DVD Details:

Released: November 2004
Availability: amazon.co.uk


The fact that it’s taken me nearly four years to get round to reviewing this DVD boxset is not only a testament to how busy/lazy I’ve been, but also how much stuff is on it. Though I’ve mainly been lazy. Needless to say, this is a very fine boxset, the details of which we’ll look at below...



THE EPISODES

The episodes look better than ever on the format, and are presented in the original mono mix. Although a stereo mix is said to be privately held, the BBC were never willing to agree to terms to obtain it, so what we have is what’s available. Discussion of the episodes themselves is irrelevant here as they get discussed in more detail in the episodes pages, and my ever-changing views on them are reflected by the fact that I write new reviews every four years or so. Presentation of the DVD package is very good, though some may be perturbed by the fact that the three discs all fit, tower like, on one spindle, or that the chapter menu to "Other People’s Secrets" is titled "Other People’s Problems". You might even get vexed that the blurb on the back lists the series as being set in 2047, not 2027. Don’t worry about any of that, and instead worry about the fact that for the main menus of each disc the theme tune by Justin Hayward plays on a perpetual loop. I kid you not.

The main menu screen

EXTRAS:

As Star Cops isn’t the most revered series in the world, then it’s clear that expenses have been spared on the extras. This is no problem, a release budget must be tailored to the demand, and what we get is pretty exceptional under the circumstances. The list of extras are as follows:


Commentaries:
In three single person commentaries Chris Boucher talks us through the first and last episodes while Philip Martin shares his thoughts on "This Case To Be Opened In a Million Years". While solo commentaries can be a hard listen, Chris keeps the entertainment factor high during "An Instinct For Murder" by producing possibly the most curmudgeonly commentary of all time. While after 50 minutes of it you might want the old bugger to give it a rest, he basically tears at every aspect of the show from the opening theme to the acting and production. In contrast, Martin’s affable, laid-back talk through of his own work is consistently positive... the guy doesn’t even slate the music. In fact, the only part of the show Martin suggests he was uncomfortable with is the part of Krivenko, a character he wasn’t sure how to use. A fairly engaging look at the episode, with the writer explaining how it all fitted together from conception to screen. Boucher's second commentary is sparser than his first, largely because he likes "Little Green Men and Other Martians", but all three are worth a listen.


It Won’t Be Easy: The Making Of Star Cops (15’56m)
Possibly the most underwhelming of the special features, this is a "making of" that doesn’t feature contributions from the show’s star, the producer or either of the directors. Instead, it’s Chris Boucher and Trevor Cooper giving their reminisces while text occasionally fills in the gaps. Really they should have got a narrator to fill in the blanks, bunged some of the lesser cast members a few quid to fill it out at least, and so on. Nevertheless, while it underwhelms by virtue of its title, it’s an interesting enough view, with Boucher revealing that the directors he’d have liked to have on the show in addition to Harper were Douglas Camfield, Derek Martinus and David Maloney.


Introduction By Trevor Cooper (14’35m)
Another misleadingly titled feature, as Trevor isn’t introducing anything, but instead sharing his memories of the series. Those vexed by linguistic habits may be distracted by him managing to say "you know" 55 times, and his solo presence does flag up that none of the others took part, but this is a likeable and worthwhile feature in its own right. Cooper talks about the cast getting on amiably and he and David Calder having a hand in the scripts, and it’s all very pleasant stuff to watch. Perhaps the confusion over the title came about because Trevor does provide voice over introductions to the Philip Martin and Chris Boucher features, as well as the behind-the-scenes Double Life footage… of which more below.


I Had To Kill Blake – The Screen Career Of Chris Boucher (20'25m)
The slightly amateurish set up of these specially-shot extras can be evidenced here with Chris Boucher sharing his career memories to camera. Not only does this "talking head"(and torso) lack an adequate mic for the softly-spoken writer, but the camera even adjusts its position twice during a take. That said, it’s nice to see the man behind the work, and his revelation on this site’s interview that "I'd actually shouted at [The Producer]" is now quite amusing given how charmingly soft-spoken he is.


Lights, Camera, Inaction – Behind The Scenes of Star Cops (39’10m)
The only known surviving Star Cops footage shot for A Double Life on 16/12/1986. This really gives a good idea of just how tedious endless retakes of the same shots must be, and includes the bizarre sight of Trevor Cooper having to act in a space suit with no oxygen supply. Trevor valiantly carries on despite not being able to breathe.


Philip Martin


PM’s Question Time – Philip Martin Discusses His Career (18’13m)
Martin’s sat in the same set as Boucher, a dated wallpaper behind him that reacts badly with the camera. Such aesthetic quibbles aside, this is an entertaining view as Martin discusses his time on the series, the unmade episode, Gangsters, Doctor Who and the future of television. The lack of clips from his work and, as mentioned, the inappropriateness of the set do highlight how cheap the budget must have been for the DVD release, but we must be thankful they made this.


FX Lies And Videotape – Designing The Future (11’19m)
A mute series of clips showing some of the models and technicians behind the show, including shots that didn’t make it into the finished programme.


Still Gallery (6’17m)
A moving image gallery of 57 stills, a pleasant enough view.


Continuity and Miscellanea (4’41m)
A geek’s paradise this, as the original BBC intros and outros to the episodes are presented, along with the viewing figures and transmission dates. Such unironic cheese as "the Star Cops will be filling this space next week" and "adventure out of this world" hits your ears, a real bygone snapshot of a RP BBC hopelessly out of touch. Completists should know that "outros" for the third, fourth and ninth episodes are not included.


PDFs:
The third disc contains two PDF (Portable Document Format) Files. The first is a scan of the Radio Times articles and clippings from the time, stuff that I once touted as a bit of an exclusive on this site, now defunct by this high quality reproduction. Oh well! The second is an interview with Costume Designer Lynda Woodfield from Starburst, though the interview here is recreated in text form rather than the magazine itself being scanned. Both are nice little side bonuses to have.


In all, the extras are pretty special, a major bonus of behind-the-scenes footage, personal accounts and unseen content that lasts for over two hours, not even including the commentaries. Yet the complete absence of, say, David Calder, Linda Newton, Jonathan Adams, Graeme Harper, Christopher Baker, Evgeny Gridneff or even Justin Hayward - two of whom appeared on the TV documentary – is felt. As excellent as the extras are, considering the resources available, then they’re still sadly a three-man product. Maybe it’d be nice to see a rerelease one day, with some actors on the commentaries and the Cult Of… special featured as an extra, but until then this is a very decent boxset.


The Episodes:
The Extras: