Region 2 (UK) Edition [Also coded for Region 4]
Reviewed by Richard Spurr
Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale, Patricia Brake
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
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 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,
and Timothy Bateson in the first
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.
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
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.
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
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