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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

my British DVD shopping spree

Oh yes, I bought DVDs during my recent trip to the U.K.

A rundown:
The Complete Black Books: Series 1, 2 & 3: A comedy about people who work in a bookstore. I’ve been hearing about this for ages and have been dying to see it. And now it’s all mine. Bwahahahahaha! (Turns out this is already available in Region 1.)

Ashes to Ashes: The Complete Series One: The sequel series to Life on Mars, about a different cop who travels back in time — this time out to the 1980s. I worry that this might invalidate the premise of LoM and how it, ahem, wraps up for Sam Tyler, but it sounds like it doesn’t. Anyway, more Gene Hunt is a Good Thing.

Gavin & Stacey: Series One: Sounds like a good Xer rom com. We’ll see.

Lost in Austen: A modern girl steps into Pride & Prejudice. Sounds like something Jasper Fforde would write.

Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday: I just love Peter Davison, okay? (Coming to Region 1 on January 6, 2009.)

Little Britain: The Complete First Series: An American version of this is now airing, so I figured I should find out what all the fuss is about. (Also available in Region 1.)

Spooks Code 9: About the aftermath of a nuclear attack on London in 2013. Fun!

Outpost: This is the only DVD I bought that I had not previously heard of, but it sounds like it could be an interesting horror flick. (Oops, also available in Region 1. And here I thought I was ahead of the curve.)



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  • blake

    Lost in Austin is great and have you written blogs about Ashes to Ashes yet?
    I think Gavin and Stacey and Spooks Code 9(Hollyoaks the apocalypse days) are a bit overated.

  • blake

    You will either lover or hate Little Britain, as the series go on it only gets cruder.
    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
    There is a breast feeding gag that’s gross, I don’t know which series it’s in, though.

    Can you put a ‘s on the word go, or not?
    Go’s or gos?

  • MaryAnn

    have you written blogs about Ashes to Ashes yet?

    Sheesh, I’ve barely gotten the plastic wrap off the set yet — gimme a chance…

  • Doa766

    you should stop buying DVDs, once you have blu ray DVDs seem obsolete

  • Ashes to Ashes is not Life on Mars, not by a long shot. But the Gene Genie is just as magnificent a bastard as always. And it’s still a great, fun show that I look forward to watching when it’s on.

    I don’t pine for it like I do LoM, but I miss it.

  • Martin

    Blake is right about Little Britain.

    It’s really childish stuff with little weight behind it to make it stand up to repeat viewings.

    There are a few gems in there but it’s mostly crude jokes that rely heavily on catchphrases.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    Actually, I thought that the first series of Little Britain was one of the funniest sketch shows I’d seen in a long time; it was only in subsequent series that it degenerated. The first series still had characters like Ray McCooney who weren’t solely dependent on catchphrases and/or bodily fluids.

    Ashes to Ashes got off to a bumpy start – you could tell the writers were nervous as to whether people would still invest in a set of characters who were revealed to be almost certainly hallucinations – but it gets stronger as it goes on. At its best it’s Life on Mars with shoulderpads and gender politics, and what could be more fun than that?

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    Oh, I forgot – Black Books is delightful. No ifs, no buts, it’s just great.

  • jules

    Gavin and Stacey – Brill!

    Ashes to Ashes – may not have the gravitas of LOM,but is still enormous fun. Keeley Hawes takes time to hit her stride, but by the last two episodes she has found her feet.

    Spooks Code 9 – ouch! Great idea; poorly executed.

  • Martin

    I was just thinking of Ray McCooney when I was thinking of the rare gems of that series.

    For my money, Rock Profile is far funnier than Little Britain, mostly because it’s in small doses.

  • Tara

    Lost in Austen was really good, I watched them all :D well.. saying that although I found it entertaining the end was decidedly bizarre.

  • jackie

    The first series of Little Britain is the funniest, largely because of Tom Baker’s marvellously bonkers commentary. “As the sun sets in the South of Britain, it rises in the North…”

  • gina

    I adore Black Books! When I introduced it to a friend I thought she was going to have an asthma attack, she laughed so hard.

  • MaryAnn

    you should stop buying DVDs, once you have blu ray DVDs seem obsolete

    Well, since I don’t think any of these things I just purchased are on blu-ray — and since I don’t have a blu-ray player — it looks like I’m stuck with ordinary ol’ DVD for a while.

  • Maddie

    Black Books is awesome. And if you enjoy it, you should check out the stand-up of the magnificent Bill Bailey who plays Manny.

    Some of Little Britain is incredibly funny (specifically Vicki Pollard and Dafydd, the Only Gay in the Village), but there’s quite a lot that just pushes over into not funny at all.

  • blake

    The more I think about it, the more I realise that the last ep of series 1 of Ashes to Ashes is better than the last ep of series 1 of LOM.A very cool payoff that NO-ONE saw coming.

  • Doa766

    there’re blu ray players for 200 now, and all new movies are released on blu, high def is king

  • MaryAnn

    Clearly, it’s not just “new movies” that I’m watching on DVD.

    Christmas is coming, Doa766. If you’re so gung ho on my watching blu-ray, you know what to stash under my tree.

  • blake

    What’s the pint of blu-ray ?
    The picture quality isn’t that amazing and you have to by yourself a HD telly.
    Plus the DVDs cost more.I’m staying with normal DVDs until I’m forced to change.

  • jenn

    I’m with blake…We have a PS3 for watching movies, so I could get Blu-ray. If I wanted to spend more for the same product (and I already think dvd’s are over-priced)for no reason except the people who want you to buy crap tell you it’s better.

  • MaryAnn

    Well, there’s no question that the picture quality is better with blu-ray. The question is whether it’s *enough* better to justify the expense of a new player as well as replacing all your existing DVDs. I don’t think it is justified.

  • blake

    I thought normal DVDs worked on a Blu-ray player, they wouldn’t have “exeptional” picture quality but you wouldn’t have to re buy them if you didn’t want to.
    Technology moves so fast as soon as you get one you know that someone will invent something else for you to buy -Mega Cool Ray, something like that.

  • Will

    normal dvds do work on a blu-ray, but then they look the same as they would with a $60 upconvert-player.

    I also don’t really see the point in upgrading. Maybe if I was netflixing blu-ray disks or something.

  • MaryAnn

    they look the same as they would with a $60 upconvert-player.

    I’m lucky enough to have a friend who’s a few steps ahead of me on the upgrade trail. She *gave* me a kickass upconverting DVD player when I bought my HDTV, because she’d already moved on to blu-ray and was no longer using it. The picture it provides is perfectly lovely, and high-res enough for me to see David Tennant’s freckles on regular ol’ DVD. That’s good enough for me.

  • A comedy about people who work in a bookstore. I’ve been hearing about this for ages and have been dying to see it.

    Well, I hope you’re not disappointed. However, I wouldn’t get my expectations up too high. After all, the American series Stacked was a comedy set in a bookstore and that was awful.

    Anyway, I wasn’t as won over by Black Books as the others on this thread but there were some parts I liked. As long as you’re not expecting Fawlty Towers in a bookshop, you should be okay.

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