The League of Gentlemen - The Entire Second Series
BBC/Roadshow Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 177 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Rejoice all ye with a taste for special stuff, for the League of Gentlemen are back – although you may wish to grab a tissue or three this time around, but not necessarily to wipe up tears…
Dragging along all those characters we loved and loathed from the first series, and adding a healthy mix of new locals including the Charity Shop bag ladies Vinnie and Reenie, uber-camp German tourist Herr Lipp, B & B proprietors Alvin and Sunny Steele, aspiring actress Pamela Doove, another nemesis for Pauline in Cathy Carter-Smith and possibly the most psychotically alluring character to have ever resulted from brain cells colliding in Pandemonium Carnival ringleader Papa Lazarou, just when you thought things couldn’t get any blacker, well, they do. Even British comedian Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown shows up as Mayor Vaughn – anybody familiar with his real name, initials R.V., will know this is no mere coincidence.
It's a nice day for a white wedding...
The off-kilter comedy is still very much to the fore – those moments you find yourself letting guffaws rip when better taste perhaps dictates you shouldn’t – along with an upping of the horror ante as Royston Vasey is gripped (or should that be dripped?) by a bleeding miserable time in the nasal area as its running thread for the season.
If the first series had you reaching for the smelling salts, this one will have you desperately breaking down the doors of the liquor cabinet. While The League of Gentlemen is certainly not for the faint of heart, burger me if anybody whose been searching for something fresh in the comedic department won’t be rubbing their hands together in unbridled glee at the prospect of chowing down upon something with a bit of intelligence at its core.
Herr Lipp makes his move...
Visually we’re in for more or less the same treatment as received from the first series – and there’s nothing wrong with that. The whole 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced, of course) affair is shot on video then given post-production tweaks to offer up a slightly darker, more brooding and film-like appearance, so the only possible bugbear for some may be the intentional grain that’s introduced. Otherwise, save for the odd touch of aliasing here and there, alles klar. Again, the layer change is mindlessly plonked towards the beginning of the fourth episode, which is mildly annoying but able to be lived with.
Les McQueen struts his own brand of special stuff...
The Dolby Digital stereo audio is, once again, good enough for what needs to be done, with everything managing to be quite discernable despite the employ of some often bizarre or manic accents and rants. Once more, Joby Talbot’s score is a major player in proceedings, adding to the action in the way any good musical accompaniment should, and Crème Brulee don’t.
Given two discs to stretch out over, we’re in for even more of an extras feast than the series one release. The menus and transitions are a suitable ode to the darker side of the League, as we’re led into a world featuring many a precious thing.
The first disc offers up another series of engrossing, sometimes rapid-fire insider insights into everything that is The League of Gentlemen in the form of six full-length commentaries from director Steve Bendelack and the four Leaguers. I daresay I’m not alone in my horror that Papa Lazarou is based on a landlord of the same name – hmm, perhaps the apparent originality of the programme is simply a product of the stranger than fiction real world we live in after all? Next up is a little section entitled pre and post examples, offering up a one minute 59 second scene of some rather nude Dentons in both as-we-see-it mode, and before effects processing – the two can be flipped between via the remote’s ‘angle’ button.
Have we missed the keg?
Not surprisingly, disc two brings us most of the extra-curricular activity. Proceedings commence with a just shy of half an hour behind the scenes documentary, presented in slightly peculiar fashion by former Not the Nine O’clock News member Griff Rhys-Jones. Through snippets of interviews with all the League members we’re given much more insight into their off-kilter ways of thinking and working, along with generous chunks of the show, behind the scenes footage and more than one apology for taking much piss out of people they know (even though it's probably safe to say anybody parodied by them would actually love it).
Another collection of biographies, or Local People, is included, sensibly avoiding those introduced on the first release and concentrating on the new townsfolk to have fallen into our orbit. Next up, a series II scrapbook offers 79 piccies of various subjects, ranging from photos to sketches to examples of various bits and pieces of The League of Gentlemen promotional paraphernalia. Given its own menu entry is a single, solitary poster for the Territorial Army, which is all a bit wasteful really.
A series of deleted scenes, unedited full-length sketches, examples of effects footage and U.S. title cards are all gathered under the banner Missing. Totalling 21:28, League fans will have a field day with plenty of intriguing things in the offing. Wrapping the obvious things up, we have a collection of Royston Vasey tunes, more specifically a karaoke version of the Dentons’ House Rules ditty (just follow the jumping toad), the full ‘70s cock-rock horror that is Crème Brulee’s Voodoo Lady and a selection of four of Joby Talbot’s more memorable score compositions.
If you’re not of an ovarian bent then read no further, however if those thingies which are generally quite white, oval and all 3D-looking get you all excited then make sure you have a good head for numbers before you Pop into our googies section to find out more about the secret local pandemonium that’s on offer…
Another superbly presented series on an impressive DVD set, if Beaches beats Brazil in your personal movie pantheon then there’s nothing for you here, but if you’re craving a fiendishly clever comic cocktail the likes you have never quite seen before then this is your tonic – tail or no tail.
Anyway, must toddle off now, I’ve just landed this tall, dark and mysterious new hubby you see. I do wish he’d stop calling me “Dave” though, it’s most off-putting...
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "