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Check out our review of this excellent period drama that focuses on a jazz group in 1930s London whose newfound fame is threatened when tragedy strikes. Written and directed by the acclaimed Stephen Poliakoff, "Dancing on the Edge" features no shortage of mystery, romance, glamour, and music.



The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

85



Details:

Studio and Year: PBS - 2013
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 420 minutes
Genre: Drama/Miniseries

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080i/60

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew Goode, John Goodman, Jacqueline Bisset, Angel Coulby, Tom Hughes, Janet Montgomery, Wunmi Mosaku, Joanna Vanderham
Written & Directed by: Stephen Poliakoff
Music by: Adrian Johnston
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 5, 2015


"A little toe tapping, a little mystery and plenty of drama…"


My Take:

In the early 1930s London, the black jazz group known as the Louis Lester Band is on the rise. Managed by the compassionate yet short-tempered Wesley Holt, the band lands a gig at the Imperial Hotel, thanks to the cunning journalist, Stanley Mitchell. They prove to be a hit, and their star begins to rise. Countless aristocrats—including the royal family—ask the band to play at parties, catching the eye of the ambitious American businessman Walter Masterson and his enthusiastic employee, Julian. But just as the band's success balloons, tragedy strikes, setting off a chain of events that may put an end to it all.

Dancing on the edge is a period TV Drama that features six episodes that revolve around a continuing storyline about a black jazz ensemble trying to make a name for themselves and the small group of people surrounding them in the early 1930’s period in London. I watched the entire series with my wife. Neither of us was familiar with the program prior to seeing it but were primarily drawn to it due to the subject matter and presence of stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew Goode.

Dancing on the edge features a layer peeling plot that emerges from the primary story about the jazz band who face obstacles associated not only with race but seeking acceptance of their music in a society that frowns up progressiveness. The narrative opens at a critical point and flashes back 18 months telling the story in an unfolding manner that brings us to that point and continues. Writer/director Stephen Poliakoff establishes a viable connection to both the period, its elements and the characters some of which are loosely based on actual people/events but are fictional in nature.

We thoroughly enjoyed the multifaceted aspect of the screenplay which features intrigue, romance, suspense, mystery and drama all of which are built on a historical platform of sorts. There are several subplots that branch off of the primary storyline with all coming together in an engaging potboiler that speaks to the thematic elements of the day. There is well played relationship melodrama and vexing interplay that has you rooting for some characters and thoroughly disliking others. The cast, beginning with stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew Goode are terrific. Honorable mention must go out to Joanna Vanderham, Janet Montgomery, Tom Hughes, and Jacqueline Bisset for their excellent contribution.


Dancing on the edge is every bit as good as I’d hoped and proved to be an engrossing, well-written and entertaining miniseries that has something rewarding to offer.


Parental Guide:

The program contains thematic material, brief language, sexual content and brief nudity.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


Audio: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element): NA


Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

Dancing on the edge comes to Blu-ray Disc from PBS Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD Stereo sound that has an average bitrate of 1.7 Mbps.

This is a solid high definition transfer that looks splendid on Blu-ray. Images are crisp with subtle refinement, resolute sharpness and rewarding dimensional perspective. Contrast is appropriately balanced which energizes colors and empowers whites/grays. Blacks are rich, noise free and gradational. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveals discerning shapes and structure in backgrounds/objects. Colors are appreciably delineated with natural rendering and punchy primaries that stand out among those within the varied range used. Fleshtones are natural with subtle description and where appropriate warm complexional highlights. I found this to be a pleasing and complimentary high definition video presentation from PBS.

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio stereo sound is quite good. Dynamics are robust and defining without being strident or edgy. Dialogue is rendered with appreciable tonal expression and excellent room penetration through the center channel speaker. The front soundstage is diffused with notable separation and articulated detail. The series is dialogue driven and as such doesn’t necessarily require use of the surround platform although a broader mix would have been acceptable. Regardless I never felt this presentation was lacking in any way and sounded excellent.



Bonus Features:
  • Behind the scenes – 20 minute featurette





Final Thoughts:

Written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff Dancing on the edge is a period TV Drama that tells the story of a black jazz ensemble trying to make a name for themselves and the small group of people surrounding them in the early 1930’s period in London. It’s a multifaceted miniseries that proved to be engrossing, well-written and thoroughly entertaining. It comes to Blu-ray from PBS Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and a disappointingly sparse supplemental offering. I enjoyed Dancing on the edge and highly recommend it to genre fans.








Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



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I admit I have a weakness for period pieces that cover various jazz eras. This one looks like a perfect option for Netflix queue and also perhaps see if I can purchase a CD soundtrack. Looks like a great story and can't beat* the music.
 

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Thanks for the great review, Ralph... this does look like a good one to watch! :cool:

Is the feature length of 420 minutes as stated in your review correct? Just wondering because on Amazon.com and Blu-ray.com, they list the running time as 300 minutes.

Thanks in advance for any extra info about the differences listed.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the great review, Ralph... this does look like a good one to watch! :cool:

Is the feature length of 420 minutes as stated in your review correct? Just wondering because on Amazon.com and Blu-ray.com, they list the running time as 300 minutes.

Thanks in advance for any extra info about the differences listed.
Greetings,

There are six episodes in total, with four running right around 60 minutes and two running 90 minutes for a total of seven hours. By my calculations that puts the total run time at roughly 420 minute oz.. :)


Regards,
 

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@ Ralph

Okay, thanks for the quick reply. That extra 120 minutes makes this blu-ray an even better deal, at least from my perspective. :cool:
 
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