A New Air Crash Investigation Video Release?!
This’ll take me a bit to get to the actual news. First, I need to rant.
OK, to whomever at Cineflix Productions or National Geographic Channel that might somehow see this. I’m a huge fan of the documentary series Air Crash Investigations, or Mayday!, or Air Emergency, or any of the other number of names the show has aired under. I’m a constant TV watcher, and am and have been a huge fan of a great many shows. But let me tell you, the airing and organization of this series has frustrated me far beyond any other show has ever managed.
As much as I love NatGeo for a lot of their great programming, whoever is in charge of scheduling and series production over there is a deranged lunatic in need of a straight jacket. I picture that person as some kind of ADHD-afflicted, wild-eyed, unkempt person constantly looking around in various directions, exclaiming “squirrel!” every 1.5 minutes. Countless episodes run under heaven knows how many episode names and as part of an unknown number of different series groupings. As a fan of any given series, it takes an ENORMOUS amount of research and effort to even know which episodes I have seen and which I have missed. No other network has ever made it more challenging to be an avid viewer.
But NatGeo’s part of the Air Crash Investigation puzzle is only part of the problem. Cineflix REALLY needs to give better episode info to the networks running the show, because every one I’ve seen reports episodes in all manner of “season” configurations. Fans have, for the most part, ironed out the episode and season order and grouping (through endless research, comparisons and arguments). The more us fans figure out, the more NatGeo and other related networks seem to decide to screw with us in how they air/list the episodes. Said networks may air it whenever the frak they feel like, under a dozen different names at utterly random and bizarre frequency, but then we have the video releases. I sit here utterly befuddled by how this show is (barely) released to video. I would (and do) buy every single scrap of material they release to disc, in whatever the highest quality possible may be. But again, trying to do so is a heck of a challenge.
Season 1 of the show was released to DVD back in mid 2009 by E1 Entertainment in the USA, under the name “Mayday: Air Disasters” (because of course, that combination of titles is one the series had actually NOT previously used in any region or incarnation!). Never mind the fact that it says nothing about being a “season 1″ of anything, or in any way indicates to buyers that there is more of the series in existence. And here’s the kicker – it’s a very nice DVD set. Video is anamorphic. Episodes are actually LONGER than their aired version (by about 5-6 minutes each). Overall, an excellent little release – were anyone to actually know it exists, of course. Only die hard fans like me could connect enough dots to find this great, but obscurely released DVD set. I have a review on the Amazon product page, btw.
THEN came the season 7 DVD release later in 2010. In which country was this released, you might ask? Australia, of course. So far, not breaking the shows history of utter inconsistency. This one, at least, was not only released under it’s most well known name, “Air Crash Investigation,” but also indicated what season it was. Again, a good quality release. If you’re capable of PAL format playback (which I am), it’s another good release.
I troll Amazon and the likes every few weeks for any possibility of a new release for the series. Lo and behold, I discovered not just a new listing, but two of them – of a large number of episodes this time. But of course, as I do a little digging, I get more and more confused. Let’s start with Amazon’s listings. We have a DVD listing of “Mayday!-Season 3 and 4″ for $36. The picture shows what looks like a multi-pack box that folds out, etc. OK, so far so good. 10 discs listed at 1155 minutes, due out on April 3. That tracks. But what’s this? I see an alternate listing with Blu-Ray packaging? AWESOME! Season 3 was when it was first produced for HD quality, so that makes sense. But then, confusion sets in. This one shows a March 27 release date, only 654 minutes runtime on 3 discs at only $16. It doesn’t list the episodes, so who knows how many it has, even though it also says it is seasons 3 and 4. And the kicker? It says the format is DVD, in more than one place. Surely they didn’t fake the package art. What the heck is going on here?
So, let’s do some more research then, shall we? We get a listing like this that reveals the UPC code. We go down that rabbit hole to find listings like this one. It not only specifically states it as blu-ray and has the same UPC, but lists the same confusing 3 discs and 654 minutes, which is absolutely impossible given that this one specifically lists the 23 episodes (which is, btw, an accurate count of season 3 & 4′s episodes). But of course, this listing shows the photo that corresponds to the OTHER listing that Amazon has, for the 10 DVD gatefold set. And the real kicker? It lists it as having MONO audio, which absolutely MUST be a mistake. There are a number of other listings I’ve found with various pieces of contradictory specs and odd combinations of cover art. They all list it as being released by Madacy, and their site is one of the most useless sites out there for any actual information about anything. I’ve actually got no idea what to expect from this release. I’d be thrilled if this is really both seasons 3 & 4 on blu-ray with all 23 episodes in high def. I have my doubts, primarily because of the lower price at all the sites that list it (price is one of the few things they all seem to agree upon).
Frankly, I’m going to try to take advantage of the situation. I’ve pre-ordered the one on Amazon for $16 that has the blu-ray packaging in the photo, despite it listing it as DVD format. I can always cancel it before the release date, and I’ll be locked into this price if they do end up adjusting it up once they figure out what the frak they are actually selling.
UPDATE: Good grief. So Walmart lists it at only $12. They only refer to it as blu-ray, never calling it a DVD. They do, of course, stupidly list it as mono as well. It does also list all 23 episodes, but yet only the goofy 654 minutes. I give up figuring this out. I’ll just hope for the best on my pre-order.