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DVD Talk review of 'I Claudius & Epic That Never Was'

Old 12-10-08, 09:14 AM
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DVD Talk review of 'I Claudius & Epic That Never Was'

I read Jeffrey Kauffman's DVD review of I Claudius & Epic That Never Was at http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=35671 and...

I have the UK region 2 version, and it is also in 12 episodes, but the first one is double-length. ISTR the series was re-edited into 13 episodes for US broadcasts and/or a BBC repeat.
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Old 12-10-08, 09:28 AM
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The reviewer says there is missing footage on the U.S. discs, is this footage missing on the U.K. release?
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Old 12-10-08, 10:56 AM
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In this latest release the "first" episode (previously the first two episodes) does run longer, though not twice a regular episode length. It's missing about 3-4 minutes of footage compared to the two episodes in the 13 episode version. I haven't made an exhaustive list of all of the edits but the most noticable ones are at the end of the former episode 1, where all of Claudius' "wrap up" is completely deleted. There's a short bridging scene which repeats one line of that dialogue in this new version and then a whip pan to a freeze frame of Claudius' father with the workout ball--a scene that in the previous version starts out Episode 2 without the freeze frame. There are definitely other edits in Episode 1, however.
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Old 12-10-08, 11:49 AM
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DVD Talk review of 'I Claudius & Epic That Never Was'

I was hoping that this would be an R1 release of the remastered R2 five DVD set. The transfers might be, but it looks like most of the R2 extras didn't make it, including a feature length "making of" documentary, the actors selecting and discussing their favorite scenes... and all those deleted scenes everyone's talking about.
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Old 12-10-08, 02:06 PM
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Man, the more I read about this and the less I'm likely to buy it. I would have bought this in a second under normal circumstances. I had always been hoping they would remaster the series, but I never thought anything like this would happen.
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Old 12-10-08, 04:19 PM
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DVD Talk review of 'I Claudius & Epic That Never Was'

To clarify, the R2 set does have the first two episodes edited together, because that was how it was first broadcast in the UK. (The scenes that were cut for that edit were included as a bonus on the fifth disc.) I think that edit is well over 90 minutes long, but I'll verify the actual length.
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Old 12-10-08, 05:02 PM
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It runs about 96-97 minutes, hence my statement above that 3-4 minutes are missing.
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Old 12-10-08, 06:28 PM
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Is the cut footage also included as a bonus on the R1 U.S. set? I don't know why, but it's hard for me to believe that they would basically film this as if it were going to be a 13 part series and then at the last minute change their mind then combine two episodes (cut a few minutes out) and air it as a 12 part series in the U.K. and then sell it as a 13 part series uncut in the U.S. Even if it is true, it just doesn't make any sense.
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Old 12-10-08, 06:47 PM
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Is it cut, or perhaps they added footage (the wrap up) when they divided the episode?
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Old 12-10-08, 07:26 PM
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DVD Talk review of 'I Claudius & Epic That Never Was'

I've checked the R2 DVDs.

The combined Parts One & Two run 97:46

There is the following extra footage on Disc 5:
  • Deleted scene (opening to the garden scene in Part One) (1:37)
  • Original ending to Part One, 13 Part Version (1:05)
  • Original opening to Part Two, 13 Part Version (1:33)
These scenes overlap a bit what's in the episodes, but I think that accounts for all your missing footage.
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Old 12-10-08, 07:42 PM
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DVD Talk review of 'I Claudius & Epic That Never Was'

Originally Posted by Chas Speed View Post
I don't know why, but it's hard for me to believe that they would basically film this as if it were going to be a 13 part series and then at the last minute change their mind then combine two episodes (cut a few minutes out) and air it as a 12 part series in the U.K. and then sell it as a 13 part series uncut in the U.S. Even if it is true, it just doesn't make any sense.
That is what happened, though. BFI lists I Claudius as a 12 part series. Since the only outlet for this type of show in the US was Masterpiece Theater, which had a one hour timeslot, it would make sense to sell the miniseries in 13 parts.

