EXCLUSIVE: Malcolm in the Middle Seasons 1-7 Coming to DVD Starting 2012!

BBC2

New member
I've been in touch with Showshank the past few months, and they've informed me that they DID find the original version of Company Picnic, which was too late to include on the Season 3 release, but they assured me that it will be included on the Season 4 release as a bonus feature! Which I'm delighted to hear about, and I'm sure everyone here will be just as happy to hear it :).

Oh great news! :)

Don't suppose anyone knows of site where us people in the UK can import the French release?
 

Richiepiep

Administrator
Well, I know it's been a few months so I apologise for taking my time to get back to you all with the Season 2 screenshots I promised in May. Life's been tough, but I've finally found the disc the episodes were stored on, and I've sent them over to Magic_J who will be adding them to the corresponding photo albums shortly!

Thanks for the post, Mass! Yes, the unedited version of Company Picnic will be released on the French S4 DVD.

I've managed to stitch together your image comparison shots for episode 2x01, and I'm planning to deal with the others in a while:

http://www.malcolminthemiddle.co.uk/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=527

Rich
 
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mass5160

New member
Oh great news! :)

Don't suppose anyone knows of site where us people in the UK can import the French release?

I grab mine from amazon.fr usually. They're very quick when shipping to the UK, I got my Season 3 set less than a week after the release date!

In case anyone hasn't seen yet, there's a listing for Season 4 too here:
http://www.amazon.fr/Malcolm-saison...e=UTF8&qid=1412383428&sr=8-5&keywords=malcolm

And if you look in the features, it confirms that the original "long" version of Company Picnic is included! :D

Richiepiep: Here's the comparisons with the TV screen caps uploaded from episode 01, uploaded by Magic-J:

http://someimage.com/fkVm

As you can see, the FR DVD set more accurately reflects the colours of the TV broadcast, whilst the UK DVD version is darker, and looks slightly warmer.
 

Richiepiep

Administrator
Comparison of aspect ratios on the German releases

Thanks again for the image comparisons, Mass and Magic-J!

It's an interesting and unique feature of the current German releases by Turbine that you can choose between both aspect ratios, 4:3 and 16:9, for all episodes.

They created a promo clip for ths feature on https://www.facebook.com/Malcolm.DVD, which I have also linked below.

It's German-dubbed, as was expected, but it's certainly striking to see the two together in this way. It's tempting to immediately fall for the wide format, unless you get annoyed by some production artefacts like screens and light stands. I noticed two in this particular clip: at the end of Hal's rollerskating routine, you can see a crew member on the left, and during the tracking shot towards the chaos outside of Home Alone 4, there is a lens hood or screen blacking out the left part of the image.

In the description, Turbine added a little disclaimer. When fast-forwarding episodes (or perhaps also, I would add, because of automatic ratio detection or presets on a number of players and TV sets), it cannot be guaranteed that the 4:3 version is always visible.

I wonder if the original editors of MITM ever applied 'pan and scan' in a creative way to crop the image to 4:3, that is if they selected other parts than the exact middle to improve the image composition.

I wonder what y'all make of it?


Rich
 
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mass5160

New member
I think it's excellent that the series is getting a well-deserved release in more and more places, and it seems with each release comes something unique, as you said with this one it's the option to watch the series in either 16:9 or 4:3. I wonder how they'll achieve this though? Are they just going to create some sort of "mask" to cover up the sides, or are they literally putting two separately-encoded versions on their discs?
 

Richiepiep

Administrator
I think it's excellent that the series is getting a well-deserved release in more and more places, and it seems with each release comes something unique, as you said with this one it's the option to watch the series in either 16:9 or 4:3. I wonder how they'll achieve this though? Are they just going to create some sort of "mask" to cover up the sides, or are they literally putting two separately-encoded versions on their discs?

