The Bionic Woman: Season 2 audio defect

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by MattHR, May 17, 2011.

  1. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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  2. MattHR

    MattHR Screenwriter

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    After reading Universal's statement this evening, I decided to make a trip back to Best Buy--with Disc #4 from the set in-hand. I also brought print-outs of two internet reviews (DVD Talk and Home Theater Forum) and Universal's official response (from TV Shows on DVD). When I got to the store, I asked to speak to the manager on duty. I told him about the situation, and asked if I could show him the most obvious defect ("Deadly Ringer-Part I") and the print-outs. After viewing it, he agreed that it was absolutely incomprehensible how Uni allowed something like this to make it to retail. He said BB hates it when they have to deal with all the complaints and returns over matters like this. He said he'd contact their corporate office in the morning to make sure they were aware of the problem. His personal opinion was to pull the stock from the shelves to prevent other customers from purchasing known defective product. He laughed at Uni's response that future stock would have some sort of notation about being "the best source material available and cannot be corrected". He suggested it'd be better if it said, "This DVD set was produced by lazy people who don't give a s**t and is full of defects. Give us your cash anyway and shut up. Have a nice day."

    I also have a good friend who works for Target corporate in their customer relations department. I called him tonight (he also likes Bionic Woman, but is an even bigger Wonder Woman fan). He told me to call him at work tomorrow so he could register the matter as an "official" complaint. He said he'd also contact the proper personnel in the video purchasing department to make sure they are aware. He said Target would most likely pull the product, since the nature of the defects (and Uni's response) don't adhere to their policies.

    Sorry Uni, but you're not gonna get off that easy on this one.
     
  3. Hank E

    Hank E Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm really shocked by all these "count me out / no sale" posts. Yes, the audio problem sucks, but don't let that negate all the good things about this set: The episodes are uncut. The video quality is really amazing, the best it's ever looked (close-ups are amazingly sharp and detailed). The extras are few, but they're great. And the audio problem is not on every episode.


    I'm a huge fan of this series, it would take a lot to keep me from buying it, and this audio glitch thing ain't it! I've watched a few of the episodes affected (Kill Oscar, Doomsday if Tomorrow) and while it is noticeable, it doesn't seem as bad to me as other people have made it seem. The dialogue is understandable.


    I'm not defending Universal: I have the region 2 sets so I know the problem could have been eliminated. But look at it this way: it's a few minutes of inconvenience on just a handful of episodes... then you've got the rest of the set to enjoy, remastered and glitch free!
     
  4. Adam Gregorich

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    Matt, I understand you aren't happy with the audio quality, but getting retailers to pull the product when Universal isn't going to recall them is pretty much putting a nail in the coffin of season 3.
     
  5. Joseph Burns

    Joseph Burns Stunt Coordinator

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    After a certain point even loyalty to the shows has to abide certain basic standards.


    Universal is disdaining available audio to patch these problems, and it's well known among the fans due to the long reliance on R2 and other foreign releases in the years preceding. The set is not priced as a discount set. They are taking a discount route with production values. If this was a $14 set, you get what you pay for, but if they put it on the premium shelf, flying in a few audio patches from alternate masters, particularly for an episode that garnered an Emmy, is the level of investment the consumer expects has been made at this price point. I imagine the price situation will shift perforce soon, if only from the number of returns.


    I recognize that we are facing an unpleasant set of outcomes here. I nonetheless thank Matt for his yeoman's work in moving matters here. Passivity in the face of such affront can't be the only option.
     
  6. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    I'd be willing to bet that the master tapes for US syndication probably don't have the audio problems, either. If that's the case, they wouldn't even have had to slow down the PAL masters, just match the audio from the syndication copies up with the remastered picture.


    True, in theory, it's always best to go back to the original separate sound elements, but when the materials have degraded so much, it would have yielded better results to simply lift the mono audio from the syndication copies.


    Using audio from a different source to the pictures isn't new. The Doctor Who Restoration Team have done it as recently as Terror of the Autons (they used audio from two different off-air VHS recordings--switching between them where necessary--from the '70s because it sounded better than the audio on the 16mm telerecording).


    It probably would have been less expensive and time consuming for Universal to have used the audio from the syndication tapes rather than tracking down all the original sound elements anyway. I'm sure they started out with good intentions, but surely whoever was mixing the audio back in would have noticed the problems. At that stage, someone should have said something and explored alternatives rather than just slapping on the poor-quality audio anyway.


    I wonder if this set would have been this bad if Time-Life had done it?
     
  7. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    The same problem exists on the Time/Life set, as two of the episodes with the problem are the same copies from that set: "The Return of Bigfoot pt 2" and "Kill Oscar pt 1".
     
  8. kingfish

    kingfish Screenwriter

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    why universal would want to market shows this way is beyond me. i own the original battlestar galactica 1978 series that came in a huge cylon collectable head. the show was pricy for a one season run and the discs are bad imho. they either break and are gold coated on one side i.e. they either don't play over time or they play but with pixilation issues that were not there in the first place.
     
