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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corrected discs now fix all of the picture issues
Most people will be aware that there was widespread dismay at the picture quality of Softly Softly Task Force - Series 1 when it was released in November 2013. Within a few weeks Simply HE had conceded there was a problem, and said -

"Our findings indicate that the`filmised` effect was caused by a progressive scan being enabled during the DVD encode which...
Published 9 months ago by Mr. D. K. Smith

versus
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very bad picture quality
Two stars for the original programmes, but nothing for the picture quality on this set. I was looking forward to revisiting this programme which was a favourite at the time, but I only managed four stories before I returned it for a refund, because the image is so degraded that watching them was hard work. What should be a crystal clear image is now dark and dingy, with a...
Published 9 months ago by Geraldine


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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corrected discs now fix all of the picture issues, 20 Nov 2013
By 
Mr. D. K. Smith (South Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Most people will be aware that there was widespread dismay at the picture quality of Softly Softly Task Force - Series 1 when it was released in November 2013. Within a few weeks Simply HE had conceded there was a problem, and said -

"Our findings indicate that the`filmised` effect was caused by a progressive scan being enabled during the DVD encode which caused an uncomfortable watch for some. New sample encodes have been examined by a former member of the BBC archive team, who incidentally actually completed some of the original Softly Softly transfers from 2` to D3 and hence was sympathetic to the views that had been expressed. We are advised that the new test encodes address the issue and the picture quality is now as it should be."

Corrected stock was originally made available at the end of 2013 and Simply provided the following freepost address to send the faulty DVD to - Simply HE, FREEPOST RSYX-ERKC-CJJH, Ringwood, BH24 1HD. They requested that you include proof of purchase and a return address.

The first corrected discs still had the filmising effect on three episodes - Private Mischief, Open and Shut and Trust a Woman. A second batch of corrected discs were produced in early February 2014 and these have fixed the issue on these three episodes - so finally we should be able to enjoy all sixteen episodes as they were originally transmitted.

Encoding problems aside, what's unquestionable is that this is a cracking series with many fine episodes and a first-rate cast. Stratford Johns, Frank Windsor and Norman Bowler were the three cast members who had appeared in the original Softly Softly and crossed over into this reboot.

Windsor and Bowler are always solid, but Stratford Johns is amazingly watchable, dominating the screen. The episodes where he's the central character are some of the strongest of this run, with a particular highlight being Power of the Press featuring a fine guest turn by Ronald Radd (the original Hunter in "Callan").

There's plenty of other familiar faces, and Doctor Who fans can have fun spotting Tom Baker (in a blink-and-you-miss-him appearance) in one episode, whilst Katy Manning has a more substantial role in another.

Like the Dixon and Z Cars episodes released by Acorn, the crimes here aren't always particularly serious - if you want action then this definitely isn't The Sweeney. SS-TF' s strengths are in scripting and characters - both the regulars and guest casts. Topics of the day, such as union unrest and football hooliganism are tackled and help to shine a light on the attitudes of late 1960's Britain.

Whilst the encoding problems have overshadowed an excellent series, if Simply can improve their QC I'll certainly be picking up any future releases.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very bad picture quality, 25 Nov 2013
This review is from: Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Two stars for the original programmes, but nothing for the picture quality on this set. I was looking forward to revisiting this programme which was a favourite at the time, but I only managed four stories before I returned it for a refund, because the image is so degraded that watching them was hard work. What should be a crystal clear image is now dark and dingy, with a very odd look to any movement. A really shame.

If this set was withdrawn and reissued with corrected discs then I'd happily repurchase.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yes indeed, a very poor transfer, 23 Nov 2013
By 
Mr. T. Alcock - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Oh dear what a disappointment - was really looking forward to this. Somewhere along the line these transfers have been cocked up, result being that the studio bound vt sections are fuzzy, with blurred motion, and a funny sort of 'trellis' effect on many scenes. So, lovely as it is to see these old shows again, a thumbs down. A similar problem to the releases of Grange Hill and P.C.Penrose, for those in the know.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars AVOID BUYING!, 28 Nov 2013
This review is from: Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Just to reiterate what others have already said here, AVOID BUYING THIS SET! I've seen a friend's copy and the picture quality of these is dreadful. There seems to have been some kind of attempt to give these videotaped programmes a film appearance, which just makes them look strange. Very distracting to watch, with a very poor quality end result.

