BBC/Roadshow Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 141 mins .
G . PAL
If you are a fan of all things Spencer (as in Frank), then here is your chance to complete the set with Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em – The Christmas Specials that neatly brings the whole thing to a conclusion.
He's a pixie, not a fairy.
The three episodes were originally shown as the conclusion to each of the three series' (already available on DVD and reviewed on this site) with broadcast dates in 1974, 1975 and 1978. Each is longer than the usual format, running between 45 and 52 minutes. There is little in them that you won’t find in the other shows, and although there is a common link between them (Christmas – duh!) there is not really much of a Christmas feel to them as the scenarios in all three are only vaguely linked to Christmas with the 1978 episode not even mentioning the word.
1974: It’s Frank’s first Christmas as a father, and in typical Frank fashion, nothing goes as it should. His involvement in the local Christmas nativity play is a delight to behold (unless you are a fellow cast member), his attempt at bringing home a suitable Christmas tree is a hoot, and his new workmates seem to be very secretive about their jobs at the warehouse.
1975: A job as a pixie at the local supermarket has him at odds with Santa, but all is forgotten when the BBC pay Frank a visit. Recommending his home handywork to the BBC's version of Backyard Blitz, the crew arrive but get a lot more than they bargain for – and precious little of it has to do with his home handywork.
1978: Deciding that a pilot’s licence is the thing to get him through Australia House and onto his grandfather’s sheep station, Frank enrolls for flying lessons but things get out of control when his trainer passes out while on a test flight and Frank is left holding his joystick.
" And this sofa could be yours, if The Price Is Right."
If you have the three series' on DVD then you will no doubt want to add this to your collection, and while there is nothing to be gained by rushing out and forking out the cash, there are still some decent laughs. By this stage though you either love or hate Frank Spencer and nothing in this review is going to change that.
OK, the order of the day is bland. The full frame aspect ratio is particularly soft and grainy in the filmed sequences, and noticeably sharper and brighter in the studio-recorded footage which is the bulk of the feature. Colouring is somewhat washed out, but then it was never startlingly colourful to begin with. Again, dirt and marks are mostly confined to the filmed scenes, but there is little in the way of compression issues with some minor shimmer being the only worry. The layer change placed in the 1975 special is a little obvious, but could have been worse.
More bland than bland I am afraid, but there is little to grizzle about. The volume, clarity and synchronisation are just fine, but the Dolby Digital mono track does itself few favours. As said, it does all the things it needs to. Background hiss is pretty much non-existent, there are no audio glitches, and only the canned laughter gets a little annoying, but that goes for almost every TV sitcom.
No extras are included folks.
Surely there can be few television viewers left that do not know of Frank and Betty Spencer? The eternal loser was a huge hit in the ‘70s, especially here in Australia. The fact that there were only 22 episodes made is deceptive as it seems like there are plenty more and all 22 are available across four DVDs. Some characters seem to live forever and it seems Frank Spencer is just one more on an ever growing list.