The Darling Buds of May-The Best of (1991)
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||1991|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Based on the novels by H.E. Bates and set in a Kent village in the late 1950s, it is the story of the Larkin family. Ma and Pop Larkin and their brood of children live on their idyllic Home farm. Pop Larkin doesn't seem to work but always has a ready supply of cash (and an even readier supply of alcohol in his cocktail cabinet). Ma (Pam Ferris) seems to be the best mother and cook in the world and the children all live the ideal existence. Throw in strawberry-picking, gymkhanas, and several afternoon teas in the sun, and it is quite "perfick" but it can all become a bit too syrupy-sweet for my liking. The novel was also adapted into a 1959 US movie called "The Mating Game" starring Debbie Reynolds and Tony Randall (thanks to my mum for providing that information!).
This dual disc set may be titled The Best Of The Darling Buds of May but how exactly they arrived at the "Best Of" part is anyone's guess. It contains the feature length series pilot, and another four 50 minute episodes from series 2 and series 3 joined into two double episodes. Speaking to my local Darling Buds expert (my mum again), she doesn't see how a "Best Of" could really be acheived and thinks this is more a sample of one episode from each of the series. Without watching all 20 episodes, who am I to argue!
Disc 1 is a dual layered effort containing the series pilot The Darling Buds of May, and the Series 2 episode titled Stranger At The Gates. Disc 2 is a single layer effort that contains The Happiest Days of Your Life from Series 3 and the photo gallery.
The 3 episodes presented are;
The Darling Buds Of May - Series Pilot (100:22 minutes)
A tax inspector (Phillip Franks) visits the Larkin farm in a futile effort to investigate Pop's (David Jason) income. He finds himself unable to leave due to the very attractive way of life at the farm and the even more attractive daughter, Mariette (Catherine Zeta-Jones).
Stranger At The Gates - from Series 2 (99:25 minutes)
A young stranger claiming to be from Denmark arrives at the village. He becomes very popular with all the villagers for the jobs and favours he performs but he also hides a secret that is about to be uncovered. Meanwhile, the Larkin's second oldest daughter Primrose is intent on snaring herself the very eligible local vicar.
The Happiest Days Of Your Life - from Series 3 (100:23 minutes)
The Larkin twins are proving to be too much of a handful for the local school, so Pop and Ma Larkin decide to send them to Brockhurst College, a nearby boarding school. It looks as if Brockhurst College will be forced to close due to its dilapidated state, but Pop steps in with a rescue plan. Meanwhile Mariette and Cedric are made an offer to purchase the local brewery, but all is not as it first seems...
The transfer is presented full frame (1.33:1) and is not 16x9 enhanced. Being filmed in 1991, I expected slightly better quality, but then it is a made-for-television series and is on a par with most of the other series made around the time.
Sharpness is only average with a general softness to many of the scenes. There is also much scattered low level noise. There are no problems with shadow detail.
Colour is very muted and washed-out with little vibrancy or contrast.
It is obvious that this series was made for commercial television due to the existence of pauses in the video designed to slot ads into. The most noticable of these is at 66:59 in episode 3. The vision suddenly pauses for 3 seconds and you can actually see the Darling Buds Of May titles suddenly flash on the screen very quickly and then disappear. Very clumsily handled and not at all necessary.
There were no apparent MPEG artefacts.
There are no subtitles present at all, which is a shame for those with hearing difficulty.
I was unable to detect any layer change on the dual layer disc. I would therefore assume that each layer on Disc 1 contains one episode.
Dialogue is always very clear and there are no audio sync issues. The only problem I noted was at 71:20 during episode 2. The dialogue suddenly moved from both channels to the right channel for a second, then the left channel for a second and then back to both channels. Quite strange and very noticable.
Think English village in the 1950s and that is the style of music you get. Quaint, and featuring predominatly flute and other pipe-based instruments, it reminds me of those English period pieces.
There is no surround channel or subwoofer use.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||Toshiba 1200, using S-Video output|
|Display||Loewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10|