And it wasn't the only time such a thing happened. The Doctor Who serial "Resurrection of the Daleks" was produced as a four parter, but because of the Winter Olympics, it was shown as two double-length episodes instead.
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Old 12-10-08, 10:11 PM
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I guess that answers all the questions, but I'm sure if they took a vote in the U.K. and asked them if they would rather see it uncut or how it was originally broadcast, the results wouldn't exactly be close.
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Old 12-11-08, 02:38 PM
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When I searched I found two or three PAL versions:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Claudius-C...9023170&sr=8-1

(Which is from 2002. 648 minutes from 2 Entertainment Video with English subtitles.)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Claudius-C...9023170&sr=8-3

(which is from ?. 670 minutes from Movie Power with Dutch subtitles. It's also available in an English subtitled version.)

Allowing for PAL speed-up, I wonder how these compare to the two North American Image releases.
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Old 12-11-08, 02:48 PM
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DVD Talk review of 'I Claudius & Epic That Never Was'

PAL speed-up only affects film-based productions, not ones produced on video like I Claudius. After it goes through PAL-to-NTSC standards conversion, the length would remain the same.

If you're going to get an R2 set, the 2002 BBC/2|entertain set is the one you want.
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Old 12-11-08, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim Tucker View Post
PAL speed-up only affects film-based productions, not ones produced on video like I Claudius. After it goes through PAL-to-NTSC standards conversion, the length would remain the same.

If you're going to get an R2 set, the 2002 BBC/2|entertain set is the one you want.
You mean this remastered version came out 6 years ago in the U.K.? I wonder when we are getting the remastered "The Prisoner" that came out a while ago in the U.K.
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Old 12-11-08, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim Tucker View Post
PAL speed-up only affects film-based productions, not ones produced on video like I Claudius. After it goes through PAL-to-NTSC standards conversion, the length would remain the same.

If you're going to get an R2 set, the 2002 BBC/2|entertain set is the one you want.
Thanks!

Yeah, you're right about PAL speed-up. I was thinking that this was transferred from video to film and then to DVD.

I sold my old Image box after this new Image box was up for pre-order. Stupid me.
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Old 12-13-08, 10:57 AM
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The version on DVD represents the original UK transmission version as approved by the director (with one slight exception due to complaints, which I'll explain in a mo...). Paul Vanezis, who was responsible for putting the remasted episodes and the UK DVD together, did consider putting out the 13 part version but decided against it as the project moved along (and in making the DVD extras, he became friends with the director who would have made clear his prefered version).

The UK version of the series that Image have released is the version that came first - there was never an uncut 13 episode version produced. I've got some late 80s archive information for the series, and it's clear that the decision to combine the original parts one and two together came very early on: episode 3 of the 13 part version was only logged in a few days after the series had finished transmitting, with the remainder of the 13 part version gradually trickling in over the following December and January. I don't have running times for the 13 part "international version", but people in the UK who rushed to buy the original Image DVD release were disappointed that scenes were missing that they remembered from the UK transmission, so it's possible that the odd nip and tuck was made to the new parts 3-13 during the re-numbering. One scene was definitely never included in the international version, because the UK master tape of 'Zeus, By Jove' was edited after broadcast due to complaints (the end credits were overdubbed slightly earlier to remove the offending final shots - not a unique experience, as the same thing happened about the same time to the third episode of the Dr Who story 'The Deadly Assassin'). The 13 part version is also at least one analogue tape generation away from the 12 parter, at least for 11 of the episodes.

So there isn't a perfect 13 part version out there - your choices are the original 12 UK broadcast masters, or a later re-edit which uses earlier versions of parts one and two (eg. the dancing scenes - these were tightened for the feature-length introduction). That's no excuse to not include the deleted scenes as an extra on the US DVD though - since they're more familiar to American audiences, it was probably more important to include them on the Image release than on the UK one. It's a bit tricky trying to remember all the info though (the UK DVD was 2002? Eeek, time flies!), but Paul Vanezis was happy at the time to discuss the DVD release at his regular haunt, the Dr Who Restoration Team Forum - it might be a good idea to go there and ask him for a clarification of the versions available and used (but make sure you read the forum's FAQ first - it's ages since I've been there, but the Restoration Team used to attract a group of arse-kissing fans who would take any opportunity to jump on newbies with a chant of "READ THE FAQ! READ THE FAQ!" in a bizarre attempt to curry favour!).
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Old 12-13-08, 01:46 PM
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I'm not sure I'm buying that there was cut footage (other then "Zeus,By Jove") from the 13 part series since you can't come up with an example on what people were "disappointed" about. Does this version at least have the missing "Zeus, By Jove" footage? I don't care what they say, it's clear the program was filmed and paced as a one hour show and sticking 2 episodes together kind of screws that up. It has been proved many times in the past with some "director cuts" that some of the director's aren't the best judge of their own work. The original decision to cut it to 12 episodes seems more like a schedule decision and not an artistic one.
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Old 12-13-08, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Chas Speed View Post
I'm not sure I'm buying that there was cut footage (other then "Zeus,By Jove") from the 13 part series since you can't come up with an example on what people were "disappointed" about. Does this version at least have the missing "Zeus, By Jove" footage? I don't care what they say, it's clear the program was filmed and paced as a one hour show and sticking 2 episodes together kind of screws that up. It has been proved many times in the past with some "director cuts" that some of the director's aren't the best judge of their own work. The original decision to cut it to 12 episodes seems more like a schedule decision and not an artistic one.
Very well said!

