Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rank Has Its Privileges – Even at Best Buy!

As I continue to follow the amazing TV series LOST on DVD, and I move into Season Three, the latest surprise twist occurs not between Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and The Others… but between the DVD’s manufacturers, Best Buy, and myself.

To properly frame what is to come, here’s something I wrote in The Issue At Hand # 79, in early 2007, regarding DVD set flaws and retailer return policies.

“…Annoyingly often, I find myself returning a DVD season box set to the retailer for skips, frame-freeze, picture degradation, and other imperfections in this otherwise “perfect” medium.

“I’ve yet to have an unsatisfactory situation when returning a DVD set to a retailer, but I’ve been lucky. Lucky, insofar as the flaws have revealed themselves during the first few days or weeks of my owning the set! That is, within the retailer’s
thirty-day window
for returns!

“As huge an item as the DVD boxed set has become for retailers, I feel it’s past time for them to modify their return policy on this type of item. A regular movie DVD might take two hours or so of your time to watch, but a TV series set is the equivalent of AN ENTIRE SEASON’S worth of shows! As such, if one lives even a marginally “healthy, normal life”, it could easily take more than the ordained thirty days for a manufacturer’s flaw to reveal itself. I have certain sets from 2004-2005 which I’ve yet to find the time to view in their entirety. If I discover such a flaw, I’m probably out of luck.

“As a result, I often resort to a “flurry-watching” of new DVD sets during the first few days or weeks of purchase. While this HAS revealed the occasional flaw in a timely fashion, I also sacrifice some of the enjoyment of absorbing them at a more leisurely, relaxed pace.”

Back to today… Upon opening Season Three’s box set, Disc Three flew out at me and dropped to the floor, because the “plastic holder thingee that you snap a disc into” that would hold it in place was missing a piece.

The disc did not seem scratched or damaged, so I shrugged, inserted Disc One, and continued to be enthralled by the world of The Others, which seems, so far, to be the focus of this Season (…as The Island was the focus of Season One and The Hatch, was the focus of Season Two).

Now, I’ve made a point of avoiding the Optional Audio Commentaries for reasons made clear
HERE, but decided to risk exposure to at least the start of the commentary for the first Season Three episode… and the Audio Commentary did not play. Well, okay then… two flaws but I bought these sets just over 30 days ago, and maybe I’ll just live with it.

Then, just for the hell of it, I tried the Audio Commentary on Disc Two and it did not play either. It can be assumed that all the AC tracks for this particular set are unable to play.

Still, it was past the required time… BUT, I soon realized, not for me! As a member of Best Buy Reward Zone Silver (A status I just recently achieved.) MY “return window” is 45 days, so back I went! Easy return, no questions asked. I could tell this new set was from a different (later) batch because it lacked a certain enclosed promotional flyer that came with my original set.

Sure enough, all discs are secure, and the two Audio Commentaries in question (…well, at least the first few minutes of them – have to avoid those nasty spoilers, you know!) play as they should.
Digression: Since preparing this text, I’ve found that, in my main DVD player, the Audio Commentaries play only when audio is set to one of three different English Dolby audio settings. They play fine on my secondary player and my computer, which do not offer the unnecessarily wide range of Dolby sound options. The Season One and Two sets do not function this way, so this seems to be a difference in the way the recording was prepared by the manufacturer. And so, in true LOST fashion, even a manufacturer’s flaw is never quite what it appears to be! Has this been so for anyone else reading this?

Either way, it appeared to be a flaw (and by my definition IS a flaw, because it is both unexplained and inconsistent with previous sets in the series) – just not necessarily a flaw that is resolved by an exchange. … But the plastic thingee was still broken, so it still needed to go!
End of Digression.
If there IS a point to all this, and by now even I’M not completely certain, it would be that, plastic thingee flaws notwithstanding, 30 days is just not enough time to discover all the hidden dangers lurking within a TV Season DVD set.

…And right after we get to fixing the economy, health care, and toxic partisanship in politics, we should get right on that!

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