Monday, January 09, 2006

Yep, Some Things Are Better In Region 2.

We're getting a lot of e-mails right now about how Birds of Prey is slated for release in Region 2 ("Europe"); you can find a listing for it at if you're wanting that. There are NOT plans announced yet for a Region 1 (USA/Canada) release.

Joey is out on DVD in the United Kingdom, much to the chagrin of fans of the show who can't understand why it gets released there first before it shows up in the USA (where it is produced, and where the show could use a boost in the ratings from a DVD tie-in).

I read at Home Theater Forum today how Kojak's second season is coming to Europe, but I know that there are no plans for it in the USA so far. The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman already have Season 1 sets over there, but no word yet when we'll see them here in North America.

Ally McBeal has had no word announced here in R1 either, with music rights issues being the reason most cited for the hold-up...but you can get all five seasons sent over from the UK right this second if you want to. Heck, the Married...with Children theme song is intact on the R2 releases in Germany from what we've heard.

Anyone remember the BBC production of The Tripods series, based on the classic John Christopher books (The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, etc.)? Yeah...that's been out there as well, although I hear it's tough to find these days (the second series moreso than the first). There was even a disc of Voltron released in Region 2 (and the entire series got released in Australia's Region 4!).

Heck, in Japan (also "Region 2", oddly enough), Bewitched is up to Season 6 already, while we've just gotten the S3 announcement today for our shores.

That's enough examples, I think; you get the point. So...why?


Because, that's why.

Because that's what the region system was made for in the first place: because studios recognized that some of the properties they owned in one geographic area were not always controlled by them in other geographical areas, and they didn't want an overseas release by their "competitors" to intrude on possible sales on their own turf later on.

Because music rights issues are different in different countries, based on different laws.

Because rights to and control of extras may be different in other countries as well.

Because some properties are more popular and sell better in other places, no matter how hard that is to believe.

Because in some countries, the new-ish show in question isn't available to air on television at all, or else airs in a way that limits the audience. So the DVD release there is meant to bring the show to a bigger audience.

Oh, and the boxes may look different there than here because the cover art that is meant to appeal to that audience may not be the same art the studio uses to market the show in the USA. So don't be surprised if you e-mail that R2 art to us and we say "sorry, we won't show that European cover art to our readers". Yeah, some of this blog post is about us! :)

Gord and I wish we had time to cover all the non-Region 1 TV-DVD releases out there, but we simply don't. That's why we try to politely convey to folks who send us e-mails with "news" of them that tellling us about Region 2 releases is just a waste of time. We're only two guys, and it takes all of our bandwidth to cover just what we do, and still find time to make a living on the side. Not to mention Gord's girlfriend, and my wife and son. They want a bit of our time as well!

There's a lot of talk about whether or not the Region coding system will continue as home video moves forward into new formats. Right now that sort of thing just sounds like a lot of talk, with no real momentum that we can see about seriously eliminating the Region coding concept. So we just have to live with it in the meantime.

And for those of you with multi-region capabilities, it might just give you MORE options, instead of limiting them!


At January 09, 2006 9:44 PM, Blogger J.D. said...

I was thinking about this the other day, while shopping for TV DVDs online. I was looking for ER Season 4, which was just released here, and I kept getting hits for the UK release of ER Season 5, which isn't even close to the shelves here. Then I found out they'd released all the way through Season 8 (my particular favorite) in China and Japan. Seriously, what the heck? You'd think a show like ER, which is dying for a kick in the pants, and is also in its 12th season, would benefit from DVD tie-ins that happen more than once every 2 years (seemingly.)

If you really want an advance on DVDs, though, I'm told the place to live is China. My sister lives there, and she gets new movies and TV shows almost instantaneously. Granted, some are cheap bootlegs, but still...

At January 09, 2006 10:37 PM, Blogger Gord Lacey said...

I have a friend that just moved to Hong Kong and he's emailed me about some of the stuff he's seen for sale there. He said that he can usually find a movie that opened on Friday in the US on DVD that Sunday. That's pretty sick!

Blu-ray will contain region coding, and Japan is now lumped in with Region 1. That's good news for people that have to have the BEST DVD set released; Japane usually has some pretty crazy boxed sets. I remember seeing a "Band of Brothers" set that blew the R1 release away.

At January 10, 2006 5:07 AM, Blogger Matt said...

Now I have never really looked into R2 releases so I always wondered if you bought a set from germany or japan wouldn't it be dubbed in that langauge?

At January 10, 2006 8:53 AM, Anonymous martin said...

I remember Japan getting a bare bones complete set of Red Dwarf a few years back, when they just started releasing it here.

Re: Audio Track

It depends on the country, matt. I think Japan uses subtitles on english programming, but I'm not sure.

In Germany the shows are dubbed but TV DVD releases almost always contain the original language track.

If you're buying DVDs from a non-english speaking country you always have to expect that they have different opening credits, especially when the show has a different title. So it's not something for the purists.

At January 10, 2006 9:37 AM, Blogger J.D. said...

I'm almost to the point where I want to look for one of those region-free players so I can order from wherever. Does anybody know if they sell these domestically, or would I have to buy it from some chop shop online. It would actually be nice if my DVD-ROM was Region Free. I wondered if my portable player would support all regions since it's both NTSC and PAL compatible, but I don't feel like taking the risk and trying it out.

