While this Blog has been “dark” of late, due to an excessive workload, I HAVE managed to steal some time for DVD watching – mostly in the hour or so with my coffee before leaving for work.
DVD has become a true revelation for me, when it comes to certain current TV series… particularly those with heavy episode-to-episode continuity, like LOST, HEROES, and my latest discovery FRINGE. (Not to mention Esther’s latest discovery MAD MEN.)
Despite whatever level of curiosity I might develop in such a TV series, based on recommendations from persons who know my tastes, I could never become involved in anything that required a weekly commitment… and don’t suggest taping or any other modern equivalent, as the very activity becomes a “weekly commitment” of its own.
Enter DVD, through which I may experience the wonders of LOST, HEROES, and FRINGE at my own pace, subject to my own time restrictions. Actually, based on discussions with persons who have relied upon the more conventional “serial broadcast viewing” of these series, I seem to get MORE out of taking them in DVD style – noticing threads and nuances that might escape even the dedicated TV viewer.
Oddly, DVD has done for the “continuing TV series” what the Comic Book Direct Market and Back Issue Market has done for “continuing comic book series”. That is, give anyone the means and ability to “catch up” on anything at any time.
Wanna know what happened to THE FLASH in 1985’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths”? Go to the back issue bins! Wanna know how Peter Petrelli saves Claire Bennett from Sylar at Claire’s high school Homecoming in a 2006 episode of HEROES? Go to the DVD! It’s ALL THERE for you to discover or relive!
And, having since made the transition from DVD to on-air television viewing of LOST and HEROES (as a direct result of enjoying them first on DVD), I find the experience to be more disjointed and less enjoyable than consuming them on DVD.
However, watching a never-before-seen TV series on DVD HAS its dangers and pitfalls.
Those lie in the “Special Features” that are included in most popular DVD sets. They can – and DO – give away plot spoilers! And, for shows like those I mention, where we most often end on an unexpected “kicker” that leaves you nearly begging for more, this can be disasterous!
If you listen to a commentary track for THE SIMPSONS, and one of the participants says: “In this episode, Homer falls off a cliff!”… If you haven’t seen the episode before, it probably won’t surprise you that Homer will fall off a cliff… and, even if it did, it would spoil nothing in future episodes.
But, I STILL regret the day I listened to a commentary track for LOST and inadvertently learned that castaway [ SPOILER OVERLAID ] would soon [ SPOILER OVERLAID ] to fellow castaways [ SPOILER OVERLAID ] and [ SPOILER OVERLAID ] in one of the most surprising turns of events in the series to that point in the Second Season!
…And, you can THANK ME (…and not the DVD producers) for those spoiler alerts, should you ever begin to watch LOST for the first time on DVD!
Yes, something REALLY BIG that I did not see coming was completely and utterly spoiled by a DVD “Special Feature” on LOST Season Two… and, from that point on, I will play none of them for a series I’m watching for the first time, until I am completely caught up with that particular series.
Ah… but finally, to the point of all this!
FRINGE (which, not surprisingly shares the same creator/producer with LOST), in its First Season DVD release, offers the following in reference to certain of its “Special Features”:
“Warning: Spoiler Alert!”
“This piece contains crucial elements. Be sure to watch all of this season’s episodes of Fringe before accessing the piece.”
And thank you, Warner Bros.! There are a number of features on the special effects and filming techniques used in certain episodes of FRINGE, which do not contain any plot spoilers – and those offer no warning and are completely safe to watch – but I’m glad to see the DVD producers have not only noticed the phenomenon of “Watching a Series for the First Time on DVD”, but are mindful of compromising the experience for those who do.