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  • Prisoner Cell Block H, Set 1 (25th Anniversary Collector's Edition)
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Prisoner Cell Block H, Set 1 (25th Anniversary Collector's Edition)


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Australian television was considerably brightened by the arrival of PRISONER CELL BLOCK H in 1979. Although the activities in a women's prison might sound like grim subject matter, the show carried a neat dose of kitsch value, thanks to some poorly constructed sets, and storylines which were often unfathomable. But this was coupled with an innovative--and daring for the time--use of lesbian characters, violence, and drug mishaps. Presented here are some of the best episodes from the show, beginning with four installments from the early days, which helped establish some of the key characters. Secondly, a major plot development is ushered in via a terrorist siege that took place in the prison, and finally the conclusion of the show is rendered in dramatic style, with a huge riot breaking out. Fun and dramatic in equal measures, PRISONER CELL BLOCK H attracts a hardcore legion of devotees who will doubtless be delighted with this 25th anniversary celebration of the show.

Amazon.com

Prisoner: Cell Block H, a drama set in a women's prison called Wentworth Detention Centre, ran for eight seasons on Australian television, from 1979 to 1986, resulting in an astonishing 692 hourlong episodes. Among these were 12 choice segments included in this DVD sampler set, selected to give a strong impression of the series' accomplishments and many changes over passing years. During its run, the show was also a big hit in the United Kingdom and, for a time, had a cult following in America. U.S. fans didn't get to see much of the ratcheted-up intensity, darker characters, and added violence that evolved during Prisoner's middle years and beyond. Now that's possible with this anthology.

Curious newcomers, too, will find much to discover in the 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition. Prisoner concerns the lives and dramas of sundry inmates, guards, and prison officials at Wentworth. The earliest episode here, from season 3, serves as a useful introduction to the program's cast and tone. The story entails a prison break gone horribly wrong for several women trapped inside a sewer; meanwhile, authorities jostle over control of Wentworth and fend off rising dissatisfaction from the guards' union over working conditions. The episode makes clear that Prisoner is about varieties of power among and between authorities and incarcerated women, about small acts of kindness, sadness, frustration, and unbearable displays of ego and corruption. Those themes extend to the other, scattered episodes in this box set, all of which involve Prisoner's most colorful and memorable character (introduced in season 4), a sadistic, lesbian guard named Joan "the Freak" Ferguson (Maggie Kirkpatrick). As the years go by, Joan appears to have a brutal, conniving, thieving hand in everything, encountering resistance only from the strongest of the inmates, and surviving assaults, terrorist attacks, and much else until receiving her comeuppance in the series finale. If this collection, which quickly grows on a viewer, is a fair representation of the legacy of Prisoner: Cell Block H, one can only hope to see more in the future. --Tom Keogh


Special Features

  • The best and most memorable episodes from the cult classic series
  • Interview with Val Lehman (Bea Smith)
  • Interview with Anne Phelan (Myra Desmond)
  • Interview with casting director Jan Russ
  • Photo galleries of continuity Polaroids

Product Details

  • Actors: Elspeth Ballantyne, Betty Bobbitt, Sheila Florance, Maggie Kirkpatrick, Val Lehman
  • Directors: Jan Russ
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Collector's Edition, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video / Sunset Home Visual Entertainment (SHE)
  • DVD Release Date: November 30, 2004
  • Run Time: 591 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0003JANTG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,113 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Prisoner Cell Block H, Set 1 (25th Anniversary Collector's Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By kcthePCBHfan on March 11, 2005
I've purchased Prisoner: Cell Block H; and boy was I so happy when they released it on DVD. This show brought back alot of memories for me. I first watched it when it first appears on Channel 11 here in NYC in the late 70's and watched it religiously until they took it off in 1980. I was so pissed that they took it off, but now that I got it on DVD, I watch it all the time. I love Meg, Bea, Doreen, Lizzie, Myra, Rita..and yes, even Joan the Freak Ferguson. I am hoping and praying that they release all the episodes on DVD in an ultimate box set or individual sets (I don't care how they do it, just as long as I can purchase it!!). If you're watching the review, PLEASE CONSIDER DOING THIS. I know for a fact that there are lots of Prisoner fans here in NYC that would love to see Episodes 1 - 692 on DVD. Thank you for hearing me out.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By William on June 12, 2006
I was grateful when Prisoner came out on DVD in Australia back in 2001, but was annoyed when it was only selected episodes handpicked as 'best of episodes' in the minds of the TV distributor. This Prisoner DVD 3-set has since been released in USA And UK and while it is great for all of us to have, I am confused why certain episodes were selected when there are much, much better ones to pick (ie. ones with Vera Bennett). Really, out of 692 episodes, they could have done a better job. Better than nothing though.

