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My One Gripe With DVD

28 Apr, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold

We've gotten several letters these past few weeks from folks who say they prefer VHS to DVD.

And while my first inclination is to grab these people around the neck and shake their heads to see if anything rattles, the more I think about it, the more I agree with them on one small point: The beginning.

Specifically, it seems to be getting harder and harder to start movies. First came the mandatory F.B.I. warning against piracy you have to stare at for several seconds and can't fast-forward, as you can do on VHS. Then comes the Interpol warning. Then, in a growing number of cases, are the trailers. Lots and lots of trailers. You can't skip through them. You have to fast-forward. But sometimes you can't. You have to go to the main menu.

But even when you finally reach that vaunted main menu, your ordeal is not necessarily over. Take Bambi. I worked hard and furiously to get to the main menu, and with a sigh of relief hit “play.” But instead of the movie, I got the THX screen, and then after that the Disney DVD sign, and after that a third disclaimer promising me I was going to watch the “enhanced home theater” version.

By this time, I was angrily pressing the “skip” and “fast-forward” buttons on my remote — first one, then the other, then both at once. But each time that dreaded little hand came up in the top left corner of my screen, meaning I was completely and utterly helpless to put a stop to the madness and watch my movie.

Meanwhile, my not-quite-3-year-old movie-watching buddy, Hunter, had lost interest and resumed chanting, “choo-choo movie,” after it had taken me a good 15 minutes to convince him Bambi was a far better choice than Thomas the Tank Engine for the umpteenth time.

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