Cazalets (The): The Complete Series (TV)
R2 - United Kingdom - Second Sight
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (13th February 2015).
The Show

***This is an A/V and extras review only. For reviews on the show from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

Based on the best-selling novels by Elizabeth Jane Howard, this compelling saga delves into family life during the turmoil of war. The all-star cast also includes Stephen Dillane (Game Of Thrones), Lesley Manville (Maleficent) and Joanna Page (Gavin And Stacey).

The Cazalets follows the lives of a large, privileged family transformed by the outbreak of World War II. As storm clouds gather over Europe, the family’s three generations retreat to their country estate where the trials and tribulations of life play out against the backdrop of war. Births, Deaths, marriages, secrets and intrigue test their stoic British restraint and resilience to the limit, as both the country and family are fractured by the horrors of the escalating conflict.

This classic BBC adaptation is a gripping and poignant portrayal of one family’s life during wartime Britain.

Video

Independent British distributor Second Sight have released the 2001 BBC series "The Cazalets" on to DVD for the first time in the United Kingdom, using what I assume is the original broadcast ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer is anamorphic and in PAL format, but is unfortunately very mediocre.

Although I could not confirm 100% (no mention in credits), it appears as though the show was filmed on 35mm, with natural film grain running throughout the six episodes. Unfortunately, the level of grain is a little inconsistent, with some scenes looking noisy instead of very grainy (19:12 in the first episode for example). The source used is also not particularly clean, something which comes as a disappointment for a BBC show from the turn of the century. Dust and dirt appear regularly, and there are occasional larger blemishes and light scratches. The noticeable edge enhancement, principally in the external scenes, also puts a dampener on this release, however from what I understand, this is also an issue with the old American and Dutch releases. Skin tones appear slightly warm, and other colours look washed out; sometimes suitable for the World War II period of the series. Blacks are often quite awful though, verging towards grey. Details are one of the better elements of the transfer (still not great), with some close-ups showing some reasonable levels of clarity and sharpness. Background details of internal decor and external foliage is slightly above average. It is safe to say that no work has been done on restoring the show, and whilst better than VHS quality, there's certainly a lot of room for improvement.

The show is uncut, with three episodes on each disc.

Audio

Second Sight have provided us with a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo option, which I again assume is the same as the original television broadcast thirteen years ago. Channel separation is virtually non-existent, but don't let that put you off as there aren't any issues to be found, and it sounds as good as other similar shows from the time. Dialogue is clear at all times and never sounds mumbled whilst the sound effects can be heard easily without overpowering the speech. The score by Julian Nott is pretty basic and virtually identical to every other BBC drama set in the forties, but it does suit the show well. Although overall it does lack depth and feels flat, there aren't any problems like drop outs, scratches, or background hiss.

Optional subtitles are included in English for the hard-of-hearing.

Extras

Nothing at all.

Overall

The Show: B Video: C Audio: C+ Extras: F Overall: C+

 


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