Hi Mass,

Thanks for the reply! Well, I guess it must be a mask, because the German release of S1 has three disks just like the French one, and the older ones for that matter. This mask would work fine, unless the original editors didn't always choose the exact centre, but panned-and-scanned to choose the best part. I checked only a few of the scenes in the German promo clip (Francis Escapes), which indeed showed the smack-dab in the middle part, but I never bothered to compare, say, a whole episode from the old American S1 in 4:3 to the widescreen version. That would require a lot of work!

Pan-and-scan explained - it's also often discussed as part of 'telecine' (from 'television cinema'):



P.S. I couldn't help thinking of the weird concept of 'seeing the middle of Malcolm in the Middle' ;)
 
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BBC2

New member
I grab mine from amazon.fr usually. They're very quick when shipping to the UK, I got my Season 3 set less than a week after the release date!

In case anyone hasn't seen yet, there's a listing for Season 4 too here:
http://www.amazon.fr/Malcolm-saison...e=UTF8&qid=1412383428&sr=8-5&keywords=malcolm

And if you look in the features, it confirms that the original "long" version of Company Picnic is included! :D

Richiepiep: Here's the comparisons with the TV screen caps uploaded from episode 01, uploaded by Magic-J:

http://someimage.com/fkVm

As you can see, the FR DVD set more accurately reflects the colours of the TV broadcast, whilst the UK DVD version is darker, and looks slightly warmer.

Ah that's brilliant, thanks! :D

Thanks again for the image comparisons, Mass and Magic-J!

It's an interesting and unique feature of the current German releases by Turbine that you can choose between both aspect ratios, 4:3 and 16:9, for all episodes.

They created a promo clip for ths feature on https://www.facebook.com/Malcolm.DVD, which I have also linked below.

It's German-dubbed, as was expected, but it's certainly striking to see the two together in this way. It's tempting to immediately fall for the wide format, unless you get annoyed by some production artefacts like screens and light stands. I noticed two in this particular clip: at the end of Hal's rollerskating routine, you can see a crew member on the left, and during the tracking shot towards the chaos outside of Home Alone 4, there is a lens hood or screen blacking out the left part of the image.

In the description, Turbine added a little disclaimer. When fast-forwarding episodes (or perhaps also, I would add, because of automatic ratio detection or presets on a number of players and TV sets), it cannot be guaranteed that the 4:3 version is always visible.

I wonder if the original editors of MITM ever applied 'pan and scan' in a creative way to crop the image to 4:3, that is if they selected other parts than the exact middle to improve the image composition.

I wonder what y'all make of it?


Rich

Now that's interesting! I was about to buy the French release due to the better picture quality over the UK one, but then another region improves over another again! I've been wanting it in 4:3 for so long, as that was the original aspect ratio it was composed in, therefore how it was intended to be seen.

Weren't the later seasons in proper widescreen, as i remember?

I'll wait and see if it has the original English audio as an option and in NTSC format before deciding to purchase.
 

Richiepiep

Administrator
Hi BBC2,

Weren't the later seasons in proper widescreen, as i remember? I'll wait and see if it has the original English audio as an option and in NTSC format before deciding to purchase.

I don't know about the 'proper widescreen'. I just know that on Dutch Comedy Central, all seasons (1-7) were broadcast in 4:3 up to at least 2009. Yes, it has English audio. Details can be found in this post:

http://www.malcolminthemiddle.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?6893-German-DVDs-of-Malcolm-in-the-Middle-%28Malcolm-Mittendrin%29-released-in-October-2014!

I can check the NTSC when I get the German box. As the transfers are supposed to be identical to the French releases, I expect them to be NTSC (59,94 fps).

Rich
 
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Richiepiep

Administrator
It looks like the Germans got the 4:3 middle view right

The German aspect ratio promo clip included one other shot which looked a bit strange to me in cropped 4:3. In the episode Stock Car Races, you see Reese and Malcolm sitting in the crowd with Dewey almost completely cut out, except for his hands. It would have been better to shift the view towards the right, leave the woman on the left out completely, and include Dewey:



But the old US DVD version in 4:3 had exactly the same shot:



This leads me to believe that the old 4:3 view was indeed the middle view by default.

