A Few Words About A few words about...™ Sherlock: Seasons 1 & 2 -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 12, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I've always enjoyed the words "re-imagined, or re-imagining."

    Take a literary work, a film, a piece of art, turn it on its head, and make something quite different out of it.

    Sometimes a "re-imagined" work will, and sometimes it won't - work.

    The BBC, that bastion of British civility, history, and humour, set out to back filmmakers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat in their concept to take the Sherlock Holmes character, as first published in A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887, and bring he and Dr. Watson to present day London. They were getting into something odd, albeit with top talent, and could have stumbled.

    And it works.

    It works exceedingly well.

    Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (what a great name!) and Martin Freeman as Watson, are entirely likable gents, who seem to be in their mid-thirties. That seems to work, as Holmes birth was around 1854, andy is appearance in Study would make him thirty plus.

    What's great, is that while the spirit of the originals is respected, the tails are purely modern and up to date.

    Each season gives us three feature length films, all based upon the Holmes works of Sir Arthur.

    Season One includes A Study in Pink, based upon A Study in Scarlet (1887), The Blind Banker, based loosely upon a premise found in The Valley of Fear (1914-15), and finally The Great Game, taking bits and pieces from a number of works.

    Season Two offers A Scandal in Belgravia, again loosely based upon original works, The Hounds of Baskerville, with obvious parentage (1902), and The Reichenbach Fall, from The Final Problem (1893).

    While it's all about thought processes and deductive reasoning, Sherlock takes us on a fun ride.

    Those who read "A Few Words..." will recall the problems with the PBS release of Season Two of Downton Abbey, which I understand is under review.

    Sherlock, although still 1080i, is handled in a different technical manner, which rather than holding and replicating a frame, combines a couple, for a virtual double exposure.

    While the result in Sherlock (both seasons) is transparent, I must wonder how much better the Blu-ray might look if a different methodology is used in the future. For these releases, there are not only no problems, but the results are generally stunning, even in 1080i.

    If any readers own the UK version, I'd be interested in knowing how the work is portrayed in a frame by frame mode, and whether that version, which would be 1080i / 50, goes smoothly frame by frame, without intervention. For those interested in cinematographic minutia, Season One was shot with a Sony F35, while for Season Two, the move was made to the uber-popular Arri Alexa, all taken through a DI to HDCAM.

    As a huge fan of the Holmes pantheon, I'm loving this series.

    Great stories, based upon works generally going back a hundred years or more, brought to us by BBC in splendid looking Blu-rays.

    Is the game afoot?

    Definitely.

    With fifty-six short stories and four novels that can be used as future fodder, this series could have a long way to go, and that's very good thing.

    Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    Actually, it's Benedict Cumberbatch, not Cumberpatch.
    I have the UK blu-rays but have not watched them yet. My understanding is that only the Oppo can handle 1080i/50. I'll try them soon and report back.
     
  3. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    I have the UK release of Series 1 and 2 (Region Free) and it plays flawlessly on my Oppo BDP-83, which converts the 50 Hz source to 60 Hz. I'm watching on a (now old) Pioneer Elite 58" CRT at 1080i. It looks quite fine to me, with no stuttering.
    By the way, the first episode of S2 is "A Scandal in Belgravia" - a slight change to its inspiration Bohemia.
    My 18-year old daughter is obsessed with this show, and I quite like it too. Too bad S3 production won't even begin until 2013. A long wait for more Sherlock.
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The corrections are appreciated, and piece updated.
    Re: the 1080i question, the US discs are free of problems. Was merely wondering if the UK discs revealed the doubled frames when viewing frame by frame.
    Above my pay grade, but I was led to believe that many newer monitors also handled the 50/60 conversion internally.
     
  5. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    I don't notice any doubled frames when watching S2E1 UK in 1/16 slow motion. I'm watching with the commentary, which is quite entertaining.
    Edit: There is, however, some jitter during the credits scroll.
     
