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International DVD Etiquette

January 17, 2011

This might be an exaggeration, but I believe that one of the greatest things to come out of the last 20 years is the availability of TV series on DVD. Few things are as satisfying or addicting as being able to watch an entire season of a great TV show from start to finish, without commercials or week-long breaks.

And I think we can all agree that being able to watch our favorite movies over and over is an accomplishment not unlike the advent of microwave popcorn. But not all DVDs are created equal and sometimes studios and manufacturers need a little lesson on DVD etiquette. Here are a few of my suggestions:

Special features should actually be special: If your idea of special features are language options and movie trailers, then you need to try harder. Maybe this is the result of schools and sports teams giving everyone awards and trophies, telling them they’re all special and deserve praise. Well, not everyone is special and not every DVD feature is special. Unless one of those language features is Pig Latin, I don’t care that it’s available.

Long intros to the main menu: Have you ever had to keep restarting a DVD because the power goes out* and you’re forced to watch the intro to the main menu multiple times? Or perhaps you’re half asleep with a movie on and you’re too lazy to turn it off, so the intro just plays over and over and over. Or maybe you’re just impatient like me and you don’t feel like watching a 45-second introduction to the main menu. In all of these situations, DVD makers would do well to go the simple route. Don’t give me a minute-long intro with a bunch of quotes from the movie. I’m about to watch the movie—you no longer need to convince me of its worth. You had me at hello.

Forcing me to watch all the previews: This includes the five to ten-second clips like the FBI warning, the “views of so-and-so are not necessarily the views of blah blah blah” and the studio’s logo animation. The trailers are fine the first time you watch a DVD, but I don’t need to see the trailers every time I want to watch a movie again. Add all of these together, then force me to watch five trailers, and by the time the movie comes on I’m ready to call it quits and read a book. Just let me go straight to the main menu.

Forcing me to watch a TV show’s opening credits/theme song: It is imperative that I be able to skip the opening credits, because after hearing the Friends theme song 4,368 times I tend to go crazy. The problem is that a show’s theme is often on the same track as the first scene after the song, so if I hit skip, I end up skipping part of the show. Throw me a bone here, Hollywood! Make it a separate track so I can skip it and save not only time, but sanity.

Alternate endings that aren’t really alternate endings: You cannot call it an alternate ending just because it was filmed at a different angle. Unless the person you thought was dead is really alive in this new ending, or unless the couple breaks up instead of getting married, then it does not count. So stop trying to entice me into buying your DVD by saying it has alternate ending. Unless you’re pulling a Charles Dickens,** stop selling me the alternate ending line.

*This happened in college while trying to watch a movie during a tropical storm. We were too stubborn (or is it dumb?) to turn off the DVD after the power kept flickering on and off.

**See kids? Sometimes you do use your knowledge of high school literature in real life!

What about you? Any DVD pet peeves to add to the list?

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