THRILLER - The Complete Series

A 16-disc Box Set From Network

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Well the day we've waited so long for has finally come and all 43 episodes of Thriller have been made available to buy on dvd in the UK in a mammoth box set. This represents the culmination of nearly 20 years worth of aborted and stalled vhs and dvd releases, the first being the US video releases in the 1980s and the most recent being Granada Venture's short lived "Series One" box set last September.

Happily the new licencees Network have scaled down the price to lessen the blow to those who bought the GV set, a remarkable act of goodwill considering there was no obligation for them to do so. The set is in fact incredible value, coming in at only 75 on most online retailers and working out at roughly 1.60 an episode!

There is also a tantalising array of extras included designed to appeal to hardened fans, with two super-rarities - "Who Killed Lamb?" and the experimental "If It's A Man Hang Up!" - thrown in to boot! And unlike the garish Granada Ventures set which was riddled with factual, spelling and grammatical errors, this set sports a stylish and highly authentic box containing equally attractive cases and discs. Each inner sleeve includes the episode details, broadcast dates and original ITC synopses (brief, but informative and spoiler free). Topping it all off is the lustrous picture quality which shows off just how well made these programmes were.

For more details about the contents, see my own review.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS:

DISTRIBUTOR: Network

RRP PRICE: 100 "on the street", or 75 online. It has sometimes gone as low as 40.

REGION CODING: Region 2 only

FORMAT: PAL colour (50/625)

SUBTITLES: None

AUDIO: Mono (English) Dolby Digital

ASPECT RATIO: 4:3 (full screen)

NUMBER OF DISCS: 16 (says 15 on the box) dual layer discs

AGE RATING: 15 (says 18 on the box)

REMASTERING BY: Carlton Ventures (now Granada Ventures) and The British Film Institute

DIGITAL PICTURE RESTORATION, RECONSTRUCTION AND ENHANCEMENT BY: BBC Resources

MAIN FEATURES:

41 of the original ATV versions are included, complete with their VT slates (hit your remote control's BACK button to see these as they are hidden), ATV idents, ATV outros and original adcaps. These are completely uncut and as screened in the early 70s.

The two "missing" ATV versions - "Nurse Will Make It Better" and "If It's A Man - Hang Up!" - have been substituted with the "ABC format" versions broadcast in the US in the early 70s. These closely resemble a standard ATV version but have slight variations in the opening titles (US actors billed first rather than UK actors) and the closing titles scroll over a single fisheye still. "Nurse" has the bonus of including a few extra minutes not seen in the ATV version. The pictures have been digitally replaced where possible from the relevant UK movie versions, as the American copies were not very good quality.

An extra-long experimental version of "If It's A Man - Hang Up!" is included as an "extra" on Disc 16, although it should be pointed out that current thinking has it to be the actual original UK broadcast, there having been no standard "peephole titles" version aired in the UK. This has many, many fascinating differences to the other version included on Disc 11, the most striking variation being the musical score and titles.

Also included is "Who Killed Lamb?", a Yorkshire Television play starring Stanley Baker that was tagged onto the end of series 2 and billed as an episode of Thriller (it isn't, but remains a great production anyway).

SPECIAL FEATURES:

- The complete set of opening and closing "movie titles", as created by ITC in 1978. These are included as an extra chapter at the conclusion of each episode.

- A set of hilariously awful US trailers for the movie versions.

- A new 11 minute interview with Brian Clemens in which he tells of how the series came to be and reflects on the writing, the music, his favourite episodes and more.

- A gorgeous 30 minute slideshow with hundreds of colour and B&W photos and fisheye stills.

- A brief restoration featurette, showing the extraordinary improvement in picture quality achieved by BBC Resources. This typically involved removing scratches, dropouts, flickering, colour banding, cross colour artifacting and video noise.

- DVD-ROM content: original scripts for "Lady Killer" and "Spell Of Evil" (Disc 15) . These are not region coded; insert the disc in your computer dvd-rom drive to access them.

- DVD-ROM content: "Thrilling Designs", a collection of set designs and more (Disc 15). These are not region coded; insert the disc in your computer dvd-rom drive to access them.

 

"CAN I WATCH THIS ON MY DVD PLAYER IF I AM OUTSIDE OF THE UK?"

Unfortunately this Region 2 set is not compatible with players outside of the UK, continental Europe and Scandanavia unless you own a special "multi region" model. In the USA and Canada an even more elaborate player is required to perform the conversion from PAL to NTSC.

However, Thriller releases are imminent in both Australia and the US for those who are prepared to wait.

If you simply cannot wait, it is possible to watch the discs on a computer with the aid of a standard dvd-rom drive and a software player like PowerDVD or WinDVD. However, you'll need to download and install the free software REMOTE SELECTOR to bypass the region lock on your dvd-rom drive. This programme is simple to use and allows dvds from anywhere in the world to be viewed, even if the drive is locked into a different region.

"WHERE CAN I BUY IT?"

The set will be available everywhere, but online is the cheapest way to get it. I recommend Sendit as I have dealt with them for years and they are reliable, cheap and friendly.