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Laserdiscs Rule – You Suck

July 12, 2011

The following episode of Laserdicks Reviews was an attempt to see if Roger Ebert’s Movie Answer Man articles had a place on our show. Considering that we never used the Answerdicks moniker again, I guess not. However, it did allow us to explain to the ignorant what the laserdisc video format is!

Original Laserdicks Review:

However, the important thing to understand is not what it is or how it works, but rather why it’s better than all of those other lousy formats…and, indeed, better than the people who watch any of those other formats. I tried to reach Tom Holman at USC for his comments on the subject, but he is sadly too busy with some obnoxious summer school students at the moment to film a response. (I know the feeling.) He simply notes, “Laserdiscs rule. You suck.”

As the creator of THX, he would know, but let me elaborate. You see, the laserdisc format has been around since the 1970s, much like Betamax. And, much like Betamax, it really should have won the home video format war of the 1980s. As we all know, the porn industry backed VHS, so the two superior analog formats lost. However, while Betamax seemed to fall into obscurity, laserdisc stayed around long enough to become the most important format ever released before being dumped like an ugly prom date for the pixelated promises of DVD.

However, while one can make the argument that Blu-Ray offers vastly superior video and sound compared to laserdisc, even replicating the resolution of film far more accurately than any format before it, one would have a more difficult time saying that Blu-Ray holds as much historical significance. Honestly, it just rode on the success of DVD, regardless of how much better in every single way possible that it is over that overrated format. So, let’s consider ten reasons why laserdiscs are so great, lest all of this come off as silly, unfounded boasting.

  1. It had the greatest video and audio quality of any analog format. Sorry, Betamax, but you’re still #2. (I still love ya, though.)
  2. Unlike the magnetic tape formats, it offered multiple audio channels and chapter selections–decades before DVD did!
  3. It provided multiple-language subtitles that came from the disc rather than those ugly TV closed captioning text blocks.
  4. The audio channels allowed for the introduction of audio commentaries, the most awesome special feature ever conceived.
  5. It catered to film buffs and thus often offered letterboxed widescreen presentations and behind-the-scenes documentaries.
  6. It introduced The Criterion Collection, a company that releases many significant motion pictures from across the world.
  7. The chapter selection feature allowed for the creation of laserdisc arcade video games such as Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair.
  8. It provided LP album-sized cover art on the cases that often featured behind-the-scenes photographs and production notes.
  9. The discs were less susceptible to damage if dropped than either magnetic tape formats or DVD (Blu-Ray beats it, though).
  10. Many of the special features offered on this format were recycled for subsequent DVD releases (and many are LD-exclusive!).
Lazy people will whine about the multiple-side issue (which isn’t much of a problem if you have an LD player that can read both sides, you cheap bums), uptight people will carp about the difficulty of storing discs the size of LP albums (which makes me wonder how they survived before the arrival of 8-track tapes), and young people will say that I’m just stuck in the past (which makes me want to take my belt to them for their obstinance), but all of the cool kids in the room will understand why laserdiscs are still the format of choice for collectors. Okay, Blu-Ray has its place, too, but only as a successor to the lauded laserdisc legacy!

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