V: The Final Battle (1983)
Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1983|
|Running Time||256:36 (Case: 255)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Richard T. Heffron|
Warner Home Video
Barry De Vorzon
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
One of the things that writer/director Kenneth Johnson alluded to in his audio commentary for V - The Original Miniseries was that he was not happy with where some of the character arcs were taken in the series that followed. Given that control of the story was taken out of his hands, and that he is totally uninvolved with The Final Battle or the appalling regular television series that followed, you'd be inclined to think he is just whining. However, there is a certain something missing from V - The Final Battle that makes it somewhat less compelling viewing than The Original Miniseries. One big difference is in the dialogue - the entire script of The Original Miniseries was written in iambic meter, a technique that gives great natural rhythm to the dialogue when used right, but the dialogue in The Final Battle is more abrupt and choppy.
Another difference is in the very episodic nature of the new miniseries. Whereas the original functions as a feature film with an enforced intermission in the middle, The Final Battle tends to run more like a series of ninety-minute telemovies. This in and of itself is not bad, but the character arcs so carefully set up in the original tend to be a bit more static, or choppy, in this series. However, one of my favourite characters in the whole story is introduced in The Final Battle - a mercenary by the name of Ham Tyler (Michael Ironside). The three episodes in this series are as follows (these summaries will spoil certain elements of The Original Miniseries and The Final Battle if you haven't seen them before):
The story in this three-part series is obviously more action-oriented, which is no surprise given that most of the big plot elements were delivered in the original. We know exactly why the Visitors are here and what the resistance is up against, so this series focuses more on how they go about it rather than why they are where they are. Marc Singer delivers yet another powerful performance, but it is Michael Ironside who completely steals this show, although he has some extremely tough competition in Blair Tefkin, who gives us one of the most shocking scenes in both miniseries combined. Although I wouldn't rate The Final Battle as highly as The Original Miniseries, it still takes a big dump on any of the television series, locally produced or otherwise, that have been made in the last twelve years.
Mere days before I began this review, I took the opportunity to borrow a copy of the Region 1 version of The Final Battle and take a look, which sort of compares with Grease as far as a look back into the past goes (although this one is more pleasant thanks to Michael Ironside). The video presentation was good, but nothing special, and it appears that we get the same treatment in Region 4.
The transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. As with The Original Miniseries, the production was transmitted in the ratio of 1.33:1, but the director had intended a 1.85:1 ratio, which shows in many of the crowd shots. The matting to 1.78:1 makes this miniseries much more pleasant to look at than was the case with the old VHS cassettes.
This is a razor-sharp transfer with all the clarity and vivid detail that is to be expected from a PAL-formatted DVD, another area of improvement over VHS recordings of the broadcast in 1984. While the optically composited effects shots, particularly the ones involving model ships and matte paintings, are noticeably worse off than the rest of the transfer, this is inherent in the source material, and there is no real cause for complaint here. The shadow detail is good, but somewhat limited by the film stocks that were available to the production at the time, while there is no low-level noise.
The colours in this transfer are mostly slightly on the muted side, but the blood of both races has a bright, almost hyper-realistic look to it. Whether this was intended or not, it's quite a good effect. There are no composite artefacts nor colour bleeding on offer, although there is blooming from bright lights.
MPEG artefacts were not found in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts, while being mildly problematic, were quite well-controlled given some of the set designs. Aliasing was found on ship interiors at 2:04 during Episode 1 and 10:13 during Episode 3, with some minor occurrences on the side of a train car at 12:36 and the grille behind Marc Singer at 81:02 during Episode 2. Film artefacts were more of a nuisance in this transfer, with a large sprinkling of small white marks on the picture at 10:28 during Episode 1, during the attack on the Visitor Orientation Centre. A sizeable white mark was found in the lower left corner of the picture at 10:18 during Episode 2, when Michael Ironside comments on the wasted luggage.
