It’s really a shame how many people are having this problem. I’ve heard of people returning perfectly good DVDs and DVD players because of Macrovision. It’s amazing to me that manufacturers and salespeople aren’t making the information available to consumers. . .
Anyway: Macrovision is a copy protection scheme that is intended to keep you from copying those DVDs onto video tape. Macrovision includes a signal in the video stream that messes with the Automatic Gain Control circuit in a VCR (some details omitted for clarity). The AGC’s normal role is to keep the picture brightness uniform even with variations from tape to tape, but Macrovision takes advantage of it’s function to distort the picture by sending ‘fake’ compensation signals.
Some VCRs will ignore Macrovision, some DVD players won’t send the signal, and some DVDs aren’t Macrovision encoded. So, you can get away with running your DVD player through the VCR on occaision. But as a general rule, you can’t chain the DVD player through the VCR. You’ll need to find a way to run the DVD player directly into the TV.
If your TV is relatively modern, it may have multiple inputs that you can switch between. This is the ideal solution, usually. Older TVs may only have the coaxial input, in which case, you’d need an RF adapter to translate the output from the DVD player to the TV. There are pretty inexpensive RF modulators and video switches available (even at places like Radio Shack), so this isn’t too bad an option. But if your TV will accomodate a composite or s-video signal input, you’ll get a better picture that way. If you can give some details on your TV, we’ll be able to come up with some more specific suggestions on the best way to get hooked up.