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    The Best of The Two Ronnies Volume 2

    BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 74 mins . PG . PAL


    Carrying on the tradition of English comedy duos through the ‘70s and into the ‘80s were The Two Ronnies, being Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker. Their sketch-based comedy ruled British television right from their beginning in 1974 to their parting in 1987, through many series, specials, and even international specials such as The Two Ronnies in Australia. This DVD is the second volume of highlights previously available as a VHS release, and is a fine companion to The Best of The Two Ronnies Volume 1, which is already available.

    For those who don’t know of The Two Ronnies (can there be anyone?), they are a comedy duo much in much the same vein as Morecombe and Wise, Smith and Jones, Fry and Laurie or French and Saunders (but without the girlie bits, naturally). They work together very closely, are mostly sketch based, and each member of the duo has a particular talent or style they bring to the act.

    Ronnie Corbett, the short one, specialised in characters that were quirky, annoying and flighty. He also had a solo spot in the show, his armchair chats with the audience. Two of those are included in this package and just as they were the low point of each show, they are the low points of this otherwise amusing collection. On his own, and when delivering ‘stand-up”, or in this case ‘sit-down’, comedy, he just isn’t very funny.

    Ronnie Barker, the stouter of the two, brought incredible talent to the duo by way of his clever word plays, amazing delivery of some incredibly wordy, twisted and amusing monologues and his impeccable timing. For mine, Ronnie Barker was the most talented and funnier of the two, by a mile. This claim is supported when you consider the complete careers of both men. While Ronnie Corbett popped up occasionally in other shows and specials, Ronnie Barker starred in several successful sitcoms such as Porridge and Open All Hours.

    The writers for The Two Ronnies included members of Monty Python, other names synonymous with British comedy, and of course the duo themselves. All their trademark sketches are here, including a couple of musical numbers, some very clever and complicated monologues and, of course, lots of one-off sketches.

    To be honest, not all of it is funny, back then or now, but some of it is quite hilarious. I guess no collection of highlights is ever going to hit the mark every time for every viewer, but there is something here that should provide a laugh or two for everyone.


    The sketches in this collection date from 1974 to 1985, and even though the cover warns of varying quality, it is actually very good. This can be attributed to the quality equipment that the BBC was using at the time. It has to be said that there is some variation in picture quality, depending on the source material of course, but there are no bad inclusions. Overall the image is quite sharp, being filmed entirely in a studio (at least all of these sketches were) and under good lighting. There are no problems with shadow detail or clarity, although there are one or two moments when the camera fails to focus properly, but these are brief and not a fault of the transfer.

    Black levels and colours are good and consistent, and there are no problems with noise or bleeding, which is surprising. There are almost no marks or specks to speak of, and just one or two tape glitches that are minor and easily overlooked.

    There is no layer change.


    The only audio option is a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track which is actually quite pleasing given its age. There are no problems with synchronisation, or clarity, though the subtitles do come in handy to catch the amusing lyrics to the songs that often come at you at a rapid rate.

    There are no audio gymnastics on display and nothing for the surrounds, centre speaker or subwoofer. This is a basic, though more than adequate, audio presentation.


    No extras are included, even though the cover falsely promises Artist Profiles.


    The main shortfalls of vintage comedy collections are pretty obvious. One, you are unlikely to assemble sketches that everyone will agree are the funniest, or truly indicative of the artist’s work, and two, not all of it is still going to be relevant or as funny as it once was. This is the case here where there are some genuinely funny moments that had me laughing aloud, which is a good recommendation, and other moments that are very dated and so far from funny it is almost painful. Fans will love it, casual fans should enjoy it, and those unfamiliar with The Two Ronnies should still get a good laugh or two.

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      And I quote...
    "A second collection of hit-and-miss gags from one of Britain’s most successful comedy duos. With a short running time, and no extras, all too soon it’s goodnight from them, and goodnight for this DVD…"
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
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          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
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    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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