Just As I Thought

In HD… over the rainbow

Why is it still so difficult for television stations to communicate whether something is in high definition or not?
I saw a promo for “The Wizard of Oz” a few days ago, and right at the end was a quick “HDTV” logo. Could it be true? Is the movie going to be shown in HD? And if so, will my local station press the correct switch to broadcast the HD version? (Hell, even our NBC-owned and operated station can’t manage to get West Wing out in HD until after the first commercial break.)
Silly me — I went to the local WB station’s website, where there’s no mention of the film in HD. A look at Titan TV’s program listings doesn’t indicate HD.
A quick Google search pulls up this quote:

The WB is proud to bring viewers the exclusive broadcast network airing of the timeless 1939 film THE WIZARD OF OZ on Sunday, December 19, 7:30-10:00 p.m. ET, for the third consecutive year. This is the movie’s broadcast network premiere in High-Definition television (HDTV).

So, the question is, will it really be in HD?
And if so, will it be cropped to widescreen? The film was made in an almost square format, not the wide format we’re used to today. But will the WB preserve it’s square format on their widescreen HD channels, or negate the improvement in quality by cropping the top and bottom of the picture?
You can be sure that I’ll report back.

Update: Well, looks like it is in HD — in fact, someone at the station just switched it to the SD version then back. Perhaps they were just checking, as it doesn’t really look any different in HD. It’s presented in “pillarbox,” which is great for film purists like myself. The audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1, which is confusing… it’s not as if this film was made in stereo, and having a stereo mix (albeit not a big, heavy “surround” mix) is a little odd. But I’ll let that go. Remixing the soundtrack is okay with me, I just hope they haven’t redone all the special effects with CGi…

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