Absolutely Fabulous-Series 1 (1992)

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Released 3-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Outtakes
Featurette-The Beginning
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 175:40 (Case: 195)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bob Spiers
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jennifer Saunders
Joanna Lumley
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $34.95 Music Simon Brint
Simon Wallace


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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, copiously
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits Yes, jokes to finish off the credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    "Later on, we'll be taking an in-depth look at acute schizophrenia from 9:20 to 9:23."

    Absolutely Fabulous is one of those comedies that seems hilarious on the first viewing, but seems to lose its punch when you've seen and heard all the jokes before. I say this because rather than laughing at the childish antics of Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), I found myself wishing that Saffron Monsoon (Julia Sawalha) would just get up and leave her mother to live life without anyone to pick up after her. I guess time has soured me to some degree, because I used to find this show to be quite the proverbial crack-up. Still, Saffy and her grandmother, June Monsoon (June Whitfield), keep the laughs coming even when the other two regular cast members have worn their welcome down to bloody stubs. This volume of episodes contains all six from the first series:

    I guess I haven't found Absolutely Fabulous as funny the second time around as was the case when I first viewed it on the ABC some years ago. Still, if you're a fan of this show, then this collection of the first six episodes will keep you laughing for just over three hours, which is certainly good value for the thirty-five dollar asking price.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Unfortunately, BBC television series and poor video quality seem to go hand in hand, with the first series of Absolutely Fabulous being no exception.

    The transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

    The sharpness of this transfer is acceptable, but not anything to write home about. Objects that are distant to the camera are often a blurred, ill-defined mess that could easily be confused with a VHS transfer, but thankfully, the objects which are closer to the camera have a great deal more definition. The shadow detail is poor, but this is acceptable because almost all of the programme on offer is quite well-lit. There was no low-level noise lurking in the transfer.

    The colours in this series tend to be on the muted and dull side, at least until we get to the costumes worn by Jennifer Saunders, which generally look as if someone threw them up. The transfer captures these colour schemes without any bleeding, misregistration, or composite artefacts.

    MPEG artefacts are present in small amounts throughout the transfer, with subtle macro-blocking to be found in the backgrounds of any long shot. If you look at one shot in Fashion at 2:08, for instance, you can see the edges of colours on Julia Sawalha's face becoming blocky, with her cheeks in particular looking a little like pink squares. Film-to-video artefacts are present to a similar, but much less subtle, degree: just look at any shot that contains horizontal blinds, and watch how they shimmer as the camera pans across them. Film artefacts did not seem to be present in this transfer, making me wonder if this series had been shot on video like a lot of other BBC productions that mostly take place indoors.

    The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are about ninety percent faithful to the dialogue, and very useful if you have any problems with understanding the shouted or mumbled lines. Some of the jokes lose a little in the translation from speech to text, but not enough to make the best ones any less funny.

    This disc is dual layered. No discernable layer change was detected during any of the episodes.



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

Audio

    There is only the one soundtrack available on this disc: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand most of the time, but Jennifer Saunders' shouting and carrying on like a spoiled child posed a problem on a few occasions. Some words from Jane Horrocks, such as "bon jour", were hard to make out, but this is more because of the way they were delivered rather than any specific transfer fault. There were no subjectively discernable problems with audio sync.

    The music in this series is credited to Simon Brint and Simon Wallace, with a theme song entitled This Wheel's On Fire performed by Julie Driscoll and Adrian Edmondson. The music really has little impact overall, and it is hard to recall any single moment of it actually being present in the episodes. The theme song, on the other hand, is quite an interesting piece of work that deserves to be released as a single.

    The surround channels were not used by this soundtrack. The subwoofer was not specifically engaged by it, either, although some signal from the music was redirected to it by my Dolby Digital processor.



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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static and accompanied by 48 kilohertz Linear PCM audio. It is profoundly counter-intuitive to navigate and not 16x9 Enhanced.

Outtakes

    Entitled Absolutely Not in the menu, this fourteen minute and fifty-five second collection of bloopers is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It is not particularly amusing.

Featurette - The Beginning

   If you've ever wondered who Dawn French was, then you can see her and her acting "skills" in this eight minute and five second featurette that is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Photo Gallery

    The transitions between each still are animated, but that's the only remarkable thing about this gallery.

R4 vs R1

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

    Series One of Absolutely Fabulous is either available separately or as part of a boxed set in Region 1. The Region 1 boxed set also contains The Last Shout, which is distributed by Universal Home Video in this country. The separate version of Series One that is available in Region 1 is identically specified to ours, and it appears unlikely that either version will have a better transfer. I'll call this one even until someone can contact me and tell me of any serious discrepancy in the quality of either transfer.

Summary

    Maybe it is the fact that I am still under the influence of heavy painkillers after having had reconstructive surgery on my jaw, but I found it very hard to laugh during this viewing of Absolutely Fabulous episodes. Then again, watching two children grown older acting like complete morons can really only hold its appeal for so long in my view. Still, if you enjoy this series and need to indulge yourself in another viewing every now and again, then you can't go far wrong with this disc.

    The video transfer is acceptable.

    The audio transfer is unspectacular.

    The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Friday, September 21, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung 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 DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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