At January 10, 2006 11:01 AM, Blogger Don Hilliard said...

J.D.: Google your portable player's make and model number accompanied by the words "region hack"; if someone's found a way to make it region-free (or if it already is), you'll find it.

If NO means do you have to buy a region-free-capable player from a chop shop, nor should you. The vast majority of these players can be made region-free simply by entering a code from the remote, and there are plenty of ripoff artists who will happily charge you $100 over the price of the player just for doing this. (There also are some who go further and hack the firmware to remove the Macrovision copy-protection; buy one of these and you're spending far too much money for a player with a voided warranty.)

And due to the nature of what makes these players convertible to region-free, most of them are on the low end of the price scale. As an example, the Philips DVP642 progressive-scan player can be had from Amazon for $60, and it's convertible right out of the box.

Just for general info, something I've discovered over several years of buying DVDs from the UK is that more than a few of the discs being sold as R2 are actually Region 0 (playable on any PAL-capable machine); AmazonUK, Sendit and other companies usually don't bother to note the distinction, though, so it's tough to find out without actually ordering the disc. The shows released this way are generally ones that have seldom (or never) been seen in the US, so there's little concern on the part of the studio about making money on a separate US release. (There are also a VERY few shows, such as the '80s Robin of Sherwood, where the studio has made a direct-sale-only, Region 1 NTSC version of the discs for US fans.)

At January 10, 2006 12:16 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

The third series of that Tripods trilogy is even tougher to find, since the Beeb cancelled the show at the end of series two.

At January 10, 2006 1:12 PM, Blogger peggy said...

Thanks again for covering a topic that I was curious about very interested in the answer, at times I think you read my mind.

At January 10, 2006 11:26 PM, Blogger J.D. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At January 11, 2006 8:16 AM, Blogger Gord Lacey said...

Your last post was deleted because you talked about purchasing pirated material from China. We don't condone piracy on the site, and we ask that our users not support it.

At January 11, 2006 2:29 PM, Blogger J.D. said...

They weren't pirated. They're official releases from the Hong Kong market. Sorry for the confusion.

At January 11, 2006 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has Warner Bros. given any indication why it is taking is time with the releases of ER for Region 1, while a show such as The West Wing has been kept much more current it is releases?
What about the status of Joey? Is there any plans or considerations of a Region 1 release?

At January 12, 2006 2:44 PM, Blogger Graeme said...

The other thing that's better on Region 2 is that, with Quantum Leap anyway, the music is retained, ie. on the season 2 boxset for Region 2 there is no badly done cheap elevator music replacing all the period music. I suspect the same would be true of Northern Exposure, though I haven't checked. Suffice it to say, I'm buying Season 3 of Quantum Leap from Britain and not bothering with future seasons in North America.

At January 16, 2006 8:03 PM, Anonymous ern2150 said...

This is perhaps a topic too big to broach in this particular entry, but, how small do you want to keep the TVShowsOnDVD family?
I understand that it is probably *just* manageable right now with the two of you, and you've found a good set of boundaries to keep back the flood of seemingly irrelevant info.
I remember when the site was more user-driven. This was also just around the time you were getting enough professional exposure that some of the user-driven content was more than frowned upon. So clearly that extreme of an open community isn't going to be acceptable.
But I'm wondering if there are plans for expanding the family...if nothing else, the deluge of information coming in can be more quickly filtered, keeping the exact same boundaries. Once that proves itself manageable, perhaps the boundaries can move.
Not as extreme a move as opening the doors to all regions, nor removing the bolt from the bulging castle gates holding back the horde of anime fans. Perhaps something simple like more frequent reviews, or more detailed "altered content."
This is not a criticism of what TVShowsOnDVD is. Again you do an awesome job. I just wondered if you were thinking of expanding it to what it can be.

At January 28, 2006 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Region 2 DVDs with subtitles for american audience ?1? Are you people daft ?

The biggest DVD market in Region 2 is the United Kingdom... the homeland for the english language, I believe.

At January 30, 2006 10:34 AM, Blogger Laura said...

I don't know about R2 being better, but I'm cheesed that Sony/Columbia went ahead and released the last season of Starsky and Hutch in Europe first and left the N.A. release behind. I've sent several emails to Sony with no reply. So I wait and pray.

At April 06, 2006 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I know it's a few months late, but I just started taking a look at the blog pages.

Anyway, I feel obliged to point out that the Region 2 release that prompted this blog entry is not what people think.

It's not Birds of Prey [plural], the WB superheroine series starring Dina Meyer and Ashley Scott, but BIRD OF PREY [singular], a 1982 British series with Richard Griffiths and Nigel Davenport.


At April 20, 2006 1:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Crow: Stairway to Heaven was released on region 2 in Belgium. Japan has had part of the series on DVD for years.
No hints of it on R1 - sigh.

At August 30, 2006 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the tvshowsondvd site for giving the latest tv show dvd show release dates and announcements. I wish there was other region equivalent sites!

Anyone know of any?

I would love to receive updates as new R2/R4 tv show releases are announced instead of searching through and just to see what was added.

I would espcially like to know when a proper widescreen version of a show is being released overseas as the US releases a chopped up 4:3 version.


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