Not long ago I bit the bullet and purchased The Big TV. A combination of falling prices, aging eyes, and the peer-group-pressure issued by those in the Mac Publishing offices who’ve smugly sacrificed a wall of their rumpus room to their video pleasures crumbled my resolve to stick with the old Sony CRT.
Those of you who’ve taken the path to The Big TV understand that the purchase of the plasma (or fill in the HDTV flavor of your choosing) is only the first of a series of expenditures. There are the cables, and the furniture, and the upgrades to your over-the-air/cable/satellite system, and the HD-compatible components, and the speakers, and the better grade of popcorn, and it still looks crappy because medium TiVo quality looks awful and none of your DVDs offer the aspect ratio that fits your new TVs “Full” display setting and “Just” just doesn’t cut it, and really maybe you’ll just go down to the office where the CRT has taken up residence and watch The Daily Show in blessed Standard Definition where Jon Stewart’s mug isn’t horribly stretched through the little speakers that were just fine in 1997 and forget all about it.
Other than that, I’m good with my new TV.
Once you’ve taken care of the big stuff, you’re on the hunt for content. And by content I don’t mean movies that you cherish, that stir your soul from the moment the title appears until the final credit rolls northward. I mean movies, regardless of the quality of their plot or acting, that would look frickin’ awesome when blasted from that wall-sized monitor.
And hunt I did.
You’re sure to have your own list of frickin’-awesome-on-a-big-screen movies. Mine consists largely of movies that weigh in at close to 3 hours and were originally projected in MegaSpanaPanavision. We’re talking Lawrence of Arabia, The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, My Fair Lady … pretty much anything that required an intermission.
I conducted my hunt on Amazon and, while exploring one link or another, I stumbled upon a couple of intriguing collections that might signal the beginning of a just-as-intriguing trend. That trend is “iPod-ready disposable video.”
Specifically I found
One Step Beyond (2 DVD + video iPod ready disc) and
Alfred Hitchcock (2 DVD + video iPod ready disc). The parenthetical bits of the title are part of what makes these collections worth our attention. Price is the other.
These are three-DVD sets. Two of the discs are double-sided and carry the material you can play on your DVD player. The third disc offers that same content as iPod-compatible MPEG-4 video files that you can copy directly to iTunes and then sync to your 5G iPod. The One Step Beyond collection includes 24 episodes (over 9 hours of material) and the Hitchcock collection includes very early efforts by the legendary director ( The Lady Vanishes , The 39 Steps , and Sabotage are the most well-known of the bunch) for over 11 hours of content.
Each collection costs $9.
Sure, they’re poorly produced (the Tony Curtis intro on the first Hitchcock disc is remarkably, brilliantly bad) and they’re dumping grounds for material that you might watch on TV if the remote control was just far enough out of reach to prevent comfortably switching channels.
But they cost 9 bucks!
And they’re pre-ripped for your iPod enjoyment!
I’ve got a hella-long plane flight ahead of me in a little over a week and a couple of long-life iPod batteries to test. Even these questionable collections are going to provide more pleasure than the romantic-comedies-with-the-racy-bits-cut-out offered by the airline. How could I resist?
To bring this full circle, I see opportunities on both ends of the spectrum. I’m all for remastering classic widescreen motion pictures simply because they’ll look great on a TV the size of a Rubens canvas. Charge me what you will, until something better comes along I just want to be overwhelmed with the picture’s glory.
And for those times when I’m not tied to the couch, give me cheap buckets of content for the small screen—quality be damned.
In short, appeal to my attraction to shiny objects as well as the cheapskate within and the contents of my wallet are yours.