  6. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    The BBC has a great deal more experience porting their 25fps to 60htz standard formats than ITV (which produced "Downton"). They've had a standard field cadence for 1080p25 to 1080i60 conversions that's worked great for years. My understanding is that all frames are encoded in their entirety, but instead of duplicating a full frame over two fields every five frames, they duplicate one field every five fields, or every 2.5 frames. In other words, several times a second, new frames flip from being sent to your monitor top field first to bottom field first and then vice-versa. So if your monitor or player can't filter out the duplicates, the problem is half as noticeable as it would be on that US "Downton" set.
    With "Torchwood: Children of Earth", the problem was still noticeable when my Panasonic player handled the deinterlacing, so I changed the settings to simply pass on the interlaced signal to my Vizio TV, and the TV handled the deinterlacing transparently. I don't know if it chucks the duplicate fields or blends them, but the motion was smooth.
     
  7. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    One thing I did notice is that Masterpiece edited Sherlock...in watching the blu-ray of S2E1, Sherlock goes through the deduction process and asks for a lighter from the client's representative, then steals an ashtray. That was cut from the Masterpiece broadcast.
     
  8. Yes the versions that air on PBS are a full 8 minutes shorter than the UK versions - a lot of the lighter character moments seem to get the ax
     
  9. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Is this "editing" carried over into the American blu-rays?
     
  10. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Screenwriter

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    A couple of words from this side of the pond.
    The middle episode of each of the two series has generally considered to be the weakest.
    Benedict Cumberbatch has joked that he's the only person to have played the role who has a stranger name than the character.
    BTW, Stephen Moffat's previous credits include Coupling. That series was a sort of 'Friends-for-grown-ups'. The main differences are that, unlike Friends, it's actually funny, and it's far more adult in content. But most importantly it's very inventive and intelligent. If you like SM's style and humour you should check it out.
    That's the BBC series - I understand they tried an American remake which bombed.
    Steve W
     
  11. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Screenwriter

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    And this just in, as they say:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18056286
     
  12. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Love Coupling. Have both (were there more than two?) seasons on DVD. Great series!

    RAH
     
  13. MattAlbie60

    MattAlbie60 I Work for Mr. E. H. Harriman of the Union Pacific

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    According to Rich Johnson at Bleeding Cool, no it does not. The American blu will be the full unedited series, with the 24 total minutes in tact across the three episodes.
     
  14. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I had read that many considered "The Hounds of Baskerville" the weakest of Season Two, but it was actually my favorite of the three episodes.

    Friends is very funny (although, of course, comedy is a very personal matter) which must be the reason it ran on American television for ten seasons and endlessly in syndication.
     
  15. Steve Tannehill

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    There were four seasons of Coupling UK, although the last one was without Jeff. They were all available on DVD here in the US.
    American Coupling lasted four episodes before being cancelled on NBC.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  16. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Is there a consensus on whether the uk version plays and plays well on non-oppo players? I have a Sony I've had for a couple of years. I mention this because amazon uk is selling a season 1&2 set for 20 pounds. With shipping I'm guessing that works out to About $30. Amazon US wants $28 for each season. Why are UK versions so often so much less than US versions?
     
  17. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    The player has to be compatible with 50Hz content. A list was started here. No Sony's are on it. Some displays can also do the conversion. I bought from the UK because it was cheaper, even with shipping, I have an Oppo, and I was able to get S2 much earlier that way.
     
  18. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Thanks for that link. Actually, mine is on the list...of not compatibles. :) If you have a compatible player, is using one of these discs transparent to the user both visually and operationally?
     
  19. Steve Tannehill

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    So far, it is. Menus function, the only extras I tried so far were the commentaries, and they functioned. Even the warning screens were transparent.
     
  20. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

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    I'm waiting for a good price on these. Maybe the next B&N British TV sale? I'd get the UK versions, but they wouldn't work on my Sony BD players.
     

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