Dave Foster has reviewed the Region 2 release of Game On Series 1.
Game On is one of very few recent British comedy sitcoms that I can remember thoroughly enjoying during its original Television run and although its appeal plummeted in subsequent series due to the loss of its main star (Ben Chaplin) it is one that I remember fondly and have since enjoyed on both video and now DVD.
The show centres around three individuals who share a flat in Battersea – Matthew is the Landlord and for reasons that are never fully explained (but are hinted at) he refuses to set foot outside of the flat so instead of socialising he is obsessed with himself and to a certain extent his flatmates. Martin is Matthew’s best friend but the complete opposite of his landlord in that he is a shy, gentle person who lives in the hope that he will one day get a shag! Mandy on the other hand has no such problems in the ‘shagging’ department being the gorgeous blonde of the trio who while mainly here as eye candy for the gents offers up a few laughs every now and then.
By immediately outlining each of the characters faults (Matthews refusal to leave the flat which leads to boredom, Martins need for a shag and Mandy’s need to find the right man and get a decent job) very early on the show keeps the comedy simple and effective by never deviating from exploiting those faults. Ben Chaplin is outstanding as Matthew as he puts in a superbly comedic performance that guarantees a laugh every time he is onscreen and it is apparent from this role that he was destined for greater things and has since featured in several films including The Thin Red Line where he stood out from an extremely crowded selection of respected actors. Matthew Cottle (as Martin) and Samantha Janus (as Mandy) offer decent support in their roles although both can be a little unconvincing when they have the screen to themselves but when teamed up with Ben Chaplin there is little to fault them.
While not quite as great as I remember this series being I still thoroughly enjoyed watching it again and found myself laughing out loud on many occasions with the Ben Chaplin impressions of various films and actors standing as proud today as they did back in 1996. The comedy can be a little crude at times but I personally love the vocabulary range on display here with (need I say it?) Chaplin in particular delivering some quite vulgar lines in a style that will raise a smile from even the most easily offended of viewers! One final but strange and completely pointless revelation is how badly the gag about a mobile phone dictating that someone is ‘upper class’ has aged since the show originally aired!
And to wrap things up, from the rear cover here is a rundown of the six episodes that make up Series 1 of Game On
Big Wednesday The course of true love doesn’t run smooth, especially with Matthew, Martin and Mandy running their own courses.
Working Girls Mandy is dreaming of a new high-powered career. She is offered a job as a researcher by a novelist, but soon discovers that it’s the contents of his underpants he wants researched…
The Great Escape Mandy has a date at the Savoy with a multi-millionaire who may offer her a job in Bermuda. Matthew challenges Martin to a game of American Football and “hot babes” seem to be the order of the evening – in their dreams at least.
Bad Timing Martin has decided to move out and become a teacher, Mandy is bored, she’s been in a relationship for nearly a week! Meanwhile, Matthew interviews prospective female flatmates.
Matthew – A Suitable Case for Treatment Ordering pizza, watching videos and examining the contents of Mandy’s underwear drawer – Matthew’s daily routine is exposed.
Fame Matthew ventures out of the flat into the world of rock stardom, can he cope with life outside the four walls of the flat?
Whenever I watch a Television Series on the DVD format I never expect the transfer to showcase the format like the latest Blockbuster from Hollywood can but they should look a little better than this disc does! Presented in its original 4:3 Aspect Ratio Game On features a print that is free of dust and tears but suffers from a consistent level of minimal grain and a generally washed out look throughout. Detail levels are average as is colour rendition while black levels are fine. Other problems showcase themselves in the form of ‘rainbows’ (areas of colour that appear in the picture out of nowhere and look like mini-rainbows) and a general lack of clarity throughout that all makes for an extremely average transfer. Still, its adequate enough to showcase what is essentially a low budget comedy show but VCI should have tried harder.
As one would expect for a TV Series there is nothing exciting to report here with the basic inclusion of the original English audio presented via a clear Dolby Digital 2.0 track that takes absolutely no advantage of any Home Cinema set-up. English subtitles for the Hard of Hearing are also included.
The 6 episodes can be played all at once or you can select each episode from the Episode listing where each episode has also received 4 chapter stops. The only extra features come in the form of a pointless Photo Gallery that features stills of each character from the show (it would appear that VCI do not realise the DVD format offers a superb ‘Pause’ feature) and a section entitled ‘Matthews Moments’ which is merely a glorified Chapter Select screen that takes us to several scenes involving Ben Chaplin’s character.
This is a decent and thoroughly rewatchable comedy series from the UK that is now available at a bargain price on an average DVD so if you are at all interested I would recommend you give it a whirl.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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