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Following on from the relatively successful DVD release of The Brittas Empires Series One, Eureka Video have decided to release more of Gordon Brittas’ antics in the form of series two. Having found the first series surprisingly entertaining I was looking forward to series two, hoping that it contain more of the same. Read on to find out if my expectations were met.  

The Series
Series two features seven episodes, which happen to be named this time, unlike the first series where none of the episodes were officially given titles. Eureka Video have included all seven episodes with this release and here is a summary of each of them:

Brittas Empire, The - Complete Series Two
Back from the Dead
The series opens with the shocking, but welcome news that Gordon Brittas has died while away on business in Bulgaria. Upon hearing this, the staff at the leisure centre are upbeat, and it seems as if the customers are happy as well. The takings for the centre are up and people seem to be returning in droves. However, this may be a vicious rumour and strange things start happening which leave the staff wondering if there are some sinister powers at work in the centre. Colin hears Mr Brittas’ voice over the intercom and starts to wonder if his ghost has returned to haunt the leisure centre, while Carol is scared that he may be targeting her baby! Life is never dull at Whitbury Leisure Centre, and this episode is a perfect example of the strange goings-on.

Temple Of The Body
When a pair of ladies’ underwear turns up on Gordon’s sofa and a secret hiding place is found within the leisure centre, Gordon’s minds starts working overtime. He believes that a member of staff is using the centre as a dating venue. In true Brittas style, the manager goes completely over the top and organises a meeting to try to draw out the culprit. Desperate to stop the evening activities Gordon drills a hole through his office ceiling, which is apparently directly above the secret hiding place. In the midst of all this, Gordon also finds out that Carol is pregnant, so could she be the sneaky offender?

An Inspector Calls
This is the funniest episode in the second series and probably the first series as well. The centre is to be inspected by the strictest Government inspector in the area and Gordon is panicking! His woes double when a drugged pigeon manages to escape and sets up home in the gymnasium. It is also Helen’s birthday and Gordon thinks he has bought her the perfect present, a moped with a lovely bright yellow outfit to wear while riding it! Obviously Helen isn’t pleased with her present, so much so that she is contemplating leaving her husband.

Set In Concrete
For once Mr Brittas doesn’t seem to be making his presence felt all over the centre as is usually the case. We soon find out that this is because his feet have been set in concrete under his desk after an unfortunate incident with some stone masons. He concludes that there is something wrong with the leisure centre building, and this is causing unreasonable behaviour. Laura has other ideas, but Brittas is sure that the leisure centre is suffering from Sick Building Syndrome. A specialist with some expensive technical equipment is called in with hilarious results and Laura gives Brittas an insight into what other people really mean when they say things, which perplexes him greatly.

Brittas Empire, The - Complete Series Two
Mums and Dads
Gordon’s elaborate plans for the leisure centre reach an all-time high when he organises a concert at the there, the main attraction being a legendary Russian Composer. The only problem is that Brittas is struggling to find a piano for the event, but at the last moment his father steps in to save the day, and delivers a family heirloom which can be used instead of the beautiful grand piano which is too big to fit through some of the doors. With only a few hours to go and a full capacity audience expected, Gordon is forced to re-plan the evening. We also get a glimpse of how Gordon became the way he is by listening to his father’s philosophies on bringing up children to be confident in their abilities, whether or not they have any!

Safety First
This episode sees Gordon concentrating on the centre’s emergency procedures, and he has every right to feel concerned. Previous test runs have proved disastrous with more people potentially dying during the dry run than making it out alive (including a number of suicides in order to sit in the staff room with a coffee!) Bearing this in mind, Gordon insists that the procedure is run again. While all this is happening Helen arrives to see her husband, hoping to save their marriage with a romantic gesture. Councillor Dapping has also decided to visit the centre and is finding it hard to understand why Gordon is requesting a new fire escape. She will understand more clearly after the events of the day!

New Generations
This is the episode where the penny finally drops and Gordon realises that Carole’s large posture is not from eating too much, but actually due to the fact that she is pregnant. At the same time the centre receives one of its strangest visitors yet in the form of a cow! A farmer loses his cow, and the animal decides to set up residence in the centre in the meantime. It turns out that the cow is pregnant, and things are about to go wrong for Gordon. Both Carole and the cow go into labour at the same time, resulting in a brilliant climax to the series. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this episode, but it is a classic way to end the series, and rivals episode three for the funniest episode tag.

Video
As with the previous series of The Brittas Empire, Eureka Video have once again presented this series in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. The similarities between this release and series one are obvious to see, but there are some areas where series two excels. The colour palette is more vibrant and skin tones seemed more realistic. The image also seemed to be clearer and better defined; however it is worth bearing in mind the time differences between the series. Even though this transfer exceeds the previous series, it is not short of niggles which I found distracting throughout. The amount of grain present is still too much for my liking, and compression artifacts are still visible in the majority of episodes. This is a reasonable transfer, which should keep the majority of casual DVD purchasers happy, but it far from spectacular!

Audio
Once again another TV series with just one 2.0 soundtrack, however saying that, it is perfectly adequate and anything better would have been complete overkill! Eureka Video have again supplied an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track which is hard to criticise too much. Most TV series’ are dialogue driven and the Brittas Empire is no different, so therefore the fact that the dialogue is crystal clear with this transfer means that Eureka have done their job well. For some reason there are no subtitles with this release. The menu systems are worth mentioning as they are a lot more elaborate this time around, being fully animated, and give you a guided tour around the leisure centre.

Brittas Empire, The - Complete Series Two
Extras
Up until now there has been very little difference between the two series’ of Brittas on DVD, but the extras are where we get a little difference, although not much of one! There are roughly the same number of extras with each release, but the ones contained here are not very imaginative. All of the extras are housed on the first disc, and the first one I came across was a Quiz It is a pretty standard quiz where you have to answer ten random questions and see what your score is afterwards. The questions are simple multiple choice questions, which probably most fans would score highly with. This extra is good fun, but won’t keep most peoples’ attention for long. Next up is an extra entitled Good Morning – Interview. The interview is carried out by John Leslie and he goes on set to Whitbury Leisure Centre to interview Mr Brittas himself. The interview also focuses on other member of the staff and as well as the director. This extra lasts for just over four minutes, and as the title suggests is a mini featurette taken from the Good Morning TV show. Most of the running time is taken up with clips from the show, but there are also some interesting interview clips to listen too.

Next up is a very simple shortcut which Eureka Video have introduced to promote their website. This extra is only for web users and simply allows you to log onto Eureka’s website which is www.eureka.co.uk. Another extra only for web users is called Barrie’s bulletin board. A simple Picture Gallery is the next extra on this disc. The pictures are incorporated into a piece of paper, which makes it look quite original. Overall, though this is a pretty run of the mill gallery and only something you would look at once. The final extra on this disc is called Pippa Haywood Biography and is a simple text based extra which concentrates on the history of Pippa Haywood, who plays Helen Brittas in the series. There is some interesting information contained in this extra, but how worthwhile it is, I don’t know!

Overall
If you are a fan of The Brittas Empire, or are looking for some comedy entertainment to fill half hour slots, then I can definitely recommend this disc. Purchasers of the first disc can expect more of the same as there is very little difference between the two series, and that’s not a bad thing! Mediocre, but adequate is a phrase which describes the transfer and soundtrack for this release to a tee. However, Eureka have once again supplied a reasonable number of extras, which don’t quite live up to the quality of the first series, but still far exceed most of the BBC TV DVDs. Hopefully Eureka Video will continue to work their way through the rest of the series, up to now they have certainly done a respectable job!


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