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A&E Home Video presents

Jeeves & Wooster: The Complete Third Season (1992)

"Pardon me ladies, but the house is on fire."- various characters, from Introduction to Broadway

Stars: Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie
Other Stars: Robert Daws, Moyra Fraser, Ronan Vibert, Ricco Ross, Julian Firth, John Fitzgerald-Jay, John Savident, Heather Canning, Lou Hirsh, Deirdre Harrison, Mary Wimbush, Nicholas Hewetson, Greg Charles, Dena Davis, Bill Bailey, Richard Braine, Elizabeth Morton, Chloe Annett, Rosalind Knight, John Elmes, John Turner, John Woodnut, Fiona Gillies, Amanda Harris, Simon Treves, Patricia Lawrence, Pip Torrens, Rachel Robertson, Geoffrey Toone, Ann Queensbury
Director: Ferdinand Fairfax

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 05h:04m:35s
Release Date: 2002-01-02
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-C+B D


DVD Review

Move over Drs. Crane, the British are coming!

The high camp adventures of Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves persevere through yet another diabolically witty season, this time with director Ferdinand Fairfax at the helm. In the season's maiden voyage, P.G. Wodehouse's fabulously frivolous characters—and their ensuing mayhem—steam toward the radiant mecca of New York City, where they do sufficient damage in the timeframe of the first 3 episodes to send them packing off home for the fourth.

Each segment brings a gaggle of new characters to keep track of—old chums, flamboyant relatives, past and recent flames—who have some challenge Bertie simply must achieve for them. Ever-reliable Jeeves, who we might expect has a SuperValet emblem emblazoned on his skivvies, sees to it that all is well in the end. Hugh Laurie continues as the waggish Bertie with buoyant spirit, leading us to tear our hair or roll with laughter, sometimes simultaneously. Stephen Fry lends the bemused Jeeves the noblesse oblige his "betters" lack, managing to outwit them—and us—in his meticulous process.

This is unadulterated, literary humor, with a precise measure of slapstick calamity that makes this series perfect entertainment. Of especially good fun this go around is the wicked subterfuge that grows between Jeeves and the Stuyvesant's liftman across the first three episodes...strictly "on the hush."

The two discs of Season Three include:

Episode 1: Bertie Sets Sail (51m:15s)

"Prohibition? You mean this system they've got of not being allowed to get a snootable?" - Bertie

Desperate to avoid an unintentional engagement to one Honoria Glossop, Bertie and Jeeves set sail for New York in high style. By chance, Tuppy Glossop is on board with a harebrained scheme to import American Spritz-Polecat automobiles back to England for a tidy profit. The overbearing Lady Malvern is also on board, and saddles Bertie with her mouse-like son, Wilmot. What's worse, she drops him off again at Bertie's place in New York and leaves for a tour of American Prisons. On his own, "Motty" makes the most of his freedom, dragging Bertie to speakeasies all over town.

Meanwhile, Bertie and Tuppy end up out on Long Island where the former is meant to steal back an exorbitant check the latter has written when embarrassed into promising to purchase 4 dozen cars to export. Jeeves is left behind to take care of the wild Motty, and indeed, he does.

A tone-setting episode that rates 3-1/2 serving trays, courtesy of Jeeves:

Episode 2: The Full House (49m:17s)

"Is he being funny?" - waitress

Bertie's friend, Rocky Todd, is an American writer who prefers the silence of his wooded cabin on Long Island where he can commune in his jammies all day. However, Rocky's aunt, Elisabeth Rockmetteller, will only support him if he sends weekly reports of the gay city nightlife so she can experience it vicariously. Bicky Bickerstaff, who is just scraping by in a small flat in town, cannot tell his father, the Duke of Chiswick, that he is not "learning how to ranch" out in Colorado. Bertie and Jeeves devise the perfect plan to assist these poor souls—no, not as simple as it seems, and not as perfect, when both Aunt Elisabeth and Chiswick show up to check on their charges at the same time!

Bertie, now an unwanted "guest" in his own flat, holes up at the Plaza while Jeeves manages the comings and goings at the Stuyvesant Towers. Don't miss Jeeves stab at falsetto on Ask Dad!

This wildly slapstick episode rates 4.5 out of 5 serving trays:

Episode 3: Introduction to Broadway (50m:19s)

"I will not have you editing my upper lip!" - Bertie

Corky Cochran, an artist, wants to marry budding actress Muriel Singer, but fears what it seems everyone fears: being cut off from the Almighty Allowance. Bertie and Jeeves contrive a way for Miss Singer to meet his benefactor Uncle—which turns out to be exactly what Muriel had in mind. Meanwhile, Cyril Bassington-Bassington is steamed off to America by Aunt Agatha (Wimbush) and placed in Bertie's care. He immediately lands a small part in a new show and Bertie travels over the course of many months across the states to keep the young man in line—he also has a stake in the show. Upon his return, he discovers Muriel is married to Corky's uncle and his poor friend is in despair, but not quite as desperate as Bertie himself is about to become when Aunt Agatha shows up in town.

