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Non US TV Shows on DVD


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#1 of 11 Tory

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Posted December 05 2004 - 06:09 AM

As a U.S. importer I'm curious about the highlights of TV Shows on DVD in other Regions, the U.K. in particular but other Regions of the world are welcome too. This is in reference to series that were formed in countries outside of the U.S. and series that may have little exposure outside their country of origin. Of course if one is living in one's own country they may not be aware of just what is known outside of it. So if you could, please report or mention some good programs that are readily available on DVD in your country that are either popular to the masses or within a small cult following.
Hungry enough to eat a turnip and call it a turkey.

 


#2 of 11 MartEvans

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Posted December 05 2004 - 01:50 PM

There are a ton of good UK comedy shows that never make it over here. You could start with:

Spaced
Black Books
Phoenix Nights
Marion and Geoff
I'm Alan Partridge
Gimme Gimme Gimme
Big Train
The Royle Family

also available which I think would be of interest to many would be the sets of Michael Palin's travel shows - Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Full Circle and Sahara. These sets are excellent if travel shows are your thing.
 

 


#3 of 11 David Levy

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Posted December 05 2004 - 09:28 PM

Don't forget shows like Third Rock From The Sun, not available anywhere but the UK. IIRC, Bewitched is available from Japan as well...

#4 of 11 Mark_Wilson

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Posted December 06 2004 - 04:58 AM

The Japanese Bewitched is Colorized.

#5 of 11 Steve Phillips

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Posted December 06 2004 - 11:22 AM

Season 1 and 2 of BEWITCHED are colorized on the Japanese sets, but the series was shot in color from Season 3 forward, so the 3rd box is fine.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the eventual U.S releases of the first and second season feature the "chroma-choice" feature like the recent Stooges discs; so you'll be able to choose the original B/W or colorized versions.

#6 of 11 andrew markworthy

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Posted December 07 2004 - 07:01 AM

Comedy series that were and are really popular in the UK but at best have only attracted a cult following in the USA:

Dad's Army
Only Fools and Horses
Porridge
Yes, Minister/Yes. Prime Minister
Open All Hours
Alas Smith and Jones
Not The Nine O'Clock News

Most were towards the top of a recent national poll of all-time Brit favourite comedy programmes (most in the top ten) but for some reason all failed to be as big a hit in the USA.

With regard to 'quality' drama, most of our successful stuff has been a success in the USA (not surprising, given that a lot of it is co-produced with American companies). of our more popular stuff, you might consider:

Auf Wiednersehen Pet
Danger Man
The Prisoner


And then there are the classic single plays or films for Brit TV:

A Voyage Round My Father
Abigail's Party
The Knowledge
etc

Plus the various kids' programmes:

Grange Hill
Bagpuss
Chorlton and the Wheelies
The Magic Roundabout

In fact, instead of trying to list them all, have a look at the following site:

http://www.play.com/

#7 of 11 Tory

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Posted December 07 2004 - 09:00 AM

I've been thinking of giving Dad's Army a try, it aired on PBS in the states some time ago, isn't Wendy Richards in it?

I know many of the shows mentioned, The Prisoner especially well but I do not know Auf Wiednersehen Pet and from what I read it does look interesting. Spaced seems up my alley as well.

Some DVDs from the U.K. that I have of TV series not available in the U.S. but some did air, are:

Robin of Sherwood (greatest Robin Hood I ever seen although the actor change was a bit hard to take yet the strength of the supporting cast pulled me through)

Blake's 7 (I loved the anti Star Trek's Federation message. While Star Trek's Federation is ideal it would probably end up more like Blake's 7 Federation)

Tripods ( a good sci-fi series aimed at children but done in a mature manner)

Timeslip ( I have not watched all of this yet but it is another children's sci-fi series that is lesser than Tripods but still takes itself seriously)

