Overall | The Aunty Jack Show-Complete First Series (1972) | The Aunty Jack Show-Complete Second Series (1973)

The Aunty Jack Show-Series 1 and 2 (1973)

The Aunty Jack Show-Series 1 and 2 (1973)

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Released 5-Oct-2006

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Overall Package

    This new 4 disc set contains the two previously released two disc sets of each season of The Aunty Jack Show enclosed in a cardboard slipcover. Each set is exactly as it was in the individual releases right down to the barcode. If you did not buy the individual sets this is certainly worth considering but there is certainly no driver for an upgrade if you already have the individual sets. I feel sure that Aunty Jack would say 'Buy it or I'll rip your bloody arms off'.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, January 05, 2007
Other Reviews NONE
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Overall | The Aunty Jack Show-Complete First Series (1972) | The Aunty Jack Show-Complete Second Series (1973)

The Aunty Jack Show-Complete First Series (1972)

The Aunty Jack Show-Complete First Series (1972)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Dec-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Grahame Bond And Maurice Murphy - Episode 'Kulture'
Seamless Branching-Golden Glove Feature-Special Colour Segments
Featurette-The History Of Aunty Jack
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 245:20 (Case: 290)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Maurice Murphy
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Grahame Bond
Rory O'Donoghue
John Derum
Sandra McGregor
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, in one episode

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Aunty Jack Show has become something of a legend of Australian television. First screened in November 1972, the series hasn't been repeated since the 1970s, apart from a "Best of" show in the early 1990s. Rumours abounded that the ABC was involved in a copyright dispute with star Grahame Bond, or that some episodes were missing. Now that a stage show featuring Aunty Jack is planned for 2006 the first series has suddenly materialised on DVD, restored by the efforts of the ABC archives and the National Archives of Australia.

    The show had its origins in university architecture revues in the mid-1960s featuring Bond and colleague Peter Weir. When Weir went off to become a film director he was replaced by musician Rory O'Donoghue. In 1968 a pilot for a radio show for children was made featuring the character of Aunty Jack, voiced by Bond. The pilot was deemed unsuitable for children and never went to air.

    Maurice Murphy was an ABC director and producer who was sent to England to learn how to make comedy programmes. While there he worked on Complete and Utter History of Britain with Terry Jones and Michael Palin, directed episodes of Doctor in the House and worked on two series with Ronnie Barker. On his return to the ABC he worked on a series called The Comedy Game, which featured a number of self-contained comedies which were considered as pilots for future series. Several of these featured Bond and O'Donoghue, including a two-part comedy about an inept bushranger called Flash Nick From Jindavick. This would eventually become a four-part series in 1974. One of the episodes of The Comedy Game was Aunty Jack's Travelling Show, screened in late 1971. Someone saw some potential in this and a series of seven episodes was commissioned.

    1972 fell within a period of social change in Australia. Just a couple of weeks after the first episode was screened Gough Whitlam was elected Prime Minister, the first change of government in 23 years. Censorship had opened up in the cinemas, and though there had been nudity on television before, the premiere of Number 96 (caricatured here as George Street) in March 1972 caused something of a ruckus. Into this came an anarchic sketch comedy series that was quite unlike anything seen here before. While there are similarities to Monty Python's Flying Circus, the ABC did not pick up the BBC comedy until 1972 and in fact screened it at the same time as Aunty Jack.

    The Aunty Jack character is a very large ("big, round and fat" as the song goes) gruff-voiced woman with her hair tied in buns, wearing a 19th century velvet dress, a single golden boxing glove and a prominent moustache. Despite a penchant for violence, punching some of the other characters and always threatening to rip someone's bloody arms off, Aunty Jack is surprisingly demure and easily shocked - especially by the mention of s-e-x. As played by Grahame Bond she quickly became an iconic figure, riding a black Harley with sidecar. Bond also portrayed international meat stylist Kev Kavanagh.

    The comedy team featured the very skinny, shaggy-haired O'Donoghue as Thin Arthur, who had a penchant for striped leotards. John Derum appeared in the first series as Narrator Neville, a sort of lily-livered ringmaster, while Sandra McGregor was the superheroine Flange Desire. The performers all played other characters as well, some recurring such as Neil and Errol or Len and Ron, and some just one-offs. Derum left the show after the first series to go to where all good and not-so-good ABC comedy goes to die: Channel 7. He was replaced by Garry McDonald, who played a silly character called Kid Eager and a more durable one named Norman Gunston. Some of the extras who can be seen in the first series are Lex Marinos, Chris Haywood and Carla Hoogeveen. Sex also features unbilled appearances from Jack Palance and Guy Madison in Herco the Magnificent, a 1961 movie called Sword of the Conqueror compressed and re-dubbed with Australian audiences in mind.

