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The BBC is renowned throughout the world for its classic comedies. During the 60’s, 70’s and to some extent the 80’s the BBC were releasing superb comedy programmes, which became famous worldwide. Such classics like Only Fools and Horses, Blackadder and Steptoe and Son were all household names. Dad's Army was also considered as one of the best comedies to come from Britain, so it was only a matter of time before it arrived on DVD.

Best Of Dad's Army, The
Plot
Dad's Army was first transmitted in July 1968 and went on to keep familes throughout the world entertained for nine years. During that period there were nine series shown. Dad's Army is set during the Second World War, and focuses on the Walmington-On-Sea platoon of the Home Guard. This unlikely group of lads is commanded by pompous bank manager Captain Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe). Mainwaring has his hands full trying to command the platoon, and is assisted by his chief clerk, Sergeant Wilson (John Le Mesurier).

Making up the platoon are Lance Corporal Jones (Clive Dunn) who is one of the older soldiers, renowned for his frequent cries of "Don't Panic!”. Private Frazer (John Laurie) is a miserable old Scotsman, whose favourite saying is "We're doomed!”, Private Godfrey (Arnold Ridley) spends much of his time asking if he can "be excused". Private Pike (Ian Lavender) is one of the youngest members. As you can see, they are a strange bunch of guys and that is what makes Dad's Army so interesting. Each character has his own unique sense of humour and is probably why the programme has such a huge fan base.

This ‘Best of’ DVD release contains five episodes stretching over the nine series.  What is a little disappointing is that the DVD concentrates more on the later episodes that were made, rather than providing a spread out set.  Here is a brief explanation of the episodes that are contained on the disc:

The Deadly Attachment – Series 6 (31st Oct 1973)
Face to face with the enemy at last! The platoon, assigned to guard a captive U-boat crew, rise to the occasion with all the competence and courage we've come to expect from the Home Guard. The German crew prove to be more of a handful than first expected. Their commander plots to escape from the Home Guards before the armed escort arrives.  This is quite a good episode to start off the DVD. It has some very funny moments and is probably one of my favourites on the disc.

Best Of Dad's Army, The
Keep Young and Beautiful – Series 5 (13th Oct 1972)
Parliament decides that older members of the Home Guard should be transferred to the ARP, to be replaced by younger members of the ARP. Some of the older members of the platoon decide that a change of image is needed to make them look younger. The episode ends with a freaky shot of the revamped guards. Jones looks particularly scary with his face lift!

Never Too Old - Series 9 (6th Nov 1977)
This is the last episode of Dad's Army that was ever made. It has a sentimental end. The episode concentrates on Jones’ bombshell news. At first everyone assumes that Jones is acting strange due to old age, but in fact he has fallen in love. He decides he wants to marry Mrs Fox, his childhood sweetheart. While he is waiting for a reply from his bride to be, Jones asks Captain Mainwaring for permission. This isn’t Mainwaring’s only involvement though as he is asked to give away the bride as well. Personally I found this to be the dullest episode on the disc. Being the last episode is the only reason that it is included. It is simply not funny enough, and I am sure there are better episodes in the series.

Asleep in the Deep – Series 6 (6th Oct 1972)
When a bomb falls on the local plumbing station, efforts to rescue Privates Walker and Godfrey result in the exact opposite - nearly the whole platoon are now trapped with them. To make matters worse they are stuck with ARP Warden Mr Hodges. This is my favourite episode as it has many laugh out loud moments. With Jones about you know that things will go wrong. That is exactly what happens in this episode.

Sons of the Sea – Series 3 (11th Dec 1969)
Captain Mainwaring has an idea: "River patrols! Half a dozen men, armed to the teeth with a boat. They could play havoc with the Nazis." Members of the platoon set sail and become lost in the fog.  The journey ends up taking longer than expected and the crew finally end up in Eastbourne, not that they realise this for a while though. They think they have arrived in occupied France by accident, and the consequences of this are amusing to say the least.

Video
The disc is presented with a fullscreen TV aspect ratio of 4:3. While reviewing this disc I had to bear in mind that some of the episodes were over 30 years old. It is fair to say that the picture quality of this disc will not be the main selling point and actually doesn’t do much justice to the format. However, this is about as good as Dad's Army is going to get. I have never seen the episodes looking so sharp, and colours are reasonably bright. Some episodes are better then others. During the second episode I noticed severe artifacting, and during other episodes the transfer was quite grainy. Overall though, considering the age of these episodes the quality is about as good as you will ever get.

Best Of Dad's Army, The
Audio
The audio is brought to the screen in Dolby Digital 2.0. This might sound poor by current high standards, but to be honest it is more than adequate. Dad's Army is purely dialog driven, so it does not need a more intense soundtrack. I cannot recall the rear speakers being used at all. The dialog is clear so overall I cannot critise the audio track included.

Extras
While it doesn’t have a huge number of extras I was pleasantly surprised with the one included on this disc. Normally BBC releases only include the episodes. Therefore you do not get any other extras for your hard-earned money. Dad’s Army has quite a detailed featurette entitled “Selection Box”. This featurette runs at over 30 minutes and contains favourite clips chosen by celebrities such as Chris Tarrant and Patrick Moore. The only other extra included with this disc is an Artist Profile, which gives a brief description about some of the actors.

Overall
Before watching this DVD I was not really a fan of Dad’s Army, but now I have been converted. Dad's Army is not the type of programme which will have you laughing out loud but it is nevertheless very entertaining. The choice of episodes ensures that you get some of the best moments from what is an excellent comedy series. The picture quality is about as good as could be expected and the sound is adequate. With a running time of over 150 minutes there is no reason why fans should not make this a purchase. It has taken long enough for Dad's Army to be released on DVD so what are you waiting for, go out and buy it!


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