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BCI presents
manstrokewoman (2005)

Man 1: And when's it due?
Expectant Mother: April 17th.
Woman 1: Have you thought of a name?
Expectant Mother: Crap Basket.
Woman 1: Crap Basket?
Expectant Mother: Crap Basket.
Expectant Father: Crap Basket if it's a boy, or Jane if it's a girl.

- Nicholas Burns, Amanda Abbington, Meredith McNeill, Nick Frost

Review By: Jeff Wilson   
Published: September 21, 2007

Stars: Nick Frost, Nicholas Burns, Daisy Haggard, Amanda Abbington, Ben Crompton, Meredith MacNeill
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for strong language, sexual situations, adult themes
Release Date: August 07, 2007
UPC: 787364790692
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ CB+B+ B+

DVD Review

This British sketch show sees a U.S. release in large part, I presume, thanks to the presence of Nick Frost, previously seen in cult favorites Shaun of the Dead and the recent Hot Fuzz. The packaging hypes the show as "from the producer of The Office," but last time I checked, Ash Atalla (the producer in question) didn't actually write that latter show, which is where the recommendation falls somewhat flat. For it's in manstrokewoman's often unfunny writing that the show fails, despite always game performances from the cast.

Each show contains a number of short sketches, usually lasting no more than a minute or two. There are several re-occurring sketches throughout the program, and these are one of the main problems of the series. The problem being that most of them failed to be funny the first time, much less the seventh or eighth time we see them. Among the recyclings are a father who repeatedly misplaces his infant (bringing a duck back in his child carrier from the park, burying the kid instead of the dead family cat, etc), a dumped guy whose whiny, unintelligible crying sparks his ex and others to guess what he's saying, said guesses always being utter nonseqiturs), and worst of all, a wife's silly clothing choices (a purse that is bubbles over, a floating hat, a swastika tattoo) that lead her to mutter "You can never just say I look nice."

The show, with six white, thirty-ish performers, limits its scope to that demographic, only rarely moving beyond middle class, heterosexual topics. It's not the fault of the cast, certainly, and they're all quite good, never straining to carry off even weak material. And there are some good moments here; an early sketch featuring a freakishly enthusiastic woman (Meredith McNeill) getting her one night stand (Nicholas Burns) to give up his phone number, which turns out to be an obvious lie that she quickyl believes, it funnier than it should be, and another, in which Burns plays a doctor whose "experimental method" for saving a flatlining patient (who happens to be a well-endowed woman) is either repellently funny or just repellent, depending on your taste (or lack thereof). Of the ongoing sketches, there were a couple that rose above, the first involving the three female leads as stunningly obnoxious cosmetics counter attendents, and another with Burns as a frustrated boyfriend/coach to a woman (Daisy Haggard) whose casual contempt for his efforts is tolerated only due to her attractiveness, providing an adult variant on the "Lucy pulling the football from Charlie Brown" kind of scenario.

I suppose the best thing about the series is the cast, which kept me watching even though the laughs weren't exactly constant. Humor is the hardest thing to recommend, but Nick Frost fans will no doubt be pleased with his work here, as he gets to play the "fat slobby bloke" of previous work, as well as some slightly differing roles. Not for every taste, manstrokewoman is best sampled before jumping in wholeheartedly.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic image is solid if unexceptional, with clean colors and detail. It looks like you would expect a show of recent vintage to look. There are optional English subtitles in case you find the accents hard to decipher.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is much like the video, of very functional quality without being extraordinary.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Assorted cast and crew, differing by episode
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The extras include commentaries on each episode by members of the cast and Atalla; everyone is in very good humor, and obviously enjoyed making the series. It rarely rises to any meaningul level, so don't expect deep discussions about the series. A short documentary about the making of the series (00h:16m:30s) goes into some of the technical stuff (such as how the exploding dog in the first episode was carried off) and chats with cast and crew onset. Finally, bios and filmographies of each cast member are provided, along with their favorite sketch, and the opporunity to go directly to that sketch, after listening to said cast member explain their choice. The packaging includes the ever pointless slipcase, which duplicates the jacket art precisely. Really, what is the reasoning behind these?

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

A wildly uneven series, manstrokewoman is aimed at Nick Frost fans, who will find their man in typical form. The series looks at at modern relationships, and it hits the mark as often as it misses, leading to generally watchable if sometimes frustrating shows. The DVD collects all six episodes of the first season, and throws in commentaries as a bonus.


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