Dear SyFy: Get Your Packaging Act Together

I recently started watching Battlestar Galactica, as you may have noticed.

I have a thing about television. This thing is that I really prefer watching television in chunks. I especially like it when I can just buy a complete set of a show and tear through it, honestly. I have a hard time keeping up from week to week, and this despite the fact that there are a fair number of shows I watch from week to week and sometimes even write about. But I get a deeper understanding and appreciation when I can watch things all at once.

I should say, more specifically, that this thing is about television I like. Television which I’m indifferent to can be watched week to week and that’s usually fine. This is because television I like is usually very complicated, with layers of story which unpeel over time. Look at Lost, which often has me literally lost from week to week because there’s so much going on that I have trouble tracking. Some things really read better when they are watched in a big chunk, rather than being spun out over months, in my opinion.

This, of course, puts me in peril because I often get spoiled on things because I like to wait. True Blood, for example, I’m waiting on in part because HBO doesn’t release week by week (to those lacking an HBO subscription, even those willing to pay), but I already pretty much know what happens and how it deviates from the books because it’s been covered so exhaustively that it’s hard to miss. Which makes me a bit sad, but there’s not much I can do about it, I suppose.

Anyway, by the time I became aware of the existence of Battlestar Galactica and the fact that I would probably like it, the show was almost done airing. I thought about trying to catch up and watch, but I decided to just wait and buy the series when it was released on DVD, since I suspected that I would like it enough to want to watch it a couple of times, and I have kind of a thing for DVDs. (Not least, this thing is related to DRM on legal downloads; a DVD I can take anywhere, trade, sell, give away, watch in multiple locations.)

So, anyway, I got all set to finally buy Battlestar Galactica on DVD as my sort of year-end present to myself. And I naturally went for the boxed set, because I like boxed sets and they  often have extra goodies. It was, you know, a bit pricey, but I figured that would be worth it.

Until I started reading the reviews. All of which uniformly said that the packaging was absolutely terrible. Clunky, poorly designed, prone to scratching the DVDs, and so forth. Apparently this is a bit of a thing with SyFy, is to have absolutely atrocious packaging. Which made me not want to buy the boxed set, as I am honestly a little bit fussy about packaging. (Oh, who am I kidding, what am I not fussy about?)

So, I went to buy season by season, not because it was cheaper, although it was, but because the packaging seemed more sound. And, you know, if I’m going to spend that much on DVDs, I would like to know that those DVDs will remain in good condition. And this is when I discovered that SyFy also packaged the seasons in a really confusing way. There’s season one. There’s season two. Oh, but no, it’s 2.0. And then there’s 2.5. Then we’re back to three. 4.0. 4.5. And what about all of the associated movies and specials (including the miniseries)? What goes where? What do I need to buy?

I swear to Pete, SyFy made it as confusing as possible to buy season by season. And they packaged the boxed set of the whole series so poorly that I seriously think it’s almost as though they don’t want people to buy the show. Is SyFy really just trying to drive people to download it? Is this the new scheme? Forcing people to download rather than buy DVDs? (Because, if it is, I think a lot of people would be more inclined to download illegal but DRM-free content, honestly.) Here I was, ready and willing to spend money, eager to spend money, in fact, and SyFy was almost deliberately thwarting me.

I ended up buying season by season, after poring through various resources to make sure that I was actually getting everything. I didn’t pick up Caprica or The Plan, and Caprica is of course being developed into a show of its own (because, if you have a successful franchise, why not spin it out?), and so I’d rather wait and see where that goes. All told, I ended up spending about $40 less buying season by season than buying the boxed set, and the only thing I missed out on, so to speak, was a model of a Cylon, which I have to say I wasn’t honestly all that chuffed about anyway, since I don’t really like random objects and clutter and thus see no need to add them to my house. I also ended up with two copies of the miniseries because I didn’t realize it was packaged in season one (since the return date has passed…does anyone want a copy of the miniseries?). While I would have liked a nice neat box rather than seven DVD packs, such was not to be, apparently.

I’ll actually be talking about BSG at some point, never fear, I just had to get my rant about the packaging over with first. Because, seriously, the packaging thing annoyed the frak out of me. Why would a company opt to make the packaging so confusing and poor? Because fans would buy it anyway, so it doesn’t matter? I am all for innovative design, which is I think what they were going with when they designed the series set, but it would be nice if that innovative design was also functional and not just pretty.

One Reply to “Dear SyFy: Get Your Packaging Act Together”

  1. This is what has been putting me off buying the box sets of BSG also. I moved to do so a few weeks ago, then poked around online reviews and held off.

    Companies really need to get their acts together and make legal buying not just possible, but attractive.

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