DAD'S ARMY - THE COMPLETE FIRST SERIES
PLUS THE 'LOST' EPISODES OF SERIES TWO
Region 2/4 (UK) Edition
Reviewed by Andrew Smith
Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn, James Beck
Those words conjure up images of cosy Saturday afternoon repeats, sitting
back and giggling in my grandmotherís arms many years ago. Excuse me if
this review seems a little biased, but this show is my comfort blanket.
Some may think there is no need to pick up this release; episodes are
constantly repeated as schedule filer for BBC1 and of course UKGold. While
these repeats are welcome, of course, they have led to certain episodes
being overexposed. The Deadly Attachment is a prime example:
ďDonít tell him, PikeĒ is a scene that has seen viewing after viewing
after viewing. The black and white episodes are rarely seen, and do not
suffer from this over-familiarity. In fact they contain many noticeable
little things which this viewer had completely forgotten about. The
aforementioned Deadly Attachment may be known as the episode where
our heroes get to grips with the Naziís but few remember that they had
already confronted the enemy in series oneís The Enemy Within The Gates.
Many people will have pondered what might have happened to the characters
after the war, but probably donít realise that the answer is shown in the
first scene of the first episode. The entire series is one long flashback!
What about the fleeting appearance of John Ringham, as Bracewell, in the
first episode? Bracewell was intended to be a series regular, but was
dropped by Croft and Perry after the first episode. Do you remember Jonesí
even more decrepit father, who crops up in Museum Piece? This was
evidently to become a running joke (heís mentioned again in the final
episode of the first season, Shooting Pains, but was never seen
again). There are nuggets of information like these to discover scattered
throughout the nine episodes on this disc. Then there is the device of
beginning each episode with a Movietone Newsreel-style clip, charting the
platoonís progress. These were dropped after the first series, perhaps
because they were expensive to mount.
picture quality is, in a word, fantastic! It is actually surprising in
some respects to see such a low key release from the BBC receive special
treatment. The Film recordings of these series one and series two episodes
have been polished up and VidFIREd to restore that magical live feel.
There are some scenes when the process doesnít work quite so well, and the
episodes take on that filmic look again, but generally the image quality
is surprisingly high. Itís a shame that some of the other recent archive
comedy titles werenít given the same treatment. Itís almost heartbreaking
to think that the episodes on the recent Hancockís Half Hour disc
might have looked as good as these Dadís Army episodes, if theyíd
had the VidFIRE process applied to them.
improvements are particularly noticeable on the opening and closing title
sequences, which have been remade from the best possible source by the
looks of things. This ensures each instalment kicks off with the best
Bit rates for the episodes average out to 5.58Mb/s, at worst hitting about
4Mb/s and, at best, about 7Mb/s. The bit-rates for the extras vary wildly
from about 4Mb/s to a whopping 8Mb/s.
discs are dual-layered.
Sound does not seem to have gone through as much restoration but remains
intelligible. Thereís a flaw during Operation Kilt in which the
audio level suddenly drops; this seems to be a problem with the DVD
authoring as opposed to a fault in the original print as the drop is not
present in the version broadcast recently by BBC. There are also problems
with the beginning of Sergeant Wilsonís Little Secret, where the
audio is duplicated across all three front speakers, even in Pro-Logic
mode. This is a minor flaw that will only affect viewers with home cinema
setups, and will probably only be evident if your speakers arenít
THE BONUS MATERIAL
Each disk features a static menu with a loop of the familiar theme tune
playing. Basics such as Episode Select and Scene Select are
presented in sub-menus similar to those of the BBCís Doctor Who
a budget release the special features are rather special. The centrepiece
is Missing Believed Wiped; a documentary made for BBC2ís Dadís
Army night that chronicles the return of two missing series two
episodes as well as providing an introduction to the archive TV hunt in
general. The documentary includes clips from a couple of other series that
suffered extensive losses during the archive purges of the 70s, including
clips from The Lion episode of Doctor Who, an episode of
The Likely Lads, an 1962 Benny Hill show, featuring June
Whitfield, and a 1966 comedy Playhouse called The Bishop Rides
Again, featuring Derek Nimmo.
Another item of note here are the clips from the pilot episode of an
American adaptation of Dadís Army, titled The Rear Guard (a
re-make of The Deadly Attachment). The clips, presented from what
looks like a Umatic or VHS recording, are fascinating. Although the show
looks terrible, they offer hope that we might see the whole episode on a
future release. The documentary is presented in anamorphic 1.78:1
widescreen format: the archive clips it contains are windowboxed, in their
correct 4:3 ratio.
disc also features ďBBC Audio Recordings of the three missing Series Two
episodesĒ. Some may be disappointed that these are radio episodes
as opposed to off-air recordings of the television soundtracks.
Nevertheless, they are very funny and provide an idea of how these missing
gems may have played out. Each audio instalment is presented on a static
background displaying a CD box set, and is neatly chaptered. The audio
quality is very high, better, in fact, than the audio for the TV episodes.
Next are the Easter Eggs, yes Easter Eggs! Drag your cursor across
the following to reveal them!
Disk One Egg (14s)
Highlight the Play All feature and press enter. As soon as the
episode starts playing hit rewind. You will find the original VT countdown
Clock from the studio recording on The Man and The Hour complete
with the floor manager asking for quiet!
Disk Two Egg (2m)
Highlight the Play All feature. Press up. The Words Dadís Army
will now be highlighted. Press enter. This for me is the best feature on
the disk; Raw film from the marches from the end titles of each episode
and an extended version of the theme song. Joy!
This is an essential
release for anybody who loves British comedy. If you think Dadís Army
began with the colour episodes then this release is the perfect chance to
reacquaint yourself with Walmington-on-Seaís Home Guard.