Larry Sanders - Season One, reviews/opinions

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by James Miller, Feb 26, 2002.

  1. James Miller

    James Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm looking for reviews or opinions on the video quality of this set by anyone who picked it up today.

    The only review I've found thus far is from dvdfile.com and it gives the video quality a mediocre ranking at best. In particular it mentions "frequent compression artifacts".

    I don't expect reference quality from a 10 year old television show, but I am somewhat concerned about the emphasis dvdfile placed on the compression artifacts.

    The price of this set is rather high, considering there is only ~6 hours of content, so I'd like to hear a few opinions before plunking down $40+. I've watched the first few episodes of Season One, have a few more Tivo'd and have a WishList for the remainder, so if the video quality is really that poor I'll just stick with watching it over satellite.

    Thanks!
     
  2. David Albrecht

    David Albrecht Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah I was surprised just how crappy the first episode looked. It almost looks like it came from a VHS master.

    The second and third episodes (as far as I made it) look a little better... but some of the scenes, like when Hank is in Larry's office... have that VHS look to them.

    Even though it looks bad here-and-there, I'm still glad I picked it up... Funny stuff.
     
  3. Eric Bass

    Eric Bass Second Unit

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    I've only watched the first couple of episodes but I have to say the video is terrible, I don't know what the problem is but the compression is so obvious it's almost hard to watch sometimes. However it only seems to be on the backstage scenes, the shots of the actual show look great.
     
  4. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    I was underwhelmed by the picture, but I loved the series and would like to see the rest of it come soon.
     
  5. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    Doesn't anyone remember what the show actually looked like on TV? The backstage scenes (i.e., anything going on when the show wasn't on the air) had a deliberately grainy look, which contrasted with the glitzier "showbiz" look of the LS show itself.

    I haven't received my set yet, so I can't say this with certainty, but I'd dare guess the video quality people have commented on has more to do with the filming style than with a crappy transfer.
     
  6. James Miller

    James Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    Like I said, I expected a "mediocre" picture based on the film style and film stock used... the "compression artifacts" concerned me though.

    I have half a dozen season 1 shows on TIVO, so I could do an A/B on them and the discs- if I want to take the chance and eliminate my return privileges.

    Anyone else here with the DVD's and an episode or two on TIVO to compare?

    Finally, I just began watching Sex and the City Season 1. I found Episode 1 to be a horrendously grainy mess. Episodes 2 and after were much better though. Anyone else with SatC Season 1 who can compare the quality of Ep 1 and 2 with the first couple/few episodes of Larry Sanders?

    I think these two sets might have the clearest correlation between film stock 16mm, and since I know what bad/better looks like on SatC, a comparison would give me the best idea of what to expect from Larry....

    Thanks!
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I was supposed to do a review, but

    Columbia is going through some personnel

    changes and they totally screwed up my

    screener delivery for the past two weeks.
     
  8. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  9. Eric Bass

    Eric Bass Second Unit

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    Grain I'd be ok with, however..and I'm no expert, to me it screamed of a horrible compression job. Now if that were the case then the whole thing should have looked bad, and since the actual 'show' segments looked great, I have to believe that the 16mm used to film the backstage portions of the show weren't capable of being blown up to DVD resolution. This would suprrise me since DVD isn't really all that high of resolution in the computer world, but I can't think of why else it would look the way it does.
     
  10. RobertCharlotte

    RobertCharlotte Supporting Actor

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    Gord Lacey has posted his here.
     
  11. James Miller

    James Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    Gord's review specifically mentions grain and dust on the print. He points at episode 5 as having the worst overall video quality. He says nothing about compression artifacts, however. He gives the video a 7/10 rating. (by the way, this is the same rating he gave to Simpsons Season 1, and he did specifically mention some compression problems in that set)

    He also mentions that the grain is less troublesome than on Sex and the City, Season One. As I mentioned before, assuming he is not talking about Episode 1 but the rest of the season, I can live with that level of grain.

    Again, "compression artifacts" are the reason I am so concerned... they imply to me that the discs were simply not mastered properly. If these discs represent the best possible source material (barring a restoration) and professional and competent mastering I will be satisfied. But if there is some sort of "user error" involved in the mastering- then I'm not sure how much I have to gain over the HBO version of these shows.

    On that note- could the compression for these DVDs really be any worse than the shotgun approach applied to compression over DirecTV?
     
  12. James Miller

    James Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    VIDEO QUALITY SUMMARY: If you accept the fact that you will be getting a picture no better than you would off of DirecTV, and want the series on a durable medium, then by all means pick up this set. If you want anything better than that then you will be sorely disappointed.

