The proliferation of wide-screen televisions and the rising tide of high-definition programming have created viewing troubles on both sides of TV’s technological divide, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. On older models, with a 4:3 screen aspect ratio, new HD shows often have a huge chunk of picture missing; old shows stretched to fit new TVs’ 16:9 ratio can make characters look like they’ve gained a few pounds.
“If you want to see the picture, you’ve got to get a widescreen TV,” groused one 62-year-old. There’s simply no easy way to reconcile the old aspect ratio with the new. Which means for the foreseeable future, networks will have to choose whether or not to stretch images, and just how much of The Office you need to see.