There are numerous subtitle options on these discs, including an English for the Hearing Impaired stream. Unfortunately, these subtitles are not very accurate, or well-timed to boot, and there is one exchange early on in the piece when one particularly good exchange loses its meaning as a result.
The major disappointment of the Region 1 version that I viewed was that it was a two disc set, with both discs being Dual Sided. To cap that off, the flip side of Disc Two was completely blank, leaving merely a disc that was easier to scratch and get fingerprint oil upon. We get a slightly better deal - disc one is still Dual Sided, but disc two is single sided with a nice piece of label art. This begs the question of why on Earth couldn't we have three discs or one dual-layered and one single-layered disc, since cleaning discs of this type is far easier. The side and disc changes occur between episodes, which is the bright side.
Another major disappointment of the Region 1 version of this DVD is that the soundtrack was presented in Dolby Digital 1.0, resulting in quite a congested, and occasionally distorted, listening experience.
Two soundtracks are provided with these discs, both of which are in Dolby Digital 1.0 at 192 kilobits per second: the original English dialogue, and a dub in German. I listened primarily to the English dialogue, but I just had to compare the previously mentioned "I'm not afraid of you" exchange in German, just to see if Michael Ironside can be made to sound any meaner.
The dialogue varies slightly - most of the time it is clear and easy to understand, but at times it is either distorted, or poorly integrated with the overall soundstage. This can be fairly and squarely blamed upon the limitations of the original monaural mix. Jenny Sullivan's voice-over at 68:18 during Episode 1 hovers on the verge of distortion throughout, while Thomas Hill's order for everyone to freeze at 75:00 in the same episode goes just a little bit over. The worst example of distortion comes at 47:18 in Episode 3, as the guard that Jane Badler has just shot coughs. Thomas Hill's voice is also the victim of poorly integrated ADR at 22:33 during Episode 3.
There are no discernible problems with audio sync, although the reverb on the alien voices does create a slight illusion of being out at times.
The score music used in episodes 1 and 2 was composed by Joseph Conlan and Barry De Vorzon, while the score music used in episode 3 is the work of Dennis McCarthy. The music has less of a dramatic, choral feel than The Original Miniseries, but it is still notoriously effective. The strident marching theme, which also sounds as if it was designed to mimic an irregular heartbeat, that appears over the opening credits is something one just doesn't forget in a hurry.
The surround channels, as well as the stereo channels, were totally uninvolved with this soundtrack - everything is literally coming out of the centre speaker.
The subwoofer also had the night off.
|Surround Channel Use|
After the small amount of good extras on The Original Miniseries, I was rather disappointed by what we get here.
The menu is static, accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and 16x9 enhanced.
A handy enough listing if you want to know who played the most major characters, but I would have liked to have seen some minor players, such as Eleanor Dupres (Neva Patterson) or Maggie Blodgett (Denise Galik-Furey), listed as well.
The main difference between the Region 1 and Region 4 versions of this title is that the Region 4 has a noticeably better video transfer, at least in terms of visible resolution. The subtitle choices are much more limited on the Region 1 version, being limited to English and French from memory, and there is no German dub. You could be happy with either version, but Region 4 is marginally better.
V - The Final Battle, which was almost immediately followed by a regular hour-length weekly television series that died a very nasty death in the ratings, is not quite up to the standard of the original, but it is still far superior to any other fiction I have seen on television, with the sole exception of Doctor Who. I would recommend it be placed in the viewing schedule of any member of the human race, even if it is only to see just how surly and mean Michael Ironside can be when he tries. The ending is a little silly (okay, it is a lot silly), but this is near to the best 256 minutes of drama that has ever been broadcast on television. It's just such a pity that (among other things) we have seen so little from most of the cast since this production.
The video transfer is good, but hampered by the age of the source material.
The audio transfer is a good monaural mix, but it would have been better in 2.0 surround or even faux stereo.
There really are no extras to speak of.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|