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    Hardware Reviews


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    Smiley's People 2-Disc Blu-ray

    TV Reviews BBC Blu-ray

    Aug 27 2013 10:32 AM | Timothy E in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    In Smiley's People, Sir Alec Guinness(The Bridge On the River Kwai) returned to the role of George Smiley that he had played to such great effect in the earlier BBC TV miniseries Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. This time, Smiley, the retired head of British counter-intelligence, is given the opportunity to retaliate against his opposite number in Soviet intelligence. This 2-disc set is the abbreviated version of the series that aired originally in the United Kingdom in 1982.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Other
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080I/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
    • Subtitles: English SDH
    • Rating:
    • Run Time: 5 Hrs. 24 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type: keep case
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 08/06/2013
    • MSRP: $59.95

    The Production Rating: 4/5

    George Smiley(Alec Guinness) has retired from his employment with the Circus(British Secret Intelligence Service) when the murder of a former colleague offers Smiley information that will allow him to bring down Karla(Patrick Stewart), the master-spy in British Intelligence that caused Smiley so much trouble in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

    Smiley's People is a sequel to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, with both miniseries adapted from the novels by John LeCarre(The Spy Who Came In From The Cold). Smiley's People aired originally in 7 parts on the BBC in 1982. The miniseries was truncated to 6 parts when it aired in North America. This release is the 6-part American version, and the deleted scenes included on disc 2 seem to consist of footage that was aired originally within the series in the United Kingdom.

    Smiley's People is the type of miniseries that requires full attention to grasp its nuances and the alliances of its characters. This release includes a printed Glossary of Main Characters and Terms to help the viewer understand characters' names and identities, as well as slang terms used in the series. Smiley's People has a lethargic pace with ample footage shot of Alec Guinness walking on location in London, Paris, Hamburg, and Bern. Some of this footage probably stands up better today than it did at the time, since it is a time capsule of those locations in the early 1980s. Patient and attentive viewers will be rewarded with a fascinating spy story, but the lethargic pace and intellectual demands of Smiley's People is not for everyone.

    Video Rating: 3/5 3D Rating: NA

    Smiley's People is presented in high definition in 1080i in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The series was shot on 16mm film, and the screen footage has a patina of grain throughout, which is to be expected given the source material. Fine detail is somewhat improved over the Blu-ray release of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which gave the impression of videotape upscaled, with video noise, into high definition.

    Audio Rating: 1/5

    The 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio is more than adequate, given the source material. Television series from the early 1980s never have exceptional sound quality by modern standards, but there are no inherent flaws in the audio. Dialogue is always appropriately audible, although non-native English speakers may struggle with comprehending the accents, and there is no major hissing or popping indicative of problematic audio.

    Special Features: 4/5

    The special features include the following:

    Interview with John Le Carre(19:35): The author was around during production of both miniseries starring Alec Guinness as George Smiley, and this interview is fairly interesting.

    Deleted Scenes(64:30): These consist of 6 different scenes.

    Production Notes & John Le Carre biography and booklist: These features consist of text pages navigable with the arrows on your remote control.

    Glossary of Main Characters and Terms: This printed insert helps the viewer understand characters' names and identities, as well as slang terms used in the series, i.e., the "Circus" is the British Secret Intelligence Service.

    Overall Rating: 4/5

    Smiley's People is a worthwhile follow-up to the earlier miniseries.
    The series itself is arguably better than its predecessor, and the video and audio presentation on this 2-disc Blu-ray set are superior to the BD release of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. It is unfortunate that the complete 7-part version is not included here, since it seems to be available on DVD in the United Kingdom, but at least the deleted scenes allow interested viewers to catch up on what may be missing in the 6-part version. Fans of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will definitely want to have this in their collection.

    Reviewed by: Timothy E
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