Gamers would know him from voiceovers in games such as LittleBigPlanet and Fable II, people in their 40's would know him from British TV including Blackadder as well as British Radio and Theatre. Stephen Fry is one of the most well known comedians and presenters the world over and in this series he tours the United States of America visiting all sorts of locations and people.
Stephen Fry's journey across the vast country in a black English cab takes him to a whiskey distillery in Kentucky, lava fields in Hawaii, an Amish community in Wisconsin and a brothel in Nevada, as well as hunting in New York State, sailing on an America's Cup boat in Rhode Island, basket weaving with Navajo Indians and meeting environmental activists in Oregon. Stephen is shown the country by its proud citizens as he drives across the continent uncovering the idiosyncrasies that makes each state individual and the similarities that make America distinct.
In terms of the negatives, the biggest is simply that the series, with a runtime of just on 6 hours, is too short. There are so many topics here where you could spend so much more time and while there are some great questions and gorgeous footage - even with the limited camera options available - you simply want more time with those being interviewed and more depth. Another issue we had, although this is very minor, is simply that while this documentary is presented as a 6-week journey across America we're not too sure how accurate that is. At the start of the third episode Stephen Fry broke his arm and was placed in a sling as a result, but soon after the sling is gone, and so are the effects.
Admittedly this isn't the greatest documentary but with the very likable Stephen Fry hosting the series, and some unique locations visited it's for this reason we recommend this series to those that either love to travel, or those with an interest in America.
Stephen Fry in America is presented at 1.78:1 which will fill the screens of HDTV's. The video has been encoded in the AVC MPEG-4 codec and is presented in 1080i (interlaced) which is a little disappointing however we suspect the series was filmed on a 1920 x 1080i handheld camera given the quality. Indeed there were moments, particularly those taking place outdoors, which looked pretty nice with rich colours and plenty of detail and sharpness.
Scenes filmed indoors however, obviously in artificial light, are extremely grainy and noisy and it is actually a distraction from the show itself. As a TV series it's passable, but don't expect greatness from this Blu-Ray disc.
Besides the brilliant TV series there are a couple of deleted scenes on this set worth checking out. Let's get to it then...
"Left Right Center" Dice Game in Eastport, Maine (1:56/HD): This is a brief look at a dice game played in Eastport.
Whale Talk with Author Nethanial Philbrick in Nantucket, Massachusetts (2:39/HD): A brief segment which looks at whaling in Nantucket.
Pilgrim Father on the Mayflower in Plymouth Rock Massachusetts (5:05/HD): This deleted scene looks at Plymouth Rock and Mayflower ship. It's the longest but the least interesting of the three deleted scenes on Disc One.
Judd's Winery, Napa Valley, California (4:55/HD): A visit to a garage sized winery. This is a fairly interesting clip.
Oyster Fishing with John Tesovic in the Bayous of Louisiana (4:55/HD): In this deleted segment Stephen Fry is Oyster Fishing.
Review By: Dave Warner