Manchester United-The 70's (1996) (NTSC)
Menu Animation & Audio
Active Subtitle Track-Links to biographies
|Year Of Production||1996|
|Running Time||60:06 (Case: 62)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||None Given|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This disc is a review of the 70s, a most turbulent decade for one of Britain's most famous football teams. Demoted to the second division in the 1973/74 season, after several decades of being one of the most successful clubs in the country, United were promoted back into the first division a year later, but successes were few and far between. In addition to this, the club went through several managers and playing styles that added to the problems.
Four former players - Alex Stepney, Jimmy Greenhoff, Gordon Hill and Stuart Pearson - present their team of the decade. Some of the great names of the 60s - Best, Law and Charlton - are not considered for inclusion, even though their careers did extend into the 70s, because it was considered that their playing days belonged more to the 1960s (a fair enough assumption).
Included in the discussion is footage of each player selected to form the team, including goals they scored or memorable moments. As an added bonus, there are outtakes from a winning FA cup campaign in 1977 (when they beat arch rivals Liverpool) and their heartbreaking losses to Southampton in 1976 and Arsenal in 1979.
Every now and then a ball will appear in the bottom corner of the display. When activated, comprehensive details of the subject matter is presented, whether the details of a cup campaign or a player profile. There are also extensive player profiles, with complete football biography and information on the playing career of each member of the team, including the various managers that were in charge of ManUtd during those turbulent years.
The final selected team consists of: Alex Stepney (Goalkeeper), Jimmy Nichol (Right Back), Brian Greenhoff (Centre Back), Martin Buchan (Centre Back), Arthur Albiston (Left Back), Steve Copell (Right Wing), Lou Macari and Sammy Macilroy (Midfield), Gordon Hill (Left Wing), Jimmy Greenhoff and Stuart Pearson (Centre Forward/Striker). The managers during that period were Matt Busby, Wilf McGuiness, Frank O'Farrell, Tommy Docherty and Dave Sexton.
Special Note: This disc is encoded in NTSC format, regardless of what the packaging states. As a result, unless your equipment is capable of NTSC playback this disc may be unviewable.
The most notable problem with this disc is that much of the original archival footage, plus the interview with the four past players was undoubtedly taken from videotape and not film. Most of the problems are analogue in nature, many of them quite possibly due to the age and condition of the tape and the fact that video technology of the time was definitely not what it is today. On the whole, most of the football coverage is very shoddy. The early black and white footage (it looks like film footage for the most part) is actually superior in quality, but exhibits far more film artefacts for your enjoyment (huge chunks out of the emulsion, grain and lots of fine white flecks that are very visible). In keeping with the low quality is the interview conducted with the former players. Obviously made for TV, expense was spared on a quality set and the whole thing has the production values of a very low budget, slapped-together TV show.
The entire disc is presented in 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.
Forget things like shadow detail - you are watching highlights from football games most of the time so you should be concentrating on the ball. In any case, due to the overall blurriness of the transfer (most probably caused by the state of the original footage and video used) very little can be seen in the background in live action and in the studio there is little to see but a set. There is plenty of noise on show, if that interests you, with blooming especially bad in the old black and white footage.
Ghosting is particularly a problem, the type you would see if the tracking on your old VCR wasn't right. Most of this was probably due to the NTSC formatting and is a result of interlacing. MPEG artefacts, blockiness, pixelization and tape tracking problems (18:12 for the best example) can be seen throughout, including the usual black marks, and some major brightness/contrast problems. Some of these problems can probably be laid at the feet of the original material used, so being too critical of the transfer would be unfair, although this is no better than bad VHS in effect.
There is colour bleed galore on the red shirts of the ManUtd players and some of their opponents. Every now and then you'll see spots of colour that shouldn't be there or which appear to have been left behind after a player has moved on. There are no subtitles on this disc and it is single layered.
If it's possible, the audio fares even worse than the video on this disc. Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 kilobits per second (the only soundtrack on the disc by the way), you will quickly notice three things. Firstly, the main menu offers some surround work if you listen long enough. Crowd noises are cut into the rear during the menu loop, which was different. Secondly, the interview with the former players is cut into both front channels but is almost unintelligible at times and thirdly, all live game footage has the sound exclusively from the centre channel but is mostly clear and understandable. Another annoying problem with this disc is the hum you get during various player interviews (11:30 and again 13:40 for examples).
As I said earlier, the dialogue from the four ex-players who are being interviewed is so hard to understand at times that it's basically atrocious. Apart from talking over the top of each other, not to mention the problem with the dialects, the sound lacks clarity with no vocal separation and for the most part, unless the microphone was basically turned to one individual, the whole thing just comes out as one mass of incomprehensible gibberish. Add to this the fact that for the most part it sounds like they are in a tunnel, miles away and you have a very indistinct and awful soundtrack. The sound from TV coverage of various games fares a lot better. The singularity of the commentator, plus their articulation, is easy to understand. Syncing was not an issue, fortunately.
Apart from the opening and closing credits, this disc is without music, unless you characterise the rhythmic chanting of the crowds as musical. The music used in the credits is the same for all discs in this series I've watched so far.
The only surround channel usage comes from the main menu audio loop and I have the feeling it may have been unintentional at that. There is no usage of the .1 channel at all.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is a multi-region disc but I think I am the first to review it. You can find it for sale in Region 2 at Blackstar but there is no other mention of this disc that I could find elsewhere.
Due to the poor nature of the audio and video this is strictly for fans. This was obviously made for TV and is overall a very poor presentation.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Rotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Rotel RB 985 MkII|
|Speakers||JBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer|