Fortean TV: Series 1 (TV)
R2 - United Kingdom - Network
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (6th November 2022).
The Show

"Welcome to Fortean TV, a celebration of the miraculous, the mysterious and the downright weird!"

One of television's most popular paranormal series and an influence on many shows that followed Fortean TV's vast collection of esoteric stories form the basis of one of the world's most valuable libraries of the bizarre, the occult and all points inbetween!

Hosted by the intrepid Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe, this cult series examines the strangest supernatural phenomena from around the world. Hauntings, Yeti, aliens, a pork scratching that resembles the Virgin Mary: Fortean TV leaves no stone unturned in its quest to unearth the inexplicable, the eccentric and the just plain bizarre!

This complete series release features all 18 episodes, the harder-edged Uncut spin-off and the highly memorable Christmas special!

Video

Rapido TV, the company behind TV classic Eurotrash (1993-2004, 2016), also made this equally welcome slab of late '90s joy. Reverend Lional Fanthorpe (b 1935), a true renaissance man if ever there was one (look him up!) fronted this series with smile and wink and great charm. Like Eurotrash, this is a magazine programme with most episodes running 24 minutes (the Christmas special, and final episode, is 49 minutes).

The series was made in standard definition broadcast standard, PAL 625 video. It's made up of various mixtures of format and footage. The newly shot material, Fanthorpe's links, the opening /closing credits and new interviews are all as sharp and clean as can be expected given their more recent vintage and the downconversion and compression, well encoded. There is some softness but detail is generally good, colours are healthy and vibrant when needed. Black levels and contrast get the job done. There's no signs of print damage and I saw no compression artefacts or other digital issues.

These are off the shelf, unrestored masters. Network's 3-disc set is, after all, a niche release with no extras at all and I suspect no budget for such. We a lovely little set that preserves this rather wonderful series looking as good as it can, and probably better than on broadcast. Shy of a full-on HD (or UHD) upscale, this isn't going to get any better ('B+').

PAL / MPEG-2 / DVD9s x3 with 8, 6, 7 episodes on each / 241:10, 192:34, 97:02, 48:36 = 579:22.

Audio

Engliah Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles: English HoH

Sound is basic stereo and encoded as such. It does have some surround information if played through n amp via ProLogic II or similar but it's reedy and not worth the time. Dialogue is always clear, the score clean and sharp. As good as it gets given the lossy Dolby Digital presentation here but frankly it's good enough. Uncompressed LPCM Would obviously he better and lossless DTS-HD Master Audio for an upscaled HD release would be equally good but an HD release in't likely to ever happen shy of streaming. Hard of hearing subtitles are provided and are more or less word for word ('B+').

Extras

None, a crying shame. An interview with Fanthorpe and a retrospective about the series would've been most welcome.

Packaging

Unknown at this time as it wasn't provided for review. Most likely a 3-disc DVD Keepcase.

Overall

The fondly remembered late '90s cult series that was no doubt a staple of post pub viewing gets a lovely 3-disc set from Network in the UK, purveyors of all things classic UK TV. Image and sound are as good as can be given the standard definition source and DVD presentation. There are sadly no extras which is a shame as Fanthorpe in't getting any younger and an interview from him would've been grand. Still, I can't recommend this set more highly enough. It's the kind of series that wouldn't get green lit these days as 21st century audiences are incredibly sensitive and the spoofy tone directed at real people, many foreign would probably not be tolerated by those who complain about such things.

Grab this set before it sells out (ditto the recently released Eurotrash) becuse hard copy media formats are on the qain and the efforts of Rapido TV don't seem to get repeated these days.

The Show: A- Video: B+ Audio: B+ Extras: F Overall: B-

 


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