Drop The Dead Donkey: Series 2 Mini-Review
Series 4 coming out on 24th July, I thought I'd better cover Series 2 and 3 at some point as well. But as a lot of my comments about the releases are the same as for my Series 1 review, I thought a little mini-review would be in order, rather than a great hulking review repeating exactly the same things. So, bearing in mind my comments about the packaging,menus, and presentation of the episodes are the same as for the first release, what has Series 2 got to offer?
Superb. Even better than Series 1. There's a noticable opening up of the show, which (apart from Damien's reports) was confined nearly entirely to the newsroom in the first series - here, we get (amongst other things) a "team day out" playing baseball. It's fascinating seeing how the gang react to things outside the newsroom; but frankly, the episode is worth it just to see Henry wandering around with a baseball cap. With "HENRY" emblazoned across it.
The series is also notable for the introduction of Joy (played by Susannah Doyle); a great character, who also provided excellent wanks to teenage boys across the land, and provided me with one or two the other day as well. I could write an entire essay on how I want to come over her pert little bum cheeks. In fact, I think I might do.
Meanwhile, the characters are becoming more and more rounded during this series; they were never particularly stereotypical even from the start, due to the excellent performances, but in this series the character plotlines start getting really juicy. The highlight has to be Sally's descent into Christianity, and subsequent recovery; Victoria Wicks plays this superbly, in one of the finest sitcom performances I've ever seen. Not only that, but the costume department have so much fun with the concept as well. Truly glorious.
Oh, and - does this series have the first use of the word 'fuck' in a mainstream audience sitcom?
Frankly, disappointing. You've got an introduction to Series 2 by Andy and Guy, setting out the main topical events of the year; an introduction to the deservedly award-winning episode Xmas Party; and the usual bite-sized chunks of interviews, this time on each character in the show, anecdotes, and the rather bizarre If Your Character Was An Animal.... The complaint about this section is the same as the first one - why not extend it slightly, and edit it together into a proper documentary? You could have had a wonderful piece about all the characters - instead, it's all in unsatisfying bitty chunks, albiet extremely interesting bitty chunks.
Unfortunately, that's it. At least Series 1 had one major important extra - the unbroadcast pilot. This series hasn't got anything like that; so the only extras are just interview footage. Which is nice to have, of course, and at least they made the effort... but it all makes for a bit of a disappointing package, however entertaining the little snippets we get are.
The worst thing about this is that, like Series 1, there are hints that we were due more than this. And this time, they're on the disc itself. In the aforementioned introduction to Xmas Party, Andy Hamilton says the following:
"What you're about to see is the full recording of an evening of Drop The Dead Donkey - that is to say, all the scenes being recorded, in order, in front of a live audience, at London studios, so you'll be seeing it warts and all."
Unfortunately, what then plays is the transmitted episode - not the full studio recording. Wah!
Why this has happened, I have no idea. Presumably, they intended to have the raw studio recording as part of the extras, and then for some reason decided not to. It would be unprecedented to have a full studio recording on DVD; perhaps rights issues got in the way. The other possible reason is disc space - the material would almost certainly have needed a third disc, which perhaps the budget wouldn't stretch to. Regardless of all this, using this introduction is unprofessional in the extreme - it would have been better not using it at all if what it promises is not then actually on the disc.
Oh, the usual. Buy it for the absolutely superb episodes. Minus several points for the lack of extras; but that's certainly no reason not to buy it.
But just think if they'd gone through with their promise of a full studio recording. That would make this release beyond making this a DVD of an excellent series, and become something even more - an excellent insight into the production of a sitcom. It's a shame that this fell, seemingly at the last hurdle. It would have made for an amazing package for a fifteen year-old sitcom...