It probably has something to do with the fact that the writers live in the environment they have created for the characters 24/7, and the Previously On is not enough to bring the viewer back into that world. Perhaps it has to do with Executive Meddling. It could be that the act breaks are a little soft. Or maybe just the lack of constant commercial breaks makes the immersion much more complete. The fact remains that some series do not really work quite as well until you sit down for a marathon with the DVDs or video on demand.
The comic-book equivalent is Writing for the Trade. Compare Vindicated by Cable where a Film didn't sell at the Box Office but attains a following through repeats on television or a streaming service.
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Media in general
Here's some Technology Marches On as it relates to any sort of TV series, be it live-action or animated. TV shows are certainly cheaper and easier to store on DVD. VHS tapes were thick and had moving parts, plus sometimes only had an episode or two on them apiece (remember, you would have to fast-forward to the episode you wanted!). Buying a series on VHS would run you well over $100 back in the 1990's, and often fill up a shelf, if you could by a complete series at all. DVDs are cheaper to produce, less prone to mechanical failure, and a whole season can fit in a thin box.
Series that are Better on DVD can become even better on Internet streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video. For a monthly fee equal to or less than the price of a single season on DVD, one can get unlimited access to countless series in their entirety. The downside is the licenses for those services to stream the shows can expire and sometimes may not be renewed, which essentially makes DVD the only legal way to see certain shows.
Many anime in general benefit from marathon sittings, due to having ongoing plot threads between episodes.
Ultra-popular long-running Shonen anime, such as Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece sort of zig-zag this trope. On the one hand, it is far more satisfying to marathon and blow through a significant chunk of story-arc in a single day rather than just getting a tiny bit of story each week. On the other hand, because those shows air weekly and are usually not rerun (Japan never quite got the concept of reruns), episode beginnings are often bogged down with several minutes of "Previously On..." for people who may have missed episodes. The original manga chapters tend not to be quite as offensive in this regard, but even they will have a tendency to reference earlier scenes and repeat information if the need arises.
AIR probably counts, due to its plot being oddly impenetrable if not watched all at once.
FLCL, although only six episodes long, loses its magic if too much of a gap is left between each episode. This is mainly due to the fact you won't know what's going on, considering the random nature of the show. Well, you won't know what's going on either way, but if you don't watch them quickly its easy to forget that it doesn't matter.
Any series that makes use of Inaction Sequence also applies under the initial definition.
Realizing that many series in their catalogue fall under this, Funimation has started giving some of their longer anime (DBZ, One Piece, etc) a special feature, "Marathon Mode", that plays all the episodes on a disc in sequence while skipping the Ending credits, episode previews, and all but the initial Opening theme.
There was a collection of old Robotech videotapes that did that too, presenting six episodes per tape as one extended story, but also cut out a few scenes of each episode.
Geneon, when it was still Pioneer, also did this with their VHS tapes – their Tenchi Muyo! TV releases had only a single OP and ED ever played per tape.
The VHS tapes of Slayers from Central Park Media did this as well. This is why the next episode previews (and one postseason epilogue) were never dubbed.
The fanbase of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds is incredibly split when it comes to characters, so the anime as of recently has tried to give even-time to every character. Since the show airs one episode a week (and is subbed the day after it airs), it angers fans when there favorite character doesn't get the spotlight, but watching the show on DVD isn't nearly as infuriating due to the wait, and the backstory episodes add some pleasant flavor to the surprisingly complicated universe.
It can be pretty damned difficult to follow Neon Genesis Evangelion if you're only watching an episode every week. It's easier to follow if you're watching a marathon of the entire thing in order, along with reading up of some explanatory material.
Most definitely the case for Naruto in the UK; Jetix is on par with 4kids with needless editing, and is also fond of switching the episode order around (Last part of the Naruto vs. Neji fight, followed by the beginning of the Zabuza arc, to name one example).
Also of note is that the foreign dubs in general are based on the DVD version which cleans up the animation substantially, leading some to believe that the animation was changed for the dub.
In the uncut DVDs, the censorship on Lee's bottle of sake is removed, and the references to alcohol are restored.
