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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
James May's Big Ideas (2008)

James May's Big Ideas (2008)

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Released 15-Feb-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 177:23 (Case: 180)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (32:12) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Natalie Burke
Nigel Paterson
Dan Walker
James May

Madman Entertainment
Starring James May
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music None Given

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 Yes
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


    Top Gear has become a huge phenomenon which extends to many series of episodes, live shows, books, DVDs and other products. It has also allowed the presenters to spread their wings and try other things such as Jeremy Clarkson appearing in Grumpy Old Men (not a huge stretch perhaps) and Richard Hammond and James May both hosting various documentary series such as Hammond's Engineering Connections and this series James May's Big Ideas. This show is one of a number featuring James May which have been shown recently on SBS such as Oz & James' Big Wine Adventure and Toy Stories.

    This series was made in 2008 and features three episodes focusing on technological developments in three different areas. The concept of the series is James investigating three areas of interest to him and how people around the globe are pushing thought and development in each area. Each episode involves travelling around the world visiting various scientists and looking at their work. The three episodes are :-

  1. Come Fly With Me (59:46) - Focusing on developments in the area of personal transport especially flight based. He is keen to discover if there are any developments in easier ways to get to work each day.

  2. Man-Machine (58:53) - Focusing on developments in the area of robotics especially people working on making robots more human-like and developments in artificial intelligence and creativity.

  3. Power to the People (58:44) - This time the show focuses on development in alternate fuel sources. James wants to be able to run a car on things other than fossil fuels.

    This is an interesting series of shows which are also used in Open University courses, or so it would seem. These shows are quite academic in approach, much more documentary than light entertainment. This does not mean that James May is anything other than his usual congenial and amusing self. To my mind, these shows could have been half an hour each which would have made them tighter and more focused. This doesn't mean they are not interesting, just that some segments go on a little too long and others are probably adding little to the subject area.

    If you are interested in technological developments which may shape the future, this series is worth your time.


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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is good.

    The feature is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced widescreen. This is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout except for archival footage which included more softness and various specks and flecks.

    The colour was very good with no major issues to report.

    There were no obvious artefacts.

    There are no subtitles which is a shame.

    There is a layer change at 32:12 in Episode 2 which is not overly noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is fine for the nature of the show.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224Kb/s.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand although it was quiet compared to the rest of the soundtrack.

    The surround speakers provided some atmosphere when played with ProLogicII.

    The subwoofer added bass to the music as required.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    The menu is still and includes music. It allows for episode selection only.

R4 vs R1

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

    This show is available in Region 2 in a very similar edition. There does not seem to be a Region 1 version. May as well go for the local release.


    An interesting but quite academic documentary series about future technology.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is fine for the nature of the show.

    No extras are included.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. 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.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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