Rich
 
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Richiepiep

Administrator
I'll wait and see if it has the original English audio as an option and in NTSC format before deciding to purchase.

Yes, I got my Season 1-3 box today! It's a very well presented set, with proper credits to the French cover and disc menu design ("mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Showshank Films/The Corporation" - by kind arrangement with etc.).

But geez, the German release is actually PAL (not just because the back cover says so) at 50 fps (interlaced again) and a resolution of 720x576, whereas the British and French releases had 59,94 fps and 720x480.

This made me wonder about possible PAL speed-up of the audio.

But fortunately this hasn't happened. I again took the trumpet solo from the Shame cold open. See the mp3-attachment. First the US version, then the German version (also the English audio track).

By the way, the 4:3 format is indeed a mask. On the disc menu it says "side matted". It works fine as long as you don't mess with the video controls, just like the Germans indicated.

Looks like each release is reinventing the wheel ....

Rich
 

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BBC2

New member
Yes, I got my Season 1-3 box today! It's a very well presented set, with proper credits to the French cover and disc menu design ("mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Showshank Films/The Corporation" - by kind arrangement with etc.).

But geez, the German release is actually PAL (not just because the back cover says so) at 50 fps (interlaced again) and a resolution of 720x576, whereas the British and French releases had 59,94 fps and 720x480.

This made me wonder about possible Pal speed-up of the audio.

But fortunately this hasn't happened. I again took the trumpet solo from the Shame cold open. See the mp3-attachment. First the US version, then the German version (also the English audio track).

By the way, the 4:3 format is indeed a mask. On the disc menu it says "side matted". It works fine as long as you don't mess with the video controls, just like the Germans indicated.

Looks like each release is reinventing the wheel ....

Rich

Thanks for that Rich! Good to hear the audio isn't sped up by PAL. Wonder how they managed that.

One more thing, were the name of the episodes displayed on-screen like other shows and is all the text on-screen in English? I ask this as an American show i imported from Germany had the episode titles in German instead.
 
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mass5160

New member
Richiepiep, This is indeed a surprise that they are included in PAL format for the German release. I wonder though, are the TVPG logos still present as they are on the other releases? Also, it looks like the German release got the original Company Picnic episode first, how does it look? And is it in Widescreen like all the others? :p
 

Richiepiep

Administrator
Thanks for that Rich! Good to hear the audio isn't sped up by PAL. Wonder how they managed that.

Yes, I was wondering about that too! I'm thinking of asking Turbine about PAL and the sound transfers.

One more thing, were the name of the episodes displayed on-screen like other shows and is all the text on-screen in English? I ask this as an American show i imported from Germany had the episode titles in German instead.

The menus are all in German, and only in German. See attachment. However, the inside of each DVD jewel case shows both the German and the English episode titles. And in case you're really desperate :confused:, we've got them all listed here:

Episoden- und Staffelführer (Episode and Season Guide)

Rich

German_DVD_Menu.jpg
 
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Richiepiep

Administrator
Richiepiep, This is indeed a surprise that they are included in PAL format for the German release. I wonder though, are the TVPG logos still present as they are on the other releases? Also, it looks like the German release got the original Company Picnic episode first, how does it look? And is it in Widescreen like all the others? :p
Yes, the same TVPG and Widescreen logos are there. It really looks like all current DVD editions use the same 'TV masters' (or 'second-generation' ones, whatever Fox was willing to release), but treated these differently with regard to resolution, colour grading, brightness and so on.

Company Picnic looks really great in widescreen (apart from the fact that now you can see Francis isn't naked when dragged across the ice at the end ;)) and with all the additional scenes! I wonder how they went about the dubbing of those scenes. Well, at those points they just switch to the English audio and add foreign subtitles - though of course this is of no concern to us English speakers.

