By the Vidiots of TeeVee
TV shows have become ridiculously popular on DVD, and now there are a ton of them, with more coming every week. The skeptical among you may ask why you should bother renting a DVD of a TV series when you can easily hit any one of a hundred channels via satellite TV and watch something already. Easy: watching TV on DVD is not like watching TV on TV. It's not even like watching TiVo. Here are the most compelling reasons to pick up that Six Feet Under DVD.
WATCH WHEN YOU WANT
We love our Lost as much as the next person, but the vagaries of scheduling drive us crazy - one new episode, then four weeks of nothing? Four new episodes, then two off weeks? We resent having to stalk a show.
Yes, there is always the tactic of stockpiling episodes on the TiVo, but not everyone has personal video recorders. Better to take the season-by-season approach - this works for everything from CSI and Without a Trace to the first season of Lost. Sure, you won't find out what that monster on the island is. But if it makes you feel better, even if you were watching season two, you still wouldn't know. So why not set your own pace on when to see episodes?
Apparently, there are some of you out there who aren't paying for premium cable. And that's your right. However, you're missing out on great shows like The Sopranos, Deadwood and The Wire. So grabbing the DVDs for any one of these shows is a great way to burn off a week's worth of free time, and raise your pop culture IQ.
There's also the angle science fiction is taking with Battlestar Galactica - the network released a DVD set of the first half of the season in advance of the season's second half. What's next, monthly DVD releases during the season? We heartily approve.
NO ONE CAN EAT JUST ONE
Just a few years ago, TV executives were down on "serialized" shows - ones that tell a continuing story (think 24) - because they weren't as successful in reruns as standalone shows like Law & Order, in which every episode is completely self-contained.
But it turns out that those continuing shows are absolute catnip on DVD. Great, narrative TV series require a big commitment and a strong long-term memory if you're going to watch them week-in, week-out. It's easier to watch a season-long theme unfold across the course of several episodes when you're watching those episodes within a week's time. And you still get the perks of nodding sagely and telling your friends, "Well, I thought the fifth season of Homicide: Life on the Street was about the perils of self-made morality." They will be awed by your insight, and cowed by your ability to discourse on a TV season nearly ten years gone.
And frankly, some series simply play better on DVD. We were indifferent to Carnivale, except as a sleep aid, prior getting a chance to pull an all-nighter with the show. Then there's Alias, the spy drama whose excellent first season featured a cliffhanger ending nearly every week. From the maniac intensity of 24 to the years-long sci-fi story arc of Babylon 5, some TV shows beg you to push the Play All button and sit back while four or five episodes unspool before your eyes.
How to make a TV series that's always airing in repeats on your local TV station worth watching on DVD? Easy: provide bonus material. For example, every episode of every season of The Simpsons and Futurama has commentary. And it's actually good commentary, with directors, writers, animators, show creator Matt Groening, and the occasional voice actor or guest star contributing comments and observations along the lines of "I don't remember that joke!" or "That kid in the background is really off-model in this scene. It's bugged me for ten years."
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