This hilarious episode ends with a fabulous Busby Berkley-style number, and our heroes shipped back home.

This episode rates 5 out of 5:

Episode 4: Right Ho, Jeeves (51m:23s)

"There is good blood there, Bertie. An injection of it might fortify the jejune concoction that seems to run through the Woosters these days!" - Aunt Agatha

In this episode, the action closes in on Deverall Hall. Aunt Agatha insists that Bertie meet Gertrude Winksworth, the daughter of her good friend, Dame Daphne. However, his friend Claude Potter-Purbright, nicknamed Catsmeat, is already engaged to Gertrude and hopes to convince her to elope with him.

At the same time, Gussie Fink-Nottle is also on his way to Deverall Hall to win Dame Daphne's blessing on his engagement to her goddaughter, Madeline Bassett. When Gussie winds up in the slammer after a drunken night hunting newts around Trafalgar Square, the good-hearted Bertie offers to take his place... but who will take his?

A fine farce all the way around, even with a rather convenient ending.

This episode rates 3.5 out of 5 services:

Episode 5: Hot Off the Press (51m:23s)

Bertie: You're a hard man, Jeeves.
Jeeves: But a free one, sir. And it is my ambition to remain in that state.

Bertie comes home and announces his engagement—!—to one Lady Florence Cray, whose uncle, Sir Watkyn Bassett, is just completing a scandalous exposé of London Society in the 1890s. As it is his own memoirs, it slanders her father and she decides the manuscript must be destroyed before it reaches the publisher. Of course, Sir Watkyn is also Madeline Bassett's father, and she, too, approaches Bertie with the same request.

Jeeves accompanies Bertie to Gloucestershire where the extended Bassett family is already in residence. After several failed attempts to steal the manuscript, Sir Bassett has it wrapped and ready to send off to London. Meanwhile, Gussie Fink-Nottle arrives, and almost throws off his betrothed for the domineering Stiffy, who is cold-shouldering the smitten Stinker, who cannot stand up to her father.

The maniacal Spode makes a humorous appearance to further dog poor Bertie.

This episode rates 4 out of 5 trays:

Episode 6 Comrade Bingo (50m:58s)

"Chums, as you say. Yes." - Jeeves

Opening in Hyde Park, in proximity to Speakers' Corner, Bertie runs into Lord Bigglesham, Uncle of his friend Bingo, where the two are affronted by the Heralds of the Red Dawn as "the enemy." Coincidently, Bingo is gaga over a young Bolshevik called Charlotte, and he invites her—and her family—round to Bertie's for tea. Meanwhile, Bertie's Aunt Dahlia sends him on a mission to meet with Lady Fotheringill to convince her to write an article to save her ladies' magazine. Curiously, the plot has something to do with stealing a painting from her own home that will win the Lady's favor.

In a wild turn of events, Bingo is discovered to be a "spy" among the Bolsheviks and the tyrannical Spode is outed as a Nazi-esque politico.

Madcap mayhem earning 4 1/2 servings (this time, Bertie pours):


Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: A&E presents Jeeves & Wooster in its original made-for-television, full-frame format. Not having viewed the first two seasons (originally reviewed for digitallyOBSESSED by Dale Dobson), I cannot make direct comparisons; however, it does appears that in the year since their release, small improvements have been made, or perhaps the source for Season Three is in better shape. While there are still signs of graininess, it appears to have a film-like quality that is easily acceptable. There is a bit of dirt and the occasional nick, most notable in the skyline shots of New York Harbor. While not as sharp as transfers of more recent material, there are also fewer digital anomalies such as edge enhancement and shimmering patterns. There is also more overall softness to the image on the first disc, but this may have been a purposeful effect of the New York setting's glowing daylight, in contrast with "dear old Blighty."

Image Transfer Grade: C+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 2.0 monaural transfer certainly serves the material. Dialogue is occasionally hampered by the thinness of the track, especially as some of the characters have that mumbly British twitter; I found the need to repeat a line here and there to make sure I heard correctly. About as one might expect from television source from a decade ago.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. P.G. Wodehouse biography/bibliography
Extras Review: The third season offers a total of 6 episodes on two discs with looping video highlights on the main menus, complete with corresponding audio bites. Each show has 6 chapter-stops accessible from a sub-menu.

The same brief bio and bibliography for P.G. Wodehouse is the only extra material that graces the series.

Extras Grade: D

Final Comments

P.G. Wodehouse's razzamatazz world of the 1920s will roar forever in this brilliant series. Fans of sophisticated comedies in the vein of Frasier will delight in the antics of Jeeves & Wooster over and over again. Pip, pip!

debi lee mandel 2002-03-19