Stephen Fry in America (2008)

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Released 18-Aug-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 375:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John-Paul Davidson
Michael Waldman
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Harry Escott
Molly Nyman
Debbie Wiseman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 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

     Stephen Fry is almost ubiquitous on our TV screens. Fifteen years ago, however, it was quite a different story. With his comedy prime time years behind him Stephen suffered a nervous breakdown during a West End theatrical production and fled the country. It looked to all the world as though his career was over. However Fry has triumphed over adversity, even making his depression the subject of a TV special. Besides traipsing around the USA with this series he is also dispensing bon mots weekly on the clever comi-quiz QI.

     Stephen Fry in America has at its core a somewhat dubious premise. Shortly before his birth Fry's father was offered a chance of a new life in the New World. He chose ..... to stay in England. So, Fry reasons, he could have been born in the USA. Although he claims a lifelong interest in all things American the truth may well be that he just liked the idea of gallivanting around the 50 odd states of America in his beloved London cab and managed to get finance for the odyssey.

     Whatever the back story, it probably doesn't matter. For we viewers are the richer for having this freewheeling travelogue.

     Of course, any attempt to sum up a multi-faceted nation like the US in 6 hours is bound to fail. Instead Fry achieves the somewhat less lofty ambition of keeping us amused, entertained and sometimes amazed at the mighty Uncle Sam.

    Stephen Fry in America comprises 6 episodes of roughly 60 minutes each. The format for each episode is similar. Stephen gets into his quaint black cab (a hired version of his real motor) and travels as fast as possible from destination to destination. Along the way he meets up with individuals, some famous, some informative and some just eccentric, who provide snapshots of the region.

     The episodes are, not surprisingly, divided by loose regions. They are:

  1. New World
  2. Deep South
  3. Mississippi
  4. Mountains and Plains
  5. True West
  6. Pacific

     It is not essential to be a Stephen Fry fan to enjoy the show although lovers of this modern day Oscar Wilde will get even more out of the colourful commentary and wry observations.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Stephen Fry in America was filmed on high definition digital video.

     It is a 1.85:1 programme and that aspect ratio has been preserved for the DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     The show consists of on-the-fly interview footage and a whole lot of “driving” footage. All is rendered cleanly and with minimal imperfections. There is slight video noise to be seen at times and the series lacks the crispness of the finest TV cinematography. Compression is not an issue.

     It was broadcast in HD and therefore the DVD quality is that slight step down from the program as telecast.

     The colours are bright and stable and the flesh tones are accurate.

     There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

     Stephen Fry in America comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 English soundtrack running at 224 Kb/s.

     This track is perfectly adequate for the show, which is really a series of interviews and a voice-over by Fry. The voices are clear and easy to understand although some of the American regional accents require a bit of concentration. There appears to be good audio sync.

     There are no technical problems with the soundtrack.

     A team of composers came up with the score for the show. The score varies appropriate to the location and tone of the segments and is interesting and varied throughout. The show also uses some film score material. I thought I detected Being John Malkovich and Alien early on but the references aren't provided at the end of the episodes.

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

Extras

Deleted Scenes

There are a few deleted scenes on each DVD. They are : DVD 1

  1. Left right center dice game in Eastport Maine
  2. Whale talk with author Nathaniel Philbrick in Nantucket, Massachusetts
  3. Pilgrim father on The Mayflower in Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts
DVD 2
  1. The Peabody duck hotel, Memphis, Tennessee
  2. Judd's winery, Napa Valley, California
  3. Oyster fishing with John Tesovic in the bayous of Louisiana

The Deleted Scenes are interesting in their own right. They were perhaps only dropped for time constraints in a show that already struggles to contain all its information within the 60 minute timeslot.

R4 vs R1

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

   This DVD has been released in an identical form in Region 1 and 2.

Summary

     Stephen Fry in America is an informative and breezy travelogue which doesn't require too much from the viewer except the desire to cross the country with Britain’s' "living treasure"!

     The DVD looks good, without being great, and has a few short extras to complete the package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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