    This DVD contains all seven episodes of series one plus the pilot. Each of the half-hour episodes takes a particular theme: Radio, War, Kulture, Anonymous, Family, Sex and Horror. Each were directed by Murphy and featured prominent writers including Geoffrey Atherden. Some material written by Peter Weir for the 1960s revues found its way into the series uncredited.

    I'm not sure whether I saw The Aunty Jack Show in 1972/3, but I am certain I was aware of it and I definitely saw repeats in 1974 or 1975 when it screened on Friday nights along with This Day Tonight, either The Two Ronnies or Dave Allen at Large, Pot Black and the trots from Harold Park. On watching the pilot I had the sinking feeling that the series would not be as funny as I dimly remembered it. However, once the series proper gets underway it becomes funnier and funnier, some of the humour not dating at all. Of course there are bits that don't work at all and probably didn't work in 1972 either. But this show must have seemed quite fresh and unusual when first screened, when seen by an audience raised on British and American sitcoms and local product like The Mavis Bramston Show and My Name's McGooley, What's Yours? By their own accounts the show's talent had not seen Monty Python, but there is a similarity in the free-format nature of the sketches and the occasional lack of a punchline, with sketches segueing directly into other sketches. On the other hand you could also argue that the show had just as large an influence from Benny Hill or even by Laurel and Hardy.

    It was also controversial, breaching taboo subjects and with a level of innuendo that surprisingly only led to one instance of censorship, which is discussed in the audio commentary.

    The strength of the show comes in the performances and the writing, the latter being generally disciplined, the sketches seeming thought out rather than just cobbled together. Musically Bond and O'Donoghue contribute some clever comic songs, especially in the Neil and Errol segments. There is also a celebrated version of "I've Been Everywhere" sung by the Farrelly Brothers, plus the anthemic "Farewell Aunty Jack". The latter, released as a single from the album Aunty Jack Sings Wollongong, became the number one Australian hit of 1974. There is also a clever send-up of a theatrical phenomenon of the 1970s in "Tarzan Superape: an Origami Rock Opera".

    The show made numerous references to Wollongong, Aunty Jack's parents having been King and Queen of the South Coast city if I recall correctly. The local council thought the area was being ridiculed and called for the series to be banned. This led to even more references to the area being incorporated into the show, with Gunston's "What's On in Wollongong" segment in the second series. After Aunty Jack finished with the second series in 1973, several of the characters combined for 1975's Wollongong the Brave, which only lasted a single series. Bond and O'Donoghue kept running foul of the ABC's management, with a 1977 sketch show titled The Off Show being cancelled without an episode being screened. The first episode, featuring a sitcom called Leave it to Jesus (with Herod the Wonder Dog), was filmed but the ABC wiped the tapes. I seem to recall that the show was scheduled to be screened but at the appointed time an indignant Norman May came on and said that "The Off Show is off", and an alternative programme screened in its place. I might though be confusing this with a jokey start to their next, less offensive series called The Of Show, which was something of a let down. There was an abortive attempt at an Aunty Jack special on Channel 10 in the 1980s, but the character has lain dormant ever since.

    That is, apart from a show of highlights in colour screened in the early 1990s. The original series was in black and white, but some segments were also filmed in colour to be shown at the Montreux Film Festival. The colour sequences are included as extras on this disc.

    Apparently the second series and the one-off 1973 special Aunty Jack Rox On will also be released on DVD, and if the quality of the set is up to that of this one it will be well worth getting. While not all of the comedy has survived the passing of the years, there is still plenty here to enjoy.

    As Aunty Jack herself would say, "Watch it!"

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The series is presented in the original black and white and in the original aspect ratio of 1.29:1.

    Given the age and quality of the source material there are bound to be problems with the additional clarity of DVD, but the transfer is on a par with BBC material of the same vintage that I have reviewed. It looks like the show was shot on a combination of video and 16mm film. I would guess that only those sequences filmed in colour survive as film, as while some sequences were obviously shot on film, the DVD transfers look to have come from video recordings of the shows.

    The transfer is probably as sharp as it can be, but displays all of the problems one would associate with old video recordings. The image is soft, with some blurriness at times and a lack of detail in wide shots. There are all sorts of video artefacts, mainly lots of analogue video tracking errors but also posterisation, flaring and poor contrast. There are overbright whites (leading to clipping artefacts) and featureless blacks on display. Shadow detail is not good but this isn't really a problem for enjoyment of the content.

    The film sequences also show numerous film artefacts, but these would have been present when the material was originally screened, so their appearance here is authentic.

    The pilot episode looks the worst, with numerous MPEG artefacts including a mottled appearance, but the rest of the series looks better apart from Horror which is in a pretty poor state.

    Optional subtitles are available in English. These must be selected from the main menu as they cannot be selected on the fly, presumably because of the Golden Gloves feature below which uses the subtitles for seamless branching. The subtitles appear to transcribe the dialogue accurately.

    Disc One is RSDL-formatted, the layer change occurring at 4:15 in Anonymous. It is a little disruptive as it takes place at the start of a musical number. Disc Two does not seem to have a layer break during the programmes.

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

Audio

    The soundtrack is presented in the original mono in a Dolby Digital 2.0 format.

    Dialogue is pretty clear and the audio comes across well despite some harshness and occasional mild distortion. Bass comes across reasonably if a little lacking in body. There are some audio sync issues due to lip-synching to songs, but nothing serious.

    The music is mainly by Bond and O'Donoghue, though there is a lot of material that the ABC must have had to pay license fees for, including some old pop songs and music from movies. The theme from Number 96 also makes an appearance.

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

Extras

Menu Audio

    The Aunty Jack Theme can be heard with the menu, preceded by a short message from Aunty Jack herself.

Audio Commentary-Grahame Bond And Maurice Murphy - Episode 'Kulture'

    An interesting commentary on this episode covering the genesis of the characters, the problems they had with ABC management and the censorship of this episode. They also cover the dangerous aspects of the filming of a couple of segments.

Seamless Branching-Golden Glove Feature-Special Colour Segments

    The colour sequences can be accessed by clicking on the Select button on your remote when the Golden Glove appears. This will play the segment in colour, then return to the black and white material repeating the segment you have just watched. I noticed from this that some of the colour material is from alternate takes, as there are slight differences.

Featurette-The History Of Aunty Jack (22:06)

    This featurette is in 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, and features recent interviews with Bond, Murphy, Atherden and Jean-Luc Picard. No, that's Rory O'Donoghue, who now bears a striking resemblance to Patrick Stewart. Individually and together they recall their favourite bits of the show, and reveal what they have been up to since. The subtitles appear to default to being on, but can be switched off on the fly.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 release is unique at present, but don't be too surprised if the Aunty Jack phenomenon sweeps the world.

Summary

    Classic Australian humour, from a time when Australian TV comedy was actually funny and didn't revolve around panel shows. Where did it all go wrong?

    The video and audio are not the best but are as good as could possibly be expected, all things considered.

    The extras are very good and worth a look.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - Amy F
impulsegamer.com - Tory Favro

Comments (Add)
The Aunty Jack dispute -
'Missing' Aunty Jack -
Onya Caitlin ! - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
Restored by who? - REPLY POSTED
My Favourite Aunty -
Pom's point of view - Rockfish

Overall | The Aunty Jack Show-Complete First Series (1972) | The Aunty Jack Show-Complete Second Series (1973)

The Aunty Jack Show-Complete Second Series (1973)

The Aunty Jack Show-Complete Second Series (1973)

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Released 6-Apr-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Restoration Feature
Featurette-Aunty Jack Introduces Colour
Outtakes-The History Of Aunty Jack
Interviews-Cast-GTK Interview 1972
Credits-Opening Titles (Colour)
Music Video-Farewell Song (Colour)
Featurette-Memories Of Aunty - Cast 2006
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 172:26 (Case: 249)
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Maurice Murphy
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Grahame Bond
Rory O'Donoghue
John Derum
Sandra McGregor
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 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 second and final series of The Aunty Jack Show screened for six episodes starting in October 1973. John Derum had left the ABC to work at Channel 7, so the character of Narrator Neville was retired and replaced with Kid Eager, played by Garry McDonald. The other three regulars returned: Grahame Bond (Aunty Jack), Rory O'Donoghue (Thin Arthur) and Sandra MacGregor (Flange Desire). The second season is more polished than the first and is still quite funny, with a little less pathos in the character of Aunty Jack. It is also a good insight into the era in which it was made, and while some of the satiric references may not have any meaning to a modern audience there is still considerable energy and life in this series. It is probably just as well it ended after just 13 episodes. Too many comedy series go on too long, with the writers running out of ideas and the comedy becoming stale and uninventive. The Aunty Jack Show did not have time to run out of freshness, and stands up well today.

    Several characters return from Series One, though perhaps Mervyn Whipple, the Man of a Thousand Faces, should have stayed where he was. In this series he continually crosses paths with a blond-wigged character played by McDonald. Kev Kavanagh is in London, seeking out famous meat philosophers such as Lamb and Bacon. Neil and Errol continue to meet on a park bench. New characters include the Fol-de-Rol Singers and of course the legendary Norman Gunston, who would make Garry McDonald a television superstar in the years to come. The episodes included on this two disc set, with the first four on Disc One, are:

The Channel 9 Show (29:29)

    The executives at Channel 9 plan an Aunty Jack show, but with a female impersonator instead. Meanwhile in Wollongong, the ancient art of Gong Fu is taught by a restaurateur. The very first appearance of Norman Gunston in What's On in Wollongong.

