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29 of 35 people found this helpful
Caveat emptor - you may not get what you expect
on 30 December 2008
Firstly, let's get one thing clear; the sitcom episodes presented on the disc are among television's highest achievements. I can't recommend them highly enough.
However, would-be buyers should be wary of this particular DVD edition. The first thing to note is that the copy Amazon supplied to me has _none_ of the special features claimed above, with the sole exception of the director's commentary (more about that below). No special interviews, no outtakes, no booklet (illustrated or otherwise) etc etc. Yes it does have scene selection, but I would hardly consider that a 'special feature'. I would have submitted a correction to the Amazon catalogue info, but if you check this you'll notice there's no mechanism for correction of content details like these - hence this review.
OK - perhaps you feel you can manage without the special features and just want to see the episodes. Fine, but maybe you should try not to support an edition which is so shoddily put together. Among the numerous annoyances this disc offers are the following:
(i) The levels on the original soundtracks of the episodes do not seem to have been remastered in any way, and consequently are inordinately quiet compared to modern DVD levels. Of course you can turn up your TV or sound system (a long way!), but then you'll find that every time you go back to the menu(s), the soundtrack on those is absolutely deafening! Whoever authored this DVD hasn't even taken the trouble to match up these levels to ensure a basic level of useability of the product.
(ii) The aforementioned menus are far too busy with several extended clips from the episodes themselves, plus animated icons etc. Whilst this is to some extent a matter of personal taste (or lack of it), owners of older DVD players should be aware that some mature players cannot handle these overly fussy menus, causing potential navigation difficulties.
(iii) The director's commentary (the sole special feature of all those offered that you actually get, remember) is a most peculiar affair. The commentary hasn't been mixed with the episode soundtrack, so you see the silent episode, with _only_ Bob Spiers' comments. But it's clear from some of the things that Mr Spiers says (and from some of the very long gaps in his commentary) that he _thinks_ we are also hearing the episode soundtrack. And of course we should be - it's the most pathetic cock-up. Once again, the person or team who authored this DVD haven't even bothered to make the most basic checks on the work they've done.
(iv) Finally - and least importantly but absolutely indicative of how much care has gone into this release - the copy I received (which I assume is typical) has a very nice silvery grey DVD case. Very nice, that is, until you realise that you can't read the information printed on the reverse of the printed inlay without taking it out of the box sleeve (or holding it open and squinting down the gap). I ask you....
So - great actual content, worthy of 5++ stars, but sloppy and unprofessional presentation, completely unworthy of the BBC. Hence the two stars.