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The Five Dumbest Quality Control Mistakes In DVD History
There is a point to buying anything on DVD. You want great picture and sound, and the full uncut article. To there credit, many studios have spent a fortune preparing their DVD releases. And it is a damn shame when somehow during the process a ball is dropped and a mistake is made, usually leading to a recall of the product and/or replacement discs. That is, if the studio even has it in their budget to fix the problem, or instead lets the mistake stand. Here are the five all time dumbest mistakes made for major DVD releases.
#5 Kung Fu Season 1
When Warner Bros decided it was time to remaster the cult series Kung Fu for high definition, they thought they could recoup the cost by releasing the results on DVD. Previous releases of the series had been from video masters transferred from poor quality prints meant for analog television. If the series was to be sold on DVD then it had to look better than it did on VHS. The problem was that no one explained the plan to the television division who were preparing the show for HDTV.
When reruns of King Fu were originally sold into syndication, full episodes were sent out and the individual stations were allowed to edit them as they pleased to allow for more commercial time. These edits were usually sloppy cuts mid episode, removing a random scene with no regard as to if it was vital to that episodes plot. Beginning in the 80s syndicators began editing the episodes themselves, trimming out a line here or an establishing shot there, so that the episodes were shorter but remained coherent. This is what the division working on Kung Fu for HDTV syndication we're doing. In addition, the show was remastered in widescreen, cropping off the top and bottom so it would fit on HD televisions.
Amazingly, no one working on the HDTV edits bother to coordinate with the DVD division, and sent them the cropped and edited episodes, and the DVD division never bothered to check the masters they were delivered. It was not until the consumers who bought the first season set noticed the cropping and shorter running times, and complained to Warner Bros, that their DVD division realized something was wrong. Even more amazing, the television division never bothered to create uncut full screen remasters, so there was nothing available for replacement discs. And Warner did not have the budget for a second restoration and remastering from the source negatives in order to produce new full screen remasters. Future season sets used the low quality video masters, as they were the only source available for uncut full screen episodes. To this day, even the full series sets have the cropped edited first season and low quality full screen second and third seasons.
#4 The Rental & Stimpy Show First and Second Seasons Uncut
This is a similar story to that of Kung Fu, only made more incompetent as the box itself claims the season is uncut. After their initial airings, Nickelodeon order the Ren and Stimpy cartoons edited for content. Show creator John K. eventually quit the series in protest of the censorship, and it continued without him. Every home video release from that point on we're the Nickelodeon approved edited episodes.
A decade after it was cancelled, Spike TV obtained the rights to Ren & Stimpy, and rehired John K. to animate new episode for their adult comedy block. As part of the deal, the uncensored episodes would finally be released on home video with John K. himself overseeing the remastering. At the same time episodes were being edited to be shown during the adult cartoon block, removing scenes to accommodate extra time for Spike's longer commercial breaks. To save time, the Spike editors used the already edited Nickelodeon episodes, but also did edits to the previously uncensored episodes.
And then, for reasons unknown, the edited Spike masters were delivered to the DVD programmers instead of the John K. supervised restored uncut masters. Once again the mistake want unnoticed until consumers played their discs and discovered the "uncut" set was missing even more footage than the previous releases, with almost none of the censored footage restored. John K. seemed unaware, and even commented online that the episodes were uncut and those complaining we're mistaken. But eventually he saw the damage for himself and suggested that the uncut episodes would some day turn up in a future release
#3 Batman:The Complete 1966 Series
For decades Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox have been battling over which company gets to release the 60s television series. The two companies finally reached an agreement a couple of years ago, and after about 35 years Batman finally got it's release on home video. So after all that time, you would think Warner would get the release right. Well, no. The series was released with two major mistakes.
The first is a stupid mistake that had been made once before when the series was remastered for cable, and I am surprised that Warner made the same mistake again. The soundtrack for Batman was stored on two tracks. Track one was just the music and sound effects. Track two was the dialogue. These were kept separate so that foreign broadcasts could be dubbed in that countries language. But the pilot episodes put the narrator on a third track. This was done because producer William Dozier narrated the episodes when they were only meant to be shown to the ABC executives, and had expected to hire a real series narrator once ABC bought the series. So his voice was stored on a third track so it could be replaced. Ultimately Dozier ended up narrating the entire series.
When the episodes were edited in the 80s for cable broadcast to allow more commercial time, the soundtracks needed to be recombined again. The third track was left out of the mix, and the second episode opens with recap montage, but no narration. Nearly 30 years later the same exact mistake was made remixing the soundtrack, and on the DVD and Blu-ray release, once again there is no narration on the second episode recap montage.
The second mistake is even worse. Each episode ended with a one minute tag. A tag was a minor scene which takes place after the episodes plot has concluded, just after the final commercial break and before the ending credits. It is usually just characters summing up the episode, and usually leads into a joke and/or freeze frame. The reason they exist? To keep the viewer watching the final commercial break. In recent years the tags have been combined with the ending credits.
When scanning the original film negatives for a high definition print, the technicians at Warner noticed that the ending credits in the later episodes looked warn. This was due to Dozier using the same footage again and again for the ending credits. Warner decided to fix this by creating new credits that looked like the old. But what they failed to realize was that the tag was on the same strip of film as the original credits, and when the original credits were replaced, the tags were not included. Many of these tags included an introduction to next week's villain, which is why fans noticed they were gone.
Within days of release, Warner was offering replacement discs. Well, actually bonus discs that included just the second episode montage with the narration restored, the missing tags, and a couple of mid-episode promos that were meant to be restored but we're not.
#2 Back to the Future Trilogy
The Back to the Future films we're shot on a standard square 33mm film, then cropped to widescreen. When the movie was being remastered for DVD, someone improperly framed the film, so that instead of the cropping taking place mid screen, it was higher up than it should have been. This didn't just allowed the occasional boom Mike to be seen, but for action taking place at the bottom to be cropped. For example, Doc Brown showing Marty how to activate the sleeves in a technology suit happens outside the cropping, appearing to have taken place below the screen. This may have been a minor error, but it happened to one of the most popular film series ever, so millions of fans noticed. Universal immediately offered replacement discs with the movies properly framed
#1 Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Vol 2
Walt Disney Studios undertook a massive and very expensive restoration project to restore all their cartoons. And you don't spend millions restoring cartoons to their former glory and not show them to anyone. Hence the release of Walt Disney Treasures, an idea from Leonard Maltin to release in collector sets all of the cartoon shorts, along with episodes from Disney television shows that had never been released on home video before.
For some reason the person(s) in charge of the second volume of Donald Duck cartoons mistakenly used video masters made from unrestored prints that were meant for VHS releases in the 80s instead of the masters for the restored cartoons. Consumers could immediately tell the cartoons were poor quality, and began complaining. But since the sets were all part of numbered collector's tins, Disney could not offer replacement discs.
It is not as if Disney did not care. They spent a fortune restoring those Donald Duck cartoons, and now the public would not get a chance to see them. In every case listed, it was a matter of a mistake made manufacturing the DVD, and whoever was in charge of quality control not noticing the mistake until the DVD was released. Aggravating for those who purchased the DVD, and a collosal waste of money for the company that manufactured them.