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Look Around You : Complete BBC Series 1 [2002] [DVD]

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Look Around You : Complete BBC Series 1 [2002] [DVD] + Look Around You : Complete BBC Series 2 [DVD] + The Peter Serafinowicz Show [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Peter Serafanowicz
  • Directors: Tim Kirkby
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: 2 Entertain Video
  • DVD Release Date: 13 Oct 2003
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AISIY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,569 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

A new direction in televisual nostalgia for the seventies and eighties - a quirky spoof science series reminiscent of schools education and Open University programming.


Look Around You is a spoof science programme that hilariously recreates both the drab, depressing air of 1970s educational television and a bygone world of tedious school science lessons. Each of the 10-minute episodes--or "Modules"--takes the form of a number of surreal and pointless experiments based on a chosen theme ranging from "Water" and "Sulphur" to "Ghosts" and "Brains".

Look Around You's humour lies not only in an absurd take on education and the impenetrable jargon of science, but also in evoking a sense of nostalgia in the viewer. In this respect the series is helped immeasurably by faultless production and attention to detail. Narrated in austere, Queen's English, using precise scientific terminology, this is a world of scratched film inserts, dubious periodic tables, cheap, synthesised music, giant hairstyles, bulky, teak-finished technology and a proliferation of DYMO labels. Each show is even prefaced by a few seconds of the "Television for Schools & Colleges" countdown clock. The tutorial format of the series is not without its problems though--it is essentially a single, plotless joke stretched to eight episodes, and there are no characters to speak of, save glimpses of the deadpan and much-maligned lab-technician (cowriter Peter Serafanowicz). Despite these shortcomings Look Around You is still a refreshingly different comedy, which is so well put together that you can almost smell the Bunsen burners while you watch.

On the DVD: Look Around You on disc comes with a sizeable and appropriately bizarre selection of extras. The superb animated menus are designed to mimic the arcane, pastel-coloured diagrams found in any well-thumbed science textbook, and even feature the background noise of what is presumably a white-coated technician shuffling around the lab. The Additional Features include the double-length "Calcium" episode, a full-length music video of the song created in the "Music" module (the surprisingly catchy "Little Mouse" by Jack Morgan, BSc), a selection of spoof pages from Ceefax and the Test Card. The different sound modes allow you to watch with or without the narration, subtitles or an entertaining commentary from the programme makers. --Paul Philpott

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By S. J. King on 26 Feb 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Humour is a very subjective thing; I, for instance, do not find "The Office" at all funny. Whether anyone reading this will find "Look Around You" as funny as I do I can't say, but I think it's one of the finest things ever to have been broadcast, for what it is - eight ten-minute programmes. Peter Serafinowicz takes his ludicrous "experiments" absolutely seriously, and Nigel Lester's commentary similarly betrays not the slightest sign that he is reading out a spoof - even when he has to say things like "The gas was allowed to mafipulate through the water for five minutes." The programmes perfectly capture the style of those dreary Schools Programmes on science we saw in the late 70s and early 80s, and - if you didn't pay close attention - you might almost believe it was for real. Until you notice the ants building the igloo, that is. "Thanks, ants," as Nigel Lester says, politely. "Thants."
The DVD is very well presented, and allows the usual writers' and director's commentary as an alternative to the original soundtrack. From this I learned how the show was first conceived: Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz produced a one-off parody programme on "Calcium" basically to amuse themselves, and the BBC eventually took it up and commissioned the series we have now enjoyed. "Calcium" is included on the DVD; the interrogation of "intelligent calcium" is perhaps the highlight, though there are many other things to cherish.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Mar 2004
Format: DVD
I watched Look Around You when it was on television 2 years ago, and tried in vain to get others interested in it, but the concept of "funny Open University" was just a little too weird for most of my friends.
And that's about all I can say about it: it's funny Open University. It captures exactly the tone, the process, the genre of programming for schools that I remember (avoiding) as a child and teenager. And yet, it's incredibly funny, without going "hey, look at the stupid people with their hair and clothes of the 70s" that this type of comedy usually reverts to. The comedy comes from the both the set pieces and the reverence it is obviously paying to the original programming.
The DVD itself is very good, with nice extras including the Little Mouse video in its entirety, but its the commentary that gets me every time. Listening to the commentary makes me want to hear the original soundtrack and listening to the soundtrack makes me want to hear the commentary. It's a nice vicious circle.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ally on 4 Feb 2005
Format: DVD
This DVD was a bit of a lucky find for me and I'd recommend it to anyone for a bit of entertainment.
The episodes are short but full of jokes and the odd bit of information. The programme parodies outdated school Chemistry videos, mixing the true with the absurd in an outrageously deadpan manner. The narration is true to life and brilliantly funny, the visual comedy is sometimes fantastic and the general feel of the series really captures that class of humanity, the scientist.
Every episode has many little touches of genius, from the pointlessly meticulous descriptions of experiments reminiscent of school science ('An experiment was carried out to demonstrate the cogniscient properties of Intelligent Calcium...'), to the understated but crazy statements about what we do and don't know, to the ridiculously outdated theme tune and the various glimpses into the lives of the scientists carrying out the experiments. One example is the tantalising view of a scientist's hand getting increasingly burnt as a result of reaching repeatedly into a beaker of boiling water, but where all the acting is done by the hand, with no shots of the scientist's face. Each episode begins with the same format of looking for clues about the topic of the 'module' (always impossible to guess) and various references to 'copybooks'.
This series is beautifully done - every moment seems to be perfected to the point where you can slip into believing that you're watching a genuine science programme until the narrator says something ludicrous or just funny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Crookedmouth on 4 July 2011
Format: DVD
Look Around You is a spoof of a genre of television programming that those of a certain age will remember well, namely the BBC's educational programmes for schools during the 70's and 80's that we were often plonked in front of when the teacher was off sick or it was raining too hard to be let out for play.

The format is simple - each week's "module" takes a particular subject (Calcium, Maths, Water, Germs, Ghosts, Sulphur, Music, Iron and Brain) and explores it in the manner of a pre O Level science or maths educational programme, by way of a series of experiments. Much of the humour derives from the nostalgia evoked by the subject matter which is enhanced by the slightly grainy, washed-out appearance of the film stock and by the way that various props and themes hark back to the "good old days".

The real laughs, though, come from the sheer silliness of it all. We learn in the first module that Maths stands for Mathematical Anti-Telharsic Harfatum Septomin and that the largest number in the world is about 45,000,000,000 (although mathematicians suspect that there may be even larger numbers). Later, we learn that Ghosts can't whistle but that the Gloriette 5000 - a complex arrangement of diodes, marbles and valves - enables us to make visual contact with the dead and that they can be very helpful in performing lab experiments. More humour is derived from the naming (fastidiously done with DymoTape) of mythical items of lab equipment (the Besselheim Plate, the Lady Jane Grey tube, the mafipulator and so-on) and the way in which the lab technician is careful to indicate each item as described with his pencil.
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