Northern Exposure Exposed


Northern Exposure fans rejoice! Season 1 is finally released by Universal. Northern Exposure fans lament! Season 1 is stunningly expensive. Amazon doesn't seem to provide a way to link to specific customer reviews, so I'll excerpt. First, my price comparison with other great TV shows:

$5.25 each for Season 1 of Northern Exposure (8 eps.)
$3.82 each for Seasons 1 & 2 of Homicide (13 eps.)
$2.06 each for Season 1 of The West Wing (22 eps.)
$1.87 each for Season 1 of 24 (24 eps.)

Seems pretty clear cut that the show is overpriced. But wait! Many fans have leapt to Universal's defense, saying they are defenders of the One True Show, and that the DVDs are priced so high because they had to acquire expensive music rights. Brian Lopez writes:

NX is a fantastic show. The extras are super. And most importantly the music appears to be intact - please understand how key this is. Other shows I enjoy (though not as much as NX!) such as Felicity, Roswell, etc have all been released to DVD with different/inferior music. It's jarring to see classic scenes with different music (usually sloppily mixed btw). I haven't made it through all 8 episodes yet, but if the music is intact throughout it is well worth the money. I'd gladly pay $10 an episode for NX up through when Joel left.

Appreciate what we have here, folks, and the integrity of the producers to stick by their commitment to deliver the episodes intact (not the re-run butcher edits or with different music). I still need to do some comparisons with my VCR tapes to make sure they didn't use the syndication edits - but I'm betting they didn't. Because they're doing it right.

Sounds reasonable. But Dennis Thomas rebuts:

Can't give it any more stars.....not because of the quality...but the price. I see where someone makes comments that the reason for the high price is the ammount of royalty Universal had to pay for the music rights......this doesn't make sense. A few years ago Universal released a dozen titles on VHS and they didn't overcharge for those because of music royalty. In fact those Northern Exposure titles were all priced in line with any other VHS on the market.

Finally, music rights or not, several reviews have pointed to the shoddy craftsmanship of this release. Mislabelled discs, no insert, stupid zip-up "parka" that you'll probably throw away so the set will fit on your shelf and, most damning:

All of this I can forgive, but be forewarned I have only watched three of the episodes and so far two of them have left off the first establishing 3 minute intro before the credtis. THIS IS UNBELIEVEABLE!!! and anyone who knows the show understands why this is an atrocity. [mrtkiernan]

So what do you think? Is Universal defending the artistic integrity of the show, or just reaming the diehard fans, who they know will pay through the nose for whatever Universal deigns to throw their way?