recently watched the entire series of boxed sets of The Sopranos
consumed in gigantic sittings of between four and seven episodes
at a time. This was possible because a DVD boxed set has all
the good things about television and none of it’s irritations.
You don’t wait a week for the next episode; there are
no commercials; no trailers at the start for some other show
in which you have zero interest and no trailers over the credits,
interrupting your cool-down, as you take a minute to absorb,
appreciate and exhale.
Often, the boxed set is beautifully packaged: something to
have and handle, redolent of vinyl LPs. You can lend the set
to friends and talk in-depth about it later. Take care though,
not to give stuff away from season five when they are only
up to four. It can damage friendships.
Okay - the extras are sometimes a waste of space. An audio
commentary for instance, by the writer, telling me (as I watch
the scene where an actor gets in a car) that this scene is
where the actor gets in a car. Please.
Occasionally, though, these extras are superb, illuminating,
such as the behind-the-scenes stuff in Planet Earth, showing
us how they got those amazing shots of chimpanzees playing
dominoes. Or the interviews in Band Of Brothers with the soldiers
who fought in Easy Company and whose testimonies about their
war will break your heart.
You can plan a huge viewing session, with ice cream or beer.
The boxed set experience is a decision: a genuine feet-up,
phones-off choice. It is not scheduled, like TV and it is
not found by channel-surfing, which is the name given to the
practice of pressing buttons on a remote in order to find
something less boring.
Next up, Deadwood.