Relic Hunter-Season 2 (2000)

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Released 21-Jun-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Gag Reel
Featurette-Making Of
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 934:08 (Case: 1000)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (5)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ian Toynton
John Bell
Paolo Barzman
Milan Cheylov
Studio
Distributor
Via Vision
Madman Entertainment
Starring Tia Carrere
Christien Anholt
Lindy Booth
Steven Bauer
Peter O'Brien
Noam Jenkins
Fred Dryer
Crispin Bonham Carter
Christopher Shyer
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual-Secure Clip
RPI $69.95 Music Donald Quan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame 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 None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

   

"I haven't lost a relic yet, and I don't intend to now!"
 

    
    Relic Hunter Season Two contains all twenty-two episodes of the second season of this American/Canadian/French co-production. Originally aired from September 2000 to May 2001 the second season of the show continues much in the vein of Season One and is sure to please admirers of the earlier episodes, although there are one or two changes of focus which reduce the enjoyment of particular episodes.


    Once again each episode begins with a short "flashback" to the origins of a particular "relic" and its subsequent disappearance. Again, these opening sequences are extremely well handled, two stand-outs being The Executioner's Mask and Deadline, the final episode. Disappointingly this set does not include the episode titles. However, here is a list of those titles, followed by the time and place of the opening sequence from each episode: 

        The Put Back : Kuba, Africa : 100 A.D.
        The Legend of the Lost : Vanuatu Islands : 4800 B.C.
        Dagger of Death
: Temple of Kali, India : 55 A.D.
        Last of the Mohicas : South America : 662 A.D.
        Fertile Ground : Hawaii : 1779 A.D.
        Gypsy Jigsaw : Romania : 1830 A.D.
        Three Rivers to Cross : Three Rivers, China : 1245 A.D.
        Lost Contact : Burma : 1824 A.D.
        Cross of Voodoo : Haiti : late 18th century
        Roman Holiday : Rome : 44 B.C.
        The Reel Thing : Egypt : 1516 B.C.
        Out of the Past : Egypt : 30 B.C.
        Eyes of Tocklamanee : Mississippi Valley : 1605 A.D.
        Run Sydney Run : Ural Steppes, Russia : 339 B.C.
        M.I.A. : St Petersburg, Russia : 1886 A.D.
        Don't Go Into the Woods : Carpathian Mountains : 1711 A.D.
        French Connection : France : 1600 A.D.
        Midnight Flight : Germania : 400 A.D.
        The Executioner's Mask : France : 1789 A.D.
        The Royal Ring : Tower of London : 1536 A.D.
        Set in Stone : Balaton, Hungary : 1595 A.D.
        Deadline : Jerusalem : 1099 A.D.

    One improved modification is the transition to present day. Instead of the abrupt cut to Trinity College we generally get a brief sequence of  archaeological professor Sydney Fox (Tia Carrere) , usually with her assistant Nigel Bailey (Christien Anholt), in the field and making some contact with the relic's past. The first season's clockwork arrival of some agent at Trinity recruiting Sydney's assistance is a welcome loss. When we do move to Trinity College we meet the blonde secretary, Claudia (Lindy Booth), rather ditsy and cute. Sydney and Nigel set about tracking down the lost/stolen relic, their task taking them to various colourful corners of the globe and exposing us to some very attractive locations and generally exciting and well staged action sequences. We experience dungeons, crypts, tombs, cobwebs, swamps, abbeys, museums, sliding doors, gaping trapdoors - every imaginable Saturday afternoon serial cliché, and saying that sure shows my age! There is more emphasis on fantasy in this season and inevitably there are bad guys trying to beat our duo to the relic, but these villains are no match for Sydney's martial arts prowess, and sometimes the hapless Nigel does actually help.
    From the "making of" documentary we learn that the production virtually never left Toronto. This is at times very difficult to believe, but there is no location information in the end titles, so we must accept that virtually everything was shot in and around Toronto. In this season there are a couple of obvious stock inserts - Warner Bros studios from the air, the Mississippi steamboat - but these are very rare. Again we get a couple of great trains - the Calcutta sequence from Dagger of Death - and various extremely beautiful old buildings. This show is almost always great to look at and is a wonderful advertisement for Toronto.
    Tia Carrere (Wayne's World, True Lies, Rising Sun) continues as an exotically beautiful, strong, no-nonsense Sydney. She is a good actress capable of a light comedic touch and is sexy without playing sexy - as well as being totally at home in the action sequences. As Nigel, Christien Anholt continues his Hugh Grant act - which he modestly acknowledges in the documentary - and he is charming and funny. Why don't we see more of this young man? The sexual interplay between Sydney and Nigel is still delightful, although there is no shower/towel scene until Cross of Voodoo. (There is always the brief shot in the opening title sequence as compensation.) Mr Anholt has a very nicely handled drunk scene in The Royal Ring, an episode which also has a nice "steal" from Bob Hope's The Ghost Breakers where the key to the vault is a musical one.
    Lindy Booth, or Claudia, presents a problem. As attractive, bright, light relief Claudia is a welcome part of each week's offering, however there are a few mid-season episodes in which Miss Booth's character has much more screen time than usual, even accompanying Sydney on the globe trotting. In Out of the Past we have Claudia as the reincarnation of Cleopatra's handmaiden while in Eyes of Tocklamanee Nigel is totally sidelined. Some of these episodes have scenes which are well below the standard of the rest of the series, in particular the "Battle to the Death" between Sydney, as Calpurnia "the first woman gladiator", and a 6 feet 8 inch male opponent - all taking place at a present day Roman soiree. There seems to be a period of some weeks when the series "discovered" Claudia but in doing so lost its way. These "Claudia" episodes were followed by M.I.A., known as "the clip show". A period of reflection, perhaps? After M.I.A.  the season returns to its earlier strength, with seven episodes that are amongst the best of the first two seasons. We have werewolves, Nostradamus, Visigoths, the French Revolution, Henry VIII, Nigel's brother and, in the final episode, a really strong love interest for Sydney in Peter O'Brien. Best of all, the writing once again places Sydney and Nigel squarely at the centre of each episode. It is interesting that Lindy Booth was replaced in Season Three.