The Sailor Moon S and Sailor Moon SuperS DVDs are uncut and feature both the Japanese and English versions, which is great. Also for fans of the original Japanese background music, the DVD versions of the three movies keep the Japanese music intact as opposed to the DIC music used in the VHS release and Toonami airings.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is very arc-heavy. The first series is divided between "Standalone" (one-shot) and "Complex" (arc) episodes. This allows viewers to see the whole "Laughing Man" arc from start to finish without interruption if they wish.
The two compilation movies of the series (The Laughing Man and Individual Eleven) serve this same purpose.
While not specifically better, Haruhi Suzumiya is shown in chronological order on DVD, which can help the series make more sense. The series was originally shown in a particular non-chronological sequence, and even on DVD one of the chronologically last episodes (episode 11/00, specifically) is used as a Non-Indicative First Episode. The series arguably has much better pacing when viewed in its original order, and this is especially apparent at the end, where the intended last episode (chronologically occurring in the middle) is dramatic and world-changing, while the chronological last episode (originally shown in the middle) basically consists of everyone sitting around the club room on a typical day, which is quite disappointing as a season finale.
However, add in The Movie and "Someday in the Rain" becomes much more significant, as it shows Kyon's little slice of normality (and a subtle hint of a certain girl's affection for him), a status quo that is abruptly punctured by the events of Disappearance. With that final piece in place, it is a perfectly constructed series when watched in any order.
The second season's infamous "Endless Eight" arc is much less frustrating when you aren't forced to watch it one episode a week for two months, not to mention that on DVD you can skip some episodes since nothing is really missed if you only watch the first, second, and last parts.
If you're watching Ride Back every week as it airs (or as Funimation adds the episodes to their video player) you will probably forget everything that happened the previous week by the time the next episode(s) come out.
Since the episodes are only 5 minutes long, Axis Powers Hetalia is usually better watched one after another on DVD.
Excel♥Saga. The crazy Parody/Deconstruction of anime in general is much easier (and more fun) to watch/understand in one go than if you were to try and watch it on TV one week at a time.
Plus it's the only way to see the banned episode.
Eh, this particular show is YMMV on this front. On the one hand, the meta-subplots make a whole lot more sense when the show is marathoned. But the more insane parts of the show don't exactly lend themselves to extended viewing.
It also has a "joke explanation" subtitle track, which explains some of the incredibly complex Japanese puns that go straight over English viewers heads.
Tiger & Bunny was already a fantastic show on broadcast, but is much more pleasurable on disc, not only because of the fixed off-model or the easier digestion of the plot... but because after a certain point in the series, the Cliffhangers become sadistic.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood flows like an extra-long movie, and has plenty of cliffhangers. Because of this, it's far more satisfying to marathon the entire series.
Rosario + Vampire has the censor bats removed on DVD, something that was criticized as being obtrusive and distracting during its original broadcast.
Subverted with CLANNAD. The series has a lot of complex foreshadowing and tight story arcs that are ideal for binge-watching, but the series of Wham Episodes in the second half of ~After Story~ makes it too emotionally overwhelming for some fans to process in one sitting.
In general, the introduction of DVD kicked off the release of movies to home video in widescreen. While there were a few widescreen VHS tapes released in the 90's, they were usually considered a specialty item that was often very difficult to find in stores (and even harder to find rental). There were also many widescreen laserdiscs (as they were the serious film collector's format), but it wasn't until the DVD format came out that widescreen home video started to grow in popularity, and even then it took the introduction of widescreen televisions to finally begin to kill off pan-&-scan (However, it is still common to find stores selling the "fullscreen" version of a film, especially if it was intended for children).
Clue is a rare film with Multiple Endings. The DVD allows watching one of the three endings at random, or watching all three in successions, allowing the audience to better compare them, and notice the parallels (such as the repeated lines) between each of them. Certainly more practical than hunting for three movie theaters showing three different versions of the movie (although outside North America (and when the movie came out on VHS in 1986), Paramount released the movie with all three endings in a row)!
Transformers: Some people have found it to be easier to follow the action on a smaller screen because there was so much detail on the robots that would distract you from the important stuff.
A Knight's Tale. The commentary track with Brian Helgeland and Paul Bettany was hilarious. (No one told them Queen wasn't historically accurate!).
Paranormal Activity: Due to the concept of the film, it is arguably much scarier watching it home alone (preferably at night) than when watching it in a theatre.
