Written by TV


This week Boardwalk Empire season one came out on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK this week. So anyone who doesn’t get Sky Atlantic is able to see what the fuss is about.
But I was a little surprised to say the least. Wasn’t it already out? Here’s the thing, Sky Atlantic launched with the series in February last year. The series had originally aired on HBO in the autumn of 2010, but Sky unsurprisingly held it back for their big channel launch.
When the second season aired in the US during the autumn of 2011, Sky Atlantic aired it the same week – a near simultaneous scheduling strategy.
So it’s very odd to discover the only now are we getting the first season. Why’s that?
Well it’s an HBO production and that means that HBO’s UK DVD label has to follow the US release schedule.
In the UK we’re used to seeing a DVD release essentially the Monday after the series has finished. Perhaps you missed some episodes, or you want to rewatch the series.
For big blockbusters like Frozen Planet or Downton Abbey, there’s the Christmas present season to aim for. In general then, DVDs get a swift release for new series (Doctor Who perhaps being the exception to the rule).
In the US, the thinking is that the DVD is less about customers catching up or watching again, but becoming part of the marketing campaign leading into the next season. That tends to mean an August/September bun-fight as series get released. And UK distributors have to follow US release patterns for their imported series.
That still doesn’t really explain why Boardwalk Empire only surfaced some 18 months after the show first aired on television.
I can only think that HBO which invested so much in the series wanted to ensure that they (and therefore, their international partners) got full repeat value of the series before releasing it into the wild.
They don’t seem to be doing the same thing with their other big series – Game of Thrones. That finished on air last summer, and certainly Sky Atlantic has shown it complete on several occassions now. But the DVD/Blu-ray release will again tie into the start of the second season.
At least there are only ten hours of that. Try watching 22 hours of a series in the fortnight between the DVD release and the next season starting!
Still at least we get these series. Pity the fans of Breaking Bad or Friday Night Lights, neither of which series continued to get an airing in the UK after a couple of series, despite production continuing. So UK airing means no UK DVD boxset. And while it’s no skin off my nose to import a set via Amazon for my multi-region DVD player, it’s more complicated for some. And you’d better hope the US distributors made their releases A&B regions if you want to watch in HD.
Which brings me round to Justified. Next week FX in the US kicks off season three. 5 USA has had the first two seasons of this – perhaps my favourite US show. But so far, they’ve not announced plans to buy season three. Indeed worryingly, they’re just beginning a repeat showing of season one. That suggests a minimum 13 week delay before it airs over here, and more likely a 26 week delay since they’d probably follow series one with series two. That’s assuming they buy it at all.
Well let’s make it clear. As a massive Elmore Leonard fan, and someone who’s fallen in love with these characters, I’m not waiting six months. I will look “elsewhere”.
What’s more Elmore Leonard has just written a new book – Raylan – which is published in the UK in a few weeks and is about the main character in this series.
I should also mention that this season feature Carla Gugino as “Karen Goodall” who works as US Attorney. Some may remember her previously playing “Karen Sisco” in a shortlived series (based on the character from the film Out of Sight where the character was played by Jennifer Lopez) also a US Marshall, and an Elmore Leonard character. Some of us remain very hopefull that “Goodall” is in fact “Sisco”. But we shall find out very soon!
Either way now would be the time to show the third season.
Well more fool 5 USA if they miss out.
Oh yes, and while you can buy Justified DVDs in the UK, the distributor didn’t release Blu-rays. So you have to look to the US for those…