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A&E Home Video presents
Jeeves & Wooster: The Complete Second Season (1992)

"I cannot do with any further education, Jeeves. I was full up years ago."
- Bertie Wooster (Hugh Laurie)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: March 17, 2001

Stars: Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie
Other Stars: Richard Garnett, Liz Kettle, Vivian Pickles, John Turner, Sharon Holm
Director: Simon Langton

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild language, adult themes)
Run Time: 04h:59m:17s
Release Date: March 27, 2001
UPC: 733961702125
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- AC+B+ D-

DVD Review

Jeeves & Wooster: The Complete Second Season presents six more episodes of the Granada Television series adapted from the classic P.G. Wodehouse stories. The program stars Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster, a good-hearted wealthy ne'er-do-well, and Stephen Fry as Jeeves, his preternaturally clever and diplomatic butler. Bertie continues his long career of social missteps and accidental romantic entanglements, while Jeeves continues to rescue him from himself.

The series' second season brought a new director, Simon Langton, and some recasting affecting the members of Bertie's extended social circle. Fortunately, the changes work very well, and the show consistently hits its mark in this collection. Langton heightens the energy level with a more active, cinematic camera, adopting a slightly overexposed look that sets the series more firmly in the 1920's. The supporting cast seems livelier, and the excellent chemistry between Fry and Laurie continues to amuse.

"Thank you, Jeeves! Ta-ta, Bertie."—Aunt Dahlia

Jeeves & Wooster: The Complete Second Season— Episode #1

Jeeves Saves the Cow-Creamer
Directed by: Simon Langton


Aunt Dahlia (Vivian Pickles) sends Bertie to disparage a valuable silver cow-creamer, in the hope that the dealer might lower the price so that her husband Sir Roderick might add it to his collection. Bertie inadvertently sends the creamer straight into the hands of Sir Roderick's rival, Sir Watkyn Bassett, and is therefore sentenced to go and steal it. Meanwhile, Bertie's bookish newt-fancier friend Gussie (Richard Garnett) must maintain his engagement to Madeleine Bassett (Diana Blackburn) while avoiding Sir Watkyn's sadistic amateur dictator friend, Spode (John Turner). And Stephanie "Stiffy" Basset (Charlotte Attenborough) attempts to blackmail Bertie into helping her win her father's approval of her intended husband, a penniless curate.

This episode plays like nothing so much as an Edwardian version of Kevin Smith's Mallrats, complete with intimidating authority figure and quasi-legal hijinks. It's fast-paced, with sharp characters and quite a lot of well-motivated, humorous business. The episode also introduces a very funny concept in Jeeves' "Butlers' Club," a genteel gathering where Jeeves and his colleagues compare notes on the employers they're doing their best to raise properly.

This episode rates 4 1/2 out of 5 Serving Trays (courtesy of Jeeves):






"You can't be a successful dictator AND design women's underclothes."—Bertie

Jeeves & Wooster: The Complete Second Season— Episode #2

A Plan for Gussie
Directed by: Simon Langton


Bertie's wedding-bound friend Gussie attempts to overcome his fear of public speaking by compiling a notebook full of contemptuous thoughts on his future father-in-law, Sir Watkyn Bassett, and the intimidating Spode. Inevitably, the notebook falls into the wrong hands, leading to further blackmail ammunition for Stiffy as Bertie tries to get it back.

This follow-up to the previous episode is even more frantic and hilarious, with performances verging on the Pythonesque as Gussie panics, Bertie struggles to make things right and Spode is rendered powerless by a single word, thoughtfully provided by Jeeves. John Turner is particularly hilarious as the tinpot Hitler Spode, whose political beliefs are centered around bicycles, umbrellas, produce and men's knees, and the costume party that serves as a backdrop for the action seems only appropriate. Commercial breaks in this episode are a trifle awkward, perhaps because it's so jam-packed with good stuff from the House of Wode.

This episode rates 5 out of 5:






"You should be breeding children, Bertie!"—Aunt Agatha

Jeeves & Wooster: The Complete Second Season— Episode #3

Pearls Mean Tears
Directed by: Simon Langton


Aunt Agatha (Mary Wimbush) pushes Bertie into spending some time with the prim Miss Aline Hemmingway (Rebecca Saire), vacationing with her brother, a priest. Jeeves suspects something is up when Aunt Agatha's pearls turn up missing. On the romantic front, Bertie's absent-minded friend Biffy Biffen (Philip Shelley) has become engaged to Wooster's ex-fiancée Honoria Glossop (Liz Kettle), primarily because he cannot remember the surname of his true love, Mabel.

