Monday, March 17, 2008

The Edit.

Things have to be cut from TV and film from time to time.
Violence and swearing is cut from movies aired on TV early in the evening to keep up the na├»ve belief that kids don’t already know about blood-soaked-zombie-decapitation and appropriate use of the phrase “you sh*t f**king little bastard son of a whore”.
Cuts in cinematic releases are usually to streamline the film. To trim the fat so that what’s left is gristle free goodness crafted purely for your viewing pleasure. Superfluous dialogue and drawn out events are given the scrap, and their own feature in the ‘deleted scenes’ section of the DVD.
On other occasions; scenes are cut to prevent the movie-makers looking like ambitious amateurs/George Lucas.
Scenes like that with the Giant Octopus in The Goonies.
Had that actually made it into the film, I’m pretty sure Spielberg would have been accused of losing the plot and gone on to direct dog-food commercials and not Jurassic Park.
Yes, the edit is important, nay, vital to a good film.
When it’s done well.
When it’s done poorly the bouncing-up-and-down-with-glee-at-what-you’re-watching is replaced by a great big “huh?” as you try to work out just what the hell is going on.
I like the film Cutthroat Island. It’s a great little pirate romp that I’ve watched often enough to know just when to hit ‘Mute’ on the remote and avoid Gina Davis butchering her lines.
There is one part during this Caribbean-based merriment that really irks, though: “Dog” Brown, the dastardly villain, orders his men to set sail. One minion inadvisably says “We can’t. We don’t have enough food on board”. Dog turns and snarls “Then we need less mouths to feed” and he pulls his pistol….
I didn’t get to see this flick at the cinema, but I’m willing to bet that what followed next was a shot and some blood. On the DVD you don’t get either. You just get a bunch of sailors looking at something on the floor. You don’t see what, but we can assume it’s the mouthy sailor, minus his face.
A fine example of bad editing, the reason for which is probably down to an event in the news that got the censors in a twist prior to the DVD’s release, but a couple of years down the line; is forgotten.
Another example is the recent Top Gear: Great Adventures DVD. Their road-trip across the southern states of the USA was a classic bit of telly, but because of legal reasons all the funniest bits had to be removed. The resulting mess doesn’t make a bit of sense, with the 3 ‘heroes’ of the piece constantly referring to and joking about events that, unless you caught the show when it aired, you won’t have seen.
Worse offenders than those who ruin DVDs are the TV Schedulers that run a series containing action related violence at an early hour to maximise viewing figures but hack away at the programme in order to do so.
In Blighty, Channel 4 does the best job of ruining a show. Try vegging out in front of their Sunday afternoon line-up and you’ll easily be able to spot their crappy cuts. Be it Smallville of Stargate SG1, any time a fight kicks off, a gun is drawn or a particularly gruesome sci-fi incident is about to take place; the action is removed and we skip straight to the aftermath.
When something is made to be so disjointed it ceases to be a source of entertainment.
As a result, I tend not to watch my favourite shows when they air, but when I pick up the DVD sets cheap off ebay.
I laugh with mild satisfaction at the knowledge that somewhere a little counter that monitors viewing figures has dropped by one.
Slightly pathetic, but I’m going to laugh anyway. HAHAHAHAAHAA!


rali said...

We have the same problem over in the states. When shows go into syndication, they chop out around 5 or so minutes so they can cram more commercials into the shows. Some of the worst crimes that I know happen to anime airing on cable networks, and BBC programming (Torchwood/Doctor Who) on SciFi.

Fortunately I have a friend who shares his torrents of Torchwood & Doctor Who (and other BBC programs) so I don't miss anything the editors "trim" out.

Sobye said...

We don't get this kind of crap in Norway, thank God. I feel for you.

Kendra said...

Actually, the chopping of some syndicated shows (especially the older ones, or the ones from overseas) is because they're allowed to run a few minutes more of commercials. Back when many of the older series' aired (such as pretty much everything before 1990 or so), they had a smaller amount of time for commercials. For some reason, the FCC or whoever it was, increased that allotted time. Thus was born the syndicated series with an extra few minutes cut out, sometimes completely removing the opening credits, and of COURSE squishing the closing ones to the side so that they can run a half-screen ad. I hate capitalism sometimes.

This is one reason I try to download any series I want to watch that isn't a new cartoon. Fewer worries about crappy editing jobs done by people who just want to trim it for time, and to hell with things like 'plot', 'pacing', and 'vision'.

Reuben said...

I myself specifically try my hardest to swich off as soon as some rubbish singing or dancing contest comes on (or any other show deemed terrible) if only in the hopes of pushing the viewing figures that much closer to the red line.

In the end, DVD sets are the way to go.

Here in Aus, a while back they ran the original Doctor Who from the very first episode, prior to the start of the new series. Sadly, though, we missed a lot of episodes that were either lost, or in the case of most Dalek-based episodes*, subject to copyright.

*Apparently these same issues led to their new design.