“Coupling” in North America and DVDs

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Technology
October 23rd, 2003 • 5:31 am

With the American version of the hit BBC comedy Coupling apparently tanking after only a couple of episodes have been aired, it’s hardly surprising that US distributors are scrambling to milk the little bit of interest that the series has generated so far. Hence the forthcoming release of the… second season of the English version on DVD in the US.

This, of course, is a painful reminder of the big cultural divide between Europe and North America and how Hollywood has managed to perpetuate it with the intensely irritating region system for DVD titles and players. Just when you thought that the all-digital DVD format would finally eliminate the pain of the incompatibility between PAL/SECAM and NTSC, not only is that particular incompatibility being perpetuated on DVD, but the region system comes on top of it to make it even harder for European expatriates in North American (such as myself) to get access to original European content without relying on utterly unreliable North American distributors.

Never mind that the region system was actually designed to prevent people in Europe from getting to purchase DVD versions of hit American movies before their theatrical release over there. As usual, the real victims of the scheme are people in North America interested in European content.

Fortunately, multi-region DVD players are not that hard to find. Combined with a decent PAL/SECAM-NTSC converter, they give you access to everything — including the complete first three seasons of Coupling. Yes, there have been three seasons already… and North American distributors are only now releasing the second season. If the failure of the US version of Coupling is confirmed, this will probably be all that North American markets will get to see.

This is yet more evidence of the big disconnect between market forces in North America and what’s happening culturally in the rest of the civilized world.

As for the American version of the series, I accidentally saw 10 minutes of one episode, coincidentally the very next day after watching the exact same episode in the original BBC version — it was indeed a rather painful experience.

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