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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Lawson, Nigella-Nigella Bites-Series 2 + Christmas Special (2001)

Lawson, Nigella-Nigella Bites-Series 2 + Christmas Special (2001)

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Released 4-Nov-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Nigella's Christmas Bites
Notes-Nigella's Book Shelf
Featurette-Bonus Recipes
Featurette-Christmas Bonus Recipe
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 104:50
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Claire Whalley

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Nigella Lawson
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Barrie Bignold

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 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

     This Nigella Bites DVD is a combination of the second series of Nigella Bites (which runs for 104:50), plus Nigella's Christmas Bites TV special (which runs for 54:03), and some recipes that didn't make it into the series but were caught on film anyway, so are added on to the end of each show. The series is a contemporary cooking show, and covers all occasions from "Comfort Food" to "Trashy" to "Party Girl". The Christmas special, surprisingly enough, deals with some Christmas season specialities, that season being Winter over in the UK.

     Nigella Lawson herself is a tall, frumpy, British housewife with long, curly, dark locks and apparently a lot of time on her hands to come up with strange as hell things to do to food. She dips her finger into just about everything she cooks along the way, licks spoons and sucks thumbs, and really isn't much for cooking hygiene. But I guess it all gets cooked anyway. Even after all I've seen, I'd still rather eat at one of her parties than at McDonald's.

     Those of you after a cholesterol free diet, or even a balanced diet, should not watch this series looking for cooking tips. This is hardcore, traditional British artery-hardening food. Too much will kill you, especially if you live in Australia where the weather is a lot hotter, and the required calorie intake is consequently a lot lower. Not being a nutritionist, I couldn't tell you the average cholesterol level of what she cooks, but judging by my own limited knowledge, it has to be high.

     That said, for a one-off occasion, I'm keen to give some of these things a go. Particularly quirky was pot-roasted pork, done not in water but in Coca-Cola. This apparently gives the pork a smoky, barbeque quality that other sauces just can't do. Then, of course, you have to cover the ham in treacle and sugar to get a proper glaze in a hot oven. I hope you have a treadmill at home, and maybe even some blood-thinning drugs! I can feel that plaque congesting in my left ventricle.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


     In a word: exceptional.

     The picture is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This is, as far as I can tell, the original aspect ratio of the show. It was certainly broadcast in this ratio on the ABC. There are times when the show cuts into a fake 2.35:1 ratio, achieved, I believe, by hooding the lens of the camera. These sequences, though, are only the interconnecting cuts in between the scenes in the kitchen, generally of Nigella running around with her kids.

     Filmed on digital video, the picture is crystal clear and almost perfect. There were almost no MPEG artefacts at all. There was no grain, no low-level noise, and only the most subtle of aliasing on some circular chairs and the blinds in the background of her kitchen. I don't believe I have seen a DVD print quite this clear. Even Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones had its faults, and that had a much larger budget and a whole team producing the transfer.

     I did not spot the dual-layer pause the first watch through, or even when I went hunting for it. I believe it lies in between the first season and the Christmas special. It is, consequently, unnoticeable except in a slight pause when selecting the menu for Nigella's Christmas Bites.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The only soundtrack is an English 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo track. This is the original broadcast encoding. This is fine, because with no flashy special effects, or any real left-right / right-left movement, there was really no need for directional cues, so it could have been monaural and still perfectly good. Still, a stereophonic ambience is more pleasurable to listen to when you have the equipment, and maybe monaural roasting sounds would be a little strange. A 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track would have been a waste of time and space on the disc.

     Dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, although Nigella does occasionally need to compete with the noise of her cooking. There were no sync problems at all.

     The subwoofer was not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



     The main menu is a static shot of the film with Nigella eating behind it. There is no audio. It is 16x9 enhanced. Both Nigella Bites the series and Nigella's Christmas Bites have menus which involve various cuts of Nigella playing with food. These, too, are 16x9 enhanced but also have the jazzy theme music from the show playing over the cut in 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo.

Nigella's Christmas Bites (54:03)

     I actually consider this to be another show attached to the series and not really divisible from it, but I will talk about it here in the extras, too. The video and audio quality are identical to that of the series, as is the layout -- that is, 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, and in 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. The only difference is the food is geared for a particular time of year, and not all year round. Still, many of the dishes are quite flexible, and although I might not see myself decorating a Christmas cake any other time than at Christmas (and even then, only after stringent protest), I still may find myself cooking "Pasta with Walnut Sauce".

Nigella's Extra Bites

     These are just the recipes which are added on at the end of each show which didn't make the cut for the series or the Christmas Bites special when they went to air. Here they are isolated so you can watch them individually if you choose. When you watch the series or the special, these 'extras' are just added on as another chapter.

     There is also an extra static menu here which lists Nigella's top ten cookbooks.

Ingredients List

     These are static shots listing, funnily enough, the ingredients for each recipe used in the show. To access these stills you press the 'Menu' button on your remote while Nigella is cooking the particular dish. A list appears which you can copy down, and then you can either resume the program or go back to the main menu.

A-Z Index

     This is an alphabetical index of the dishes Nigella cooks, in both the series and the Christmas Bites special. It functions much the same as a regular chapter menu on a DVD -- you select the recipe from the list, and you are taken to the part of either show where Nigella cooks that dish. However, unlike a regular chapter selection, once the cooking is done, you are returned to the A-Z menu.

R4 vs R1

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

     There is no R1 release of this disc. There is an R2 release which is identical. Given the lower cost of the domestic product, R4 is the clear winner.


     Nigella Bites is a fun cooking show, although I'm sure its star is just a little bit nuts, and the nutritional value of the food is sometimes questionable.

     The picture quality is excellent.

     The 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo track was fine, and suited the show perfectly.

     The extras are largely obligatory ingredients lists and addendums to the actual series itself. They are best considered as part of the greater whole rather than extras in their own right.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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