The Kingdom of Heaven director's cut adds about 45 minutes of character development and political background/intrigue, which help to give some meaning and context to the battles and actions of the major characters. The theatrical cut is a rather shallow Dung Age Crusader movie, but the full cut weaves a story of political intrigue and love that greatly elevates the film.
An interesting case of "Better On VHS" occurs with An American Tail. Some of the voices on the DVD version were redubbed for whatever reason.
Roger Ebert once commented that Moulin Rouge! works much better on the small screen than the big screen, citing that the rapid cuts and visual overload dragged the film down in theaters.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The extended editions add about 45 minutes to each movie. It's mostly embellishment on the setting and characters, which would've slowed down the pacing in theatres, but ends up perfect for hardcore LOTR fans.
The extended cut of Big goes even further into elaborating why Josh really wanted to be "big".
The Alien franchise is much better when viewed on DVD, especially because (via the Alien Quadrilogy and Alien Anthology sets) it allowed the production company to include multiple cuts of each film on their own dedicated disc. Aliens featured the heretofore-unreleased theatrical cut and special edition (which added a half-hour worth of footage), while Alien³ featured an assembly cut kitbashed from the original negatives that runs an hour longer than the theatrical version. The Anthology set also allowed viewers to access a massive database of additional information, interviews and deleted scenes from any of the discs in the set (via Blu-Ray technology).
If you watched all the Harry Potter films in theatres, but never rewatched the previous entries on DVD (or read the books, for that matter), you probably ended up being very confused. It's much easier to follow the storyline when there isn't a year or two between each installment, and by the end of the series you aren't struggling to remember stuff from a movie you last saw ten years ago.
Watchmen held up well in theatres, but the extended DVD release weaves the "Tales of the Black Freighter" plot back into the narrative. Alas, many of the other subplots aren't returned because they simply weren't filmed.
To some extent, this applies to The Empire Strikes Back. While plenty of people loved the film when it was originally in theatres, there were also those who felt let down by the cliffhanger ending. After all, it was a two-hour adventure film which ended with nothing being resolved. This was very unusual at the time. It's easier to appreciate Empire when you don't have to wait three years for Return of the Jedi and can see clearly how it fits into the overall story.
The version of Highlander: Endgame aired in theatres had some unfinished special effects and was missing several plot critical scenes. This was all fixed in the DVD and VHS releases.
In some cases, details become more prominent on small screens, especially in HD. One example is A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. On the Blu Ray, it's much more obvious that the creatures at the end are robots and not aliens. It's easier to see the bright lights and circuitry inside of them and there are flashing lights on their heads when they talk. This apparently wasn't too obvious for people at theatres.
It's generally agreed that the Director's Cut of Daredevil is the best way to watch it.
Many of Quentin Tarantino's films work better when viewed at home due to their anachronistic order. The biggest example though is definitely the Kill Bill movies, which almost require to be viewed back to back.
Live Action TV
The Wire does not hold your hand at all when it comes to referencing previous plot points and characters, so seeing them in rapid succession can really help you catch everything. The DVD menus also configured it so you don't have to watch the Previously On segments unless you want to.
Breaking Bad has been referred to as arguably the best binge-watching series of all time, as the show is one continuous plot arc and nearly every episode ends on a cliffhanger.
The general consensus on Angel is that Season 4 qualifies, mostly due to the love triangle between the title character, Cordelia, and Angel's son who Likes Older Women. Much of this season isn't even essential to the plot, as Season 5 magically Reset Buttons all of the past year's events.
The Sarah Connor Chronicles: the audio commentaries often feature the actors and crew joking about how long the "Previously on..." segment at the start of the episodes is getting, especially in season two.
LOST. Trust us, the twists and turns the plot takes are much easier when you know you can watch the next episode immediately.
24, because its real-time format allows for full-day marathons (though the shows are actually 48 minutes, giving you, at least, some time to use the bathroom – unlike the characters).
Farscape The four-season plot line (well, seasons 2-4, the miniseries, the last four episodes of season 1) play much better in marathon format.
Arrested Development. The show is packed with Call Backs and Foreshadowing, mostly in one-liners that make little sense on their own, but are hilarious when viewed as a part of the show as a whole. Pretty much Lost if it were a comedy.
