Snappy: I contacted Optimum at the start of these releases to ask (amongst other things) if it was possible to have an option to view/not view the US "chessboard sequence" at the start of series 4 episodes, for completeness. They replied that as this sequence wasn't shown in UK they wouldn't do that but would add it as an extra. However they stated that they would consider this for a possible US release. So nothing definite but i think they were/are considering a US release. Hope this helps a bit.
Why don't you buy the UK version and then buy a region-free DVD Player. Then you can watch as much British TV as you like. Most people these days have region-free DVD Players and they are not expensive. I suggest you go to a store and ask.
Not generally available in stores in the US, only R1 / NTSC models over here; but available online at several websites. I bought mine at 220-electronics.com in the US. Very reasonable prices, many with both region-free and internal PAL conversion. They also have Blu-Ray models.
Sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. You can often hack the region, but the player may still not convert from PAL to NTSC. I have some disks in PAL w/o a region code, and while one of my R1 players will play them, there's an annoying "stuttering" in the image because the PAL video should play at 25 frames per second, but it's being played at 30, so there's a momentary "sticking" of roughly 1/6 of a second, every second. It doesn't take long to get real annoying. I do have another player, by LG, which does seem to play correctly, but I don't think you can count on all R1 players translating PAL to NTSC, even if the region code is hacked. If you plan to watch PAL DVD's, it might be best to just get a player modified with the conversion circuitry. NTSC DVD's from other regions, like R3 and R2 Japan, ought to work with a region hacked player, though.