Top 10 Best Practices for TV on DVD

Tuesday July 11, 2006 @ 09:30 PM (UTC)

I am more or less a sucker for TV on DVD. It’s so convenient, so portable, so crisp, so FULL OF DELICIOUS CONTINUITY. However, it is still a young medium, relatively speaking, and maybe there is some feedback the studios would like from me. Out of the goodness of my heart, and not because it annoys the stuffing out of me, I’d like to share some constructive criticism.

Really, it’s constructive! You’ll notice some of them are things ONE company or series is doing RIGHT!

Top Ten Best Practices for TV on DVD

10. ‘Play all’ button.
(MVP: Babylon 5) Sometimes you just want to have a gargantuan view-a-thon, and this easy-to-implement feature facilitates that. One button, and the entire DVD of episodes plays.

9. Episode list on packaging.
(MVP: Xena) This helps a lot when you’re trying to find a specific episode quickly, and there’s no reason NOT to do it.

8. Don’t quote the series on the packaging, or, worse yet, the discs.
(LVP: Angel) Umm, does anyone realize that people who want to watch the TV show may NOT have watched the TV show? Some seasons of Buffy and Angel have totally vital and spoily dialogue plastered across the packaging, or on the discs where you’re REALLY likely to see them.

7.Spoiler-free menus.
Similarly, we’re pretty much stuck seeing the menu, so if you could choose images that don’t give away that Character B is a vampire or that A and C are getting together…that would help.

6. Skippable intros.
(MVP: Everything Joss.) We promise we know your studio’s name and musical sting, and that the FBI and Interpol frown on thus and so, and that you aren’t responsible for anything Ted Raimi says. We don’t need to see it 6 times per viewing of the season.

5. Quick menu switching.
(LVP: Buffy Season 2) Again, we are going to see this OVER and OVER. It’s swell you sprang for a CGI swoop-shot through a cemetery, but by root and twig, we don’t need to sit through it every time we press a button!

4. STOP the foldfests.
(LVP: Buffy, Angel, early seasons of Xena) Many shows are in these gigantic folding cardboard monstrosities. There are a lot of ways to deal with the problem of packaging 6 or more discs attractively, but I think the Firefly approach of slimline cases and the Babylon 5/late Xena book-style packages are the way to go. The Xena discs even click in place nicely and don’t fall out all the time!

3. Clear episode progression.
(LVP: Buffy Season 3; MVP: Xena) Episode numbers, a clear linear pattern to the episode titles…any of these will do. Instead, we often have four episodes, one in each quadrant, and they don’t always progress in the same manner from series to series or season to season (Buffy Season 3 had a different pattern from any other Buffy season.)

2. Silent menus. (MVP: Xena) Remember, again, we will hear this MANY times. If you choose a good atmospheric bit from an episode, it will have lost all meaning by the time we watch that episode, and in any case, we’ll be sick to death of it. Xena compromises by playing the (beautiful) theme music on the disc menu, but having blessedly silent episode menus, so we can get a drink, go to the bathroom, and generally settle ourselves without a 30-second loop of effects and music driving us mad.

No one has this last one yet, and I think movies as well as TV shows need this all-important feature:
1. Mute-able characters.
I don’t want to listen to Jar-Jar Binks or Kennedy the Annoying Girl in the comfort of my own home. I could probably get wonko to watch Babylon 5 if Sinclair spoke in subtitles for all of Season 1! Give us more freedom. After all, we bought the damn thing!

If a decalogue is too much for the studios, I’ll cut it down to two general reminders: We may not have seen it before, and we will see it over and over again.


Foldfests are the bane of a targeted Buffy marathon! The first season of Veronica Mars is not only a foldfest, but they have two DVDs overlapping in each panel. Tres annoying.

Call me weird, but I like watching the title sequence. It gets me “in the mood” somehow and gives me time to arrange my munchies.

I call you weird!

I don’t mind ‘em the first time or two, but if I can’t skip ‘em, I get REALLY tired of it!

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