When a studio releases a series on DVD for the first time, they’ll naturally start with the show’s first season. But for reasons unknown, BFS Entertainment has decided to release the second season of Kingdom as a Region 1 DVD without releasing the first. Further, the fact that this is the second season (or second “series” as it’s called in the U.K.) is rather unhelpfully printed in small type on the back of the packaging below a list of executive producers for the show. Indeed, when I first received this set, I naturally assumed it was the first season in part because Kingdom had never been released as a Region 1 NTSC DVD before and because there’s nothing noting the season number on the front cover, or even the spine. Why BFS chose to hide this information is unclear. Perhaps they were unable to secure the rights to the first season. If so, why release the second season of a series to Region 1 viewers who are unable to watch the first season?
Kingdom centers on the private practice of Peter Kingdom (Stephen Fry), a solicitor who lives in the small town of Market Shipborough in England that seems entirely populated by elderly eccentrics. Episodes generally begin farcically, but soon dip into sentimentality where it fits nicely into the family-dramedy niche. The town itself feels like something out of The Gilmore Girls, where everyone is exceedingly polite and most problems wonderfully uncomplicated. Kingdom himself seems the most burdened character in the series, contending with his brother’s suicide and the sudden reappearance of his troubled sister.
Despite these familial dramas, Kingdom is a quaint series about a quaint town and does get a bit too saccharine at times—though this is part of its appeal. Such an uncynical series is rare but obviously not for everyone. Fry slips into playing the socially awkward but bookishly smart Kingdom like a comfortable pair of shoes, and the role seems entirely written for him. (The character even shares the actor’s dislike of coriander.) Though with Kingdom constantly putting others ahead of himself, he must be headed for a breakdown; perhaps this storytelling vein will be tapped in the third season, which begins airing in the U.K. this June.
There would normally be a greater description of the second season’s plot, but explaining it in any greater detail would give away too much from the first season. So it’s impossible to recommend watching one without or before the other. North American viewers are best left to wait for a Region 1 DVD of the first season or, if they have a region-free DVD player, to pick up the Region 2 release of season one before watching this one.
Image is very clear with a nice color balance, but there is some slight ghosting evident from the PAL to NTSC transfer. Audio is only available in English stereo and no subtitles are provided.
For a release lacking subtitles and 5.1 audio, it’s no surprise there aren’t any bonus features. It’s worth noting the Region 2 release of the first season included a behind-the-scenes featurette. It will be no surprise if this material doesn’t make the cut if season one is ever released in Region 1 by BFS.
Where’s the first series?