From my limited research I find:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Claudius-C...9197301&sr=8-3

Amazon.co.uk Review
A truly epic saga of dynastic conflict at the heart of Imperial Rome, I Claudius was the landmark BBC drama series of the 1970s. Originally transmitted as 13 50-minute episodes...
The running time for this DVD set is 670 minutes.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Claudius-C...9197301&sr=8-1

Released on September 30, 2002 with a running time of 648 minutes.

(Is this the version that the British people are complaining about because it is cut?)

The first North American version:

http://www.amazon.com/I-Claudius-Der...9197879&sr=8-9

Released on August 15, 2000 which (on the back of the box) states a run time of 740 minutes. (Although Amazon's product description states a running time of 668 minutes plus 71 minutes for the documentary--1 minute short if my adding skills are correct.)

Here are a few interesting quotes by some Amazon customers on this version:

Originally Posted by Beav
Many important scenes have been cut (censored?) from the original Masterpiece Theater version including the contest between Claudius' wife and the prostitute, Caligula's horse Incitatus being made senator, and others. These omissions sacrifice the overall continuity and flow. These omissions are unnecessary and unforgivable given the DVD format. A general disappointment for those who remember the original version. Other than the above this is highly enjoyable.
Originally Posted by MacGuffin
I bought the BBC release instead and it does contain footage not included in the Image set, most specifically a very graphic scene involving Caligula's declaring himself a god. (I do seem to recall that the horse's appointment was included, though.) The video quality is superior as well. In fact, the whole box is superior; I'd be interested (but not enough to buy it myself) to know if this new US release measures up.
I was aware during the time of its 70's run that we were being shown a censored version, so knew to judge the 2000 Image release partially on that criterion. It failed.
Originally Posted by Junker
The Image release does indeed contain a scene with Incitatus, who makes his debut during Claudius's wedding to Messalina. It also includes the sequence in which Messalina competes with the prostitute.
Which brings us to the newest Image version just released:

http://www.amazon.com/Claudius-Epic-...9199585&sr=1-1

The back of the box states a running time of 669 minutes with a 71 minute documentary which equals 740 minutes. (Is this information correct or just ported over to the box from some unknown source?)

And we know what Jeffrey Kauffman, the DVD reviewer here at DVD Talk feels about this version:

Aaaaarrrgh. That's technical critic-speak for "how dare they?" The pit in my stomach grew from the moment I noticed 12 instead of 13 episodes, and then going back and forth between my previous DVD version and this one, I couldn't believe that material was edited, even if (as I suspect) it may have aired this way on BBC at one point. If you've never seen I, Claudius, I guess the best I can say is you obviously won't know what you're missing in this new version, and it does sport a slightly improved picture and sound. For those who know this piece as intimately as I do, I frankly think you're better off with the previous, unedited version. This would normally be a DVD Talk Collector Series Title, but in this form the best I can do is Rent It.
Here is a listing of all the chapters and scenes from the 1st Image set:

