Be sure to read the
DVDTalk interview with Neverwhere author Neil Gaiman.
Richard Mayhew is an average resident of London. He's got a job, a girlfriend
and a nice apartment. That's not to say that he's happy, but he's
complacent with his life as it is. As in any good fairy-tale or fantasy story,
all of that's about to change, because who really wants to read about
everyday, boring things.
As he and his girlfriend are on their way to dinner, they happen to pass a
wounded orphan girl lying in the street. Being the only one that cares, Richard
takes the girl to his apartment to tend to here injuries and get her cleaned
up, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend.
After her speedy recovery, Richard returns her to the care of her friend, the
marquis de Carabas and attempts to return to his daily routine, only to find
himself practically invisible to everyone. While being able to physically see
him, all traces, records and memories of Richard are gone. Quicker that you
can say, "I feel like Sanadra Bullock in 'The Net,'"
Richard sets off to find Door and her companion to see if they can offer an
Richard is introduced to the world of London Below, a fantasy world that fills
the cracks, crevices and undergrowth f London. It's a world not seen by
most and full of mythological creatures and characters that originate from every
corner of the world. A fish out of water, Richard's only hope is to locate
Door and hope she offers a sympathetic ear and a dash of help.
He locates her at the floating market, having been led there by a mysterious
lady "who offers her services for money" and finds Door in the company
of the marquis de Carabas. The two are auditioning bodyguards, as they seek
to find the murderers of Door's parents. Feeling sorry for the position
he's in, Door's offers him a spot in their group, despite protests
from the marquis and the dangers they will likely face.
The group is constantly being followed by Croup and Vandemaar. This pair of
decidedly nasty villains provides most of the comic relief from the film with
their dark with and nasty demeanors and playing golf with innocent animals is
one of the nicer things this pair do in the series. They've been hired
to lead Door into a trap in order for someone to gain access to her special
The threats become deadlier as both groups near the completion of their separate
but linked goals as they explore more and more of the mysterious and mythical
London below in search of the Angel Islington, whom Door was instructed to find
in a note written by her father as he lay dying.
Filmed in 1996, Neil Gaiman's BBC series Neverwhere is a 3-hour jaunt
through the fantasy world of London Below, which is further fleshed out in the
novel adaptation released shortly after the series first aired.
Differing from other fairy-tales and fantasy yarns, Gaiman's Neverwhere
takes place in the familiar, just out of eyesight setting of the London underground.
Blending actual locations with the fantasy makes the world seem familiar and
inviting to the viewer and despite the limited budget, you're quickly
pulled into the tale and forget everything else that's happening around
you. The setting of the fantastical elements in the real world seems to create
a link, much like Door's special ability, that let's you travel
anywhere in London Below and feel at home.
Video: Transferred from the video from 1996, this set looks
surprisingly good. The images are sharp and crisp, with good definition in the
many dimly lit scenes. The blacks could be slightly deeper overall and the other
colors seem a bit dim at times as well.There are few to little flaws in the
print and it's an overall good looking 4:3 full-screen transfer. Since
the original source was PAL, I wonder how much information was lost or compromised
in the conversion?
Sound: The Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 track is serviceable.
Although there is opportunity from a surround mix, none was added and when considering
the action on-screen, it can feel a bit flat. All of the dialog is perfectly
audible, but a remixed soundtrack would have been nice.
Extras: Neil Gaiman provides a running commentary for all
six episodes and is truly interesting to listen to. Involved from the very beginning,
his opinions are honest and interesting about the 6 shot episodes on these discs.
As the original author, he offers up insight as to what has been changed and
what things happened during filming. Also on disc 2, the original BBC interview
with Gaiman is included in its entirety. Cut with the same background and annoying
method as the episode introductions, it's interesting, if dated, material
that lacks in the presentation.
Overall: Fans of fantasy and anyone who's seen this
in its bootleg incarnation will want to pick this set up. With the limited budget
and short time frame, Gaiman has crafted an entertaining, if simple, fantasy
tale that has everything you need. Watch the first 30-minutes and you'll
be enamored with the performances, setting and story. Definitely worth checking
out if you're a fan of a well crafted story, fantasy or otherwise.
Don't forget to read
the DVDTalk interview with Neverwhere author Neil Gaiman.