As for as U.S. releases of U.K. series as a point of reference I have Doctor Who, Are You Being Served, Grace & Favour, 'Allo ' Allo, Black Adder, Mr. Bean ( live and animated), The Avengers, The Prisoner, Red Dwarf,The Piglet Files, Black Adder, Thunderbirds, and Carry On Laughing. All of these have been popular in the U.S. save for Carry On Laughing. Other series that are known well enough in the U.S. are Keeping Up Appearances, Goodnight Sweetheart, Yes Prime Minister, The Office, Waiting For God, Monty Python, Mr. Bean the animated series, The Young Ones, Coupling, Father Ted, Thin Blue Line, Ballykissangel, Space 1999, The Persuaders, The Saint, Vendetta for the Saint, Danger Man, Last of the Summer Wine, and many more but it seems that the majority of just what is viewable now on television is shows dedicated to people in their declining years or reality programming about gardening, antiquing and house makeovers and I wonder if we are missing something. Many of these series listed above are on DVD but not all. I am thinking of jumping ship and heading over to the U.K. for series such as Doctor Who and 'Allo 'Allo that are far ahead of U.S. in releases and then there is some fuss about correct aspect ratio on some titles.

I must ask about a few shows. The series Hi-de-hi! and Come Back Mrs Noah, the former being on DVD the later not so but from what I hear is well worth it. Are these any good, anything like Are You Being Served and 'Allo 'Allo? Also there is an animated series starring Kenneth Williams as Willo the Wisp that interests me to some extent but I hear that Kenneth Williams hated it so I am a little wary. When last I ordered some titles Dick Turpin was listed as something I would like as was Worzel Gummidge Down Under. Are these series of any worth?
Hungry enough to eat a turnip and call it a turkey.

 


#8 of 11 Mark Oates

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Posted December 07 2004 - 02:07 PM

Hi-de-hi - set in 1950s Britain at a run-down holiday camp. A Cambridge Professor joins the camp as manager and finds himself battling the money-making schemes of the camp comic and fending off the advances of the man-eating Welsh senior yellowcoat. From the same team as Are You Being Served and in the same style. Hugely successful on its initial transmission as a nostalgia item.

Come Back Mrs Noah - a short-lived series from the same team as AYBS and It Ain't Half Hot Mum, it starred Mollie Sugden as a British astronaut. The show relied on a lot of concealed-orientation gags to simulate zero gravity.

Willo The Wisp - entertaining series of short limited-animation cartoons that involved Kenneth Williams telling stories about strange woodland folk (and providing all the voices).

Dick Turpin - not a comedy at all. Same writer as Robin Of Sherwood (this earlier show is the hands-down better of the two) put former Man About The House Richard O'Sullivan up as the notorious highwayman in a series of 31 swashbucklers.

Worzel Gummidge Down Under - Jon Pertwee went to Australia to make this follow-up to his UK series adapting Barbara Euphan Todd's adventures of a scarecrow. Very successful but excessively sentimental. The original series featured Geoffrey Bayldon as the Crowman (maker of scarecrows and their working mentor), Una Stubbs as Worzel's unrequited love Aunt Sally and ship's figurehead Saucy Nancy played by Barbara Windsor.
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#9 of 11 MartEvans

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Posted December 07 2004 - 03:16 PM

There is a Canadian release of Dad's Army. It comprises of 18 of the "best" episodes spread over three discs. The quality of the a/v isn't great but it's a true classic of British comedy.

Spaced should be top of any movie lovers list as a must-see. It contains so many references and in-jokes you'll find yourself looking for them.
 

 


#10 of 11 andrew markworthy

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Posted December 08 2004 - 03:33 AM

Quote:
I've been thinking of giving Dad's Army a try, it aired on PBS in the states some time ago, isn't Wendy Richards in it?

Yes, but very much a small part in a few episodes only. The principal characters are all male.

Quote:
Auf Wiednersehen Pet and from what I read it does look interesting.

It gained a strong following in the UK, but most people are agreed that it got progressively weaker after the first series. I don't mean this nastily, but given the problems a lot of Americans have with Brit accents, you may need subtitles!

Quote:
it seems that the majority of just what is viewable now on television is shows dedicated to people in their declining years or reality programming about gardening, antiquing and house makeovers and I wonder if we are missing something.

