Trying to see a movie on television in the same format as it appeared in theaters has always been a challenge. Do not say the words "pan and scan" to us. But with the advent of widescreen HDTVs the problem seems to have gotten worse. The Cheese Fry's newest pet peeve is to tune into to some B-level cable channel (we're looking at you, Lifetime and FX) and see what is clearly a square image (and decidedly not in HD) purposely stretched horizontally to fill the rectangular widescreen TV frame. It's insulting. Do they think all us simpletons with our fancy Costco TV sets care about is that our whole TV is filled? Do they not think we can see that things on the edge of the frame of stretched and pulled?
When trying to explain this dilemma to newbies, it's not always easy. Full disclosure: we're not always 100% clear on how it all works, either.
Thankfully, a site called AspectRatioPolice has put together a nice primer on the problem with fitting rectangular movie frames into squarish TV boxes.