PictureI don't remember the TV show quite looking like it does on this DVD. Although reasonably sharp and detailed even studio shots look a little off, with skin tones taking on a slight pasty look. Things generally take a turn for the worse when we are treated to the goings on inside the house when image quality really can take a dive often being out of focus, soft and noisy. Edge delineation sometimes loses all sharpness, especially when the remote cameras are in use, although in a way this does add to the feeling that you're watching something generally unplanned and unrehearsed.
SoundThere's no Dolby Digital 5.1 track here, just analogue PCM stereo. Not that it's bad - there's little going on to make use of your surround speakers, anyway. I listened in Dolby Pro Logic II as well as straight stereo and both have their merits. It's nice to have Cat Dealy's voice-over track locked to the centre speaker and there are times - when each pop-star-in-training is being filmed going through their routine in the house and audio quality is pretty poor - when it then switches to the TV studio equivalent of the same song and the rears momentarily come alive. The whole effect is more professional, taking on much more separation and losing the hiss I noticed whist recording takes place in the house.
I feel I must mention the “Covent Garden” show included as part of the extras; here the sound quality is truly appalling - it's almost impossible to hear the contestants! I guess it's been included for posterity, but come on - the whole show is about a group of people striving for pop stardom and if you can't even hear them sing what's the point?
ExtrasThe extras here are simply the songs as performed in the TV show and are listed in the Track Listing. In a way the whole of Fame Academy - Year Of 2003 has an “extras” feel to it being, as it is, a condensed version of the TV show. Very average.
VerdictIf you've seen some, or even all, of Fame Academy 2003 on TV there still may be enough here that you're not familiar with for you to enjoy this release - I got a kick from watching the pop-stars-in-training playing “lawn darts” and Carolynne's blind date clip had me cringing with the heavenly awfulness of it all! Alternatively, if you've never seen Fame Academy on TV then it will probably be all the more enjoyable. Unfortunately, any tension that tended to build before Academy house members were voted off each week is all but lost here in the DVD version.
Not one I think I would watch again and of all the performers only Daniel Beddingfield is really worth the price of admission.
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