There’s nothing “oh, wow”-ish about Criterion’s Broadcast News Bluray (1.25), and that’s perfectly fine. It makes James L. Brooks‘ 1987 classic look like it did in the best L.A. or N.Y. screening room prior to opening, or like a sharply focused, slightly grainy, scratch-free print. Needless to say it’s a far better rendering than the 1999 Fox Home Video DVD.
There’s just one problem. The effing firmware on my Sony Bluray player hasn’t been updated since I bought the damn thing in the fall of ’08, and so I can’t watch the Broadcast News Bluray at home. The Criterion public relations guy just told me about the firmware issue. So it’s not a Criterion problem. It’s me — a Jeffrey Wells-isn’t-smart-enough-to-figure-out-how-to-download-firmware thing.
I’ve received two Broadcast News Blurays from the Criterion guy, and both denied me access beyond the opening menu. No feature, no extras, no nothing. But when I popped one of the discs into a friend’s just-purchased Sony Bluray player, the feature and the extras came right on.
My Bluray player plays everything else, mind. Every damn Bluray and DVD that I own. Except for two others, that is. Blurays of Terminator 2 and John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 that I’ve bought within the last six months also won’t play.
I have to admit I’m a little ticked off. When I bought the Bluray player two years ago the salesman didn’t say, “Now, don’t be alarmed but there’s a chance that a couple of years down the road certain Blurays won’t play unless you have the latest firmware update.” If he had I would have said, “Bluray players have wifi capabilities? They can go online and download stuff? News to me.”
Here it is two years later and it’s still an exotic concept. This is where my dumb-guy orientation really kicks in. I have great wifi in my apartment, but I’m not aware of any Bluray player having the capability to download diddly squat. Bluray manufacturer whippersnappers! I guess “update the firmware” is a euphemism for “guess who needs to shell out $150 for a new player?”