The Iron Maiden Show (26:18)

    Aunty Jack's parents - the King and Queen of Wollongong who abandoned her 42 years earlier - are kidnapped, and Aunty Jack travels south to find them.

The Golden Gloves Show (28:03)

    Eager to impress Flange, the Kid concocts a scheme to steal Aunty Jack's golden glove.

The Ear, Nose and Throat Show (31:19)

    In an attempt to remove Aunty Jack's moustache, the gang shrink themselves down (along with some dynamite) and proceed to blast off a couple of hairs before they are accidentally swallowed by the eponymous heroine.

The Little Lovelies Show (28:09)

    Aunty Jack is haunted by her own ghost (played by Lex Marinos). There's a spoof on The Dam Busters, plus an opera about rugby with a brief cameo by wrestler/actor Steve Rackman.

The 'R' Certificate Show (29:08)

    Kid Eager wants to shoot Flange in the nude, much to Aunty Jack's consternation. Norman reports on a milk truck accident, with a very obvious gag at the end.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The series comes in the original 1.29:1 aspect ratio, and the original black and white.

    If anything this restored footage looks even better than Series One. While there are obvious problems, such as poor contrast and a lack of clarity due to the way the source was made, it often looks better than, say, some British TV series of the 1970s that I have seen. Shadow detail is not bad, and while the grey scaling is not ideal, with no pure whites or blacks, it can be watched without too much distraction.

    There are frequent analogue video tracking errors, and some of the series must have been preserved on film, as there are flecks and scratches even in what looks like video footage. Some of the series was shot on 16mm and this looks grainy by comparison with the video footage.

    Optional subtitles are available in English, in a particularly ugly yellow font. While I don't mind yellow, it should never be used on black and white material as it is very distracting. Otherwise the subtitling is well done. All of the extras also have subtitles.

    Both discs are single layered.

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

Audio

    The sole audio track is, as you would expect, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    Apart from a few instances of distortion this is a very good transfer of the original soundtracks. Dialogue is clear and the subtitles are not required unless you are hard of hearing, which case some hard of hearing information is included. Music comes across well, as do the effects, so that there is nothing to distract one from the content.

    The music and songs are by O'Donoghue and Bond and Peter Best. The usual clever songs of Neil and Errol are augmented with some equally clever ones by the Fol-de-Rol Singers, and The Farrelly Brothers sing Your Cheatin' Heart.

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

Extras

Menu Audio and Animation

    The menu features the opening sequence in colour with the theme song.

Featurette-Restoration Feature (5:46)

    A comparison of the pre-and post restoration footage for one of the segments in Series One, which was shot in colour. Bond and director Maurice Murphy provide commentary.

Featurette-Aunty Jack Introduces Colour (5:48)

    When the ABC went live with colour in 1974, Aunty Jack was there to welcome it in, in this short and not very funny sequence. I wasn't allowed to stay up and watch it, which was probably the right decision in retrospect. In any case we didn't have a colour TV at the time.

Outtakes-The History Of Aunty Jack (4:59)

    Bloopers, most of which are fluffed lines, though Garry McDonald has trouble with an uncooperative rabbit and an equally uncooperative punching bag.

Interviews-Cast-GTK Interview 1972 (7:14)

    Sad to say I can remember watching this series, though my memories are dim. It was something of a predecessor of Countdown, and as I recall the title was an acronym for "Get To Know". Bond interviews himself in self-consciously madcap fashion, with assistance from other cast members.

Credits-Opening Titles (Colour) (0:45)

    The opening credits from Series Two, in colour.

Music Video-Farewell Song (Colour) (2:03)

    The closing credits from Series Two, in colour.

Featurette-Memories Of Aunty - Cast 2006 (26:55)

    The principal cast of both series, including Derum, reminisce about their experience on the series and what has happened to them since. MacGregor now sports a distinct American accent, having worked in theatre in Los Angeles for years. There are some quite funny bits in this, many supplied by MacDonald.

R4 vs R1

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

    This set is only available in Wollongong (Region 4), not in North Wollongong (Region 2) or East Corrimal (Region 1).

Summary

    Classic Australian comedy from the 1970s, a real nostalgia trip for some of us.

    The video is very well restored though some allowances still need to be made.

    The same can be said of the audio.

    Plenty of pertinent extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES for surrounds, Elektra Reference power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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