Why Not HD? The Shield

Fans of top cop show The Shield should note the seventh and final season premieres at the later time of 10.40 tonight on Sky TV’s The Box.

Normally this site doesn’t promote SD content but The Shield rivals The Wire as the best police show ever made and if you don’t have My Sky, you’ll need to manually adjust the recording time.

The Box picked up the explosive drama about LA’s answer to Dirty Harry, starring No Ordinary Family’s Michael Chiklis, from season six after the first five aired on TV2.

Unusually, TVNZ didn’t run out the series, partly because the ratings were so low and partly because it didn’t have an output deal with the distributor.

Initially, Sky was reluctant to screen another’s network’s leftovers from midway through its run.

“But we decided that it was such a good show, and so many people had asked about it, we’d give it a crack,” Sky’s head of general entertainment and Prime, Karen Bieleski, says.

However, even on a basic pay channel where ratings aren’t as important as free-to-air, The Shield has failed to shine, hence its demotion, from 8.30pm Sundays to 10.40pm (it’s being replaced with season two eps of CSI: Miami, a show which can be seen to better effect, in HD, on TV3).

Says Bieleski: “The Box as a channel has audience expectations it needs to live up to, as any channel, pay or free, does, and we regularly adjust our schedule depending on audience response.”

Frustratingly, Sky’s last-minute decision to license The Shield has delayed the NZ DVD release of season seven.

It was meant to go on sale in November, 18 months after it came out in the US, but now don’t expect it to until mid-year.

If you can’t wait until then, from this week the Australian release is being discounted 50% to $A24.95 while the UK version can be bought for £11 from Amazon.co.uk.

Don’t hold out hope for a Blu-ray release. TV Shows on DVD quotes creator Shawn Ryan as saying the studio believes the film stock the series was shot on is “of insufficient quality to put out on Blu-ray”.

While TV Shows on DVD acknowledges this makes sense, Blu-ray.com argues otherwise, pointing out: “firstly, 16mm-sourced BDs exist already, both for movies and TV series; and secondly, many users and reviewers consider its picture more than deserving for high-definition”.

The original posting has since added Generation Kill to the list of 16mm content out on Blu-ray.

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4 Responses to “Why Not HD? The Shield”

  1. I’m so sick of the TV networks holding up Blu-ray/DVD releases. If TV2 decides that Fringe is not rating well enough and stops broadcast halfway through a season, only to bring it back late at night, months later with no promotion (I’ve got friends missing the new screening, unaware it was on), why should this hold-up the Blu-ray/DVD release? Fringe is not making them any money, otherwise they’d be promoting and screening it. They piss off the fans, who end up sourcing their Fringe fix elsewhere – either torrents or buying it from overseas; this impacts on local retailers who then can’t sell the show when it finally does get released – the irony must sting for those retailers that advertise they sell DVDs on the networks that screw them over. And I can see no justification for a pay-tv operator to hold up a Blu-ray/DVD release. I don’t have Sky – I’d rather use my money to buy the shows I want in top quality than use it to pay monthly access fees for a whole bunch of dross; who the hell are they to hold up the physical media release so long after its US release! There needs to be a time limit – if the networks don’t screen a show within a reasonable timeframe, then the Blu-ray/DVD should get to be released regardless.

    Rant over, for now 😉

    Any news on if/when Deadwood on Blu-ray might be coming to New Zealand?

  2. I wouldn’t say so much a rant as a considered and accurate assessment. I keeping asking Universal, which distributes Paramount product, about Deadwood on Blu-ray but so far no word on a NZ release (the US release is from HBO and region-locked). It will be worth the wait to see not only Al and the gang in 1080p but also all the extras, plus a new swag, that weren’t included on the local DVD releases.

  3. Still, time delays aside, we are at least better off than the States. I’m just getting into the show – am partway through the second season. The local DVDs are in widescreen, where most seasons in the US are in 4:3 (the only way to get them in windescreen is in the complete series box).

    That said, I absolutely disagree with the rationale for no Blu-Ray release. For one, the show is shot with an incredibly grainy style that does create artifacts when the DVD is blown up, even just to my 46″ screen. High-definition would at least limit that problem. Sure, it’s not going to be as good as something shot in 35mm, or even 70mm, but I understand the level of detail captured in a 16mm print is about equivalent to the 1080 lines of resolution that we’re watching in high-definition. It’s not like the show was shot on video, where there would be no point in the upconversion.

    In any case, Sony has clearly considered the idea and rejected it, and I don’t see that changing in the near future. So I’ll just enjoy the DVDs.

    Wiseacre – I think there is some time limit where discs can be released even if they haven’t screened, but it’s quite long, so we rarely encounter it. The one example I can think of is that TVNZ delayed showing Alias so long that at least one, maybe even two seasons were available before they aired. (I remember missing one episode, so rented the discs to catch up.)

  4. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment distributed the first five seasons in the US and used 4:3 transfers; elsewhere in the world, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment held the broadcast and home ent rights, and opted for 16:9 transfers. Sony now owns the rights for all seasons worldwide and NZ appears to be the last PAL territory in which season seven will be released.

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