Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Prisoner Cell Block H Set 2|
Actors: Elspeth Ballantyne, Betty Bobbit, Sheila Florance, Maggie Kirkpatrick, Val Lehman
Genres: Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
This long-awaited DVD collection distills the 692 original episodes of this beloved prison drama down to the dozen that perfectly capture the magnitude, the intensity and the outlandishness of the legendary program. A wor... more »
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Alex Honda | Los Angeles, CA USA | 01/18/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"First off I have to say that I was a fan of the show when it was airing in Los Angeles, back in the late 70s/early 80s(?). And I was happy when I found this set was available. I missed the first set, so I didn't know that this was part 2. I guess the "Set 2" on the cover should have been a clue, but since I bought this at a store, which didn't have set 1, I went ahead a got it. The box doesn't include episode info just topic headings for each of the three dvds (THE BEGINNING, THE GREAT ESCAPES, A NOT SO QUIET RIOT), which could mean anything.
Well, after doing some research, I found out that PRISONER CELL BLOCK H had over 650 episodes and was aired on Australian tv for over seven years, long after it was canceled here in the US. So I had no idea that when the box said, "...12 complete , drama-filled episodes spanning from start to finish..." would mean episodes and characters I've never seen.
Because of this, the dvd set is sort of piecemeal with episodes jumping from #20 to #165 and then #471. Not good for a serial (soap-opera) with story lines that continue from episode to episode. I understand that the producers of this dvd set were trying to put the best episodes in the appropriate topic (i.e. "Not So Quiet Riot"), but it doesn't work. And it really doesn't work for an American audience since we never saw the later seasons and have no idea who the characters are.
When the episodes jump on the second dvd from #165 to #471, the entire cast changes except for the actress who played prison guard Meg Jackson. And episode #165 ended with a cliff hanger where inmates Bea Smith, Lizzie (?) and Doreen Anderson, along with newer inmates, get stuck in a tunnel, while trying to escape form Wentworth. The tunnel starts to cave in on them and the episode ends. Did they die? Did they make it? Did Lizzie and Bea make it back to the prison un-noticed? We'll never know... at least not from this dvd set.
Another thing that happens starting with episode #471, aside from a different cast, the show almost becomes a parody of itself. Kind of like watching a spoof on PRISONER rather than the actual show, and the actresses don't look very menacing or even harden criminals like the original cast. They just look like women with crew cuts trying to act like tomboys, but not very convincing. The show almost seems as though its realized what it is and the magic disappeared. I couldn't watch the rest of it including the end of episode #598 on dvd 2 and none of dvd 3. Maybe one of these days I will watch the remaining episodes, but at that point, I didn't care about the show or the characters anymore, probably because I didn't know what was going on. That's the problem with putting out a greatest hits compilation of shows especially when that show is a serial.
The good part of the set is dvd 1(THE BEGINNING) and the first two episodes of dvd 2:
DVD ONE: EPISODES 1-4
These episodes introduce life at Wentworth prison through two new inmates, Karen Travers and Lynn Warner. Each found guilty of different crimes, Travers for killing her husband and Warner for attempting to kill a small boy she was caring for, and the audience is introduced to life inside the all women prison, including getting to know each of the main characters. Great start and includes the scene when Bea burns Warner's hand, for those of you who remember. Viewer's also get reacquainted with characters they might have forgot like inmates Frankie Doyle and Doreen Anderson, and prison guards Vera Bennett and Meg Jackson.
DVD TWO: EPISODES 20, 165, 471, 598
The stand outs are #20 and #165. Even though the second dvd jumps to episode 20 and then to episode 165, leaving many questions unanswered and can be confusing for new viewers, it's not so jarring that you can't get into the story. #20 shows Frankie and Doreen have escaped from Wentworth (how? I don't remember and you won't find out on this set) and ends with a shootout. #165 ends with a cliff hanger, see above, and gone are the two inmates who brought us into the prison in episode 1, Travers and Warner. Were they acquitted? Escaped? Died? Paroled? You won't find that out here!
#471 and 598, this is where the set went down hill for me. Gone are all the original characters, including the Governor of Wentworth, and you have no idea what happened. At this point it seemed pointless and boring and only fans who watched the series from beginning to end will understand what's going on!
There are no extra stuff on this set, unlike set one, and unless you're a die hard fan, wait until they release a complete set of each season, which they probably won't do. Even if you are a fan, if you lived in the US and watched the shows when they originally aired, like me, you still won't be able to understand what's going on after episode #165.
If I had known this, I would've waited. I read the reviews on PRISONER CELL BLOCK H: SET ONE, and that sounds like the episodes are disjointed as well. But, it has some extra's like the interview with the actress who played inmate Bea Smith, so I might purchase that."