Not sure about the 'people in their declining years' (except for daytime adverts about half of which are directed at older consumers - the rest are for people wanting bank loans and debt consolidation) but the rest of your comments are bang on the mark.

I think Mark is being a bit harsh about Hi-de-Hi. The camp isn't particularly run-down - that is what they were like (remember that it took the UK a long time to recover from the deprivations of WW2; at the time Hi de Hi starts, rationing of candy and sugar had only just finished). It's a very thinly-disguised parody of Butlin's holiday camps (still going strong) - very few of the entertainments devised by Ted Bovis would have been considered unusual in a 1950s holiday camp. I'm told that if you know what holiday camps were like at this time the series is screamingly funny. I don't, but I still think it's worth watching. (A piece of trivia for you - Ruth Madoc supposedly based Gladys Pugh on the grandmother of my daughter's best friend. Her family say that some of Gladys's actions (not the sexually desperate ones, I should quickly add) are a spot-on impersonation).

Just to add to Mark's info on Willo the Wisp - WTW started life as an safety advert warning people about the dangers of leaks from gas cookers, boilers, etc. It was then expanded into a series of short cartoons designed to fill a five minute slot between the end of kids' prgorammes and the early evening news. Accordingly it pitches for whimsical humour, basically to act as a bridge between kid-oriented programming and 'serious' adult news. Kenneth Williams tended to hate everything he did, so I wouldn't pay too much attention to his comments in general. However, having said that, the series, whilst okay, wouldn't be top of my 'to buy' list. If you want a typical Brit kids' animation, then go for Magic Roundabout (okay, it was originally French, but the voiceovers are British and utterly unlike the original French scripts).

#11 of 11 Mark Oates

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Posted December 08 2004 - 06:34 AM

Another typical British kids' animation series is "Roobarb (and Custard)" by Bob Godfrey. Narrated by Richard Briers and drawn in pulsating magic marker, the show had that sly subversive tone all the best British kids' stuff has got.

For light-hearted family fare, you could have a look at Ian McShane's series "Lovejoy". He's an antiques dealer in Sussex who's often slightly on the wrong side of the law. He and his friends (who include Lady of the Manor Jane Feldsham) have various adventures conning conmen and finding treasures. One of the best BBC location drama shows of recent years. Adapted for television by Clement and Le Frenais.

Oh, another comedy you may enjoy is "Porridge" by Ian Le Frenais and Dick Clement. It follows prison inmates Lenny Godber (the late Richard Beckinsale) and Norman Stanley Fletcher (Ronnie Barker). Old hand at terms of imprisonment (porridge of the title, if anybody's curious), Fletcher takes first-timer Godber under his protective wing much to the disgust of chief warder Mackay (Fulton Mackay). This, like Dad's Army is more gentle humour than the out-and-out innuendo of shows like Are You Being Served.

And IMHO, run-down describes the Maplin holiday camp. All holiday camps looked run-down even when they opened as they looked like old army camps tarted up with a bit of paint. There was a first-league outfit run by Billy Butlin whose staff wore red blazers and were called redcoats. A huge number of British variety entertainers from the 1960s and 1970s got their big break at Butlins. The company had a number of sites and spent serious money on the camps and in spite of changes of ownership is still going. Smaller, and in the second league was Pontin's owned by Fred Pontin. His staff wore blue blazers. The fictional Sid Maplin was made out to own the fewest number of camps, and was made out to be a distinctly dodgy character who spent as little as possible on running his camps to keep his profit margins as high as possible. Fortunately it was at a time when British working men were just out of the army after the war, or had completed National Service. Holidays as we know them for these people had more or less only just been invented and they had little clue what to do on vacation, so the regimented "fun" of the holiday camps (Stalagluft jokes were commonplace) was the perfect answer. Hi-de-Hi is so true to life for the period it really grabbed the imagination of the public and launched the stars of the show on a series of similarly styled shows which diminished in success. Like Andrew I didn't enjoy the show that much (I found parts of it painfully unfunny), but it is a classic BBC comedy.
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