Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Watching British TV

I talk a lot about watching British television shows, but I never really explain how I do it. Trust me, I do it legal! I spend a fortune it seems on Amazon UK! I have an all region DVD player (a couple, in fact, but one isn't very good).

In case you don't know about region codes, I gotta give you a little education first. Different countries have different region codes for DVD's. There are technically 9 region codes for DVD's and then there is 0, which is all region. The US and Canada uses code 1, 2 is Europe, 3 is Asia, 4 is Mexico and South America, etc, etc. Ever bought a DVD outside the country that wouldn't play on your DVD player when you got it home? Region codes are why. An all-region DVD player uses the 0 code (which plays all 1-9). I bought my player from Amazon US for about $30. It's a Philips (but it now lists for about $70 for some reason, but every now and again Woot has it for $30).

One other caveat I forgot to mention, there are two main kinds of tv's as well, NTSC and PAL's, we use NTSC and the British use PAL's, so make sure to not only get a DVD player that plays all regions, but that all says specifically NTSC/PAL compatible. This is important. It must be able to transfer the signal to back and forth from PAL to NTSC so your American NTSC can read the PAL disc!

You can buy some British shows on Amazon US that have been transferred to region code 1 and remarketed to American audiences. Ever notice how a British show costs way more than an American show? For example, when they first started marketing MI-5 for America, I paid $100 per season for it! Spooks on Amazon UK is about 10.00 per series. Buy it in it's original region code 2 format and it's practically nothing! Most television series range from 4.99 (about $7.50) to 20.99 (about $32 right now). Imagine buying a full season of an American show for that!

Buying from Amazon UK has opened up a whole new world of television that was never available to me before! Granted, I still buy my MI-5's from Amazon US just because I started them as MI-5's instead of Spooks and since we are in series 9 now, it's too late to switch over. Dalziel and Pascoe is another show I buy on Amazon US because it's not available on Amazon UK anymore. I do buy my Doctor Who's on Amazon US as well, but anyone who's bought those know how expensive they are!

But, at the same time, shows that are popular on both coasts, like Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Lark Rise To Candleford, Cranford, etc, are expensive in both Amazon US and Amazon UK.

And there are catches. Living in America, you can only buy directly from Amazon UK or merchants that are based in the US. You can't download anything at all. Shipping is cheap, but depending on the terror threat level, you may have it in a week, you may have it in six weeks (but that is US customs fault, not Royal Airmail's - US Customs has to let it sit in storage for 30 days to make sure it isn't going to explode before they can ship it on). Weather is also a factor. Because of the east coast hurricane a few weeks ago, it delayed all Royal Airmail shipments, which apparently get set aside to make way for the new shipments when the scare is over. They slowly add the older shipments in with the new until the overflow is caught up...again, US Customs polices apparently. Plus, because of the burning of the Sony distribution center in London, a lot of things on my wishlist are now delayed 1-2 months, some 2-4. These things you have to take into consideration, but the Royal Airmail website does keep you updated to all it's current threat levels and customs issues, so you can always check it.

I've been giving reviews of the current series I've been watching (Midsomer Murders), but I think I'm also going to start giving reviews of other series I've watched in the past that you've probably never heard of but that are absolutely fantastic as well!


Kate said...

I have to ask - do you like Hustle? I am currently working my way through the boxset.

Joysze said...

We watch them on Netflix.... although, I'm PO'ed with them at the moment. As soon as we get something with Amazon Unbox capability, we're going to check that out too since we have free access from their Prime membership.

keebles said...

Kate - I have never watched Hustle (another show that has an American counterpart BTW), my only real John Simm experience has been with either Doctor Who or Mad Dogs (another Max Beesley show). I never really thought I'd like it, but let me know what you think though and I'll give it a shot!

keebles said...

Joysze - I also had a bad experience with Netflix, many moons ago when they first started, I was one of their first customers. I was apparently sending their discs back too quickly (I have a voracious movie appetite) and all of a sudden the discs started getting "lost" in the mail and they started blaming me and everytime putting my membership on suspension for 30 days. I eventually got sick of it and cancelled. It was making me physically sick because I knew I was mailing them back. Apparently it was happening to a lot of customers at the time. It was their way of keeping you from getting too many discs per month. I never tried it again.

I also have Amazon Prime, but it doesn't work for Amazon UK and you can't download from UK (the one thing that really bothers me about the whole thing - I pay for Prime, it should work for Amazons across the world, not just for US), but c'est la vie!

Kate said...

Hustle is really good (UK version) as I never even knew there was an american version. I might have to look it up and see how it compares. Oddly enough, last night I watched a show I recorded on Monday night and there was an advert - apparently the new series of Spooks started on Monday!

keebles said...

Come to think of it, I don't think John Simm is on that show is he? One of the Glenisters is. But yes, there was an American version and I believe it failed miserably (as do most American remakes...a fact which I do kind of find a bit funny I hate to admit).

For some stupid reason, the powers that be at the Beebs decided to put the final season of Spooks up against Downton Abbey! Have they lost their marbles! Ugh! I did notice that its set for its DVD release I think 11-28? I wonder when the American version will be out. I wish I would have gotten all those in British format instead of American.