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Saturday, February 18, 2006


March 3, 2004

TV junkies everywhere, let’s give thanks. Somehow, somewhere, someone has made it possible that we never again miss an episode of our favorite shows. TV has come to DVD.

Chances are, whatever small-screen guilty pleasure made you learn to program your VCR is now available on DVD. From Gilligan’s Island to Good Times, you can find it. Friends, Cheers, M*A*S*H*, Married... with Children – yep, they’re all there. Complete seasons of current hit shows such as Frasier, ER, Alias, 24, C.S.I., and The West Wing are available, too. Even those beloved classics that you thought you’d only catch in late-night, bleary-eyed syndication are up for grabs. The Jeffersons, All in the Family, and Sanford and Son have complete seasons for sale.

You can buy the DVD sets new at local retail stores or on the Internet at www.amazon.com. But be warned: it’s an expensive habit. Prices vary from $25 for Kung Fu season one, to a whopping $85 for The Sopranos complete first season. For the bargain hunter, Internet auction sites such as eBay, Half, and Amazon offer used DVDs for a fraction of the cost of new ones.

The down side: it can be addictive. Before you know it, you’ll be monitoring eBay at 3 a.m. to win The X-Files from some guy in New Zealand . If you’re lucky, you may be able to rent a complete season of your favorite show at a local video store. Some offer DVD rentals for popular hits such as Sex and the City.

The most brilliant part of TV on DVD is the bonus material. Cast interviews, commentaries, bloopers, and behind-the-scenes footage often accompany the episodes. Often times, these cast get-togethers are the highlight of the disc. Truthfully, if offered, who out there could resist an interview with the Duke boys and Cooter telling us what they really thought of cousin Daisy’s shorts?

Then, there are the little DVD treasures known as Easter eggs. No, they’re not chocolate, but almost as good. Easter eggs are hidden segments, not found on the disc main menu, with a surprise inside. For example, on the season two Felicity DVD, the Easter egg is a Scott Speedman audition.

These hidden gems don’t actually look like Easter eggs. They can take the form of a flower, a letter, anything pictured on the menu. Not all DVDs have this added feature.The trick to the Easter egg is finding it. Through a series of remote control commands, the egg can be opened and viewed. I’m not sure who takes the time to hunt the eggs, but I’m grateful. Frankly, I don’t think I would have found them, if not for the help of Internet message boards.

The Web site www.tvshowsondvd.com offers information on all TV shows being released on DVD. Release dates, reviews, and feature information are usually provided for each show. You can also vote there to put your favorite show on DVD.

Whoever proposed putting TV series on DVD should be commended, especially since networks and studios are rarely re-airing episodes anymore. Instead, they’re inserting new reality shows during the typical summer rerun season. I’m not sure if this is just a general change in how they do business, or if the lack of viewings is deliberate to boost DVD sales. If the latter is true, then that reasoning is silly. Devoted fans of a show will buy the DVD, even if they’ve seen the episodes more than once. Trust me.

Don't believe me? Check my closet. Dawson’s Creek, M*A*S*H*, and Felicity are all neighbors in my collection. I’m saving up for Wiseguy and the soon-to-be released beloved Freaks and Geeks. (No show was ever treated shabbier in the history of TV, but fans clamored to get the 18 precious episodes released on DVD, and the show creators listened.)

In May, Northern Exposure, Party of Five, and The Waltons are just some of many TV series coming to DVD. So rejoice TV viewers. Ross, Rachel, Sam, and Diane are preserved forever, and just a click away. You can relive it all again. Or finally watch the end of an episode you didn’t see in its entirety the first time.

For me, I’m anxious to resolve a question that’s plagued me for years when I missed the end of a Simpsons episode in the early 90s: did Homer really take a walk on the wild side with country singer Lurlene Lumpkin?

I guess I’ll find out on DVD.

Originally published 3-3-04 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


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