Do DVDs come in bad batches?
January 12, 2005 2:42 PM   Subscribe

DVD Troubles: For Christmas I received a DVD box set of an 80's tv miniseries that I loved as a young teenager. The second and third two-sided DVDs showed as "bad" in my DVD player. With much sadness, I packed it up and returned the item to Amazon, requesting an exchange.

Today I received the replacement set. I eagerly popped the second DVD into the DVD player so I could finish my miniseries marathon. But it is yet again showing as "bad." I tried this DVD in two players (one cheap, one midlevel), both with the same result. There are no hairs, scratches, fingerprints, or dust. So what is going on, and what should I do?
posted by xyzzy to Technology (13 answers total)
Try searching the TV show forums at to see if this is a known issue with certain players or perhaps a manufacturing flaw that others are experiencing. If no information exists, try posting there about the specific series to see if anyone else has the same issue.

I had an issue with "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" where it would turn on subtitles (in a random language, no less) as it played past every chapter stop. Turned out it was a known issue the disc had on Sony and Toshiba machines.

As well, try the disc on as many machines as you possibly can (including a DVD drive on a computer); my computer DVD drive was able to play discs that the standalone one rejected.

Good luck!
posted by filmgoerjuan at 3:05 PM on January 12, 2005

I would second trying them in as many players as possible. There are things my DVD-ROM plays that my PS2 won't for whatever reason. I don't know if the computer drive is just more fault-tolerant or if they're just constructed differently, but I find that, in general, the DVD-ROM plays more things than the PS2 does.

I always assumed this was due to the PS2 being a game machine first and a DVD player second. Just to be clear, are you using a game system, or an actual standalone DVD player?
posted by Kosh at 3:32 PM on January 12, 2005

I am using a standalone DVD player. One cheap COBY player and a Panasonic. My parents have a Sony I could try it in.

The weird thing, to me anyway, is that the REST of the DVDs in this set, in both cases, work fine. In the same players.
posted by xyzzy at 3:40 PM on January 12, 2005

I had the same trouble with the box set of "Showgirls" (I like it!) I got a bad copy and brought it back for replacement. The replacement was just as bad. It turns out that every copy my Borders got shipped was bad; I ended up checking them all one by one with the manager. I ended up buying it at another store and it worked just fine. It is embarrassing enough to be buying showgirls in the first place...

The same thing might be what is happening with your set.

If you have tried it on more than one DVD player then just return it. IMHO if it doesn't work on your DVD player and it works on someone else’s, it is still "bad". You bought it with the understanding that it would work on your player, right? Who cares if it works on someone else’s?
posted by phatboy at 3:53 PM on January 12, 2005

That's a good point.

I can't really "return" it per se, because it was a gift. I don't want to exchange it because I want *that* DVD set.

So I wrote an email to Amazon suggesting that they had received a "bad batch" of DVDs from the distributor, and that I would like to try the exchange again, but only with a different lot #.

We'll see what they say.

(I'm not a huge fan of Showgirls, but I count Starship Troopers as one of my top 10 movies of all time.)
posted by xyzzy at 4:28 PM on January 12, 2005

I hope you've read the book xyzzy, its one of my favorite NOVELS of all time.
posted by onalark at 4:37 PM on January 12, 2005

Phatboy brings up an interesting occurrence. I bought the 3rd Season of The Simpsons at Best Buy last year and disc 3 was a "bad" disc that wouldn't play in my Xbox, even if the rest did (I didn't bother testing it elsewhere since that's all I use to watch movies). No scratches, no warping, no dust; nothing. I went back for a replacement and the new set worked fine.

It could just be a glitch in the manufacturing process for that batch of DVDs you own. I'd sell what you have and buy yourself a new set at another retailer, just to exhaust all possibilities.
posted by riffraff at 4:40 PM on January 12, 2005

Agree with riffraff -- I think you've hit a bad batch. If you can't return it, sell it, wait a while, then re-buy.
posted by omnidrew at 8:02 PM on January 12, 2005

The same thing happened to me with one of the Buffy sets. When the second set was bad too, I checked Usenet and found that a bunch of other people had the identical problem. Similar to phatboy, one person discovered that every copy at the local Best Buy was unplayable on the same disk.

If Amazon gives you a hassle, some of the big chain stores (Target?) are willing to do exchanges on anything they stock. At least you'll be able to check for a lot number before leaving.

Quality control is apparently not a big priority for the factories. According to Wired's article on P2P, about 15% of DVDs are defective.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:46 PM on January 12, 2005

I don't know if this is what's happening, but my parents ordered a British DVD set and found it wouldn't play on their home player. Through some research they discovered that discs are formatted differently in Europe, and they had to go out and buy another player that was enabled to translate the format. They also said there was a hack you could do with the remote to play them in some odd mode. Obviously I know very little about this, but if your DVDs are from soil and you have a less tricked-out player, maybe this is your problem.
posted by Miko at 6:45 AM on January 13, 2005

xyzzy, have you tried it in your computer's DVD drive (if it has one)? You might want to try (gulp) ripping the data to your hard drive and then re-burning a new DVD if you have a burner. It's a pretty straight-forward process.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:00 AM on January 13, 2005

Just in case anyone else is interested:

1. Use DVD Decrypter to extract the all the files from the DVD. Select any options to enable Multi Region and disable Macrovision.

2. Open up Nero (or whatever burning software you use) and create a new video DVD compilation. Drag all the files you ripped into the VIDEO_TS directory. Burn at 1x just to make sure. Burn it on DVD-R for greater stand-alone DVD player compatibility.

3. Play it. That's it.

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:07 AM on January 13, 2005

Hella delayed, but what the hey...

Miko, the DVD your parents bought is probably from a different region. I don't know if that applies to xyzzy's case since only the second and third discs were problematic. If he had a set from another region I don't think any of them would have played in the first place.
posted by riffraff at 6:04 PM on January 18, 2005

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