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GOING STRAIGHT

Region 2 (UK) Edition  [Also coded for Region 4]

Reviewed by Richard Spurr

Producer:  Sydney Lotterby

Featuring:  Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale, Patricia Brake

Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) and McLaren (Tony Osoba)

Fletch's son, Raymond (Nicholas Lyndhurst)

MacKay (Fulton MacKay) and Fletcher (Ronnie Barker)

THE SERIES

After three years, nineteen episodes and a couple of Christmas specials Norman Stanley Fletcher finally gets what heís wanted - freedom. Going Straight follows Fletch as he adjusts to life on the outside and comes to terms with his decision to give up his life of crime. Things arenít easy though.  Fletchís wife has left him, Lenny Godber has taken up with his daughter, Ingrid, and his son, Raymond, spends all his time looking for his bicycle pump and asking what time it is.

Going Straight is a different kind of beast to Porridge. It doesnít have the edge of Porridge or the biting wit. The traditional sitcom setting doesnít allow for this. Thatís not saying its not a good series, because it is. Just that itís good in a different way.

Richard Bekinsale provides his usual good foil to Ronnie Bakerís Fletch. Also amongst the semi-regulars (as with Porridge only Ronnie Barker appears in every episode) were Patricia Brake as Ingrid and a young Nicholas Lyndhurst as Raymond, in a part that persuaded the producers of Only Fools and Horses that he could play his most famous role.

The series has a surprising number of good guest actors, including Norman Jones, Milton Johns and Timothy Bateson in the first episode; Ron Pember and Robert Tovey in episode three; David Swift in episodes four and five; Nigel Hawthorne and Pete (or Peter, as he is credited) Postlethwaite in episode five; and Alfred Lynch in episode six.

The best episode has to be the first one, Going Home. Fletch is on his way out of Slade prison after a chat with Porridge regular MacLaren (Tony Osoba). Fletch meets up one last time with head screw, Mr MacKay (another wonderful performance from Fulton MacKay), who happens to be travelling on the same train. Itís a lovely piece that nicely bridges the gap between the two series. The rest isnít quite as good but is still immensely watchable. The final episode nicely brings the saga of Fletcher to a close.

Episode One guest cast Timothy Bateson and Norman Jones.

Norman Stanley Fletcher (Ronnie Barker)

Lenny Godber (Richard Beckinsale)

THE DVD

The transfers of the six episodes are as good as you expect from a budget release of this kind.  There are no major video faults. The film inserts exhibit the kind of film sparkle that youíd expect from inserts of that age, but are good enough. The bit rate averages out at a healthy 5.68Mb/sec. The disc is dual layered.

Sound quality is generally fine - typical of BBC productions of the era. There are a few minor flaws, however, including a section with what sounds like tape damage, at the end of the first episode.

Menus are static, with the series theme tune (sung by Barker) playing over the main menu.  There are separate menus for episode and scene selection, which play out silently.

BONUS FEATURES

Sorry, there are none.  Not that there is much that could have gone on there.  Maybe last yearís Life after Porridge special, since that has failed to appear on either this or the Porridge Ė The Christmas Specials DVD.  Shame, as it was a good programme.

Teenage runaway Penny (Roberta Tovey)

Fletch's daughter, Ingrid (Patricia Brake)

Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) and Mr McQueen (David Swift)

SUMMARY

BBC Worldwideís Going Straight disc is a good DVD of a good series.  As long as you donít go in expecting a classic like Porridge then you wonít go far wrong.  It may be a wrung or two down the comedy ladder from Porridge but thatís still a very nice place to be!

 

Going Straight Episode Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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