Posted by: Sara Jean | January 31, 2010

What if the DVD Had Never Been Invented?

I used to record television shows onto VHS tapes and watch them over and over again. I know I recorded every single episode of My So-Called Life. I also recorded a couple seasons of LA Law, several Saturday Night Lives, and the Canadian sketch-comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Thank God for DVDs. I don’t even watch real television much (and don’t have cable) but I have to say I don’t really miss it. In the past two years I’ve watched every recorded episode of the two best television shows ever in the history of the world, The Wire and Deadwood. I think I love them–especially Deadwood–more than I love any movie. In fact, I would say Deadwood is sort of like a really good movie that, to your utter delight and surprise, lasts for thirty-six hours. A longer story arc makes for more beloved characters and more personal investment in the fictional events of the series.

(Sadly–nay, tragically–Deadwood was cut short by cancellation, a fate unique to the television format that tinges any fan’s discussion of the show with a layer of sadness and cynicism.)

But back to DVDs. Without them, we wouldn’t have bonus features, or audio commentary, or Netflix. I would have had to subscribe to HBO to watch the best shows on TV (and, let’s face it, that’s pretty unlikely). I would have never been able to revisit My So-Called Life at the age of thirty-one and realize, somewhat regrettably, that it’s not quite as good as I remembered. And I wouldn’t right now be looking forward to the first episode of The Sopranos with cautious optimism, about to embark on an unknown journey into a new (Jersey) world.

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