Tender Loving Care (NTSC)

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Interactive Movie/Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) None 
Rating ma.gif (1236 bytes) Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time Unknown
(Approximately two hours of actual footage)
Other Extras Booklet
RSDL/Flipper Dual Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director David Wheeler
Aftermath Media
Wild Releasing
Starring John Hurt
Michael Esposito
Beth Tegarden
Marie Caldare
Case Amaray
RPI $39.95 Music John Welsman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.05:1 Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement
16x9No.jpg (4709 bytes)
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.05:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Years ago, a group of computer game artists known as Cinemaware coined the term "Interactive Movie" to describe the games they made, which achieved the amazing (at the time) feat of combining a computer game with movie-like graphics. Their most successful title in this respect was It Came From The Desert, which was a subtle homage to the old black-and-white film Them, and as complete an interactive film-like experience as the most powerful platform at the time (the Commodore Amiga) allowed. With the advent of Microsoft and their line of operating systems in the early 1990s, however, the Interactive Movie has all but disappeared from the shelves at computer stores, for some understandable reasons. The term itself had been ruined by a preponderance of games in which the gameplay element was sacrificed too much in favour of the film element, and the new dominant platforms in the market did not support the Interactive Movie experience well. With the advent of the DVD format, however, a new potential to put together such an entertainment experience at a level which has previously not been seen has arrived. One of the first attempts to exploit this new potential, Tender Loving Care, revolves around interaction with four actors, all of them unknowns except for John Hurt. The quality of the acting from the other three participants is decidedly B-grade, but competent enough to get the point across, which is all one really needs in this situation.

    The plot, as interesting as it is, is based upon the novel of the same name by Andrew Neiderman, and runs a little something like this: Michael Overton (Michael Esposito) is a man who lives on the farming estate he inherited from his family with his wife, Allison (Marie Caladare). Allison, for reasons that are really only hinted at in the early parts of the story, is suffering from what appears to be a form of schizophrenia with overlapping depressive symptoms. In actuality, she is meant to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the death of their daughter, Jody (Antonina Whitmore). In order to treat Allison, Michael enlists a psychiatric nurse turned psychiatrist by the name of Kathryn Randolph (Beth Tegarden), who happens to be a colleague and protégé of the mysterious Doctor Turner (John Hurt). As Doctor Turner, Hurt also performs most of the narration, which helps lend meaning to the intermittent video segments that flesh out the story. Considering the simple premise of this movie, it does help to have details added by the narration.

    As far as entertainment goes, if you haven't played computer games before, you will not find much value in this DVD. However, if games like Bioforge and Alone In The Dark were a regular part of your diet in years gone by, then this is worth examining. At a retail value of forty dollars, this represents much better value than most brand new computer games, and the fun part is that this title can be played on your ever-so-humble DVD Video player as well as on a DVD-ROM drive.

    Two more things: don't try to play this game all in one sitting, as the nature of the game can get quite tedious when you play it in five-hour blocks, as I did during this review. Additionally, if the sight of naked women in what seems a very unnatural and surreal context offends you, consider yourself warned. If you need a stronger warning, consider this: This disc uses interactive menus in order to present you with multiple choice questions that may influence the plot. One question that you are asked in the game, to pick the strongest example that I found, revolved around the possibility of the user thinking about having sexual intercourse with animals.

Transfer Quality


    Two types of footage were used to create this DVD: filmed footage in an aspect ratio of 2.05:1 (not 16x9 enhanced), and Full Frame computer imagery.

    The filmed footage is reasonably sharp, but there seems to be a soft feel to the objects on screen which may or may not be inherent in its NTSC formatting. By contrast, the computer graphics, even when a filmed actor is superimposed over them, are exceptionally sharp. The shadow detail in the standard footage is rather average, with the shadows being little more than large expanses of black or muted colours in which no details can be discerned. However, no low-level noise is discernible in the darker parts of the image.

    The colour saturation also varies according to the source of the imagery, with the filmed footage being somewhat muted when it appears, but the computer images being bright and vibrant to an almost unnatural point.

    MPEG artefacts did not appear in the parts of the game that I explored, and it would take me quite a long time to look over it all in order to confirm that the disc is entirely free of them. Given that most of the footage I did see is allocated about four megabits per second, I am ready to guess that MPEG artefacts are not on this disc, although the definition in many backgrounds leaves something to be desired. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of aliasing in both types of footage. Film artefacts were present to a mild extent, but were rarely intrusive at all.

    This disc utilizes two layers, but given the stop-start nature of the programming, the layer change could literally be anywhere without invoking a layer-change pause at all.


    In a word, this transfer is rather ordinary, although the nature of the content does not lend itself to a vibrant, powerful transfer. The audio transfer contains a single soundtrack, an English soundtrack encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand, but occasional moments of distortion crept into the dialogue, especially during one of Michael and Kathryn's conversations about meditation. Audio sync did not appear to be a problem at any time.

    The music in this game is credited to one John Welsman, and a curiously B-grade effort it is too, with little or no relevance to the on-screen action at all during most of the proceedings. In any event, it was not terribly annoying, but it certainly wasn't terribly helpful to the on-screen action, either. It was rather amusing to see a moment where one of the actors was climbing up the stairs and the score music suddenly burst into life from nowhere. I distinctly felt that I had seen computer games from the pre-Pentium days that have better synched and more thematically relevant scores than this. All-in-all, however, the score manages to assert some kind of competence, which saves it from a roasting from me.

    Being that this is a straight stereo mix, there was no surround presence to speak of, with not even the music utilizing these channels for any reason. After hearing films that have been encoded in various surround formats, I have to admit that this soundtrack sounded rather dull and lifeless by comparison, although the content of the programme was certainly nothing to rave about. The subwoofer joined the surround channels in silence, shuttling off to the back of the room to play cards together.



    This disc makes frequent use of menus, with moments between each snippet of film containing a menu in which the viewer is asked some psychological questions that may offend, and will definitely shock, some viewers.


    This is merely an instruction manual about navigating the menus in the game, with cast and crew listings for good measure. Informative, but nothing to get excited about.

R4 vs R1

    This disc is identical the world over.


    Tender Loving Care is a good, but limited game presented on a good DVD.

    The video quality is good during the filmed footage, and even better when the computer graphics appear.

    The audio quality is disappointing considering how much opportunity there is for multi-channel usage.

    Given that I have been playing with this disc for more than four hours now, and am still not finished as of this writing, the lack of extras is not that big a deal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sgh.gif (874 bytes)
Audio sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sgh.gif (874 bytes)
Extras srh.gif (874 bytes)
Plot sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)
Overall sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)

© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
July 25, 2000.

Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer