Overall | Long Way Round-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2004) | Charley Boorman-Race to Dakar (2006) | Long Way Down-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2008)

Long Way Round-The Three Complete TV Series: Collectors Edition Box Set (2004)

Long Way Round-The Three Complete TV Series: Collectors Edition Box Set (2004)

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Released 20-Oct-2008

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Overall Package

    This boxed set contains three fabulous adventure series, taking in an enormous number of miles of travel via motorcycle.

    Long Way Round (2004) sees actor-mates Ewan McGregor (Big Fish, Star Wars Episodes I-III) and Charley Boorman (Serpent's Kiss) launch a trip from London to New York via Europe, the Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Canada and the U.S.A.

    In the 2006 series Race To Dakar, Charley Boorman attempts the arduous and physically demanding Euromilhoes Dakar Rally, taking a route from Lisbon, Portugal through Morocco and the Sahara Desert to Senegal on the West Coast of Africa.

    Ewan & Charley reunite in Long Way Down (2008), a fantastic series that sees the team travel from John O'Groats in the North of Scotland all the way South to Cape Town, South Africa via France, Italy, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Botswana and many other central African countries.

    The eight discs in this package contain a mammoth 24 hours+ of viewing, which represents awesome value. A generous array of extras are included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Long Way Round-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2004) | Charley Boorman-Race to Dakar (2006) | Long Way Down-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2008)

Long Way Round-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2004)

Long Way Round-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2004)

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Released 24-Nov-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Trip Preparation (6:49)
Featurette-The First Five Days (17:49)
Featurette-"I Just Can't Do It!" (2:43)
Featurette-Glacier Plane Ride (4:08)
Featurette-Wrong Way Round! (6:02)
Interviews-Cast-(5:03)
Interviews-Crew-Thoughts After The Trip (8:25)
Featurette-The Dusty Road & Charley's Puncture (2:10)
Featurette-Claudio's Story (4:44)
Featurette-Jimmy's Story (1:31)
Featurette-Ewan talks about The Stereophonics (1:06)
Featurette-UNICEF Information (0:30)
Gallery-Photo-(25 Stills)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 554:13 (Case: 600)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Russ Malkin
David Alexanian
Studio
Distributor
Virgin Records
EMI Music
Starring Ewan McGregor
Charley Boorman
Russ Malkin
David Alexanian
Claudio von Planta
Case Amaray Variant
RPI ? Music Kelly Jones
Stephen Loveday
Darren Loveday


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Long Way Round is a fantastic travelogue adventure series for television, charting the preparation, challenges and distance involved in mounting an enormous motorcycle trek from London to New York via Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Canada and the U.S.A.

    In April of 2004, actor-mates Ewan McGregor (Big Fish, Star Wars Episodes I-III) and Charley Boorman (Serpent's Kiss) climbed aboard a pair of BMW motorcycles in London for a trek that would take them over three months. The ten episodes of the series show in detail the intense preparation that was involved for the trip, the fun the guys share together, the generous, sometimes odd characters they meet along the way, and the hardships they endure as a result of the unforgiving environment and terrain. Both the scenery and photography is stunning, but the series is as much about the friendship shared by these two mates as the journey itself.

    One of the pre-requisites of the trip was to have some kind of charity involvement, and that came in the form of UNICEF. The pair make a number of stops along the way to visit UNICEF centers, highlighting the plight of many unfortunate children and the good work carried out by their volunteers. The importance of donations is mentioned, but not drummed into the viewer distastefully. The pair appear genuinely moved by their experiences in these cases and it certainly adds to the enjoyment of the series considerably.

    My original intention was to compile a detailed episode-by-episode summary of the journey, but I now feel that would betray anyone who is yet to view the series; there are just too many potentials for spoilers. I'll just recommend that you make an effort to see this entertaining, enlightening, addictive series for yourself.

    Charley and Ewan have reunited for another new series this year (2008), titled Long Way Down. This series sees the two gents travel from Scotland to the bottom of South Africa, and promises to be equally enticing viewing. Charley also filmed a diversion of sorts in 2006 about his experiences in the Dakar rally, which is also excellent.

