Sunday, June 26, 2005


Not yet down with my grousing, I'm afraid.......

I've got a DVD from the first season of 'All In The Family' waiting to rise to the surface in my Netflix queue; all to see "The First And Last Supper". That's the episode in which Archie and Henry Jefferson had their big argument about God's skin color.

Back in the day, I used to own an 8-track of the show's best comedy bits, and I know that whole routine by heart.

But my memory being what it is as I get older, I did want to make sure of an exact excerpt, so I decided to watch the episode when I saw it listed in today's TV Land sked.

However, the sequence had been heavily edited; it skipped from "Maybe you were looking at the negative." to the rhapsody of the razzberries. Gone were the jokes about Jesus being an Episcopalian as well as the debate about black athletes and lily-white astronauts.

This is TV Land, dammit! It's supposed to be the reliquary of our Television Heritage. I can overlook their programming choices which they consider classic - 'Hunter', for Zarquon's sake? But they eviscerated one of the all-time best comedy classics!

And heavy editing isn't the only trick up their corporate sleeve. They've speeded up certain scenes to get through the show faster so they can stick in more commercials.

Cutting that scene brought the show to a conclusion 23 minutes into the half hour, leaving seven minutes for more ads and the credits (which would be not only sped up, but talked over). And that was with at least one commercial break at the halfway point.

I know....... It's a business and I'm looking at Television as a big sandbox in which I'm having a bit o' fun. Still..... If this keeps up, there will be no way for us to share our memories of the classics with future generations except by way of TV DVD sales and - hush hush! - file sharing.

Sales are booming - consumers have made TV shows on DVD a viable market for the studios that own and produce prime-time television. TV shows on DVD have become a $2.5 billion annual industry, according to Ralph Tribbey, editor-publisher of the industry newsletter DVD Release Report.

According to the DVD Release Report, TV-on-DVD releases have gone from five in 1997, to 265 in 2001, to 784 in 2004, accounting for 7 percent of all DVD sales. As of May 27, there have already been 312 such releases in 2005. If niche outlets like TV Land want to protect their viewership numbers, they better start thinking more about remaining true to the ideal. Otherwise people will just give them up altogether and stick with the DVD versions of their favorite shows with all of their restored glories... and never a word from our sponsor!

Anyway, that's just how I'm thinking at the moment.......


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