Comic Strip Presents: Completely Bad News (TV)
R2 - United Kingdom - Gonzo Multimedia
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (6th December 2019).
The Show

The Comic Strip Presents... BAD NEWS! Four hairy musos with a dream to be the next Motorhead. Sure, they have musical differences - all great bands do. But with Colin's PA, Vim's old transit van and the entire back line stacked on HP, what could possibly go wrong? Chart success, adoring fans and excess all areas, it can only be GOOD News surely! Then the unexpected happens.

BAD NEWS get picked by Channel 4 television for a fly on the wall documentary about a metal band's quest to make the big time. The film when first broadcast caused immediate outrage not just with metal fans who thought it was "far too heavy", but the band got condemned by the music press who declared them: "the worst thing since Showaddywaddy" or as one smart arse critic wrote "this isn't Metal, it's Heavy Lead".

VIM, DEN, COLIN and SPIDER are BAD NEWS!
The Comic Strip Presents... BAD NEWS! Four hairy muisos with a dream to be the next Motorhead. Sure they have musical differences – all great bands do. But with Colin's PA ,Vim;s old transit van and the entire back line stacked on HP, what could possibly go wrong ?…. Chart success, adoring fans and excess all areas, it can only be GOOD Newssurely! Then the unexpected happens.

BAD NEWS get picked by Channel 4 television for a fly on the wall documentary about a metal band's quest to make the big time. The film when first broadcast caused immediate outrage not just with metal fans who thought it was “far too heavy”, but the band got condemned by the music press who declared them: “the worst thing since Showaddywaddy” or as one smart arse critic wrote “this isn't Metal, it's Heavy Lead”.

The documentary ends with the band in a sprawling fist fight and falling apart as they head for obscurity. That riveting film of BAD NEWS is what you actually have now in your grubby weed stained fingers …yeah? But it wasn't all bad news ... Sharkey Mcyntyre the scrap dealer turned pop promoter using the old dictum that “there's no such thing as bad news” immediately invited the band to play at the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donnington along with some of their heroes including Motorhead.

Suddenly there's a part two of the Bad News story and when EMI decide to sign the band. Channel 4 also embark on a second film

MORE BAD NEWS (even longer than the first!) charting their rise to fame as they record two albums with the legendary axe man Brian May who actually lets them murder the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” - it's all laid out here in front of you – followed by a national tour ending with a final live concert at Hammersmith Odeon (also included).

SO! You got your BAD NEWS t-shirt and patch, your picture filled tour programme - Now get yourself a greasy hot dog a plastic pint of lager; roll yourself a huge spliff and sit back and enjoy…. Are you ready?! Coz here they come! “The worst band in the world” On Film! On CD! On Bootleg! And live here on stage Ladies and Gentlemen!
BAAAAAAAD NEWS!

Video

The '80s TV episodes ...
Typical of the era this series was produced mainly on PAL 625 line broadcast standard video tape for all interior sequences and 16mm film for the opening and closing credits and all location work.

Anyone familiar with DVD releases of vintage UK television from this era will know the story: soft, fluid 40 fields per second videotape usually shot under fairly bright lighting and somewhat dingy, gritty film sequences which have flaws baked into the transfers because the negatives would have been discarded soon after the final takes had been edited into the master broadcast tapes and therefore are only as good as film to tape transfers of the era.

Serviceable, but were the original elements to still exist then massive improvements should be possible; see Network's The Sweeney (Series one) and all five sets of The Professionals on Blu-ray for how amazing 16mm film of this era can look when given top notch treatment. Under the circumstances tape sequences come off better than the film.

The masters have had little or no restoration applied but they are in very good shape generally with only the very odd dropout or shimmer. Encoding is also reasonable; I didn't notice anything too untoward bar the odd bit of brief macro blocking in darker scenes. Colour values are standard for the elements with modest colours and decent black levels; florid colour was not standard for videotape productions at this time, with a more naturalistic palette the norm.

The 2012 productions ....

The image on these HD-lenses productions is generally good if a little soft with a reasonable amount of detail in both exterior and interior scenes; all shot in the filmic single camera style with a trace of that modern edginess where the camera is moving slightly to increase the drama. The colour palette is muted in a way that suggests it's a stylistic choice seemingly. I never noticed any black crush.

I noticed no artefacts or other distractions but obviously these programmes should be seen in 1080/50i to replicate the original UK broadcasts. Sadly, a Blu-ray doesn't seem to be on the cards.

PAL / 1.33:1, 1.78:1 / 111:27

Audio

English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Bad News & More Bad News)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (LA Tourne Infernal)
Subtitles: None

Mono ...

A solid, robust mono track typical of the period benefits greatly from the lossless treatment, especially when compared to the lossy mono of the DVD.  Plenty of base and no distortion with dialogue always allowed to shine through amongst the music and sound effects.

Stereo ...

Straightforward, modern 2.0 stereo track.  Music is pushed mainly to the surrounds, dialogue remains front and centre and is very, very clear.   It's primarily designed to be supportive of the presenter so like the video:  new and well up to the usual standards capable of DVD for what it is.

No subtitles is unforgivable in this day and age; folks who're hard of hearing will have to do without these three releases.

Extras

"Bohemian Rhapsody" (3:44)
"Bohemian Rhapsody: Behind the Scenes" (5:50)
"Bad News: The Whole Sordid Story" (12:34)


Short promo pieces that seem to be vintage (early 2000s?). Picture quality is acceptable but nothing to write home about.

Photo Gallery (1:09)

Decent, brief still gallery.

Trailers:
- "Five Go Mad: The Insane Truth" featurette" (10:14)
- "The Comic Strip Presents: The Stars, the Stories, the Films" featurette (9:52)
- The Bullshitters (0:26)
"A Fistful of Traveller's Cheques" (0:45)


Short promo pieces rather than trailers that seem to be vintage (early 2000s?). Picture quality is acceptable but nothing to write home about.

16-page liner notes booklet

Decent little liner notes booklet adds context and appreciation to the episodes.

Packaging

Standard 2-disc DVD case.

Overall

Simple, tacky menus; off the shelf masters; minimal extras. Thankfully the prices aren't bad for these releases so they get a pass. Image and sound are unrestored but essentially decent with the 2012 productions obviously looking better but fans will snap these up.

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

 


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