I hope Simply do the right thing and press corrected versions. Otherwise I won't be buying this or any other of their future releases of programmes such as this. I was looking forward to seeing these again after so many years but they've been botched.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Appalling Picture Quality, 27 Nov 2013
By 
W. Neale "william8386" (Longton, Stoke) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Television dramas, pre 1990, were routinely shot in a Television studio, using VIDEO cameras, with external scenes filmed using 16mm film, and played in at the appropriate moment. This led to studio scenes looking different than the outside scenes, akin to how 'Coronation Street' looks different onscreen than an episode of 'Spooks', as the interior scenes on VIDEO will have 50fps, whilst those on exterior film will have 25fps. This is how the shows were made, transmitted, and stored on video tape.
Sadly, someone at Simply have decided that this method of production is no longer appropriate, and have taken the source video tapes from the BBC on this release, and treated them all to remove the 50fps segments on video and convert them all to a film-like 25fps. This leads to a very strange faux-film effect to the show, completely analogous to BBC studio drama, and quite removing from the action onscreen.. it could have been so much better.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Grainy picture quality - hard to watch and impossible to enjoy, 5 Dec 2013
By 
Marion Bush (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Good TV drama which was intended to bring back some nostalgic memories. Unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. The picture quality is not up to scratch. It would appear that Simply Media have messed up when converting the master print to DVD and the result is a grainy mess which is hard to watch and impossible to enjoy. I've seen VHS transfers which are better than this.

I'm amazed at the amount of complaints both on Amazon and elsewhere about the poor picture quality and yet Simply Media insist it's not a fault on their end and the original DVD release is fine.

The company should admit they've made a mistake and reissue the box set as soon as possible. Thankfully I watched a friend's copy and am glad I didn't purchase the set as Amazon might not have accepted the return.

Read the comments from other reviewers and you'll see just how bad it is. I've reluctantly given the product 2 stars as it's the release that's the problem rather than the show itself.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Poor Picture Quality, 30 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
After buying the excellent Z Cars DVD set from Acorn DVD, I was looking forward to this release of Softly Softly Task Force. Unfortunately Simply DVD have made some serious errors during the production and mastering of this release. On every episode the indoor scenes originally shot on electronic interlaced cameras have been de-interlaced to produce a filmic look. Not only does this remove the original smooth motion and replace it with motion judder but it also softens the picture as a result of showing only half the original resolution. This is such a pity as many other releases from Simply have been excellent quality. I do hope this release will be recalled and repressed with the episodes in the correct quality. In the meantime I have returned this item to Amazon for a refund and will refrain from buying any further releases from Simply until this fault is corrected and they can guarantee it will not be replicated on future releases.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Such a disappointment, 28 Nov 2013
By 
C. Orton (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Huge credit must go to Simply DVD for releasing this kind of archive TV material, but they really have scored an own-goal with the quality of the image. The studio-bound VT sequences look as if they have been 'filmised' and do not look as crisp and sharp as they should. It seems as though something has been done to the episodes to try to improve the film parts of the episode, but that the studio VT parts have been affected too.

Very disappointed that what was a much-anticipated release has been tarnished by this lack of attention to detail. I would hope that Simply would offer to recall and reissue this title as I really want to see it as it was intended to be seen. A similar problem affects the recent release of SPYSHIP unfortunately.

I would hope that these problems won't prevent Simply from releasing classic TV of this sort in the future.

EDITED TO ADD: Simply have been in contact with me and are rectifying the error on this DVD release. Thanks for listening Simply.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Curse of the filmised, 26 Nov 2013
By 
Mr. Paul English "analoguebubblebath" (Co Kildare, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Just back from watching my friend John's copy of the Softly Softly DVD. His order arrived yesterday and there was a message from him earlier saying "it doesn't look right". I called over and watched the first episode. The curse of the Grange Hill cock-up arises again. The studio videotaped scenes look awful. It's as simple as that. No amount of screengrabs will tell the story - we need somebody local to call into Simply's offices with a bunch of archive DVDs that look right. Sit the bosses down, compare the good with this Softly Softly travesty and make them watch until they realise their mistake.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poor quality transfer, 24 Nov 2013
By 
IAN BEARD (Stroud, GLOS United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
FLASH: happily, Simply have acknowledged that there IS a problem with this set and will be offering corrected replacement discs will be available shortly.

EXTRA FLASH: corrected discs are now available, and it's third time lucky as all sixteen episodes now look as they should. Thank you to Simply for all the effort they've put in to fully correcting this set. As it now stands , my gripes below are now redundant.

I can only echo what others have posted: the pleasure of being able to pick up sixteen episodes of SOFTLY SOFTLY has been blunted by the compromised transfers that have ended up on these discs.

It's not unwatchable, but there's surely no doubt that the copies should be much better than they are. Instead of bright, crisp studio video-taped interiors we've got a rather murky and dingy picture, with muted colours and oddly-motioned movement that suggests that somewhere along the line there has been an attempt to "filmise" the image.

If anyone is thinking of buying this, I'd hold fire to see if Simply can provide a better, [I]proper[/I] transfer of this series.
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Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD]
Softly Softly Task Force: Series 1 [DVD] by Michael Simpson (DVD - 2013)
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