Jim writes about his frustration with Netflix's selection of movies from his queue:
I want to watch a series (in this case the Dirty Harry movie series) and I'd like to watch them in order. I line them up from oldest to newest in my queue and they all say "Availability: Now" At the return of my last DVD, the availability for #1 suddenly changes to "Long Wait" and they send me the second in the series (which in this case is being sent from a drop point farther away). So today when #2 is "shipping", #1 has changed back to "Now" and #2 which is being sent is being delayed because it's being sent from an alternate location.
Netflix tries to ship the top movies in your queue from a local shipping center, but keep in mind that they process more than 1.6 million movies daily. If they have multiple requests for a title they have to prioritize who gets it, so you might get another selection further down in your queue instead of having to wait for the title to be shipped from a remote location.
The best way I've found to watch a series of movies in order is to put the first one you want to see at the top of your queue, and the rest a ways down. That way, if the movie you want to see isn't available, you're shipped another title instead of the next one in line.
Some titles, such as a television series, are sent in order. From the Netflix Help system:
Q: Why were the Seasons in a TV show sent to me in the wrong order?
A: Usually the seasons and DVDs within a season should not be sent to you in the wrong order.
If a single DVD from a multiple DVD season is not available, then the rest of the DVDs for that season will be passed to ensure that the season is viewed in order. If a TV show has multiple seasons, and a specific season is being passed, subsequent seasons will not be sent to you if they are in your queue so that you can view the multiple seasons in order.