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DVD Lends Television Feature-Like Permanence

31 Mar, 2003 By: Stephanie Prange

This weekend, I watched several episodes of HBO's hit “Six Feet Under” and without DVD, I probably never would have seen this excellent series. It would have come and gone without my ever having sampled its quirky pleasures.


First of all, I don't subscribe to HBO. Second of all, even if I did, there would be little chance that I would catch all the episodes in this serial, which requires a viewer to know what happened in previous episodes to fully understand subsequent installments. Likely, I never would have tried. I just don't have the patience or the fortitude to follow through on the type of ongoing stories television writers produce these days. I can follow one or two storylines (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a favorite), but I can't keep up with the plots in numerous series on a weekly basis. I turn on something like “Alias” and am immediately lost.

But on DVD, these series are laid out nicely in sequence, and when I get a large block of time, I can watch a large chunk of the series without commercials. A time-strapped viewer can catch up with or discover the series at any time, even years after the show disappears from the television lineup. I look forward to perusing “The Sopranos” at some future date, and “Alias” as well. Television is producing a legacy of classics that will last on DVD for years and will continually find new audiences never tapped on cable or the airwaves.

These are not mere reruns, sliced and diced by syndicated stations. They are better than the original viewing, in pristine condition, uninterrupted. I've heard one colleague say the older “Star Trek” episodes look better on DVD than they have ever looked -- even in their original 1960s airing. They've never been crisper, she said.

DVD offers a permanent home for television content. It's a medium that allows series to age gracefully, waiting for new audiences to discover them in their own time -- not tied to a television schedule – and in excellent condition. Like classic films, many will be discovered by viewers long after their prime time days are over.

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