Saturday, December 4, 2010

Siskel and Ebert: What’s Wrong With Home Video?

Granted, the show was obviously movie-oriented, but in seeing this particular episode of Siskel & Ebert, which was done back in 1988, it particularly got my attention enough to blog about it because the points brought up really do remind me an awful lot of the imperfections that have come from TV-on-DVD releases over the past several years. It’s really pretty parallel.

Movies presented in their original form are a big point of the episode. Reminds me of course of the syndication and musical cuts in some TV shows. This would include Rhoda, Roseanne, The Cosby Show, and A Different World, which saw the syndicated cuts of their first seasons on DVD; and shows like WKRP in Cincinnati which got both syndicated prints and heavy amounts of music removed from its first seasons set. Most TV fans of course prefer to see episodes in their original uncut form, especially on DVD; this was especially evident with Roseanne, Rhoda, and Cosby Show's releases. The fandom response was enough to garner the uncut masters for their remaining seasons.

Even as technology evolves, we’ve seen issues such as cropping still come up. For example; take How I Met Your Mother’s first season DVD set, which contains the episodes in full screen format instead of the original 16:9. About four episodes in the Golden Girls season 7 set are cropped to something that resembles a widescreen image even though they originally aired in full screen. It's also interesting that widescreen cropping was an issue then, but today we have instances where 4:3 images mess up and air wrong and we get them squashed on a 16:9 screen.

I loved Roger’s point about the issues of harder to find movies in stores, in his case he‘s referring to foreign movies; but it also reminds me so much of TV-on-DVD releases. These days, as I browse in stores, I find it harder and harder to find a really good selection of shows. Most stores just have recent hits and a few classics (if any). Walmart, well, at least the Walmart in my area, is the biggest example of this. Stores like Fry’s and Best Buy seem to do better jobs with selection. It gets frustrating when looking for a favorite show and honestly I just end up in many instances calling it a day just selecting and looking for certain shows online. It obviously had to be a good thing for fans of rarely sold movies of any kind in stores when the online shopping scene emerged; no more of being let down when perusing for a hard-to-find favorite.

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