Oz, due to being better able to notice the continuity.
Battlestar Galactica. All those cliffhangers will be much easier when you can watch the entire show on DVD. Not to mention dispensing with week-long breaks between setup episodes and payoff episodes, and that seven episodes exist in their full form only on DVD, having been truncated for airing.
Babylon 5: Things will move very fast, though; it was written to be watched over years, with each season generally taking place over a year. The telepath arc in Season 5 is also much more bearable.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: While executives sometimes recognize this fact when rerunning it and start by showing it in order, they inevitably lose patience before the run is complete, or perhaps simply assume that they'll fail to attract new viewers over time this way.
Veronica Mars, especially season three, if only because the Aerie Girls and obnoxious CW teases where nowhere to be found.
With Heroes, it goes both ways. While watching it on DVD allows the slower bits to move much faster (as you do not have to wait weeks for a plot point to be resolved) and generally does improve later volumes, it also makes a lot of plot holes and aborted arcs more apparent, especially during the second and third volumes.
Unfortunately, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is Worse on DVD. Since the show deals with many ongoing plot lines at once (especially during the last 5 episodes), there is much exposition and recapping during every episode. This was done to refresh the viewers' mind (and attract new ones) when the series aired weekly, but is really annoying when watching several episodes back to back.
Doctor Who: While most stories were fully self-contained, the classic series occasionally had a lot of Call Backs and Continuity Nods. Old story elements, enemies and allies could be brought back again several years later and since reruns were rare (or, in the case of several black-and-white episodes, impossible) you couldn't possibly keep track of everything unless you'd been watching since the beginning and had an exceptional memory (don't forget the series ran continuously for 26 years). Watching them on DVD allows you to keep better track of the continuity and be able to appreciate the details and references to previous stories more. In particular, it makes the many continuity-heavy stories of The Eighties, widely criticized at the time for their Continuity Lockout status, much more enjoyable. On the other hand, the serial format and (typically) slow pace of the classic stories translates poorly to DVD marathoning, as it creates a lot of pacing issues with repetitive "companion in peril" cliffhangers at the end of each episode.
Dollhouse, partly because shows by Tim Minear and Joss Whedon already tend to do this anyway, partly because it's a dense, fast-paced Myth Arc-heavy show with steady plot and character arc progression from one episode to the next, and partly because watching the episodes more than once means you catch more of the little things.
Carnivàle. The story (especially in season one) is much more coherent and the whole thing looks amazing.
Frasier, weirdly enough for an American sitcom. It's very self-referential, but in a subtle way that is much more easily picked up on if you watch several episodes in a row. This mostly applies to the later seasons that succumbed to Seasonal Rot, and, oddly enough, Cerebus Syndrome.
The second series of Chuck, if you're not American, is better on DVD for the simple reason that the episode Chuck Vs. The Third Dimension wasn't aired in 3D in countries that didn't have the Superbowl event. The DVD release contains the 3D version and a pair of glasses to view it with, so you can finally see Yvonne Strahovski's negligee popping out of the screen as the gods intended.
Quite the opposite in Britain - the 3D version was aired on TV, and the DVD release didn't contain the glasses.
For those annoyed by the constant will-they-won't-they, not having to wait a week between Chuck and Sarah mishearing/mis-seeing/suddenly having an old flame pop in allows the episodes to be viewed as one whole story as opposed to 'how will Chuck and Sarah break up this week?'
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, especially seasons 3, 4, and 5, when there were meaningful arcs. Season 5 lets you see that every single episode, no matter how much it seemed like filler at first, leads toward something important in the big Season Finale.
Although the 'previously on' segments do become annoying due to the same clips being repeated several times e.g. Buffy finding out from the monk about where Dawn came from.
Fortunately, the season sets available in retail stores in America have 'previously' for only one episode, "When She Was Bad".
Alias. Nearly every episode ended with a cliffhanger, which is made far easier to endure when the next episode is only the push of a button away.
Saturday Night Live's full-season DVD's (from seasons one to five) are an inversion, as all episodes are the full, uncut 90-minute version (as opposed to the hour-or-less versions that air in syndication, On-Demand, Hulu, and Netflix). Any SNL fan who remembers this era through the Nostalgia Filter will be shaken to realize that even during a good era of SNL, there were a lot of sketches that haven't aged very well or weren't good in the first place.
The "Best of" clip show episodes are zigzagged. Some best-ofs will have full sketches, while others have a mix of full sketches and a Fully Automatic Clip Show (particularly in the "Best Of [Former Cast Member]" sketches, where they show the subject's best celebrity impressions and/or recurring characters).
Life On Mars, as each season is only eight episodes long, is feasibly possible to watch in its entirety in a day or two. The last two episodes are much easier to understand when one still remembers what happened in the first season. Also, the emotional impact of the final episode is intense when you've just spent two days non-stop with this character.
Bliss At least compared to the American TV edit on Oxygen, if you wanted to see the nudity and other adult content anyways.
A lot of shows cancelled after just a season or so feel this way, such as Jericho and FlashForward (2009), feel a lot better on DVD leading some to be frustrated at the end of the series. Watching one episode after another commercial-free makes the story feel much tighter.
Watching Fringe on DVD can feel awfully repetitive during the procedural heavy first half of the show's first season, but once the long term plot developments really kick into gear, it's much more preferable to watch this show non-stop (especially after season two).
Dexter, despite making extensive use of "Previously on..." for every single episode, fits this trope due to pacing issues later in the series. For seasons that did not receive near-universal acclaim, a primary factor in determining whether a fan enjoyed it can often be whether the individual watched it week-to-week (thus exacerbating a slow start) or all at once (practically eliminating such problems).
JAG gets even better when watching in a marathon because of story arcs, subtle character development and continuity nods.
The creators of Game of Thrones have specifically said that they are making the show to be watched 'like an 80-hour movie'.
Friends flows better on DVD overall as you can get through things like Rachel and Ross's "will they or won't they" romance much quicker without having to wait til next week to see what happens next. Plus many of the episodes on DVD are longer than the TV versions(the producers started deliberately making the episodes too long for TV so they could include it on home video releases), in some cases you see entire subplots that were cut from the TV airings (I.E. One episode on the Blu-Ray set has the original unaired subplot of Chandler and Monica getting questioned by airport security due to Chandler making jokes about bombs, which was cut due to 9/11)
Similarly to other mythology-heavy shows already mentioned, The X-Files is easier to follow when you can watch episodes consecutively. Of course, how much of it makes sense is up for debate...
There are several advantages to watching Broken Saints on DVD rather than online. 1) It's easier to pause, rewind, and fast-forward (although the inability to pause in the middle of a chapter was part of the creator's design for the series) and 2) A voice-over track!
Red vs. Blue. On their own, each episode is generally five minutes long and you need to wait an entire week for the next five minutes of story. On DVD, they're all edited together so each season runs as a feature length Compilation Movie. It's notable that although the show is released episodically, each season is written more or less like a movie to begin with, which occasionally means a sequence that seems to drag on forever in the episodes ends up having much better pacing when the season is taken as a whole.
RWBY was made by the same company and fits this trope for similar reasons. Some fans have eschewed watching new episodes entirely, saying; "Well, it's a good series, but I'll just buy the DVD when it comes out."
Arc-based webcomics in general tend to read much better after an arc is completed (either in Archive Binge or print form), especially if the comic is not known for its timely updating or simply has very long arcs. Many web artists realize this, which is why they tend to put continuity references in links below the comic rather than in the comic itself, so those archive binges don't become "Previously On..." every 20 seconds.
Collar 6. While not exactly on DVD, the strips are so short that waiting can get a bit frustrating, but reading them in a marathon can be a lot of fun.
The Order of the Stick is even better in the print collections, starting around strip 150, when they moved more into ongoing stories and away from one-off gags.
Each book also includes multiple bonus strips, as well as creator notes at the beginning of each chapter, which function similar to a DVD commentary. Certain art mistakes are also corrected, and the earliest strips had their jagged borders removed, after Rich Burlew decided they were ugly.
He also tends to include extra strips, sketches, and commentary in the printed books.
Even on a completely consistent week, he's only likely to get three pages up. And those pages might be a one-off gag or a Shirt Guy Dom day. The printed editions have all the story relevant pages up at the front, then have different section for SGD and one-off strips.
