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    Review of League Of Gentlemen, The Live At Drury Lane (Special Edition)

    9 / 10


    "Can I help you at all?"

    Over the years, a massive number of top comedy shows have made the transition from radio to TV. More recent examples include The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Fist of Fun, Goodness Gracious Me, Dead Ringers, People Like Us and The League of Gentlemen. Many of these shows that come from radio backgrounds then go on to touring the country with a live show, and The League of Gentlemen are no exception, with these live shows "taking them back to their roots".

    This show was recorded at Drury Lane during their sell-out tour during 2001, and they follow in the footsteps of the Monty Python team, who also performed there and released a recording of it (audio only though). The decision to play Drury Lane was intentional, and partly based on their love of Python.

    The eagle-eyed among you will note that this disc has been out before. It was released at the time of the tour. Now, as the film from the League of Gentlemen team is about to hit cinemas, it`s been cynically re-released with some new extras that should have been on the original in the first place!


    A 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, which is what you would expect given the tender age of the source, but it`s always reassuring to see that it hasn`t been panned`n`scanned to save money. The image quality is good if not outstanding, but it`s certainly adequate for a recording of a stage show. Looks the same as the original release.

    The set used for the first half of the show is very basic, and it`s not until the second half that you start to see some changes and some familiar sets wheeled out onto the stage. Again, this was a decision taken by the team about how they wanted to play the show.


    A DD2.0 stereo soundtrack which is functional without setting the world on fire. Everything is clear and audible at all times and you won`t miss a joke. I doubt if a remix would have improved things much as the sound essentially consists of just three voices on a stage. Sounds the same as the original release.


    We are treated to a few extras too. The following ones were on the original release:-

    There are 2 "deleted scenes" which are sketches not included in the main feature. They really should have been edited back in as it`s annoying to have to watch them on their own. There are also 2 sketches from the main show that you can watch recorded from four different angles.

    There`s also the audio-only "big woman" sketch from the radio show, along with a web link and screen saver if you have a DVD ROM.

    The new extras start with a scene from the film (about 2 minutes of Bernice taking confession). This isn`t really much of an insight, but it gives you a feel of the film.

    Next we have a 20 minute documentary about the tour and the show at Drury Lane. This features Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton talking about various aspects of the tour and live shows.

    And the most significant new feature - a commentary track featuring Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and the unseen writer of The League of Gentlemen, Jeremy Dyson. They talk at length about the shows, their history, their sketches, memorable moments, things that got changed at different shows, touring America and more besides. It`s a very funny and informative track, and a worthwhile addition.


    Ok, let`s get the cynical bit out of the way first. These new extras could have easily been released on the original DVD. Just ask the makers of the T2 Ultimate Edition who squeezed 3 versions of the film, with 3 soundtracks plus a commentary, without sacrificing quality. So, the feeble excuse offered in the featurette doesn`t wash with me. Releasing a whole new DVD means that fans are faced with the problem of whether to stump up again. Just watch those £££ signs lighting up in the eyes of DVD company owners.

    This one`s pretty simple. If you`re a fan and you caught the live show, you`re likely to want to buy this and watch it again. If you`re a fan and you missed the live show, you`re likely to want to buy this and see what you missed (and what your friends were probably laughing about for weeks after). There are a lot of real laugh out loud moments, and some great twists on sketches and characters that you`ve seen before. If you don`t like their humour then you won`t be buying this disc.

    Technically the disc is fine with good picture and sound and a few little goodies in the extras section. Recommended for fans everywhere if you didn`t buy it the first time. If you did, bung that disc on eBay and get this one - it is better.

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