Prisoner ruled Australian TV from 1979 to 1986 and many consider its best years to be 1980 to 1982. I had no idea it was shown on American TV until I read about it here on Amazon. Just a shame that America only got to see one or two seasons before it was pulled in favour of Mash re-runs.

Anyway, with the popularity of DVDs, there is no excuse why the complete Prisoner seasons couldn't be released on DVD beginning with Season 1 from 1979 starring Kerry Armstrong, Peta Topano and Val Leahman (Bea Smith). Even better, 1979 covered alot of Vera Bennett. Unfortunately, the current DVD (Best Of) only shows one episode of Vera and focusses on to many episodes of Joan Fergusion.

In Australia, they have since released another installment of Prisoner DVD's although once again are more of those 'best of' episodes. These new DVD's are very expensive compared to the first installment so I am yet to get them.

I doubt we will ever get complete seasons released as there are simply too many episodes. A pity, as there are millions of Prisoner fans across the world!

Bring on the cat-fights.
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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Michael Favareille on October 7, 2004
I did some research on a number of websites devoted to this show. For those who are not familiar, Prisoner: Cell Block H was a continuing serialized show that ran for 8 years in Australia and was very popular in Britain as well. In the US, it had its greatest success when it ran on Tuesday evenings at 8 PM on KTLA-5, Los Angeles, between 1980-1982(and beating Happy Days in the Neilsen ratings in the LA market). This was not a show for the family to watch as it was quite frank(including what may have been the first depiction of lesbianism on US TV).

Apparently, this will be a repackaging of a Best-Of DVD set that is currently available in Britain(and in Australia as well--2 other collections are also available in Australia.) 12 hour-long episodes(US syndication cut them to 30 minutes except for the KTLA airings) from throughout the shows comprise the DVD set, along with a couple of interviews(one of which is with Bea, who was one of the major characters on the show). Personally, I would rather see this released as season sets(or do like MPI does with Dark Shadows, release 40 half-hour shows per DVD set in order to continue the story). Being this is a serialized show, watching episodes out of sequence and without the full stories detract from the entertainment value. (And I feel maybe bring new fans since this show is a bit obscure to most people.) I was a big fan of the show when it aired(and unfortunately, did not see any of the last 5 years of the show as they were not aired in the US). Hopefully A&E will wake up and give us season sets of the series. (Note:MPI did release episodes of Prisoner Cell Block H on VHS about a decade ago, but never finished out the series.)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Big Fan on August 12, 2005
"Prisoner: Cell Block H" (originally called "Prisoner" in Australia but renamed for US distribution and later UK distribution for fear of confusion with the Patrick McGoohan (sp?) classic "The Prisoner") was syndicated in the US at the dawn of the 1980s. Apparently, it had been so huge in Australia that they managed to export it to the US--a rarity; the only other Australian show I remember seeing in the States back then was a good mini-series about the colonization of Australia called "Against the Wind."

PCBH originally aired in the Washington area in a half-hour format weeknights at 11 on WTTG-TV Channel 5. It was one of the most watchable shows I have ever seen and beats most American soaps hands down (I was in high school at the time). A huge disappointment when WTTG dropped it for M*A*S*H* reruns. But WJZ-TV Channel 13 in Baltimore picked it up a month or two later and showed it from the beginning in its original hour-long format late on Saturday and Sunday evenings. The show had terrific cliffhangers and did not mess around--I still remember being shocked when someone's wife and sons were killed by a package bomb (storyline not included on these DVDs).

I went away to college and lost track of the show--didn't have much truck when I returned for visits with there apparently being a new governor of the prison and new guards--but this DVD set has shown me the error of my ways.
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