My Favorite Broadway-The Love Songs (2000)
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||David Horn|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
After the unexpected joy of reviewing My Favorite Broadway - The Leading Ladies, I looked forward with anticipation to reviewing this companion release of sorts. Musically, this lived up to my expectations.
The music of Broadway selected for this celebration of love songs, and a bit of dance, is as follows:
Julie Andrews adds the odd introduction here and there to round out the show. The highlights once again are the big names carried over from the first DVD in Marin Mazzie (she has a terrific, strong voice), Rebecca Luker and my new personal favourite Broadway singer in Linda Eder. The men are far less distinctive, but at least their presence serves to confirm why I have never thought much of Peter Gallagher as an actor - he is actually a singer! I suppose the highlight amongst the men is Michael Crawford, but I have heard him sing a lot better than this. Michael McCormick and Michael Mulheren provide the best bit of light relief for the evening.
A quite enjoyable programme in general and fans of Broadway musicals are in for another treat here.
The programme is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. Amazing that one year difference in time sees the switch from Full Frame format to widescreen format for this predominantly filmed-for-television effort. Who says widescreen shall not inherit the television world?
This is a rather nice transfer, sharp and with plenty of detail on offer. There is just the one noted obligatory lapse in focus, during Ron Raines' song, which is something of an unexpected turn of events: you sort of expect to see a few in this sort of show. There was a slight hint of edge enhancement during Michael Crawford's initial appearance on stage. Shadow detail is good, but nothing spectacular, as we would expect from this sort of event in this sort of venue. The stage lighting has less effect here than I recall in the original show, which is a nice improvement. At least there was minimal loss of detail as a result of lighting wash-out. The transfer is generally clear and does not have much in the way of grain. There did not appear to be any low level noise problems in the transfer.
This is again quite a bright and vibrant transfer, very colourful where allowed by the stage lighting. Certainly the blacks have a decent depth to them and are nice and even in tone. The colours are generally well saturated, with no hint of oversaturation. There is no problem with colour bleed in the transfer.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Unfortunately, the transfer falls down in the film-to-video artefact category. It suffers somewhat from aliasing, most notably in the steps on the stage (have a gander around 5:38, 25:18 and 54:00), but also elsewhere like the piano. This could perhaps have been lived with except it gets really, really grotesque on clothing. Indeed, it gets so bad on some occasions that the trousers worn by the gentlemen look like they are blowing in the breeze! The main offenders, however, are shirts and suit lapels and you get some rather ugly looks between 20:35 and 22:00, 30:25 and 32:00, 54:25 and 58:45 and 69:25 and 71:45. Had it only happened once, perhaps it would not have been so bad, but when it keeps repeating, it is very difficult to ignore - and once seen, you will notice it every time. There is some moiré artefacting present in the backdrops and front of the stage: examples can be seen at 9:34, 11:10 and 16:03. There seems to be a bit of camera wobble between 64:35 and 64:38, but this seems to be inherent in the source material. Overall, the result of these problems is to seriously drag the overall quality of the transfer down. There are no problems with film artefacts in the transfer.
"One of the things that often amazes me about audio transfers is the fact that they often seem to be engineered and mastered by persons who appear to have no idea of what music actually sounds like. Here we have a classic example of that point. If you have ever listened to a live string orchestra or indeed a symphony orchestra, you will have noticed that whilst the bass is a little prominent in the overall sound, it does not overpower the whole soundscape. Perhaps the sound engineers should be forced to listen to more live orchestral music in order that they understand this point, so that problems with over prominent bass could be avoided in music such as this. Song requires support from the music, not to be overpowered by it". That is a direct quote of the opening comments I made in the original review I wrote for the previously released My Favorite Broadway - The Leading Ladies. It is repeated for the simple reason that nothing has changed and this perpetuates the same problem.
There are two soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack whilst also briefly sampling the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.
The vocals come up very well in the transfer and there are no problems understanding them, other than some of the very soft passages from the normally strong-voiced Marin Mazzie. Thankfully, the over-emphasised bass channel does not drown out any vocals. There did not appear to be any audio sync problems with the transfer.
The music is again quite naturally from a widely diverse collection of some of the greats and not-so-greats of the Broadway musical.
The main problem with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack as you have probably already guessed is an over-emphasis of the bass channel. Whilst not as bad as the previously released DVD, it is still an issue, especially in the earlier part of the programme on offer on this DVD. There is a very unnatural feel to the overall sound as a result of this forward mix of the bass channel, and it is not a really pleasant way to listen to this sort of music. Once you get past this problem however, there is plenty to enjoy here. The surround channels are rather well-used and whilst there is nothing spectacular going on, you can certainly hear the surround effect encompassing you. Not quite being there status, but not far off it. It is free of any blemishes or distortions and when the bass recedes a little in the mix, the soundscape is really natural-sounding.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is a nice sounding effort, albeit one that suffers the usual wimpish sound in comparison to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. It is a nicely open sounding effort, quite clear and from what I heard without any major problems at all.
|Surround Channel Use|
Just like the earlier release, nothing at all, not even a booklet to let you know anything about the performers.
It would appear that this is identical in content to the Region 1 release, which would make the decision slightly in favour of Region 4 owing to PAL formatting.
My Favorite Broadway - The Love Songs is not quite in the same class as the previously released My Favorite Broadway - The Leading Ladies, but is still an enjoyable presentation of some great singing. Unfortunately, the video transfer is not in the same class and is riddled with some fairly ugly artefacts. The audio transfer however is very similar to that of the earlier release, and suffers pretty much the same sort of problems with a slightly overemphasised bass channel. Still, if they keep on turning out Broadway musical DVDs like this, I could definitely come to like the genre. Noteworthy for a rare chance to hear at least a few notes from Julie Andrews, whose singing career as we all know was sadly cut short by botched throat surgery.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|