    The Long Way Round Special Edition package contains three dual-layered discs, with the first eight episodes spread across discs one and two, and the final two episodes bundled together with the extras on disc three. My only criticism of this set is the repetition of the opening and closing credits after every episode, and also the same intro montage each time explaining the trip and the cameras. Thankfully, the Long Way Down package does not suffer from these issues.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This video transfer is consistent with a standard definition television broadcast and is presented in 1.78:1 complete with 16x9 enhancement.

    An assortment of cameras were used to capture the trip, from your stock standard HD cameras to miniature helmet-cams which were worn by Ewan and Charley. The helmet cameras appear slightly grainy next to the other footage, but they do add a valuable first-hand view of the trip, particularly during phases where there was no cameraman present.

    The bulk of the footage is sharp and clear, as you would expect from such a recent production. Colours are fantastic and some of the scenery is absolutely spectacular, leaping off the screen.

    I didn't note any MPEG compression issues at all. Obviously there are no film artefacts to be concerned about.

    There are no subtitle streams provided.

    All three discs in this set are dual-layered.I didn't notice any interruptions resembling a layer break, so I presume the transitions are between episodes.

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

Audio

    There's only one soundtrack; the original 2-channel English encoded at 256Kb/s. The dialogue quality varies due to issues such as microphone placement, but I never had any major problems 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 spot on.

    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 is a little on the dreary side, but suits the sentiment of the series well.

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

Extras

    All of the extras are contained on disc three, along with the final two episodes of the series.

Menus

    The menu pages are 16x9 enhanced, very picturesque, consisting of assorted clips of footage of Ewan and Charley riding into the distance. Navigation is very simple, with play all functions available.

Gallery-Photos

    A selection of 25 photos covering a cross section of the trip.

Featurette- The Preparation (6:49)

    Many of these serve as scene extensions with some familiar material, but they are certainly worth a look. This is a much longer look at the trip preparations, their gear and Ewan and Charley larking about in the office.

Featurette- The First Five Days (17:49)

    This piece covers a number of diversions the pair made during the first few days that weren't included in the final cut of the show.

Featurette- "I Just Can't Do It." (2:43)

    A sad moment, as an exhausted Ewan discusses the Road of Bones and tries in vain to commit some time to his diary camera, while Charley pitches his tent.

Featurette- Glacier Plane Ride (4:08)

    A slightly longer cut of Ewan & Charley's flight over the glacier, as seen in the show.

Featurette- Wrong Way Round! (6:04)

    A reel of amusing moments from the trip, some old and some new.

Interview- Ewan & Charley (5:04)

    The two mates discuss their intentions regarding the series, their friendship and how it has affected them personally. Unlike the rest of the content, this piece is presented in 1.33:1 full frame.

Interviews-Crew- Thoughts After The Trip (8:25)

    Producers Russ and David reflect on the series and the conditions they endured. Cameraman Claudio speaks about his relationship working and traveling alongside Charley & Ewan on the trip.

Featurette- Ewan & Charley Talk About The Dusty Road and Charley's Puncture (2:33)

    The title says it all; this was a rare confrontation between Ewan and Claudio.

Featurette- Claudio's Story(4:45)

    A look at Claudio's mishap and the events that led to him resting for a week in Mongolia.

Featurette- Jimmy's Story(2:00)

    Jimmy recounts a drunken, vodka-fuelled evening which saw him having to use a camera the next day, while terribly hung over.

Featurette- Ewan Talks About The Stereophonics' Title Track 'Long Way Round' (1:07)

    Charley and Ewan praise the series' theme song and explain a little about how it was written.

Featurette- UNICEF Information (0:30)

    A short piece on the good work done by the organisation and their reliance on donations.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 edition is a truncated version, consisting of only seven episodes spread over two discs. Ours is obviously the way to go.

Summary

    Long Way Round is an enjoyable, adventurous series for a good cause. These DVDs contain nearly ten hours of entertainment and represent great value.

    The transfer is great.

    The extras are substantial.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo 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 DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Claudio the cameraman deserves special commendation... - REPLY POSTED

Overall | Long Way Round-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2004) | Charley Boorman-Race to Dakar (2006) | Long Way Down-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2008)

Charley Boorman-Race to Dakar (2006)

Charley Boorman-Race to Dakar (2006)

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Released 15-Nov-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Building The Bike (5:59)
Featurette-Crash Reel (2:32)
Outtakes-(2:15)
Featurette-The Epic Montage (3:08)
Interviews-Cast-Charley Boorman (18:25)
Gallery-(26 photos)
Biographies-Crew-Support Team (5 pages)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 355:07 (Case: 354)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Russ Malkin
Studio
Distributor

EMI Music
Starring Charley Boorman
Russ Malkin
Claudio von Planta
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Stephen Loveday
Darren Loveday
Andy Gott


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles German Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    It began as a simple chance remark made by Charley Boorman; "Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted to do the Dakar Rally" that became a promise immortalised in print without his knowledge inside the cover of the Long Way Round hardcover book. Charley's publicist had interpreted this nugget of information to be his next project, so those words were transcribed as "...Charley will be racing in the Dakar next year...". His response was one of dread; "...oh s***, I have to do it now...". And there began Boorman's Dakar experience.

    With a reaction like that, you'd be forgiven for thinking Boorman was a motorcycling novice, but nothing could be further from the truth. In 2004, Charley Boorman and his mate Ewan McGregor rode their motorbikes from London to New York, through Eastern Europe, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and the USSR. The grueling trip took the pair across incredible terrain and was documented in the book and television series Long Way Round. Many of the skills and experiences learned in the first trip are applied to the Dakar Rally, but they quickly find out that in this unforgiving terrain there are some things you just can't plan for. It's little wonder Ewan declined to participate.

    The Dakar Rally of 2006 took a route from Lisbon, Portugal through Morocco and the Sahara Desert to Senegal on the West Coast of Africa. Only a fraction of competitors ever complete the rally, with most dropping out due to exhaustion, injury or mechanical failure. The team Charley assembled included Producer Russ Malkin and the cameramen from the Long Way Round series. He also hired some more experienced riders to join him in Simon Pavey and Matt Hall. Simon is an Aussie ex-pat living in the UK, an off-road specialist with five Dakar Rallies under his belt- three of them completed. A pair of experienced mechanics round out the support team, who travel in a large vehicle full of spares and supplies. Will it all be enough to see Charley over the finish line?

    This excellent series covers the race from the inside, including all of the dramas involved in the preparation, training, setbacks, injuries, visas, personal clashes and red tape one could imagine. The first half has a great focus on the race itself and the arduous course, while the second pays a little more attention to the support team and their many dramas. Many of the other Dakar riders and participants are interviewed and share their experiences, which adds to the depth of the coverage a lot.

    The Race To Dakar package consists of two dual-layered DVD discs, with the first four episodes spread across disc one, and the final three episodes bundled together with the extras on disc two. The intro music and titles, recaps and credits are included at the beginning and end of each episode, which can become very repetitive when viewing the episodes one after the other.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This video transfer is consistent with a standard definition television 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. Small, lower quality cameras have been placed on the riders' helmets so as to capture an assortment of angles. Standard definition mini-DV cameras have also been allocated to team members as personal diaries. These smaller cameras can be quite grainy at times and on a large screen the difference in sharpness from one shot to the next is very noticeable. Given the nature of the documentary and the technological limitations of canvassing such a large area, these formats all come together well.

    Colours are generally true; rich and lifelike. The lower quality cameras struggle in the glare of the desert, creating bright flaring at times, or an intense sepia effect.

    MPEG compression issues vary in severity, from mild grain to fully-blown blocking. The combination of low-resolution cameras (atop the riders' helmets) and heavy dust on location proves very troublesome for the video encode on this DVD. Obviously there are no film artefacts to be concerned about.

    An optional German subtitle stream is included, but no English I'm afraid.Some burned-in English subtitles appear when dialogue is difficult to hear, or when French is spoken.

    Both discs in this set are dual-layered.I didn't notice any interruptions resembling a layer break, so I presume the transitions are between episodes.

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

Audio

    The series' original English stereo soundtrack is included. Like the video, the audio is perfectly acceptable for a documentary and is subject to the situations and terrain the crew find themselves in.

    The English dialogue is always audible. Whenever the spoken word is obscured by noise such as wind, passing cars and the like, burned-in English subtitles kick in to assist the viewer. Audio sync seems fine.

    There's obviously no surround or subwoofer activity. I attempted Pro Logic II processing, but it didn't yield any particularly exciting results.

    Some incidental music has been added for dramatic effect, and it seems to do the job. The show's theme by Jim Penfold is lively and rocky and suits the overall feel of the series.