  9. MaxMc

    MaxMc Auditioning

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    I very much doubt it. Look at all the trouble they went to to find the Six Mill copy of Welcome Home, Jaime (which didn't end up existing). I'm so bummed that Time-Life didn't release both series in one big bionic set. For the poster above who said the voices can be made out on those few audio-defective episodes, I respectfully disagree for Deadly Ringer. and as mentioned, considering it's the episode that Wagner won the Emmy for. I never understand it when people just say "don't complain or we won't get future releases." Universal knows how popular this series is. The complaining hopefully will lead to better audio for season 3.
     
  10. Joseph Burns

    Joseph Burns Stunt Coordinator

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    I am unhappy about the above problems, and we made this clear at that time. Time-Life claims to have rejected some masters on the basis of quality during the process, and no elements in the SMDM sets have scenes with dialog that is impossible to decipher without closed captioning (one fan actually recieved this suggestion as a "resolution"- closed captioning? That's the solution?). So I would say that while both sets have quality problems (TBW doesn't have SMDM picture quality problems), but the "Deadly Ringer" problem is a bigger deal. After a certain point you don't really have a copy of the episode if you can't follow along. "Oh, I'm sorry, did you want wheels with your car?"


    At any rate, it is a soluble problem, with the necessary ingredients available for the fix.
     
  11. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Just now, I popped in my disc so I could actually hear this audio problem for myself for the first time. I knew it had to be bad going in but never did I dream it would be as bad as it actually was when I heard it (or rather didn't hear it).


    No one should release an end product with this kind of problem. Period, case closed.
     
  12. JohnMor

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    I would agree if this really was a case of "this is the best we can do with the materials." But since Region 2 has great audio as well as video, this is not excusable. Region 1 deserves to have the same high quality as Region 2.


    Also, have you watched "Deadly Ringer, Part I" yet? That is the one that needs to be fixed and replaced, far more than the others you mentioned.
     
  13. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    Agreed. Thanks Matt!
     
  14. MattHR

    MattHR Screenwriter

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    I don't want anyone to think I'm being unreasonable or "picking on" Universal over this matter. I honestly believe they released a sub-standard product, far below the quality of their usual output. Ever since I was young, I have been a huge fan of Universal productions, especially their TV shows. In my collection, here are some Uni titles for which I own every available set (off the top of my head without actually checking the shelves): The Bionic Woman (original and remake), Six Million Dollar Man, Incredible Hulk, Magnum P.I., Rockford Files, Columbo, A-Team, Knight Rider, Las Vegas, Battlestar Galactica (original and remake on Blu-ray), Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Trial By Jury, Amazing Stories, Night Gallery, Kolchak, Monk, Sequest DSV, Munsters, Airwolf, Quincy, Warehouse 13, Miami Vice, Saturday Night Live, and several U.K. import editions that were/are unavailable in R1. That list alone comprises about 100 season sets, and I know I have more. So, I can't be accused of not supporting Universal. So far, I have been extremely pleased with the selection and quality of Universal's releases over the years. That's what makes the problems with Bionic Woman: Season 2—and Uni's response to the matter—such a difficult pill to swallow (although I'm hoping it's one pill I'll be yacking up soon enough!)
     
  15. kingfish

    kingfish Screenwriter

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    i also own a number of universal tv series on dvd



    magnum p.i.-the entire series

    miami vice-the entire series

    black sheep squadron- universal still did not finish it.

    the a team-entire series.

    battlestar galactica the complete epic series.

    airwolf season one.
     
  16. derosa

    derosa Supporting Actor

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    Count me among those who don't believe there really is an excuse for audio short comings like this, it isn't rocket surgery.

    Dub in some better copy of the dialogue from a VHS tape if they had to, can't the average 16 year old do that with their Mac?

    They could have fixed the dialogue so that it is audible, then there is no issue. If the dialogue can't be heard, it kinda impacts

    your ability to watch the show doesn't it?
     
  17. Brian Himes

    Brian Himes Screenwriter

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    I got around to checking out my set and the audio on Deadly Ringer is awful. I too, will be keeping my Region 2 set. Sadly, I listed The Six Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman and Rich Man Poor Man Region 2 sets on Amazon and before I could remove Bionic Woman Season 2 from my listings, it sold. I had to cancel the order. I feel bad for the person who wanted to buy the set, but I want a good complete copy of these episodes. I was hoping Universal was going to do something to fix the issue but they aren't.
     
  18. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    Based on everything I've read here over the last couple of days I went ahead and ordered the R2 Bionic Woman set from Amazon UK. It was only $21 and change - and that included shipping here to the States! I've been on a very tight budget but I found a way to make that one work. It was too good a price to pass up.


    Gary "Universal U.S.A. lost a sale today" O.
     
  19. derosa

    derosa Supporting Actor

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    Any chance that someone will post a proper copy as an .mp3 somewhere on-line of the audio of the first 10 minutes for Deadly Ringer?
     
  20. MattHR

    MattHR Screenwriter

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    A friend who moderates the Yahoo bionicfans group is doing just that. It'll probably just be an A/B comparison covering the minute or two leading up to the point where the normal audio kicks in (at 9:33 on the R1 version). I'll post a link when he has it ready. I think most people will find it to be worse than they expected, assuming some of us were being too critical.
     

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