Side #1 -- Disc One
0. Episode 1
1. A Touch of Murder [5:47]
2. Dinner Conversation [10:54]
3. Marcus Makes a Request [6:50]
4. Plans for Marcellus' Appointment [8:08]
5. Marcellus Falls III [9:57]
6. Riot in the Streets [2:29]
7. The Price for Marcus [5:38]
8. End Credits [1:01]
0. Episode 2
1. Family Affairs [5:00]
2. Sibling Rivalries [9:33]
3. Secrets [9:06]
4. Tangled Webs Are Weaved [8:16]
5. Drusus' Fatal Fall [7:29]
6. Interruptions [3:55]
7. Falling Apart [7:19]
8. End Credits [1:02]
0. Episode 3
1. Waiting in the Wings [4:46]
2. A Sign from the Gods [8:48]
3. Setting the Trap [11:10]
4. Turning a Son on His Mother [7:14]
5. A Father's Pain [7:49]
6. Good News in the Horoscope [5:43]
7. Turning of the Tides? [3:28]
8. End Credits [1:07]
Side #2-- Disc Two
0. Episode 4
1. What Shall We Do About Claudius? [6:27]
2. Bad News [5:20]
3. Not the Fool [13:06]
4. Making a Decision [5:07]
5. Family Embarrassment [7:47]
6. Framed [7:50]
7. Keep Playing the Fool [5:06]
8. End Credits [1:02]
0. Episode 5
1. Poison Is Queen [3:13]
2. The Truth Be Told [9:30]
3. Making Amends [5:40]
4. False Pretenses [12:21]
5. Thanking Claudius [6:14]
6. The Devil In Disguise [8:20]
7. False Will [4:43]
8. End Credits [1:03]
0. Episode 6
1. Some Justice [2:32]
2. Death of a Martyr [5:56]
3. Foul Play [12:19]
4. The Trial [6:32]
5. Playing the Field [9:57]
6. A Trump Card? [7:07]
7. Cover-Up [6:13]
8. End Credits [1:04]
Side #3-- Disc Three
0. Episode 7
1. Queen of Heaven [8:39]
2. Playing with Fire [5:10]
3. Secret Affair [6:55]
4. All is not Right in Rome [6:28]
5. Birthday Surprise [12:16]
6. Fooling the Fool [7:10]
7. Broken Promise [4:22]
8. End Credits [1:03]
0. Episode 8
1. Reign of Terror [6:21]
2. No Consent from the Emperor [8:26]
3. Unraveling Plans [6:39]
4. Uncovering Secrets [8:59]
5. Going Too Far [6:21]
6. Cleansing Rome [8:31]
7. Blood Bath [4:49]
8. End Credits [:59]
0. Episode 9
1. Zeus, By Love! [6:21]
2. Drunk with Power [10:44]
3. Birth of a God [6:51]
4. A Madman [6:10]
5. Vanity [7:54]
6. Goodbye [5:34]
7. Immortal? [6:30]
8. End Credits [1:06]
Side #4-- Disc Four
0. Episode 10
1. Hail Who? [3:32]
2. Filling the Coffers [9:12]
3. A Madman's War [10:42]
4. Seeds of Discontent [5:36]
5. A Dancing Fool [9:38]
6. The Death of Caligula [9:01]
7. A New Emperor [3:13]
8. End Credits [1:02]
0. Episode 11
1. Fool's Luck [2:34]
2. To Be or Not To Be [5:19]
3. Taking Charge [10:48]
4. Advice from an Old Friend [8:07]
5. Seperation [7:22]
6. Plans Revealed [10:25]
7. Too Blind to See [6:06]
8. End Credits [1:06]
0. Episode 12
1. A God in Colchester [6:05]
2. A Challenge [6:02]
3. New Problems [10:39]
4. Going Too Far [7:38]
5. A Fatal Mistake [5:57]
6. The Truth Be Told [7:59]
7. Final Solution [6:19]
8. End Credits [1:04]
Side #5-- Disc Five
0. Episode 13
1. Old King Log [3:28]
2. A Marriage of Duty [7:23]
3. Going Mad? [8:49]
4. A Plan Foretold [8:52]
5. Final Speech [8:45]
6. Father and Son [7:20]
7. A Story to Be Told [6:17]
8. End Credits [1:08]
0. The Epic That Never Was
1. Introduction [3:55]
2. Robert Graves' Book [4:03]
3. Getting a Director [2:52]
4. The Cast [6:21]
5. Trying to Shoot an Epic [11:34]
6. Out-of-Control Production [7:46]
7. Surviving Footage: The Senate [3:28]
8. Surviving Footage: The Farm [9:39]
9. Surviving Footage: Postponing Sentence [4:15]
10. Surviving Footage: The Fool [9:26]
11. Production Shut Down [5:43]
12. End Credits [1:30]

What's missing from this First North American Image version that was in the British BBC Uncut version and vice versa?