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

Extras

    Disc two contains a great selection of extras to compliment the series. Aspect ratios vary, but all are available with stereo audio and optional German subtitles where necessary. These are all 16x9 enhanced unless stated otherwise.

Menu

    The menu pages are very well done, fantastically animated and easy to navigate. All pages are 16x9 enhanced and include energetic music.

Featurette- Building The Bike (5:59)

    The team visits the Touratech headquarters in Germany, where the bike modifications are made and fitted. This is a very interesting look at the extensive modifications that are required for participation in the rally. Credits for all of the extras (directors, musicians, etc.) are shown at the conclusion of this featurette.

Featurette- Crash Reel (2:32)

    A short montage of the gory bits of the rally. Some of these clips look very vintage and could be from previous years. Presented in 1.33:1 full frame.

Featurette- The Epic Montage (3:08)

    This is a great compilation of scenery, wildlife and many magic bike shots, mostly using the helicopter cam.

Outtakes (2:15)

    An amusing range of small outtakes, some of which were clearly not meant to be captured on camera.

Gallery-Photo

    Twenty-five photos, taken while on the trip. Many feature their beloved BMW X5 support vehicle.

Interview- Charley Boorman (18:25)

    Charley reflects on the Dakar Rally experience, his feelings at the time and shares some amusing anecdotes. There's also some useful info here about the day-to-day structure of the race itself, as well as advice for those who intend to do the rally themselves.

Biographies- The Support Team

    Brief single-page biographies for five of the team members (the producer, cameramen and mechanics).

R4 vs R1

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

    Aside from formatting and subtitle options, this title is identical in content across the globe.

Summary

    Race To Dakar is an amazing, emotional series that explores the grueling and physically demanding rally in all its glory. Highly recommended.

    This DVD transfer is on a par with the show's SD digital broadcast.

    The extras are worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo 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 DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Long Way Round-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2004) | Charley Boorman-Race to Dakar (2006) | Long Way Down-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2008)

Long Way Down-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2008)

Long Way Down-Complete TV Series: Special Edition (2008)

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Released 23-Jun-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary 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-UNICEF Fundraiser
Featurette-Ewan & Charley Say Goodbye to the Bikes, Cape Town
Featurette-The Support Vehicles
Notes-Interactive Maps with Photo Galleries
Gallery-Photo-(33 Stills)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 509:37
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Russ Malkin
David Alexanian
Studio
Distributor
Big Earth
EMI Music
Starring Ewan McGregor
Charley Boorman
Russ Malkin
David Alexanian
Claudio von Planta
Case Amaray Variant
RPI ? Music Kelly Jones
Stephen Loveday
Darren Loveday


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
Spanish
French
Italian
Dutch
Portuguese
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    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.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    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.

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

Audio

    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.

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

Extras

    The extras are spread over discs two and three and are of the same quality as the main feature, subtitle options included.

Menu

    The menu pages are along the same lines as the Long Way Round DVDs; breathtaking landscape footage with the bikes passing by occasionally. Navigation is easy and all pages are 16x9 enhanced.

Disc Two

Documentary- The Missing Face (45:00)

    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.

Disc Three

    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.

Featurette- Charley Visits Touratech

    We're shown around the Touratech factory in Germany, where the team sourced their tents and other assorted equipment.

Featurette- Vice President of Iraq, Sudan

    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.

Featurette- Elephants In The Night, Botswana

    Ewan relates the tale of his close brush with an Elephant overnight.

Featurette- Moose McGregor's Apple Pie, Namibia

    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.

Featurette- Arrival Party, Cape Town

    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.

Featurette- Top Fuel Drag Racing

    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.

Featurette- UNICEF Fundraiser

    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!

Featurette- Ewan & Charley Say Goodbye To The Bikes, Cape Town

    After the trek was finished, the bikes had to be packed up and returned to BMW. The teary-eyed farewell is captured here.

Featurette- The Support Vehicles

    A brief tour around the 4WD support vehicles and the modifications that were made for the trip.

Text Pages- Interactive Map

    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.

Gallery-Photos (33)

    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.

R4 vs R1

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

    Formatting differences aside, this title is identical in content across the globe.

Summary

    Long Way Down is addictive viewing, and a superb adventure series to boot.

    The transfer is on a par with the SD broadcast.

    The extras are worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, January 02, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo 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 DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.

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