Rising Damp-The Very Best of (1974)

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Released 20-Jun-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 120:13
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ronnie Baxter
Vernon Lawrence
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Leonard Rossiter
Frances De La Tour
Don Warrington
Richard Beckinsale
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Dennis Wilson


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

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

Plot Synopsis

    For most people, Rising Damp is probably unknown. It ran for four series between 1974 and 1978 with a pilot and a Christmas special, totalling 28 episodes in all. Written by Eric Chappell, the series was born from an original stage play called the Banana Box, and broadcast by Yorkshire Television.

    This is excellent comedy, although it does use heavy racial overtones and sexual innuendo that would not pass muster in today's climate of political correctness. Add in some fast-fire dialogue delivered by a cast that really shines (most of them coming from theatrical backgrounds) and you have a biting, satirical comedy worthy of a place in comedic history.

    The cast is brilliantly fronted by Leonard Rossiter as Rupert Rigsby, the landlord with no class and the hots for Ms Ruth Jones, played with coquettish style by Frances de la Tour. Added to the mix is Richard Beckinsale as Alan Moore (also known for his role as Godber opposite Ronny Barker in Porridge), the medical student with the foppish hair style, good looks and equally inept with women. To complete the foursome is Don Warrington as Philip Smith, with more style, panache and charm than the rest put together (even though he is black).

    This disc presents four episodes, one from each series, plus the Christmas special.

Charisma

(Series 1, Episode 4)

"Rigsby is desperate to get his end away and Ruth is the object of his desires. Alan and Philip try their best to help him out, so armed with a pendant, a Matt Monroe record and some tranquillizers, he's off to try his luck. Only there is a slight problem, the tranquillizers are for pregnant women and have a side effect, turning urine green and Rigsby is eating them like smarties"

A Perfect Gentleman

(Series 2, Episode 5)

"Seymour is the new lodger and Rigsby thinks he is a proper gentleman, but Alan and Philip aren't convinced. He's already borrowed money off them and avoided paying the rent and they smell a con man. Trouble is, can Rigsby stop crawling long enough to see the truth, or will he lose the lot?"

Special Guest star: Henry McGee as Seymour (Benny Hill Show)

For the Man Who Has Everything

(Christmas Special)

"It's Boxing Day and Rigsby has spent Christmas alone again with just his mistletoe for company. Meanwhile, believing Rigsby is at his brothers for the festive season, Alan brings his flat mate back early hoping for some hanky panky. Philip also brings back his girlfriend hoping to find her a room. Things naturally get out of hand after Rigsby misunderstands what Philip's Christmas present is and thinks he's giving him his girlfriend.."

Stage Struck

(Series 3, Episode 2)

"Hilliary is an out of work actor staying in one of the rooms. He has a play and everyone has a part in it but Rigsby. After finding out the hero of the play gets to 'snog' Ms Jones he tries to inveigle his way into the leading role by playing on Alan's fears that Hilliary is gay. But Hilliary turns the tables on Rigsby and takes over Ruth's part..."

Special Guest star: Peter Bowles as Hilliary (Rumpole of the Bailey, To the Manor Born)

Come On In the Waters Lovely

(Series 4, Episode 6 - final)

"Rigsby's 'decree absolute' arrives and Ms Jones is in his sights as the next Mrs Rigsby. Sporting a large diamond ring he proposes marriage over dinner and surprisingly enough she accepts. Now he must meet the mother-in-law and his brother turns up unexpectedly wanting the diamond ring back.. is Rigsby to finally know true happiness?...."

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The opening credits and first scenes of this had me reaching for my notepad with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I honestly didn't hold out much hope for this disc, given the age of the source material and the fact that TV series made in England seemed to suffer fates worse than death for the most part after their initial runs were over, especially those made in the 60s and 70s (can anyone forget the mass purging of material from the BBC?). Fortunately, most of my fears were groundless and this is quite a decent presentation overall, with a few noted exceptions.

    The transfer is presented Full Frame (1.33:1) and is not 16x9 enhanced

    The overall picture quality is slightly blurry, although after a short time you probably won't notice. Since much of the show takes place on one or two sets the shadow level is reasonable since nothing really happens in the background and detail is mostly inconsequential. In addition, the background is fairly poorly lit. Given that this was based on a play, set design would have been given a fairly low priority anyway, as was the case with most comedy series of the time. Grain is also present throughout all five episodes. It wasn't overpowering or a problem to be fair but did lower the quality level somewhat. Some low level noise was visible but again it was not really an issue.

    The colour is mostly drab and lacks any vibrancy for the first three episodes. Then, there is a sudden palette change during Star Struck at 0:10 and the colours are more vivid until the end of the disc. During Charisma there was some major colour bleed at 0:29. In A Perfect Gentleman at 4:37 and at 12:24 there was colour loss with the picture turning black and white for about a second.

    There is a complete lack of film artefacts. There is no evidence of flecking at all which was remarkable in the extreme (and very welcome). Charisma has some ghosting on Rigsby at 0:30. In For the Man Who Has Everything at 9:02 there is an analogue tape tracking error with 2 solid lines through the picture, lasting about half a second. Apart from those few problems the rest of the disc was as clean as a whistle, a very laudable effort indeed.

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

Audio

    The biggest problem with reviewing a disc like this is that you know the audio is going to be mediocre at the best of times, so how do you reasonably review it without unfair comparisons to more recent releases? TV series aren't renowned for their sound. Broadcasting in mono is still fairly standard and until recently the use of surround channels and subwoofers for a TV show would have had most people scratching their heads and looking at you like a crazy man. I felt obliged, therefore, to be a bit more lenient overall considering this would garner half a star compared to something like The Fifth Element in all honesty!

    The soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono and English only. Naturally I listened to this (it was either that or learn to lip read since there are no subtitles).

    The dialogue can best be described as average. Although the voices are clear, the accents can be a little difficult to understand, especially Leonard Rossiter when he is ranting on. There is some hollowness to the voices at times, probably caused by the transfer, which doesn't help. There is also a fake laugh track mixed in which occasionally threatened to overpower the dialogue. Fortunately, once you are used to it, it should become becomes less annoying. The audio sync is spot on.

    The only music is during the opening and closing credits. It is a little ditty performed with piano and some accompanying instruments. It's brief but catchy although I doubt it'd make any audiophile's top ten.

    There is no surround channel nor subwoofer usage on this disc at all

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

Extras

    There are no extras. I don't really think theme music over the menu is strictly an extra to be fair.

R4 vs R1

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

    There doesn't seem to be an R1 release of this DVD but there is an R2 version which from all reports is precisely the same. Therefore, I would stick with the locally-released version.

Summary

    For those of you with a penchant for English comedy series, Rising Damp rates right up there with the best. This DVD seems to be an exact copy of the "Best of..." available on VHS (as is the entire series actually), so hopefully this is a primer that will be followed by the rest of the shows on DVD. For all its age this is a very funny show, right up there with Steptoe and Son and Porridge.

    The video was surprisingly good considering its age - a little fuzzy, but well within tolerance.

    The audio was so-so, but given the nature of the material I expected little more and it was listenable.

    There were no extras, which is a bit disappointing. Even talent profiles would have added value (almost).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Sunday, May 27, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationRotel RB 985 MkII
SpeakersJBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio 3MIIs Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS245 Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer

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