Friday, April 10, 2015

Episodes 1-7 of "New Inspector Gadget" Hit Australian iTunes in 1080p HD!

I've felt something of a lack of energy to devote to this blog lately, and so I've been remiss in reporting various news bits I've observed over the past month. Time to try and change that. Especially since this latest thing I just learned is pretty interesting.

As I already mentioned here, the new series got its first-ever DVD release in Australia not too long ago, on April 2. Titled "Inspector Gadget - Season 1, Volume 1" - or alternately "Inspector Gadget 2.0" or "New Inspector Gadget" on various sites - this PAL Region 4 release from Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has been revealed to contain the first 7 half-hour episodes on 1 disc, with a run time of 151 minutes.

What I didn't know when I reported this earlier, though, is that episodes 1-7 have also gotten an Australian iTunes release through that same distribution deal (and on the same date, April 2), under the title New Inspector Gadget, Season 1, Vol. 1! Why is this so interesting? Well, the iTunes store actually offers the episodes in HD - 1080p and 720p - as well as standard definition. Meaning that Australian consumers can now choose between a physical, standard-def DVD edition or both HD and SD versions of the episodes on iTunes. Aside from the 16 half-hours currently available on Netflix in North America, this is the first HD release the new Gadget series has seen, and the first which is not streaming video. Because of that, this iTunes version is probably the best-quality release the series has received so far. 

It's a bit disappointing that Universal is not doing a Blu-ray release, though. What we have here seems to be a standard way of releasing new animated series these days -- both HD and SD on iTunes, but only SD DVD in terms of physical media. I mean, we're in 2015. Are Blu-rays STILL that much more expensive to put out than DVDs, and that much less profitable when it comes to kiddie shows? This series was clearly meant to be seen in HD. At least the iTunes version offers that... but it would be nice to see a collector's edition Blu-ray of all 26 half-hours eventually.

Oh, and one more slight downside. According to Cartoon Central Australia, the tentative release date for "Inspector Gadget 2.0 Season 1 Volume 2" from Universal is June 18. I'm guessing the next Australian iTunes release will also follow the DVD release... so Australian consumers will apparently have to wait a bit for more episodes. According to the Australian Government's classification (how's that for official info?), the Volume 2 release has a run time of 130 minutes, meaning that it will likely contain the 6 next episodes, #8 through #13.

(This makes sense because only the first 13 half-hours - of 26 - were launched on Boomerang worldwide and Germany's Super RTL back when the Gadget reboot initially premiered around the globe during January-March. The last 13 half-hours of Season 1 have been held back, and have only begun to hit airwaves during the last few weeks. Meanwhile, episodes 17-26 are still being held back by Netflix US. But I digress...)

Ideally, I'd say one new half-hour per week would be a better release strategy for iTunes than two months between a new batch of episodes. But hey, at least Australia is offered several decent purchase options already!

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