PictureThe various Carry On Christmas 'episodes' are all presented in the same non-anamorphic fullscreen format, with the second feature - Long-John Silver - being the only one in black and white. The colour movies are fairly shoddy (although, I suspect, probably the best state you are likely to see these TV efforts in), with very poor detail, significant softness, moderate grain and a faded (if varied) palette. Blacks are hazy at best and they are contenders for some of the worst transfers that I have ever come across. The black and white is actually worse still, with heavy softness throughout and terrible contrast.
SoundAll of the movies are presented with basic Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks that sound slightly better than the pictures look. With everything piled into the forefront and a negligible amount of effects on offer (apart form perhaps during the war scenes), the track sounds extremely limited. The dialogue is tinny but nonetheless coherent, the music grating but quite loud and these are pretty shoddy soundtracks but if you take into account the age, the original TV source tracks and the TV material itself, you cannot expect any more from them.
ExtrasThe second disc has all of the extras, with An Evening with Peter Rogers, a forty-five minute interview recorded live at Pinewood Studios. You should be familiar with his older look now since he introduces each of the main movies as well but here we get to hear much more from him, taking us at length through some long and tedious anecdotes. I suspect fans of the movies and the actors (and perhaps those more of his generation) are likely to love to hear these old war and Carry On tales.
Then we have three Interviews: twenty more minutes from Peter Rogers, talking about his memories of the Carry On movies, how they started and what he remembers about the Christmas productions, Wendy Richard discussing the movies for nine minutes, first listing the ones she was in, then talking about the difference in pace between the cinema and TV productions and what she remembered from working on these Christmas Specials and finally eighteen minutes with Jack Douglas, wandering around one of the old studios, reminiscing over his Carry On past, telling lots of anecdotal stories and discussing the particular movies included here. All of the interviews are packed with footage from the final films but fans will, once again, be delighted to hear from their favourite stars for such revealing discussions.
VerdictAs I've stated, Carry On is an acquired taste but it has nevertheless acquired a tremendous following over the years. Fans and collectors are going to want to add this to their Carry On Collection despite the poor video and audio quality because realistically not only is this the first time some of these productions have been released, it is also probably the best state we are ever going to see them in. The extras should also keep fans happy but everybody else should perhaps consider watching them before buying them - these shows in particular are not standout Carry On visions.
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