Long Way Down-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2008)
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-The Missing Face (44:59)
Featurette-Charley Visits Touratech
Featurette-Vice President of Iraq, Sudan
Featurette-Elephants in the Night, Botswana
Featurette-Moose McGregor's Apple Pie, Namibia
Featurette-Arival Party, Cape Town
Featurette-Top Fuel Drag Racing
Featurette-Ewan & Charley Say Goodbye to the Bikes, Cape Town
Featurette-The Support Vehicles
Notes-Interactive Maps with Photo Galleries
|Year Of Production||2008|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
Claudio von Planta
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Having completed their epic trek the Long Way Round from London to New York in 2004, actor-mates Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor were touched by the good work done by UNICEF (the pair are now acknowledged ambassadors for the charity) and made a documentary titled The Missing Face, focusing on African kids whose lives had been decimated by HIV and AIDS. Charley then went on to compete in the Dakar Rally in 2006, which was documented in the series Race To Dakar. It seems the focus on the African continent influenced the direction for their next outing together, in 2008 the pair decided upon a trek that would take them the Long Way Down; from John O'Groats in the North of Scotland all the way to Cape Town, South Africa via France, Italy, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Botswana and many other central African countries.
The format of this series is similar in structure to the first, beginning with the preparation, the establishment of a headquarters in London and hoarding of equipment for the journey. Some time is spent dissecting lessons they learned from their experiences in 2004, applying these to their plans for the new trip.
Like the previous series, it's not all plain sailing, and this is what makes the series so compelling. All preparations seem to be running very smoothly and with great enthusiasm until McGregor announces his intention to include his wife, Eve, in a portion of the journey (who has never ridden a motorcycle). A Beatle-esque tension ensues, as though Yoko were about to crash the boys' party - as a viewer, for a moment I felt it was all a joke (perhaps Charley did too), but it quickly becomes apparent that McGregor is absolutely serious. This awkward, deep-seated tension permeates the initial episodes of the documentary and is unfortunately carried onto the trip, which makes for great viewing if you're into Big Brother-style group dynamics, but is a little frustrating for those who want to experience the trip as it was originally intended.
A fortnight into the journey, it's clearly apparent that things are not at all well. Charley in particular is frustrated and outwardly p*****. The trip itself is rushed as the guys push their mileage to the limit every day in order to meet travel deadlines (rumoured to be due to Ewan's film commitments). The guys are miserable and exhausted, lamenting the fact that they are travelling miles and miles without the opportunity of absorbing any of their surroundings. I'm happy to say that things are swiftly taken care of in a crisis discussion between the team off-camera, and in a blink everything is sweet. The guys become content and the trip continues with a very positive, adventurous, fun-filled atmosphere as the guys relax and enjoy the trip. Rest assured, there are still plenty of scrapes and dramas to come, but the overall change in vibe is very welcome from a viewers' perspective; almost like night and day.
The series takes in some fabulous landscapes and wildlife, while Ewan and Charley spend several nights camping among bushmen and other genuine characters. It's a fantastic experience, although it does feel at times like we're only scraping the surface of their journey, it passes so quickly.
All ten episodes of this series are spread across three dual-layered discs, with extras. Opening titles and closing credits are not repeated across episodes, which is fantastic when viewing the series in bulk. If you enjoyed watching the series on TV this year, you're certain to enjoy this package.
This DVD video transfer is consistent with the series' standard definition digital broadcast and is presented in 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement.
A large portion of the series has been captured on digital HD equipment, and this footage is stunning. The quality of the cameras on the rides' helmets has been improved for this series, with much less grain and noticeably better colour reproduction. Standard definition mini-DV cameras were also allocated to members of the team for use as personal diaries. On a large screen the difference in sharpness from one shot to the next is fairly noticeable, but not a dire issue. Given the nature of the documentary and the technological limitations of canvassing such a large number of participants, these formats all come together well.
Colours are bold, rich and lifelike. From the deserts of the Sahara to the lush greens of Botswana, all of the natural tones leap from the screen.
MPEG compression issues were nowhere to be seen. Obviously there are no film artefacts to be concerned about.
An optional English subtitle stream is included, along with a myriad of other languages. Of the scenes I sampled, the subtitles appear to be accurate, although some information is condensed a little. Some burned-in English subtitles appear when dialogue is difficult to hear, or when a foreign dialect is spoken.
All three discs in this set are dual-layered (DVD9 formatted). I didn't notice any interruptions resembling a layer break, so I presume the layer transitions are between episodes.
The series' original 2-channel English soundtrack has been encoded at 256Kb/s. The dialogue quality varies slightly due to issues such as microphone placement, but I don't recall having any major issues understanding what was being said. I often found that the muffled helmet microphones were the worst culprits for distortion and noise in the dialogue, but these occurrences were few. Audio sync appears to be accurate.
There's obviously no surround or subwoofer activity. Pro Logic II processing didn't yield any particularly exciting results.
Some incidental music has been added for dramatic effect and it is barely noticeable, but effective. The show's theme has been modified from the first series and is a little brighter and more upbeat, it suits the sentiment of the series nicely.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras are spread over discs two and three and are of the same quality as the main feature, subtitle options included.
After completing the original Long Way Round series in 2004, Charley & Ewan made this documentary to highlight the plight of children across Africa, as well as the good work done by UNICEF. It's certainly worthwhile viewing (even eye-opening) for anyone who isn't aware of the crisis happening over there, and the presentation as a whole is honest and tasteful. In one of the many highlights, we join Charley as he stays overnight with Majabha, a 15 year-old boy who lost both his parents to HIV/AIDS. Living entirely on his own, he manages his parents' farm and attends school daily.
All of the below featurettes are playable separately and amount to about 21 minutes of extra footage. An annoying glitch exists in the menu navigation; whenever you watch a featurette from the second page of the extras, you're returned to page one.
We're shown around the Touratech factory in Germany, where the team sourced their tents and other assorted equipment.
An extension of a familiar scene from the series, in which Charley and Ewan share an anecdote regarding an encounter with security guards at the Hilton in Khartoum.
Ewan relates the tale of his close brush with an Elephant overnight.
A deleted sequence; the gents stop in for a slice of famed Apple Pie from a local baker, who also happens to be a Scot.
Some brief footage from the series' wrap party, with shots of arrivals on the red carpet and assorted speeches and thankyous. Of particular interest is a glimpse of Ewan behind the drum kit, entertaining guests. Ewan promises that he and Charley will make another series together.
Charley, Russ and Dave enjoy a weekend away at the Las Vegas Speedway, where a sponsor has decked out one of the cars in Long Way Down paraphernalia.
An amazingly successful charity event was held after the conclusion of the series, raising funds for UNICEF. It was hosted by Charley, Ewan and the rest of the team, auctioning a number of items from the series, including one of the BMW's!
After the trek was finished, the bikes had to be packed up and returned to BMW. The teary-eyed farewell is captured here.
A brief tour around the 4WD support vehicles and the modifications that were made for the trip.
A single page of facts (population, climate, ethnicity, etc.) for each of the countries covered in the journey. There are also links for four related photos on each page.
There are thirty-three photos in total, covering a cross section of landscapes and faces experienced throughout the series. These appear to be in chronological order.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The transfer is on a par with the SD broadcast.
The extras are worthwhile.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.|