This Life-Complete Series 1 and 2 (1996)

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Released 5-Oct-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Biographies-Character-Characters
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 1312:35 (Case: 1280)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided
Multi Disc Set (8)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Joe Ahearne
Sallie Aprahamian
Harry Bradbeer
Audrey Cooke
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Joe Ahearne
Amelia Bullmore
Annie Caulfield
William Gaminara
Jimmy Gardner
Mathew Graham
Eirene Houston
Amy Jenkins
Mark Davies Markham
Ian Iqbal Rashid
Patrick Wilde
Richard Zajdlic
Case Gatefold
RPI $119.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.56:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.56:1 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

    For the brief period during which it aired, This Life was must see viewing for many a disenfranchised 20-something in its native UK and here in Australia. No show before it had portrayed post-university life in such a frank and realistic manner (well, maybe the rate of bed-hopping is a bit high, but it wouldn't be as fun if it wasn't!). A number have since, but it's a certainly modest number, and few have been as consistently well written.

    The show revolves around a household of young lawyers, misbehaving in the posh end of London. There's no bang or flash, the story is basically a meaty soap that relies on extremely well developed characters to keep eyes glued to the screen (and glued they are - there's not many soaps that have viewers hooked to the point they will yell at the screen when characters make mistakes, as has become habit when watching This Life in my household!).

    The first season opens as Milly (Amita Dhiri) and Edgar "Egg" Cook (Andrew Lincoln), a couple who have been together for years, move in with Egg's best mate Miles (Jack Davenport). It's not long before Anna (Daniela Nardini), a friend from uni, moves in too. Rounding out the initial cast is Warren (Jason Hughes), who went to uni with the rest but didn't know them much at the time. As the show rolls on, other key cast join (particularly as season two gets underway) - most notably Kira (Luisa Bradshaw-White), Rachel (Natasha Little) and Ferdy (Ramon Tikaram).

    Egg has just started work for the firm Milly has been working at for some time, only to quickly find that being a lawyer may not be his thing... a life of procrastination seems much more comfortable. The quote "I've got a degree, I suppose I could make a really useful paper hat out of that..." pretty much sums him up in a single line!

    Milly is going places but that means spending more time with the partner she works for than her life partner.

    The infuriatingly self-centred cad Miles is too busy loathing his institutionally crooked father that he doesn't notice he's becoming more like him every day.

    The ambitious and gifted Anna is one drink short of partying her way out of a career that is having enough trouble taking off without her help. Let's call her a little self-destructive.

    The conservative Welshman Warren is busy avoiding letting his family find out about his sexuality in between looking for love in all the dodgiest places, while his cousin Kira is busy trying to set him up with every woman and man under the sun.

    Yet another young lawyer, Rachel is eager to please, but watch your back!

    It's anyone's guess what is going on with the bi-sexual bicycle courier Ferdy.

    Put them all together in a house, shake it all about and you've got a classic.

    The big question for many potential viewers and purchasers will be "how well does it hold up today?" The short answer is "very well". The issues addressed by the show aren't quite as edgy or taboo today as they were ten years ago, most of them in any case, but they have rarely been tackled as well. To be honest, it's surprising how little everyday life has changed in the course of years. At a less anthropological level, the script is still as vibrant as ever and the production style and quality holds up very well by modern standards.

    Spread across a 8 discs, and out just in time to build anticipation for a 10-years-on reunion special, even without any extras this package is a must have for fans. An 8 disc package is a big investment for any potential new fans, but it is worth a hire at the very least for melodrama fans. This Life is hard to beat.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is presented in its original 1.56:1 aspect ratio and is (appropriately) not 16x9 enhanced.

    The video quality varies noticeably between the two seasons. Both seasons are quite watchable. Colours are even and consistent throughout. Black levels and shadow detail are quite good (some scenes are quite murky, but intentionally so to mask what is going on). The quality of the original source recording appears to have been quite good and has not degraded over time, although it is a little grainy at times and slightly soft (particularly when, perhaps unfairly, compared with modern HDTV shows).

    The first season contains a number of noticeable digital compression artefacts, most likely a result of sticking too many episodes on each disc (and even then not quite using the full capacity of the discs). The first season contains 11 episodes, each around the 40 minute mark, packed onto two discs (5 on the first disc and 6 on the second). Macro blocking artefacts crop up regularly, particularly on objects that are just short of being in focus (se 27:58 in episode 10, when a book being carried by Egg appears quite pixelated). This is generally not too distracting, but aiasing is present and occasionally distracting throughout this first series (for example, in episode 10, in the arms of a character's glasses at 4:58 as the camera pans during a close-up).

    The second season discs has been mastered quite differently to the fist (even featuring different look to the menus) and this is for the better. It consists of 21 episodes spread across 6 discs, 3 discs with 3 episodes and 3 discs with 4. These episodes do not suffer from the MPEG compression artefact issues that the first season does. They do, however, appear slightly grainier than the first season, but this is not particularly distracting.

    English subtitles are provided for each episode. They are quite basic, but reflected the dialogue accurately in the handful of episodes in which I sampled them.

    Each disc is RSDL formatted, although none of the layer breaks were particularly noticeable on the equipment I played them on.

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

Audio

    There is one audio track available, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps). Unlike the video, there a no noticeable audio issues in either season.

    Dialogue is quite clear throughout and never out of sync.

    The surround channels and subwoofer are not used in the mix, but that's of little surprise for a show if this vintage.

    The music used throughout the show is great - a catchy guitar theme tune and plenty of appropriate alternative radio fodder from the mid-90s.

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

Extras

    Despite a general lack of extras, this is a well presented set and the gatefold packaging is very flash.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    The animated menus are quite good. They are simple, but they make it easy to figure out which episode you are up to without giving the plot away.

Biographies-Character

    A single page of character biographies are featured on the first disc for 6 of the characters. These are barely worth reading once you have watched the show.

R4 vs R1

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

    This Life is not available in Region 1. An identical package is available for a similar price in Region 2, or the two series may purchased separately in equally spartan sets.

Summary

    Though short lived, This Life is truly one of the high points in British TV history.

    The lack of extras in this set is disappointing, but it is nicely packaged.

    The video quality for the first season is fair, but overcompressed. The video quality for the second season is good.

    The audio quality is good, although basic.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Monday, December 18, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDLG V8824W, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 80cm 4x3 CRT. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D512
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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