By the way, the long version of Company Picnic is a bonus feature here. You have the two split episode versions on the regular menu.

Rich
 
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BBC2

New member
The menus are all in German, and only in German. See attachment. However, the inside of each DVD jewel case shows both the German and the English episode titles.

That's great. So the cast credits playing on the episodes themselves are still in English? Also is all the original music still intact?
 

Richiepiep

Administrator
That's great. So the cast credits playing on the episodes themselves are still in English? Also is all the original music still intact?
Yes, to all intents and purposes these are exactly the British versions - including the written credit sequences - released by Fabulous Films, with 'more natural' colour grading and bonus features by the French Showshank company and the Malcolm France web team.

P.S. It's really ironic, that in a review from last week's German Mittelbayerische Zeitung, they highly praise the DVD release, but complain about the "light reds and weak contrasts in the dark scenes" - which is exactly what Showshank did to correct the reddish hue and dominant dark tones of the American and British releases. So you see, in the end it's all down to the viewer's taste.
 
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mass5160

New member
Yes, the same TVPG and Widescreen logos are there. It really looks like all current DVD editions use the same 'TV masters' (or 'second-generation' ones, whatever Fox was willing to release), but treated these differently with regard to resolution, colour grading, brightness and so on.

Company Picnic looks really great in widescreen (apart from the fact that now you can see Francis isn't naked when dragged across the ice at the end ;)) and with all the additional scenes! I wonder how they went about the dubbing of those scenes. Well, at those points they just switch to the English audio and add foreign subtitles - though of course this is of no concern to us English speakers.

By the way, the long version of Company Picnic is a bonus feature here. You have the two split episode versions on the regular menu.

Rich

RE: The Francis goof, I remember seeing that all the way back in 2003 when that episode first aired on BBC 2. It always confused me as to whether he was supposed to be naked, or whether he was just a drama queen haha. It's also visible on the other widescreen DVDs too. A slightly unrelated (but related) note, FOX have been remastering old catalogue titles such as The X-Files which make use of the widescreen format by sometimes slightly clipping the top and bottom of some shots (opening up the sides at varying amounts) as opposed to opening up the sides completely. Presumably this was also done to hide goofs that may lie within the sides of the full-frame expansion. I imagine that when Malcolm's time comes for a real 1080i restoration, goofs such as these will finally be hidden, albeit with some picture space sacrificed.

But, I'm happy to know that the original true version of Company Picnic will finally be available on DVD at last! I've actually been holding off on my FR DVDs so that when I get to that episode, I can watch the original instead of the 2-part syndicated version.

As for the set being in PAL format, I wonder if the masters are simply up-scales of the NTSC tapes that the UK and FR DVDs are using? It wouldn't surprise me, as you said this could have something to do with what FOX was willing to release, and it sounds like the DVD labels are having to bust their backsides to bring what they are doing to make the consumers happy.
 
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Richiepiep

Administrator
A slightly unrelated (but related) note, FOX have been remastering old catalogue titles such as The X-Files which make use of the widescreen format by sometimes slightly clipping the top and bottom of some shots (opening up the sides at varying amounts) as opposed to opening up the sides completely. Presumably this was also done to hide goofs that may lie within the sides of the full-frame expansion. I imagine that when Malcolm's time comes for a real 1080i restoration, goofs such as these will finally be hidden, albeit with some picture space sacrificed.
That's very interesting information, Mass! But then again, as you say, if you remove obtrusive objects from the sides (unless you remove them by digitally painting them out, which I guess would be far too expensive), you tend to lose part of the top or bottom too. It would effectively be a case, albeit a mild one, of 'tilt-and-scan', the current adaptation, or mutilation, of pre-1950s movies and pre-2000 TV-series, where they force 4:3 images into a widescreen format, which is just as bad as the old pan-and-scan.

