The Best Bits of the Late Show - Champagne Edition
ABC/Roadshow Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 370 mins .
PG . PAL
Yessir, Yessir, Yessir
With the success of the D-Generation, some 12 hours of comedy in the mid 80's, it was inevitable that this brand of slapstick and satire would go to the next level with a much more polished presentation and sketches. The Late Show wasn't it; and that's a good thing.
The Late Show was Tom Gleisner, Santo Cilauro, Jane Kennedy, Judith Lucy, Tony Martin, Mick Molloy, Rob Sitch and Jason Stephens. Some of you may remember their three year series begining in 1992, but for those that don't, Tom, Santo and Rob can be found on the current hit TV show The Panel. If you can click with the humour on The Panel then The Late Show will definitely be your cup of tea.
The show is basically broken up into routine segments of talkback, stand-up, pre-recorded sketches and more that sometimes hit the mark or miss it completely; however most of them hit, and hit hard. Classics such as Shit Scared, Muckracking, Tommy G at the Newsdesk, Shirty the Slightly Aggressive Bear, The Oz Brothers, Graham and the Colonel, Geoff and Terry Bailey and Charlie the Wonder Dog,
You too would be shit scared.
and then current topics are taken to a hysterical level with the constant piss-taking.
As well as the regular sections, some of the more classic moments come from the impersonations that Tony Martin and Rob Sitch get up to during the various crosses from Tommy G at the news desk. Interviews with Dick Smith, Yassar Arafat, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dr John Hewson, Paul Keating, John Fahey, Imran Khan, Jeff Kennett and Bruce McAvaney cause riotous laughter from all involved, including the cast and crew themselves.
And what about the fashion? Remember, this was the early '90s and it adds to the nostalgia and hilarity of the program.
To appreciate the video quality for what it is, there has to be an understanding of the video source we are dealing with here. Not to knock the ABC, but the early '90s was a time when this bunch of comedians wanted to create a show for themselves as much as the audience and used video as a simple way of archiving the footage. With a low budget by todays standards, the video is what you would expect from back then and as such renders perfectly onto our TV screens.
Boonie! Legend! I don't beleevit!
The video here is of decent quality, most probably the ABC's 2" analogue video masters, and is perfectly watchable. There are moments when the equipment used for some outdoor sessions was someone's personal handycam and the quality of them a decade ago left a lot to be desired. As Paul D once said, "You can't polish a turd", and this relates to these instances. Outside of that, the image is what you'd expect from a broadcast medium.
Sharpness is very good for the in-studio shots, with some softness appearing from time to time, but this is easily forgiven. Colour can be slightly over-saturated at times and a little low in others but it all comes back to the original source material. Black levels are perfectly adequate with shadow details rendering as expected for video sourced material. The two discs are spread across two dual layer DVDs, with a decent bit-rate containing the 370 minutes of footage. Presented in a full frame aspect ratio, you're getting The Late Show looking the best it ever has and ever will.
Like a tiger!!!
Sure, money could be spent to improve the image but then we'd introduce un-natural, and maybe unintentional, deficiencies to what was originally intended by the producers. Some shots exhibit an intentional look and feel about them and given the quality of the material on display here, the video can quite easily play second fiddle. If anyone has an issue with this image, then they bought it for all the wrong reasons.
On the audio side of things, the sound we have here is your run of the mill two channel stereo mix that doesn't benefit from any new surround rejigging or gimmickery. What you originally heard back in the early '90s is what you get. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout, with only a very few cracks and pops to be heard.
Funtuzzic Durecta, I fink a geeenius
Not only does this two DVD collection house all three best-of videos of The Late Show, but we're also privy to Some More Bits of The Late Show, which is a further 50 minutes of laughs to be had that were not released to the home video format. Also included is an hilarious trailer for The Olden Days, 170 still images from the show and behind the scenes, the full performance of Jimmy Hannan singing Working Class Man and the Rescue on Mt Variable Weather.
The best feature of the lot is definitely worth the price of admission alone. The original cast and crew came together at the Flagstaff Studios in Melbourne on the 1st of September, 2001, to record an audio commentary for the entire length of the DVD. Tom Gleisner made mention about revisiting sketch comedy on The Panel a few weeks back, so now we know what he was referring to. In all honesty this is the most entertaining audio commentary I've ever had the pleasure to experience.
Not only did every original member spend the entire Saturday recording the commentary, some of the special guests made an appearance during the recording and participated during their sections of the show, such as the likes of Joan Kirner, John Harrison and Pete Smith. This commentary keeps your interest piqued for the entire length, and the humour here is on par with the actual footage being watched. This commentary is worth the price of admission alone. Excuse me while I wipe the tears from my eyes, this is absolutely hilarious stuff.
All this is brought together by some perfectly suitable menus with some ever so slight hints of animation in them. This is after all the 'Champagne Edition'.
Any fan of The D-Generation, The Late Show, The Panel, The Castle or The Dish will find this DVD a must-have. Throw out your VHS copies and grab this one instead, and if you haven't picked up a copy of the VHS versions at all then this is exactly what you may have been waiting for. As mentioned earlier, the commentary is a worthy addition to the DVD and the extra 50 minutes of unreleased footage makes this disc an excellent addition to every fan's collection and we all think it is worthy of a gold disc.