Last edited by Franchot; 12-13-08 at 03:55 PM. Reason: More info added
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Old 12-13-08, 05:11 PM
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Man, that's a lot of information. I guess the best thing to do is buy both versions and edit together an uncut version and then sell the others on ebay. I guess both versions are cut. They should have just edited back in any footage that was missing from the 13 part series and called it a day.

Last edited by Chas Speed; 12-13-08 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 12-13-08, 06:11 PM
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DVD Talk review of 'I Claudius & Epic That Never Was'

Here are the running times for each episode in the R2 set.

Parts 1 & 2 - A Touch of Murder/Family Affairs: 97:46
Part 3 - Waiting in the Wings: 50:08
Part 4 - What Shall We Do About Claudius?: 51:45
Part 5 - Poison Is Queen: 51:06
Part 6 - Some Justice: 51:49
Part 7 - Queen of Heaven: 52:09
Part 8 - Reign of Terror: 51:14
Part 9 - Zeus, By Jove!: 51:23
Part 10 - Hail Who?: 54:09
Part 11 - Fool's Luck: 51:49
Part 12 - A God in Colchester: 51:46
Part 13 - Old King Log: 53:20
The Epic That Never Was: 70:45

And here are the lengths from Franchot's post

Part 1 - A Touch of Murder: 50:44
Part 2 - Family Affairs: 51:40
Part 3 - Waiting in the Wings: 50:05
Part 4 - What Shall We Do About Claudius?: 51:45
Part 5 - Poison Is Queen: 51:04
Part 6 - Some Justice: 51:40
Part 7 - Queen of Heaven: 52:03
Part 8 - Reign of Terror: 51:05
Part 9 - Zeus, By Jove!: 51:10
Part 10 - Hail Who?: 51:56
Part 11 - Fool's Luck: 51:47
Part 12 - A God in Colchester: 51:43
Part 13 - Old King Log: 52:02
The Epic That Never Was: 70:32

And the difference between the two:

Parts 1 & 2: 4:38
Part 3: 0:03
Part 4: 0:00
Part 5: 0:02
Part 6: 0:09
Part 7: 0:06
Part 8: 0:09
Part 9: 0:13
Part 10: 2:13
Part 11: 0:02
Part 12: 0:03
Part 13: 1:18
The Epic That Never Was: 0:13

So the R2 set has the longest version of all the episodes, except for the first. Since the deleted scenes I listed above total 4:15, that brings the length of the combined Parts 1 & 2 to 102:01, which is 0:23 short of the combined lengths of the Image set.

I don't know what Image has done for their new set. Anyone care to post the new running times?

Whew! I feel like I'm writing for Video Watchdog.
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Old 12-13-08, 07:13 PM
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I'm totally confused that there is an amazon quote about the U.S. DVD having missing scenes because mine didn't. I've got to think that is a mistake, because all my versions had the Claudius vs Prostitute and the horse senator intact. I guess you can say anything on Amazon. In the U.K. Amazon listing the first DVD set is listed as uncut, while the 2nd release is not. I'll just have to buy the set and see for myself because there is a lot of false information being sent out. I would never trust time listing from the back of a DVD case. I once bought a Danish DVD set of "Selling Hitler" that listed that it was 250 minutes long (uncut), but it was actually 200 minutes long (butchered).
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Old 12-14-08, 03:41 AM
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Maybe Jeffrey Kauffman himself will chime in and add something to this thread. He's seen every incarnation of show. Maybe he can tell us the best way to see EVERYTHING using the four available DVD sets--the two British and the two North American.

(If he says we need to buy the VHS tapes, then forget it!)
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Old 12-14-08, 08:02 PM
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My "quick reply" (hey, is that what that button's for?) is to say stick with the previous DVD release. Now this is just my personal opinion, obviously, but there's not enough of a picture/sound enhancement in this latest release to justify losing that much material. I don't have a region free player so I haven't seen the R2 releases, but the extras sound enticing, so I'd say if you can find a cheap used set of one of those online, that might be a good choice. This entire situation brings up the whole maddening trend among various studios to release different product for different regions. It's especially frustrating when Image evidently could have released an R1 version of the latest R2 release of Claudius which, while not being the 13 episode version I prefer, at least would have had the cut scenes and other extras.
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Old 12-14-08, 10:52 PM
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Why did we have to wait 6 years for the remastered version to get released in the U.S. in the first place? I guess by that standard we will get the remastered "The Prisoner" in 2015!
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