This plot-heavy episode appears to have been assembled from two unrelated stories, but still plays reasonably well onscreen. There's also a brief moment of comic genius, provided by "Barmy" Fotheringay Phipps (Martin Clunes) as he attempts to pull off the old squirting flower gag with transparent glee and a remarkable lack of finesse.

This episode rates 3 1/2 out of 5:






"I will say goodbye now, Sir."—Jeeves

Jeeves & Wooster: The Complete Second Season— Episode #4

Jeeves in the Country
Directed by: Simon Langton


Horror of horrors, Jeeves resigns his position after Bertie takes up the trombone with enthusiasm but very little talent for the instrument. Bertie's new valet, Brinkley, talks back and drinks too much, while Jeeves is quickly hired away by Bertie's friend Lord Chuffnell (Matthew Solon), who is land-rich, cash-poor and desperate to express his true feelings for one Miss Stoker (Sharon Holm). The chance to sell his country estate to Miss Stoker's father puts Lord Chuffnell in a difficult position, which Jeeves helps to resolve in his inimitable fashion.

This character-driven episode is solid through and through, with sharp comic performances and a degree of warmth unseen in the more hectic episodes. Jeeves has a great moment in the country, tipping his hat to the cow he has just milked. If only Constable Dobson wasn't such a nincompoop—but that's just me.

This episode rates 5 out of 5:






"Your inference is, as always, slap on the button and leading by a length in the final furlong, Jeeves."—Bertie

Jeeves & Wooster: The Complete Second Season— Episode #5

Kidnapped!
Directed by: Simon Langton


Suspicious of Bertie's intentions towards his daughter, Miss Stoker's father locks him up aboard his yacht, with a shotgun wedding in mind despite her engagement to Lord Chuffnell. The reunited Wooster and Jeeves contrive to escape, and ensuing circumstances place Bertie, J. Washburn Stoker, and Bertie's old nemesis Dr. Glossop in blackface minstrel makeup, causing them to be mistaken for the legendary "Old Boggy," a demonic creature of the night.

A fine bit of farce, light-hearted and fast-paced, leavened by some nice interplay between Bertie and his nemeses.

This episode rates 4 out of 5:






"I've come to the conclusion that mine is an empty life, Jeeves. I'm lonely."—Bertie

Jeeves & Wooster: The Complete Second Season— Episode #6

Jeeves the Matchmaker
Directed by: Simon Langton


Love is in the air, as Bertie's friend Bingo Little (Michael Siberry) pursues a tea waitress, Bingo's uncle pursues his cook, Jeeves pursues both of the women, and even Bertie gets a twinkle in his eye for one Miss Bobbie Wickham. Jeeves puts forth a plan of action for Bingo that works a little too well, and nobody ends up where they intended to be, but our heroes are relatively content as the second season draws to a close.

An excellent, smoothly-executed bit of romantic comedy, with a different side of both Jeeves and Wooster on display. An Irish water spaniel, a deadly rugby-like village contest, and Wodehouse's characterization of little girls as "hard-bitten thugs" add to the fun.

This episode rates 5 out of 5:



Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: A&E continues to present the Jeeves & Wooster episodes in the original made-for-television 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio, shot on film but apparently drawn from PAL-format broadcast videotape masters for the DVD presentation. The image suffers from significant edge enhancement in many scenes, with some bleeding and smearing on reds and excessive grain in darker shots. The PAL-to-NTSC conversion introduces some interlacing artifacts of its own, most distracting during the closing credits. Given the source, detail and color are quite acceptable, but the image has clearly been degraded by age and the technical limitations of videotape.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: Jeeves & Wooster: The Complete Second Season is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 monophonic format, ProLogic-decoded to the center speaker. It's a competent transfer with decent frequency range, though dialogue scenes occasionally suffer from background noise and hiss. Hardly a reference-quality audio presentation, but clear and comprehensible.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:28m:55s

Extras Review: There are no real extras here, just six episodes on two discs, with 6 chapter stops per episode and attractive full-motion menus. The layer changes are more sensibly placed here than is the case with the companion First Season set.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Jeeves & Wooster: The Complete Second Season keeps the quality high and preserves even more of P.G. Wodehouse's unique brand of sophisticated slapstick comedy. A&E's 2-disc DVD set provides middling transfers but plenty of entertainment value. Witty and well-executed, not to be missed by fans of Wodehouse or British comedy in general.

 


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