Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Missed Memory Minutes

I can be an insufferable purist about a few things -- especially movies and television shows. Show me the message that "this program has been formatted to fit your screen and edited to run in the time allotted" and I'll be excusing myself to another room to catch up on my reading.

To me, that message means that the entire program will not be shown as it was originally intended. I grumbled somewhat about this in a previous post. Pan&Scan will literally cut out a third of what the director wanted me to see while advertising quotas eat up time that used to be the now missing moments of the story.

I experienced this empty frustration anew last night when I decided to back up from my computer screen and passively enjoy a trip down Amnesia Lane with the crew of the Enterprise.

"The Trouble With Tribbles", written by David Gerrold, is among my top ten or so ST:TOS episodes. It's light, humorous, clever, and fun. And fortunately doesn't take itself too seriously.

Unfortunately, I know the episode so well that I was aware - and irritated - every time a scene was clipped short or a sentence or two missing from the dialog in order to allow for the requisite advertising minutes. As we already know, nothing is sacred -- least of all forty-something year old TV shows.

Go figure -- in 1967 there weren't as many things to cram down our throats as there are today, so twelve minutes out of the hour was sufficient to inundate us with those "must have" products. Now we need about twenty minutes an hour to pay the piper on network TV.

This is why I'm happy to pay for HBO and Showtime. Maybe I can start a letter writing campaign to get them to show old TV shows in their original format. I'll bet they'd be surprised just how many people would go for it.


Anonymous said...

Oh no! It´s that guy from Germany again.

Well, I´ve got to add my two cents worth. OK?

The American television number crunchers will tell you that the commercial-break system has been designed to give the viewer maximum commercial information. It is supposedly designed in several mini-pockets as to avoid consumer boredom.

What a crock!

The American television companies earn tens of billions of dollars through advertising and are more than happy to screw you and your programming to earn more.

Here in Germany they are a bit more subtle and humane with their practices. If you watch a film or longer show on one of the two major state owned channels, ARD or ZDF (think NBC, ABC or CBS), you won´t likely see a commercial break (during the show). If they show an ultra-long flick, like Gone With the Wind, an intermission will be placed approx. half way through. Other than that, you sit down to watch a film without interruption. The major private channels, RTL, PRO 7, etc... (think FOX and others) give you a show like CSI, for example, and cut in three times over the course of the hour. CSI, Smallville, Star Trek or 24 - they are all forty-two (42) minute long shows. The remaining time is allocated to commercials in huge, five to six minute blocks. Pretty cool.

One downside to all of this is the fact that Germany, as well as most other nations in the WORLD, charges a monthly fee for having a television. Yes, you pay TV tax here. Radio tax, too. Could you imagine something like that in the US? HA! They say it´s to alleviate the financial stresses put on the state television companies for their lack of advertising, especially during prime-time.

My advice to SavaeWit: Buy the DVD box set of EVERY show you hold dear. You won´t regret it!


Anonymous said...

I've already noticed some commercials being clipped to accomodate some TV formatting. Yeah, I memorize commercials sometimes, but they're usually funny as hell. By and Large...i'd prefer not to see E.D. commercials with my teen, or dulcolax commercials with anyone....Schotz

Anonymous said...

E.D. and dulcolax commercials???