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    Only Fools and Horses - The Complete Series 1
    BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 210 mins . PG . PAL

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    Take a look at any well stocked DVD retailer shelves and in the TV series section you will undoubtedly see many British sitcoms, and Only Fools and Horses is likely to be there among them. First hitting British screens in 1981, the show had a very successful run, lasting eight series', numerous Christmas specials and other one-off specials as late as 2003, building a significant following. It was recently voted on the BBC website as the most popular British sitcom of all time, even beating Black Adder and Fawlty Towers.

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    "I'm in the front seat!"

    Del (David Jason) and his brother, Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst), are a couple of typical Londoners working shonky deals and looking to make a quick buck. The trouble is, neither is particularly bright, crafty or lucky. If there is a deal to be fouled up, Del and Rodney will foul it. If there's a pound to be wagered, they'll lose it. They live in a dinky little flat with their Grandfather (Lennard Pearce), who watches three televisions at once, and does bugger all else.

    The boys are bachelors - not for the wont of trying to pull a few birds - but they are about as lucky in love as they are at closing a deal. Be it second hand cars, briefcases with unknown combinations or building rubble, if it's possible to screw up, these boys will manage it.

    This DVD consists of the entire first series (seven episodes). There are some amusing scenarios, a few genuine belly laughs, the odd chuckle, some predictable one-liners, dated stereotypes and site-gag routines. Still, there is plenty worse out there, and at least Only Fools and Horses is watchable from go to whoa with guaranteed laughs along the way.

    Episode Guide:

    Big Brother: Rodney decides he needs a real job, but Del manages to talk him out of it when he lands a good deal - a consignment of briefcases. Trouble is, the briefcases don't have combinations and no-one wants to buy them. When Del attempts to sell them to his mate, who just happens to have been robbed of said briefcases, Del must find a way to get them off his hands - quickly.

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    Christmas Cheer, Peckham style.

    Go West Young Man: Rodney gets depressed when his best mate steals his bird, Monica ‘of the fat thighs’. Del assures Rodney they are on yet another winner when he announces yet another 'sure thing' deal.

    Cash and Curry: Rodney befriends two Indian rivals, and offers to become a go-between to settle a dispute over a ceramic statue. The deal looks certain to be financially beneficial and, to whit, Rodney and Del sell off their goods to raise 2000 pounds to invest in yet another sure fire winning deal.

    The Second Time Around: When Del's ex-fiancé hits town, he is once again smitten. Only Grandad and Rodney can see that there is something dodgy about a woman who has been widowed three times.

    A Slow Bus to Chingford: Del's latest get rich scheme is Trotter’s Ethnic Tours, a guided tour of London's ethnic hot spots. With Rodney working nights as a security guard for Del's new security company and driving the tour bus during the day, something is bound to go very wrong.

    The Russians are Coming: When Del buys some building rubble, he discovers lead sheeting buried underneath. When Rodney also finds the plans for a nuclear fallout shelter, they decide that the best plan is to prepare for a two-year hideaway after Armageddon, if they can just get through one weekend in the shelter without killing each other.

    Christmas Crackers: Grandad’s Christmas dinner is yet another disaster, and with the evening threatening to kill them with boredom, they plan a night out at the Monte Carlo Club. The night does not turn out to be a cracker. Cracker - get it?

      Video
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    Contract

    I wish I could tell you that no effort has been spared bringing this to DVD, but that would be a lie. Given the age of the material, the full frame aspect ratio should be no surprise, but neither I guess should the grain, washed-out colouring, noise, dirt and marks (some of which are quite severe), nor the regular shimmer and aliasing. Black levels are very average and are rarely actually black. Shadow detail is lacking, but thankfully much of this has been taped in a studio and shadows are not common. The studio footage is generally cleaner than the outdoor scenes that have been recorded on film. It is far from awful, and as long as you are not expecting miracles then this is quite watchable. Oh, the opening and final credits wobble about all over the place, but the episodes themselves are thankfully stable.

    The sole audio option is a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono that is about as pedestrian as DVD audio gets. There are no glaring problems, and the basics such as volume, clarity and synchronisation are fine. There is some mild hiss at times, and being mono there is no separation, panning or much of a sound range. All dialogue is clear and understandable and that's about all one could expect really.

    There are no extras included at all.

    Those who enjoy British sitcoms should get more than a chuckle or two from Only Fools and Horses. It was popular enough when it first screened to warrant years worth of follow-ups and, while for my money there are better British comedies on DVD, there are also plenty worse.


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  •   And I quote...
    "The most popular British sitcom of all time (according to a BBC online poll) comes to DVD..."
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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