Great Comedy Moments (2001)

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Released 8-May-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 108:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:04) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Various
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Ronnie Barker
Various
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $29.95 Music Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I am always ambivalent about "sampler" or "best of" discs, and this happens to be one of them, giving us a selection of 41 excerpts from popular BBC TV comedies such as 'Allo 'Allo, Are You Being Served?, Blackadder (mainly from season 2 and 3), The Good Life, Some Mothers Do 'Ave Them, Steptoe and Son, The Two Ronnies, Yes Minister, together with some older material in black and white including sketches by Tony Hancock, Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore.

    Why am I ambivalent? Well, as the lead character (played by John Cusack) in High Fidelity points out, it's always difficult to create a compilation. There are always those who will criticise your choice in terms of items you have included and others you have omitted. And sometimes the order in which you link your selections can be quite important and may make the difference between a good and a bad compilation.

    This collection of the "best of British humour" seems to be open to the same criticism. Why certain sketches and not others? And whilst we get representation from some classic comedy shows, what about the others that have been left out? This one misses out on any contributions from Monty Python's Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers, Absolutely Fabulous, The Young Ones or even Yes Prime Minister plus plenty of others I could mention.

    Fortunately, though, we do get the ability, via DVD menu navigation, to choose our own ordering of the sketches or even to select a "random" play order.

    Introduced and concluded by Ronnie Barker, we do get some "great moments". My favourites are the ones from The Two Ronnies, particularly "Mastermind" and "Four Candles" as they stand very well on their own and require no context. The excerpts from Blackadder and Yes Minister are quite funny, but I think they would be funnier still if I were to watch the entire episode from which they were taken.

    This DVD was released by the BBC onto the UK market just before last Christmas (2001) and obviously was positioned as a stocking filler. I'm not sure there is a compelling reason to buy it in May - you are probably better off saving your money and buying the complete episodes of whatever comedy series you fancy.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a full frame transfer. The opening and closing comments by Ronnie Barker feature a razor sharp reference quality video transfer, but the excerpts have varying degrees of video quality depending on the age of the original source from which they are taken. Overall, I would have to say that the quality of the video transfer is more than acceptable for a compilation and I would dare say the intended target market for this disc is probably not overly concerned with the video quality as long as it's not too fuzzy.

    The amount of detail and colour saturation is acceptable. Some of the black and white scenes, particularly those featuring Tony Hancock, appear very pixelated almost as if they have been taken from a VCD. Examples include 1:40-1:44 and 7:10-9:22 and there were several more later on in the feature. However, apart from pixelization, I did not detect any other instances of video or MPEG compression artefacts.

    An English subtitle track is available, which is useful for at least two excerpts which rely on wordplay: "Reggie and Jimmy" and "Four Candles." The accuracy of the subtitling is reasonably good and errors are limited to the occasional omission or simplification of dialogue.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL) and the layer change occurs at 52:04 in the middle of a scene and is quite distracting. Given that each chapter break leads to a different comedy sketch, why can't they just put the layer change between chapters?

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track on the disc: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I dare say most of the comedy selections will have a mono soundtrack and I did not notice any significant uses of stereo sound positioning.

    The overall quality of the audio track is again acceptable but nothing special. Some of the dialogue appears slightly boomy and slightly distorted, but again probably acceptable to the intended target audience. I did not notice any audio synchronization issues.

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

Extras

    There are no extras present on this disc.

Menu Audio & Animation

    The menus are full frame, animated and include background audio. You can view the sketches in order, or randomly, or by show, or select each one yourself.

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc has yet to be released in Region 1.

Summary

    Great Comedy Moments consists of 41 excerpts from popular BBC TV comedies. The video and audio are acceptable, and there are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Tuesday, April 23, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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Comments (Add)
I agree.... - Alex H (My biography...in 500 words or less!)