Daily Blog – John E. Johnson, Jr. – March 24, 2008: HIGH DEFINITION TV PROGRAMMING GONE WILD.

Over the Easter weekend, I saw that ABC was broadcasting its annual presentation of The Ten Commandments, the 1956 film with Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston. It’s a masterpiece.

A couple of years ago, it was listed as being televised in HD. Of course, I was very excited because I had not watched it in high resolution since I first saw it at the theater as a child.

Well, it was in widescreen, but it was not HD. It was simply scaled to 1080i from 480i NTSC. That is not high definition.

So when I turned it on this weekend, I was not surprised to see that was not even in widescreen and not in HD. Of course, Revenge of the Zombies, the 1940’s movie I blogged on last week, is in HD so I could always go back to that one to see what an old movie in HD looks like.

Hollywood seems to be paranoid about delivering their old classics in HD, either on TV or on DVD. I don’t understand the logic in this. They are not showing them in major theaters as re-releases, so there is no argument that the HD versions would keep us from going to the theater to watch them. And, for the millions of consumers who have purchased their new HDTVs and subscribe to HD satellite or cable, we tend to turn away from programming that is not in HD.

Eventually, all programming will have to be in HD. No one will watch anything that is still in old NTSC 480. And, that means all the old good stuff too. That means The Ten Commandments. Why put it off? I understand that Ben Hur (1959) will be released in Blu-ray next year (2009). Why has it taken so long for one of the finest motion pictures ever produced to get to us in high definition? If they can take the trouble to give us Revenge of the Zombies . . . .