Mad Dog 2003

Mad Dog on DVD

Mad Dog >

The on-screen title frame for Mad Dog

The release of Survivors third series on DVD in October 2005 provided the first opportunity to purchase a sell-through version of Mad Dog in any format.

With Survivors never repeated on the BBC, and only the first series of the programme released on VHS cassettes in the 1990s, the only copies of Mad Dog (or any other series three episodes) accessible to fans at any point since 1977 had, prior to the DVD release, been off-air copies of the UK Gold satellite and cable transmissions which began in 1993 and ended in 1998.

The release by DD Home Entertainment of the four-disc series three Survivors DVD box-set has made available for the first time fully re-mastered versions of all twelve episodes of the programme's last run.

Both picture and sound quality on Mad Dog (as throughout the other eleven episodes) is about as good as the original source OB recordings could possibly allow, and the transfer to digital format has been very effectively achieved. The subdued colour palette of the winter landscape and the crispness of dialogue recorded by radio microphone are both well rendered in the re-mastering.

Ironically, this enhanced quality has emphasised the persistence of a picture fault on one of the two OB cameras used on the original shoot for Mad Dog (and other episodes), in which a series of thin fault lines are clearly visible on the left-hand side of the screen in numerous shots. These imperfections would have been just as noticeable to BBC viewers in 1977, and are, in that sense, part and parcel of a fully 'authentic' representation of the original source material.


Mad Dog also benefits from the inclusion of English language subtitles on all twelve episodes (a first for a Survivors DVD release). For Mad Dog, these have been, for the most part, attentively and accurately transcribed (as they have been the episode's audio commentary track).

One notable transcription error introduces an amusing 'sci-fi' spin on Fenton's 'liberation' of weapons from a moorland army camp. As Charles attempts to convince Sanders and Jim to help him find Fenton's home, he offers them the pick of Fenton's arsenal of guns. However, Charles' original description of 'Automatics. Latest. NATO stuff' has been rendered in the subtitles as 'Automatics. Lasers. NATO stuff'. (How much more persuasive might Charles have been on his later travels to other communities had he arrived wielding a high-tech laser-canon from Fenton's hoard…!?).

However, such transcription slips are very rare, and inclusion of subtitles on a Survivors DVD set is a welcome reflection of the increase in budget that subsequent releases have been able to secure. The only possible enhancement that could have been made available was the option to watch Mad Dog whilst having the audio commentary subtitles displayed - but the way that the discs for the set were compiled rules this out.

This, of course, has no bearing whatsoever on the single most significant fact about the series three Survivors DVD release: 28 years on from its original broadcast, this classic episode, along with the entire under-appreciated final series, is now available once again in the public domain.

Read more about the DVD 'audio commentary track' for Mad Dog, featuring Tristan de Vere Cole and Morris Perry, here.

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Page last updated:
08 January 2006