Thursday, January 06, 2005

A DVD A Day?

Many years ago I was an "early adapter" of, the online DVD rental company. I loved the concept of having a large selection of DVDs to choose from, and no due dates or late fees. Just rent what you want, keep it as long as you want (great for listening to the occasional commentary tracks), and swap it in for another one. Considering at the time I lived in New Hampshire and nothing was especially convenient, this was a great move. I had a terrific experience with Netflix, great customer service, and I recommended it to any who asked.

Alas as C got a bit older and more demanding, I found I just didn't have as much time as I once did for watching DVDs and I eventually dropped out at the beginning of baseball season some years back. I found I just wasn't always watching enough flicks to justify the membership. These were Dark Days, as I also was only very rarely getting to an actual movie theater... in fact that still remains a problem to this day although the past year has been better.

Also over this past year, as C has matured more, I've found I've again had much more time for enjoying DVDs. Not only is he more self-sufficient now and happy to entertain himself with his Calvin & Hobbes or Captain Underpants books, and of course his many favorite video games, but he's also now old enough that he enjoys watching movies with me. And not just "kids' movies"... most of his favorite movies are on my list as well, such as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". Needless to say I love watching some of my old favorites with him for the first time and seeing him "get" them.

So finally this December I re-joined Netflix, and it's been a happy reunion. On the one hand, I lost my "grandfathering"... Netflix originally offered four movies out (at your home) at a time for about $15/month. Eventually they lowered that to 3 at a time (and later still they bumped the cost up a tiny bit, it's now about $18/month for three at a time). As an early member I initially still got four at a time at my old cost, but of course I lost that benefit when I quit.

But on the other hand, when I was a member before they only shipped from their base in California... two days away by post. Now they have many shipping centers, including the local one in Worcester, MA just a few miles away. So in the past it would take about 4-5 days round trip to exchange a DVD; now, it's usually less than 48 hours from when I drop a DVD into the mailbox that I have a replacement in hand. So the opportunity is actually there to see more movies in a month now than in the past, depending on how long I keep them.

So far we've done quite well, in the month since I've rejoined we've already gone through about a dozen movies. Most recently I finally saw "Shaun of the Dead", a wonderfully funny British take on the George Romero zombie films of yore that I'd been hoping to see late last summer. (Romero's not affiliated with Shaun in any way.) I suspect I'll eventually buy this one to add to my own collection and I highly recommend it... though with the serious caveat that it is a zombie movie, and while tamer than some it certainly has its share of blood and guts. However, the focus is on the humor, not the horror, and except for a particular gruesome scene near the very end the blood and guts just add to the humor by playing off of the expected cliches. It's funny and smart as well as telling a legitimate zombie story.

Now we'll see if I still have time to watch as many DVDs when the 2005 baseball season starts in 88 days!