The League of Gentlemen is one of the most mysterious comedy series to have emerged from the bowels of the BBC. It's splendidly Gothic, very high-camp and very funny in a constantly disturbing way.
And this Christmas special collection of three short spine-chilling stories will please all fans of the show. It's Grand Guignole comedy at its best, in three wildly different tales -- though the highlight has to be the story of the strange time spent by a young English visitor in the German town of Duisburg, in the home of the decidedly peculiar choir-master Herr Lipp. Is he pederast or vampire -- or both? You'll have to check it out ... but don't watch alone, late at night.
This comes with a raft of special features, of decidedly uneven quality.
The Audio Commentary by the League of Gentlemen team of actors is up to the standard of the program. But then we're also given some total crap, in the form of a slightly tongue-in-cheek (whose cheek, I ask) Documentary of English horror movies,Tales from Behind the Crypt, which manages to bore on and on, without a single clip from them. Maybe that's the joke - it's a pretty lame one.
That documentary runs for 21 minutes. Then, as another Short Film, clocking in at 20 minutes, is an excerpt from the British kid's show Jackanory, in which actor Mark Gattis reads a version of the third tale presented on the DVD. Pretty boring, really, when you can watch the full video version of it instead.
There's a 13-minute Interview with composer Joby Talbot about his soundtrack, and then there's one of the disc's key features, a pretty solid 63-minute Interview from BBC Radio with the League's cast, dating from 2002.
A Local People feature gives a witty text-based introduction to new characters presented here in the Christmas special. And to round things out there are seven deleted scenes (many of them just extended versions of what we've already seen), and a typically boring Photo Gallery. Oh yes... there's an Easter Egg too -- just carefully check out the Stocking Fillers in the Extras menu.
The widescreen anamorphic presentation is very sound indeed for a program made for television. And the 5.1 Surround soundtrack has been very well thought out, with some impressive effects which we totally missed in its free-to-air incarnation.