Girl Genius has such long arcs (they were in Castle Heterodyne for four years) that it can be easy to forget fairly important plot points when it only updates three times a week. An Archive Binge makes the plot feel much more cohesive.
Sluggy Freelance (which unlike most webcomics updates every weekday) directly invoked this trope back in 2007 upon the conclusion of the "Oceans Unmoving" Arc, a major departure from formula that contained almost none of the main characters and took over a year real-time to finish (this time included a "Where Are They" interlude with the main characters). Fans were extremely upset and essentially forced creator Pete Abrams to write a mea culpa where he simultaneously apologized for the arc but still stood by it, arguing that he thought it would work much better as a graphic novel.
And the strip really is better in print, due to Pete's habit of including extra stories made exclusively for the books (most don't even appear on the website!) that often feature characters who are fan-favourites but can't be in the main comic.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force: When watched one after the other in order, the Spacecataz shorts at the beginning of every episode of season 3 form a coherent story.
Not surprising. They were bits of a failed pilot for another show.
Star Wars: Clone Wars: While the original episodes were only 4 minutes long and had very little plot between them, the DVD releases just strung the episodes together, sans the in-between title sequences and end credits. The whole series flowed like two hour-long movies.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is also notably better on DVD, since being able to choose the episode you watch plays into the show's anachronic presentation. Alternately, you can figure out and watch the chronological order of the various arcs, making some call-backs and call-forwards much clearer.
The DVD versions of Family Guy and American Dad! include a lot of scenes that have been rejected by FOX and Cartoon Network censors. This is especially true of Family Guy, which, unlike the other shows on FOX, isn't initially written to conform with broadcast censorship standards. It's only after five to six rewrites (maybe more) that a typical Family Guy episode is considered suitable for broadcast. This, however, does not stop Seth MacFarlane from making an alternate cut that either goes to Cartoon Network before ending up on DVD or just goes straight to DVD. On top of that, episodes that rarely air or have been banned (i.e., "Fore Father," "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein," "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q.," "Turban Cowboy," and "Partial Terms of Endearment") get to be shown on DVD for those who either like the episode or have a Bile Fascination for it.
The Netflix version of Family Guy is a mixed bag. While a large percentage of episodes shown are the "edited for first-run FOX broadcast" version (even the early episodes, like "Brian in Love" and "Road to Rhode Island" are the edited versions), all of the season ten episodes are the "uncut, uncensored DVD" versions, which means you get to hear Peter curse a blue streak when he falls down the stairs in "The Blind Side," all the middle fingers flipped off in defiance aren't blurred, you get to see how bloody Wilford Brimley blasting teen girls at the Kids' Choice Award really is in "Quagmire and Meg," and you get to see parts that were cut for time rather than content.
Individual episodes of The Venture Bros. seem too short on their own. When watched all-together, the jokes layer on top of each other, the epic stuff gets more epic, and the "aren't we pathetic" stuff gets time to breathe.
Additionally, watching on DVD allows viewers to have a better chance of catching the Brick Jokes, and the creator commentary fleshes out several details that fell through the cracks of the show's "show-don't-tell" storytelling.
Drawn Together on DVD is uncensored and extended for the most part. Censorship is generally kept in only when it's the basis for a joke (such as Princess Clara not realizing that Foxxy Love is flipping her off until she does it in return). Due to the heavy amount of censorship for offensive, disgusting, and outright insane content they could not air on Comedy Central, the DVD set is the only way to experience the series for what it truly was: with all of the mind-raping, childhood-molesting, emotion-murdering, and animal-raping that was too hot for basic cable. Not only that, many scenes and lines were added that were cut for time or content (mostly content), and played the "real" version of some other watered down scenes. They left nothing out, not even the mutilated penises, fat jokes, nudity (both fanservice-y and otherwise) or the incestuous romance plots.
Averted with the Doctor Who animated series "The Infinite Quest". Designed to be consumed by audiences in 8-minute segments over a matter of weeks, the show fuses together into a roughly 45-minute filmette which, mainly due to having the characters summarize the plot every 8 minutes, has serious pacing issues.
From the same production team, Titan Maximum. The series premiere is a half-hour special, but the next 9 episodes (the entire first season) are only half that (with commercials and credits); theoretically, it could be spliced together and watched as a movie.