    The music by Donald Quan is once again a highlight of the series. Sure, it's at times very stereotypical stuff, but in a very little screen time Quan musically transports us to ancient Rome, the Mississippi, Revolutionary Paris, India, Hawaii and other disparate locales. Happily the two-channel surround reproduction of the music is extremely attractive and at times dramatic.
    The supporting actors are very strong in this production, including the already mentioned Peter O'Brien and Crispin Bonham Carter as Nigel's brother (The Royal Ring) . Even quite minor roles are very well handled, such as the young "delivery man" ogled by Claudia (Cross of Voodoo) played by one Matt Scarborough. It's rather amazing to see such a brief appearance in a TV series and be impressed enough to check and find out "who is that?" Even the extras are good ! Credit must go to the directors of the series, principally Ian Toynton, John Bell and Paolo Berzman. (The great Vincente Minnelli could never handle crowd or street scenes. His extras were always acting their heads off.)
    Once again, a slippery few episodes excluded, Relic Hunter proves to be a very pleasant diversion for forty or so minutes. Generally well written and with immaculate camera work, lighting and sound, it is a series that provides action, comedy, adventure - and  "just a kernel of historical fact".

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of the five discs is uniformly very good, although not up to the standard of today's TV fare.
    The twenty-two episodes are presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Relic Hunter having been made prior to the advent of widescreen television and 16x9 enhancement.
    The transfers are very clear and clean, the image appearing sharper and brighter than in Season One, with only a slight grainy look to the image.
    Detail is extremely good, as in Sydney's cluttered office. Shadow detail is also very good, and the dark and dank places frequented by our heroes are nicely presented.
    The colour is generally rich and vibrant, though a little subdued. The "look" of the show is consistent, with the colours rich and deep without being overly "pretty". There is a sort of an antique patina to the look, which is totally appropriate.
    The only real problem found with the image resulted from Noise Reduction. This occurred fairly regularly throughout the episodes but is not a distraction.
    
    

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

Audio

    The audio on this disc is a pleasant surprise.
    There is only one audio track, English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded.
    All dialogue is centred, with the front speakers utilised for directional sound effects and music. The directional sound is used extensively, particularly in crowd scenes and scenes in crypts and tombs with clanging doors and other sources of ominous and threatening sounds. The rear speakers have an equally busy time with a seemingly continuous flow of information from the very well reproduced music score to sifting sand, flickering flames, elevator noises, crowd sounds, and other clangs and bumps associated with sliding stone doors, tombs and crypts. The surround environment most definitely contributes to the enjoyment of the series.
    The dialogue was always brilliantly clear, centre and forward. Every syllable was crystal clear and there were no sync problems, clicks, drop outs or distortions.
    The score by  Donald Quan continues as a great asset of the show. The range of the music is discussed above, and every note and instrument is quite beautifully reproduced making excellent use of the encoded surround sound. Although the is no separate bass channel, the "oomph" at times is considerable, particularly in the opening theme music.
    There are no subtitles.
   

    

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

Extras

 

Menu    
   

    The information below applies to each disc in the set.
    

    On startup we proceed along an animated tomb-like passageway with ominous heavy breathing.
    We stop at the wall at the end and the theme music starts and a screen inserts starts up with live action from the series
    The episodes contained on that disc are listed by episode number only. There is also a "Play All" option.
    Make a selection and the wall cracks open - good audio.
    New screen displays four thumbnails for chapters in that episode or a "play all" option.

    Disc One : The episode selection screen also offers the option "Extras".
                     Clicking this option takes you to the extras screen - 16x9 - which has the two following options.


Gag Reel : (05:42)    
    
    Oddly these segments are all 16x9 enhanced.
    These are amusing, and appear to be genuine goofs, rather than the obvious setups which are more the norm.
    They give a relaxed view of actors who appear to be very personable people.


Making Of Documentary : (21:54)             
       


        This is a very enjoyable documentary, presented by personnel associated with the production. Without exception they all present as sincere people, without the nauseating self-importance of those we normally encounter in this sort of behind the scenes documentary, always on some self important "journey".
        Included amongst the talking heads are Tia Carrere, Christien Anholt, who describes Sydney as a "female Indiana Jones" and acknowledges his personal debt to Hugh Grant, executive producers Jay Firestone and Adam Height, production designer Ed Hanna, and  producer John Ryan who refers to recreating Tibet with a "little bit of CGI", while Executive Consultant Gil Grant states that "Toronto has a thousand different looks", an asset also discussed by actor Tony Rosato.
        Some cuts from the series used in this documentary are widescreen 4x3.

R4 vs R1

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

    Relic Hunter is no longer available in Region 1. Second hand copies of releases from other regions are expensive.
    In Region 2 only compilations of some "best of" episodes are available.
    Australia is the only country in which complete seasons are available.

Summary

    The second season of Relic Hunter fell apart a little mid-season. However the final phase of the season saw it return to its former strengths, combining mystery, comedy, fantasy, action and adventure executed with technical skill and performed by an appealing, talented cast - primarily the two leads. If you go for this sort of thing, this set is well worth purchasing - while it is still around. I'm going to be watching out for Season Three.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo-SP500, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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