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Before I was sent the disc to review just recently, I had never heard of Empire Square. To be honest I don’t think many people have. I can’t imagine why, Empire Square is great unashamedly cool comedy that is probably best described as being the British take on South Park or even a more perverse The Simpsons. So by now you have no doubt gathered we are dealing with an animation show here – but this isn’t your typical animation. It almost looks like flash animation you’d find on a website or some other web application. I’m not complaining or anything, because let’s face it South Park doesn’t exactly pull off a Miyazaki does it? Though basic and often immensely sparse the animation style of Empire Square seems perfect for the nature of the show – which brings me to another point; the obscenity. Just like South Park, Empire Square is aptly controversial, obscene and is sprinkled with foul language in almost every scene – it’s perfect off beat entertainment for those who just want to kick back and not have to think about the world around them.

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On the disc there are approximately twelve episodes plus an additional twenty-four shorts, these include: ‘Careers Advice’, ‘Selling Babies Online’, ‘Superdad’, ‘Stupid Ho’, ‘Electric Shock Therapy’, ‘The Passion Of Richie’, ‘Helmut Cooks A Swan’, ‘Boob Jobs Live’, ‘EMP TV’, ‘The Moustache’, ‘Richie Sells His Arse On eBay’, ‘A Cure For Richie’, ‘Animal Porn’, ‘Breast Fed’, ‘Dangerous Pop’, ‘General Public’, ‘Global Warming’, ‘Immigrants’, ‘Injured At Work’, ‘Long Live Rock & Roll’, ‘Monkey’, ‘Newsreader’, ‘Perfume Ad’, ‘Pervert’, ‘Rainforest’, ‘Record sales’, ‘Ringtones’, ‘Sex Tourist’, ‘Shampoo Ad’, ‘Sponsor A Child’, ‘Terrorist’, ‘Weird Porn’, ‘Blind People’, ‘Jesus’, ‘Miming’ and ‘Pope’.

Video
Direct from the source, Empire Square looks about as good as you’d expect from an all digital creation. As stated above however, the animation is very basic and sparse, so the images you are looking at are often blocky and rough cut. That said, the colour balance is quite striking and pretty strong on the whole but this is an image with a mixed appearance. Yes it’s sharp and pretty on the eyes, but it is also quite narrow and perhaps even a little claustrophobic.

Audio
As with any animated feature, all the audio needs to be created from scratch, so the things you’ll hear in Empire Square, while again basic, are still pretty sharp and audible. Dialogue comes fast and funny in this series – usually the actors are popping lines out as if on some sort of rapid conveyor belt – but it is always clear and distinguishable.

Extras
The main menu system is pretty basic (and static) but is saved from being totally lame with the use of theme music and colourful designs on each section. The extras themselves can be accessed from the ‘bonus’ menu. In here you will find a small helping of features including the pilot episode, which, like the rest of the episodes, offers a few laughs and yet more obscenity. The character guide is a sort of Power Point style slide show whereby each of the characters are presented with their picture, a few sketches and a small write-up on each and every one. Next up is the animatic for episode two and finally the thirty-second ‘Ho Song Karaoke’.

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Overall
Empire Square will not be for everyone; it is rude, loud and often quite obnoxious, but if it’s your thing you will find a lot to laugh at and a lot to thoroughly enjoy with this DVD. As for the disc itself, you get a pretty solid image transfer and some reasonably good audio. The features are really lacking, but then you do get the twenty-four shorts (and they are really short too) if you include those as well. In short, Empire Square is a great little package, and one you might just enjoy re-watching when current offerings run short.


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