Try not to take this too personally Simon :)
The stuff I say about Macs being shite is just me bring a prat, you know this. I haven't recently bought one just so I can bash it, or rile you. I like the damn things and I am trying to approach this with the attitude of "is this an unreasonable expectation" rather than "this is shite because...", hence where I said "Is this another example of expectations not living up to reality". So please don't think I'm picking holes for the hell of it.
No, this is not a Mac formatted disc but why on earth should it not be able to cope with a big disc being plugged in? The fact it understands the format indicates that it is designed to deal with it. If Finder is really indexing 32 gigs of home movies (and about 250 gigs of other shite, but it was when I tried to change into that folder it pooed itself) then why doesn't it give me some indication that that's what it's doing?
When I went to the Finder icon in the dock, it said "Application not responding" and gave me two options: Hide and Relaunch. Hide was pointless (and didn't work anyway) and relaunch didn't. Neither did sudo reboot reboot, when all else had failed, it just sat there. Even press and holding the power switch and then back on didn't work. I had to unplug the power.
If OSX is so friendly and usable why didn't it say "indexing your massive disc you twat, have some bleedin' patience." I expected (possibly unreasonably) more intelligence than a Windows-esque "Application not responding".
I personally think there may be more to this particular problem, but I've no idea what. Maybe, as you say, it doesn't like the disc format... but that would be weird because it doesn't mind other USB drives I've plugged in.