10 March, 2011

DVD Easter egg grumble

There are a few things that have annoyed me about DVDs over the years: region coding, flippers, layer changes placed mid-scene, authoring errors that leave episodes of a series off a disc, more region coding, that time I had to send my DVD player off for an upgrade because it was one of the (many) players that wouldn't let you watch The Matrix… However the thing that has annoyed me most is DVD Easter eggs.

If you don’t know, Easter eggs are bonus content on DVDs that rather than being placed in the “Special Features” menu are hidden on the disc and are accessible by faffing around pushing arrow keys or pressing numbers. Defenders say that they are just small things that provide a bit of fun should you stumble across them, but why not just place them with the rest of the extras?

The worry seems to be that because they are often brief pieces such as a bit of test footage or a interesting interview snippet that couldn't be worked into the main documentary somehow, people would feel ripped off if they were listed as extras on the packaging. Well don't list them. Don't even include a “and more”. Just list the main extras on the sleeve but have everything accessible from the menu. To make things more irritating some hidden extras are actually interesting to watch or are things that would not be hidden on other discs.

Blooper reels are usually fun to watch but for some reason the three Star Wars ones (only available on episode 1, 2 and OT bonus disc) are hidden, requiring you to input “1138” (obligatory THX reference) on one of the menus. The “Ultimate Edition” Terminator 2 DVD (not sure if it's also on the eXtreme DVD - I haven't found it anyway) includes an “Extended Special Edition” as well as the regular Special Edition and theatrical cuts, but again is accessible only by inputting “82997 (8/29/97 = Judgement Day) on one of the menu screens. Why hide it? OK the changes are an extra scene that adds nothing and a different ending that isn't as good, but it's still an interesting alternate version to watch.

There are more examples, but nowadays I generally can't be bothered looking for them. The exception is Doctor Who DVDs as they tend to be in roughly the same spot. However despite pressing in the usual places I couldn't find the egg on the recently released Snakedance DVD (part of the Mara Tales boxset). I was going to give up when I recalled someone saying that they access hidden Who goodies by using the Audio Navigation option. So I tried it and there listed (and spoken) with the other features was “Easter Egg”. I selected it and was treated to a 14 minute conversation between Chris Bailey (writer of both serials in the set) and Rob Shearman, writer of amongst other things ‘Dalek’ (from Season 27/Series 1/the run of episodes that aired in 2005) and the excellent Eighth Doctor audio play ‘The Chimes of Midnight’. It's an interesting, enjoyable piece and I'm baffled that it was decided to hide it. I wonder what other gems are hidden on my various discs…