The Looney Tunes DVDs are rather nicely made, and unedited as well (though some cartoon shorts run with scenes that are missing, not because they were cut from TV, but because they were lost to time or never made). Given that every American channel has aired, edited, and stopped airing the Warner Brothers cartoons from the mid-1960s to the early 2000s (including Cartoon Network — though Cartoon Network has brought the shorts back when The Looney Tunes Show premiered), DVD is probably the only way anyone can see the shorts uncut and uncensored (ditto the Popeye cartoons and the MGM shorts, except for Tom and Jerry. See below)
Subversion: the Tom and Jerry DVDs sadly are edited to remove blackface gags and do feature Mammy Two-Shoes either cut from scenes or with a voice that doesn't sound like a stereotypical Sassy Black Woman. If you're a classic cartoon purist, then it's not Better on DVD (unless you count the fact that you can now watch it without that irritating Cartoon Network station ID bug at the bottom of the screen). But there is some good news: Warner Bros. actually reversed this trend when it was discovered that the original DVD releases (advertised as being for collectors) contained the edits and redubbed Mammy voice. WB quickly set up an exchange system wherein consumers (if they so wished) could swap out the discs for ones with the uncut shorts. There are still a couple missing episodes from the DVD's though that had too many blackface gags; these are supposedly going to appear on another disc set according to Warner.
Better On Laserdisc : The Laserdisc "Tom & Jerry" box sets have all of the original cartoons intact and uncut.
Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles takes place during seven separate campaigns consisting of five episodes each (save for a few stand-alone episodes). On DVD the episodes for each campaign are edited so that they run together like full length films.
Archer: The later seasons episode have a lot of Running Gag and Call Back humor, so it really helps to see the earlier episodes beforehand.
The Simpsons: Not only are they shown on DVD uncut with most of the scenes that were thought to be lost when the show was Edited for Syndication, but the extras have a glut of deleted scenes (some of which, if added, would have either made the episode funnier or would have filled a much-noticed plot hole in the story).note "Most of" being the operative word, because several episodes are not as originally broadcast - "Marge Gets a Job" replaces Mrs. Krabappel's line about Bart faking Tourette's Syndrome with a line about Bart faking rabies (a change made after the first broadcast because of complaints received). "New Kids on the Blecch" also has a line change. In the scene where Mr. Burns is whipping Smithers as Smithers is driving a rickshaw, Mr. Burns's line in the premiere episode was "You call yourself a Chinaman?" In all reruns and on DVD, the line is now, "You call yourself Chinese?".
Sym-Bionic Titan certainly fits this trope to a T. Unless you DVRed several episodes or have an exceptional memory, you're going to be hard pressed to follow the show's Continuity Porn. If the series ever makes it to DVD, it'll make a lot more sense.
Beast Machines is a relatively short (26 episodes) series with a very tight continuity and an ever-expanding (if at times very slow) plot. Some Transformers fans claim it holds up much better when viewed in just a couple of sittings, while others say they have given up on it when it originally aired on TV purely because of this. The fact that it has many multi-episode stories has to be a factor.
ThunderCats (2011) has a story so plot-heavy it's prone to Continuity Lock-Out. Some episodes don't really end as much as they just stop, only to pick up right where they left off the next week, which makes the series far easier to digest in larger chunks.
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes has a first season littered with subplots and story arcs that flow better on DVD, with the episodes playing in chronological order with little interruption. Subplots and story arcs from season 2 would flow best on a DVD or Blu-Ray from Canada or Australia, or a digital streaming website, since Disney unfortunately mucked up the episode order for that season's American DVDs.
Superjail!, at least the second season, wound up with a surprisingly comprehensive DVD release. Although said season's quality is highly debated, the amount of extras and the commentaries helped provide more insight and entertainment about the process of making the show. That, and the second season DVD has been the only one to actually use the uncensored copies of the show's episodes (ie: unbleeped swearing, censor boxes removed unless they were intended as part of the gag), while the season 1 and season 3 releases had labels claiming they were uncensored but went with the TV broadcast versions of the episodes.
Sure you could easily watch the episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic in any order (except the two-parters), but marathoning the series in order will help you better notice the continuity.