Tuesday, November 10, 2015

DARK SHADOWS (1991) DVDs restore original aspect ratio

I've lost track of how may times the 1991 DARK SHADOWS "revival" series has been released on home video. For a television series with just 12 episodes (in your face, FIREFLY!) the revival series has proven to be remarkably resilient. Unfortunately, the various DVD collections of the revival have generally been interchangeable, differing only in their packaging.

Apparently, that is not the case with the most recent edition from TGG Direct.

Previous releases (including the version now streaming on Hulu) feature video cropped to fit modern 16:9 television aspect ratios. The TGG edition released a few months ago features the original 4:3 aspect ratio, presenting the series the way it was originally broadcast.

It's a significant issue for some fans, but might not have been a concern for the series' creator, Dan Curtis.

"When the original DVD release of the 1991 DARK SHADOWS revival series was issued in 2005, MGM had teamed briefly with Sony for distribution and a breakdown in communications between the entities resulted in the DVD set not including the deleted scenes that I had assembled for the VHS tape releases in the early 1990s with MPI Home Video," said  Jim Pierson, the spokesman for Dan Curtis Productions (and a writer's assistant and production assistant on the 1991 series).

"When I informed Dan that the DVD release also had converted the series from its proper 4:3 standard definition television aspect ratio as originally broadcast on NBC — and re-aired on the Sci-Fi Channel — he informed me that for the 5 hours he directed - the pilot and episodes 2-4 (before he enlisted others, including Rob "THE X-FILES" Bowman to direct the rest of the series), he actually shot with an eye for widescreen and therefore he was not bothered by the DVD aspect ratio," Pierson said.

The modern 16:9 aspect ratio also made it more appealing to channels like Chiller to broadcast the program, he said.

While the original aspect ratio has been corrected for the 2015 release, the four-disc DVD set continues the habit of omitting bonus material assembled for the show's original 1992 VHS release. The show arrived on home video in a 12-cassette collection, with deleted and extended scenes accompanying the pilot episode. A 13th tape was also included in the collection, featuring bloopers, outtakes and interviews. A few of those features have since found their way to YouTube, but have yet to be included in any of the DVD editions in the U.S.

Another nagging problem with the original digital transfer was also not corrected for the 2015 DVD release of DARK SHADOWS: the color timing of several day-for-night shots in the series.

 "When MGM re-transferred the 1991 episodes for the DVD and digital releases, the mastering technicians did not properly 'color time' the pilot footage that was shot 'day for night'
using filters on the camera," Pierson said. "Therefore this material does not appear as dark as intended so it appears that Barnabas is flirting with dim daylight, unfortunately.

"Hopefully at some point the deleted scenes, particularly from the pilot for which there is approximately 13 minutes of additional material, will appear on DVD, if not BluRay, streaming and download," he said.

Via: Amazon

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