(HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format + Widescreen DVD-Video) + Shaun Of The Dead (HD-DVD) + Big
Train – Seasons One & Two (BBC DVD)
B+ & B-/B-/B+/C+ Sound: B+ &
B-/B-/B+/C+ Extras: C Films/Episodes: C
cannot get enough of Simon Pegg, you are in luck. The comic actor from British TV now making an
impact with two comic feature film bloodfests finds an early TV hit finally
coming to the U.S. on DVD and his two hit films exclusively on HD-DVD.
in 1998, Pegg was part of the ensemble skit cast for the BBC hit Big Train, which BBC Home Video has
issued at the same time that his second cult-hit-to-be Hot Fuzz arrives on DVD and an HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format disc. The series is in the mode of SCTV, SNL, Mad-TV, In Living Color and Monty Python, yet it is a mix of skits
that work, about as many that don’t and is often saved only by its British
sensibilities. For Pegg fans, it is a
must, yet for others, it is worth at least a look to see if you find it funny. The seasons are short enough to fit on one
DVD each, but offer many skits. The show
also features Catherine Tate, whose new show we have already looked at and were
far less impressed with.
Pegg released the surprise worldwide hit Shaun
Of The Dead, yet another send-up of the George Romero zombie classics that
has had much more resonance with fans than most. It is also as annoying as Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things,
Bob Clark’s indie hit that was the first to lampoon Romero’s original 1968 Night Of The Living Dead. Shaun
sometimes seems like a love letter to the Romero films, then allows itself to
get caught up in excess blood and gore that spoils its wit. Edgar Wright directed and if nothing else
besides it Britishness saved it, the teaming of Pegg and Nick Frost was a
Hot Fuzz (2007) starts out as a different
and promising film as Pegg plays a no-nonsense cop who is paid for his
efficiency by being sent to a small British town where the worst thing seems to
be poets escaping their owners. The opening
introduction using Adam Ant’s Goody Two
Shoes is a nice touch. After meeting
the townies and reprimanding a bunch of underage drinkers, a murder takes
place. Some try to write it off as an
accident, but it is obviously more and a very potentially interesting mystery
it becomes an excuse to repeat everything from Shaun Of The Dead when some wacky plot twists ruin the set-up and
all the film can offer is blood and gore.
Pegg and Frost are funny without trying, but the film cannot seem to
bring out the very best of them throughout.
However, this is meant to cater to Shaun
fans, so the rest of us get left out.
Hope they go a new direction next time.
the 1080p 2.35 X 1 VC-1 digital High Definition image quality of both films on
HD-DVD look really good, as shot in Super 35mm by David M. Dunlap and Jess Hall
respectively. Color is consistent, depth
is nice and definition is solid. Both
have Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mixes that are better than standard Dolby would be,
with Fuzz supposedly offering EX and
turning out not to, but they still are about the same in quality. The soundfield are good and dialogue
recording is fine in both cases. The DVD
flipside of the Fuzz HD-DVD and
separate widescreen DVD-Video are not bad for standard definition,
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1.
Sometimes, such versions have varied from Universal, but they are
virtually the same in picture and sound quality here, with standard Dolby
Digital 5.1 (EX on Fuzz again) just
fine, but not as good as the HD tracks.
Big Train has various aspect ratios, but
the show itself is 1.33 X 1 and though it is not going to look as good as a new
feature film in either format, the transfers fare very well for a TV skit
series with consistent color. Definition
can be an issue and some analog PAL video effects look dated. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no surrounds
of any kind. Extras include stills,
cast/crew audio commentary on select shows and text cast/crew bios on both
seasons, plus a half-hour of deleted scenes on the first season, 13 minutes of
deleted scenes on the second season and 7 minutes of the German version of the
show on the second season.
HD-DVDs both have deleted scenes, several various featurette bits and trivia
meters. Shaun adds TV Bits, uncensored audio commentary and casting tapes,
while Fuzz has commentary optional
on the deleted scenes, press tour in the U.S. piece and the duo doing scenes as
Sean Connery & Michael Caine. All in
all, these are interesting releases, though somewhat overrated. We can only hope Pegg and Frost will find a
new artistic breakthrough, or be stuck in a niche that does not do all of their
- Nicholas Sheffo