Do you think Malcolm would really merit a release in BluRay-standard resolution (1080i), as you mention? After all, we've only got Super 16mm film to work with, and wouldn't it actually look a lot worse if all the fuzziness and grain of the original stock gets exposed? Sounds a bit like The Blair Witch Project on BluRay!

Rich
 

mass5160

New member
That's very interesting information, Mass! But then again, as you say, if you remove obtrusive objects from the sides (unless you remove them by digitally painting them out, which I guess would be far too expensive), you tend to lose part of the top or bottom too. It would effectively be a case, albeit a mild one, of 'tilt-and-scan', the current adaptation, or mutilation, of pre-1950s movies and pre-2000 TV-series, where they force 4:3 images into a widescreen format, which is just as bad as the old pan-and-scan.

Do you think Malcolm would really merit a release in BluRay-standard resolution (1080i), as you mention? After all, we've only got Super 16mm film to work with, and wouldn't it actually look a lot worse if all the fuzziness and grain of the original stock gets exposed? Sounds a bit like The Blair Witch Project on BluRay!

Rich

Cheers for the reply, Richiepiep, it's a good question. There are a few titles such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (a few decades earlier, I know) which actually look better than expected on Blu-Ray, filmed on 16mm. This however, was after a 4K restoration project which, as you mention costs a lot of money. Presumably in this case a "print" was used instead of the original camera negatives, which would affect the presentation somewhat anyway. The condition of the film elements is also crucial to the clarity of a restored presentation.

I can understand that people might not want to see the format changed, it's a shame if they can't offer alternatives as that would needlessly raise the costs even more.

For the record, I believe that Malcolm may have switched from S16 to 35mm during season 2. Some episodes just seem more vivid than others, but that could be for a number of reasons I guess...

I have read in a few places that FOX isn't currently interested in re-releasing old TV shows on Blu-Ray apparently due to poor sales of previous catalogue releases, but I couldn't find an actual credible source for this information. That being said, I personally believe that this will eventually end up as a digital download, say iTunes or something simalar, if it ever is restored in HD.
 
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Richiepiep

Administrator
Hi there Mass,

Thanks again for all the inside information ;).

Ha, there's always more than one side to issues, and lots of exceptions to the rules I guess! But that's what makes life interesting, doesn't it? It's really nice that the distributors took the time to upgrade The X-Files in this way, and I must say I wouldn't be completely averse to vertical cropping, provided that it's not too radical.

Yes, like BBC2 said, some people believe that MITM underwent some film format changes during its run, but I really don't know. I hope we can ask cinematographer Levie Isaacks again some time, preferably in person and on screen, which would make a great later-season DVD bonus! When you look at the production stills in our Behind the Scenes Gallery, like these ones (large versions in our Gallery):


5x09 Dirty Magazine still - Panavision Panaflex 16 camera


6x04 Pearl Harbor still - Panavision Panaflex 16 camera

you see that 16 mm cameras were still being used during the 5th and 6th Season, so I doubt it. Of course, by that time they may have filmed primarily for the widescreen format, and cared less about 4:3 cropping.

Yes, I think it's true that all physical media, be it printed photographs, CDs and DVDs, paper books and magazines, games in boxes, paper maps, postcards etc. are quickly on the way out. CD sales are now less than 20% of what they were at their peak in the year 2000, and after the record shops, all game stores are closing now. Relatively recent BluRay releases can now be bought for about 5 dollars or euros.

So far, the digital medium on its own has never been really profitable, and legal downloads and streaming have not made up for the loss of physical sales, because they're so much cheaper - and have to be, because no physical production and distribution is involved. This also kills a lot of their 'intrinsic' or 'keepsake' value, and completely obliterates any resales, and on top of that, it makes illegal distribution a piece of cake, technically and, I guess, morally.

It's a tough issue, but I can only hope that downloads will appear that are as just as carefully and dare I say lovingly produced as books, CDs and DVDs.

Rich
 
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