You are probably dealing with Macrovision. It’s been around ever since VHS, and continues on DVDs and PVRs even today. Basically you have a heavily distorted picture which only the TV will know how to correct. I would say the picture looks a lot darker, and that red is one of the few colors you can see - usually too much of it.
Even if you had a DVD recorder which could overcome Macrovision (I don’t know if they even exist), that’s not the route I would go. The PVR has already put the video through one realtime-encoded generation of MPEG compression (MPEG takes details away to reduce the filesize of the video). If you could go straight from that to DVD without having to put the PVR’s hard drive into a computer, you are going to be putting the video through a second realtime-encoded generation of MPEG.
It’s like making a VHS copy of a VHS copy. Even if you operate in SP with every generation of the tapes (or 8000kbps with MPEG), you are still worse off in the second generation than you were with the first generation. This whole “generation loss” scenario I’m explaining here, doesn’t even take into account what could be lost in the analog cables between the PVR and the DVD recorder. I would say that one realtime-encoded generation of MPEG to another realtime-encoded generation, is actually much worse than a VHS copy to a VHS copy, because rather than making the picture look dull or faded or lifeless, you are introducing (more) pixel-block fluctuations throughout the picture, and I find them to be a distraction which takes away from the escapism more than a simply diluted picture.
The other problem with DVD recorders is they often create discs which only want to be played in that recorder.
The best way to go, is to use a PC as a PVR from the very beginning, and record to DV files (very large filesizes like 13 GB per hour) instead of MPEG. When you want a DVD, you run the DV files through at least 2-pass variable bitirate compression at “Mastering” quality (this could very well take 6 hours of processing time for a 2-hour video). Then you burn the converted files to DVD. This will get you a DVD with far better picture quality, and it works in most players. But if you really want to make DVDs the easy way, you’re going to be punished by the quality - severely.
The next best thing compared to using a computer as a PVR, is to use a computer as a “DVD recorder” in a very nontraditional sense. Some video capture equipment for computers can overcome Macrovision coming from your PVR, plus you don’t have to make the mistake of burning the DVD while you are recording. You can put the computer recording through extra processing to minimize the damage done by a second generation of MPEG, then burn to DVD after all of the processing is finally done.
Contrary to popular belief among consumers, DVD was never meant to be burnt in realtime (you want to record 30 minutes of content, so you burn that content as it happens). Every commercial DVD is a final phase of a very long production, and professionals don’t mess with MPEG or DVD (which has MPEG inside of it) any earlier in the chain than at the very end. They wait until not only all of the footage has been fully shot and edited, but they put the fully-edited version through the extra processing I was talking about, before they create the first DVD. This is not how consumers want to make DVDs, and they/you/whoever are going to garble up the footage that is important to you/them, for wanting to believe in a quick-&-easy method that is too good to be true. DVD ‘shrinking’ is also too good to be true (very quick processing for a second generation of MPEG), but that’s a different topic entirely - other than its equally common acceptance among consumers as realtime DVD recording.