    +++

    Well, after much trepidation I finally opened my set. I have done direct A-B comparisons of several scenes from "The Flirt" and "Hank's Contract" using the DVD on one hand and Tivo'd DirecTV copies on the other.

    There is virtually no difference, for better or worse, between the two with regard to grain, artifacts, sharpness, resolution, etc. However, the DVD appears to have "tint" set too low. Faces are red/purple on the DVD whereas they are fine on the Tivo. (this after raising my TV's tint a couple of notches above AVIA/DVD level to compensate for red/purple faces on my DTV programming)

    All in all, therefore, I must give this set- for video quality- a 4/10. Had the colors been "right" it would still have merited only a 5, since paying $40 for the exact same quality as I currently receive over HBO (including the slight loss of quality by recording to the TIVO) is a dubious investment, to say the least.

    The ONLY advantage to having the DVD set as opposed to a "recorded off HBO" library is that you will not lose any (more) quality by using videotape. Even recording to DVD-R, assuming 1 hour per disc, the investment in blank media would be about the same price as this set. (2 episodes per disc, 7 discs for 13 episodes, ~$5 per high quality disc = $35)

    Now, I will play with the colors a bit, and see if I can't reach a reasonable level for this set. If so I will be satisfied if not "happy", if not I will be disappointed.
     
  13. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    My set arrived today, and I checked out a few episodes. Random thoughts:
    I don't see "compression artifacts". I see the limitations of a low-res source shot cheaply for TV, but that's all. No, it doesn't look like a big-budget movie or even a big-budget show like The X-Files. It never did, and it never will.
    Colors look just fine on my ISF-calibrated Toshiba Theaterwide set (in 4:3 "standard" more). They are weak and washed-out in the behind-the-scenes segments, but that's how they're supposed to look.
    Overall, I'd say the episodes look about as good as they did on nights when my cable signal was perfect. Since such nights are rare indeed, I regard the DVDs as a step up.
    No one watched Larry Sanders for its gorgeous images. The show succeeded because of the cleverness of its writing, the sharpness of its portrayals and the wit of its direction and editing. These discs bring all of that home, and they're well worth having.
    M.
     
  14. Philip Verdieck

    Philip Verdieck Second Unit

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    OK. I also want this, and will wait a while, since it isn't a must buy now, but something I will happily add to my collection later.

    What is HBO's track record with multi-season series? Maybe it is too late to ask the question. I am asking from the point of someone who purchased all the Avengers (Rigg/Steed) and all the Pythons as they were released. Then saw the huge sets at a nice markdown at CostCo. So I wonder if I can wait a couple of years and get a master set priced better. I did indulge in restraint with The Prisoner.
     
  15. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Supporting Actor

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    While I'm very glad to have this set, I have to say this is the worst looking set of TV shows from a major label that I have ever seen (I'm not counting stuff like the cheapo Bonanza or Andy Griffith discs).Compare these fuzzballs with, for example, 1st season Friends episodes, which, while only 2 years newer than Sanders, look incredible compared with broadcast, with rich colors & TONS of detail, NO grain or artifacts (not to mention a 5.1 remix, extended episodes, & more episodes per disc & commentary & extras in the forthcoming season box). Sex In The City discs also look MUCH better than these (I can't believe anybody finds them comparable). M*A*S*H episodes, while MUCH older, also look better than this disgrace (and THEY don't look that grest themselves). Also, the packaging is the absolute worst ever, defining the word cheap. How come RCA-Columbia puts a slipcase on the single-disc Monty Python & The Holy Grail that is completely superfluous, but can't include one here to keep the damned thing together & hold the cheesy 1 page insert from falling out. Or, at least, put a little velcro thing on there, like the John Waters discs. Also, why the hell, with NO 5.1, NO commentary, only 1 interview as an extra, & only 13 episodes, is this on 3 discs (single layer, no less), instead of 2?
     
  16. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  17. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Supporting Actor

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  18. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Why do you consider it "gouging" to offer three discs instead of two?

    As for "why single layer?", even today dual-layer discs are harder to manufacture and have a higher failure rate than single. Three DVD-5's hold about 13 gigs of data, while two DVD-9s hold about 16. Obviously CTS determined that they didn't need the extra 3 gigs for the material and opted for a disc type that was easier to manufacture. It's not like the show would look any different on higher-capacity discs.

    M.
     
  19. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Supporting Actor

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  20. Michael St. Clair

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