season from early 1989. Each episode was just under half an hour in length and the pilot was a little longer at 36 minutes. All together four series of this show were made between 1989 and 1995.

    These shows are a real mixture of sketch comedy, from the very intelligent to the extremely silly through to, unfortunately, the quite unfunny. To be fair, this problem afflicts all sketch comedy shows from Monty Python down. There are political sketches about issues of the time, parodies, spoofs, slapstick, intellectual humour about poetry, surreal sketches and a bit of everything else. A lot of the jokes are certainly based on Britain in the late 1980s but this does not really affect the enjoyment of the comedy for other people in other times, although there are occasional references which didn't mean anything to me. There are a few classic sketches here such as Tony & Control (a parody of the British secret service which appears regularly), a very funny sketch about school poetry, an old man in a home and a doctor prescribing cigarettes. A very common device throughout the series are vox pops (all done by the principals) which have very little explanation but can certainly be amusing. Some of the material, especially in early episodes, seems a bit too close to Monty Python, particularly some of the restaurant sketches.

    Watching this material again makes you realise how far Hugh Laurie has come in career terms now that he is a star in the US with his latest show, House M.D. In short, there is some excellent comedy material here, however, I think its appeal will be limited to fans of British comedy rather than extend to people who only know Laurie as House. I enjoyed this series, although some people (like my wife) will find it frustrating and annoying due to being a bit dated and sometimes downright odd.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is decent but no more.

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

    The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout, and as good as you can expect from video-based 1980s television. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was poor but rarely needed. There was light grain throughout which sometimes became heavier and even turned into some mild macro-blocking such as at 10:00 in episode 1.

    The colour was dull and showed the usual problems of video-based television series such as colour bleeding, cross colourisation and colour flaring especially from shiny objects.

    In addition to the colour artefacts there was also evidence of excessive noise reduction (although this was rare), some minor tape tracking errors and edge enhancement.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is fine.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand although some lines were a little muffled which was probably a function of the original material rather than the transfer. There was no problem with audio sync.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    The menu was simple allowing for the ability to select episodes and subtitles.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series has been released in the same format in both Region 1 & 2 except for colour system differences. Since the show is originally from a PAL country my guess would be that the PAL transfer available here and in Region 2 would be superior.


    An amusing but patchy comedy series from 1989.

    The video quality is decent.

    The audio quality is fine.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, August 07, 2006
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
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
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