Like most MST3K fans, who still haven’t come to terms with the fact that their favorite TV show ended 15 years ago, I love RiffTrax. While I can’t turn on the TV and see a new episode, I can at least download a movie or a short featuring the same talent. So imagine my glee when RiffTrax decided to take on all 15 chapters of the 1949 Batman serial. Yes, even before Adam West was Batman, there was Robert Lowery in the cape and cowl (and truth be told, Lewis Wilson played the part prior to Lowery). This serial has always been one of my favorite live-action iterations of Batman.
So I was excited to see RiffTrax tackle it, and the preview looked really promising. However, I held off on buying the shorts, because for something I’d enjoy that much, I’d love to have it on an actual DVD. I waited patiently for them to finish the whole series, and then longer for them to release a disc. Then I decided to just ask if a disc was in the works.
That’s a little distressing. Look, I know I can buy movies as downloads and streaming, but I don’t consider it to be as good. Not only does the bitrate tend to be reduced, but when I have a physical disc, I don’t have to worry about my hard drive failing or losing the rights to play the movie because of a DRM issue. In addition, I can make my own digital file from a disc, so by purchasing a disc, I get the best of both worlds. By pushing us toward downloads and streaming only, I think content providers are ultimately going to be giving us less for more money.
This isn’t intended to pick on RiffTrax in particular, who are in fact releasing a DVD of the Batman shorts. There are FAR worse offenders when it comes to trying to force consumers to adopt streaming as a standard. And, to be honest, many consumers don’t need to be forced and are happy to give up discs for good. I just don’t see a world without physical media as a total win. If you saw my movie collection, you’d know why. I have tons of obscure movies and TV shows, which might have been worth printing in a small run, but would never be worth keeping as content in a streaming service (it costs money to run servers, and to maintain distribution rights). Why should I make my ability to watch something dependent on someone else’s ability to renew a contract? With a movie on physical media, that’s never a concern.
So thank you, RiffTrax, for providing both options. I’ll think of you the next time Netflix irritates a bunch of subscribers by dropping a popular show.