Yes Minister-Series One (1980)
|Year Of Production||1980|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Peter Whitmore|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
On the 25th of February 1980, one of the best television series ever made aired for the first time. Its name was of course Yes Minister. It went on to run for three seasons in its initial format, then after a Christmas special where our favourite politician was promoted to the top job, it continued for a further two seasons as Yes Prime Minister. This disc brings us the first seven episodes that comprise the first season. There were also two seasons on radio - now that would make a good extra, wouldn't it?
I am a great fan of all the British comedy series and many of their movies. The list of these great series could go on for pages; Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, On The Buses, Monty Python, To The Manor Born, The Good Life, Fawlty Towers and so on. But none have the biting satire that is contained in Yes Minister. The comedy and satire in Yes Minister has not aged a day, which says a great deal about the show and even more about politicians in general.
The characters have become household names; Jim Hacker, Sir Humphrey and Bernard are known anywhere the Westminster system of government reigns or at least used to reign. Jim Hacker is played by the late Paul Eddington, Sir Humphrey by Sir Nigel Hawthorne. As you look in the biographies it is with sadness that you note that Sir Nigel Hawthorne's is of course out of date, with his death only a few weeks ago. Bernard, played by Derek Fowlds is still with us as the now-retired police sergeant in Heartbeat.
Open Government (28:32)
The first episode made. The first thing that you will notice is that the opening sequence is different, as is the closing sequence. They are still pencil drawings but of a completely different style. The characters are drawn cartoon-style rather than the caricatures that are used from Episode 2 onwards. Some series show promise and grow as they go along, not so Yes Minister. It has the satire and the comedy right from the first minutes.
We start the series with the election results being announced and Jim Hacker waiting nervously by the phone to discover if he will be called to the front bench. The call finally arrives and he enters Whitehall for his first meeting with his private secretary Bernard and of course his permanent undersecretary Sir Humphrey. As the title suggests, Jim Hacker's government has been elected on a platform of open government and he wishes to implement this immediately, however Sir Humphrey has other ideas.
The Official Visit (28:17)
Jim Hacker plans to use a visit by the president of a small African country to bolster his government's chances in some local by-elections. All is set until a problem arises and the visit could turn into a very embarrassing incident.
The Economy Drive (28:30)
Jim is determined to slim down the civil service and reduce costs. He is completely outflanked by Sir Humphrey and the 'hair shirt' plan where he suggests that Jim set an example by reducing his own staff first.
Big Brother (29:17)
There is a great outcry about a new national database that will contain information on everyone. Jim wishes to put in place a series of security measures and the ability for everyone to access their own file. This of course horrifies Sir Humphrey who pulls out all stops to try and prevent this from happening.
The Writing On The Wall (27:40)
Jim Hacker's entire department is under threat - the whole lot might be shut down. They must all pull together to come up with a plan to save the department. Luckily for them, the European identity card is on the horizon and may be able to save them.
The Right To Know (29:31)
Here we get to meet Jim Hacker's daughter. She is an activist and threatens to cause more than a little trouble when she learns that one of Jim's decisions has placed a badger colony at risk. Sir Humphrey combines rescuing the situation with a lesson in 'the need to know' or more accurately the need not to know.
Jobs For The Boys (29:00)
The reverse of the previous episode - here Jim is left in a very tricky situation because he 'did not know'. Is there a way to save the day? Of course there is: jobs for the boys. The famous 'it takes two to Quango' episode.
The aspect ratio is of course 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) as this was shot for television.
Sharpness varies quite a bit. Any close-up that takes up a fair proportion of the screen is quite sharp, but medium and long shots are quite soft. Shadow detail is a tiny bit dark but is still very good. There is plenty of detail in the dark suits that many of the characters wear. There is some low level noise but this is not a problem.
The colours are muted, though skin tones, where not affected by posterization, are accurate. Considering the majority of the locations are in dark wooden panelled offices, there is not the opportunity for any great splashes of colour. There is no chroma noise present.
When I saw that this was to be a dual layered disc I had high hopes that there would be no problems fitting the three and a half hours onto the disc. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The disc does not have time coding on it, so some players will not display a running time. Other players work out their own timing. This means that it is a little difficult to give times for artefact examples as is our normal procedure. The times mentioned are the ones that my player worked out but may be slightly different on other players.
Moving objects show a depressing number of compression artefacts. If we take the scene in the second episode (The Official Visit) at 9:40 where Jim is just getting up from his seat while watching the news on TV, we can see most of the artefacts that are present. Single stepping as he gets out of the seat shows macro blocking and posterization. There is also some edge enhancement present, though it appears to only have been applied to the horizontal and not the vertical. If you look at one of the arms of an actor in a dark suit you will see edge enhancement on the vertical edges but not up on the horizontal shoulder.
There is no aliasing present and the film stock is in amazing condition. There are very few scratches or marks and grain is also quite well-controlled. The only exception to this is some of the outside shots.
This is a dual layered disc, with the layer change seemingly placed between episodes as I saw no evidence of it whilst watching this transfer.
Dialogue quality is excellent, with no problems hearing every word that is spoken. There are no problems with audio sync.
Like the opening cartoons, the music for the first episode is different from the rest of the series. The music for the rest of the series is instantly recognisable and very British, working very well for the series.
There is no surround activity and no real subwoofer activity. There were a couple of 'booms' redirected to the sub at one point in the final episode, similar to the effect you get with wind noise on a microphone used outdoors, though this was during an inside scene.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is backed by a static picture without audio.
A quick page on each of the main characters.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Despite the disappointing transfer, this disc is a must-own. To be able to enjoy this fantastic series any time you wish is just too good to pass up.
The video quality is disappointing.
The audio is plain mono.
The old dilemma - buy now with no extras, or wait for a restoration and extras that may never eventuate.
|DVD||Skyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||B&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)|