Friday, August 18, 2006


As I mentioned in an earlier post, Life caught up to me this week and not only was I falling behind in my posting, but also in viewing my favorite shows of the week.

So I finally watched this week's episode of 'Life On Mars' on BBC-America. The show is about a modern-day detective in Manchester, England, who finds himself transported back to 1973 after a car accident. Whether he's really there or in a dream-world caused by a coma back in his own time, the cop has to adjust his modern methods of police work to a far less sophisticated time in order to survive long enough to find out what's happened to him.

I've been eagerly awaiting this show since the end of December when Martin Conaghan first reported on it for And in one of his detailed summaries and critiques of the show, he mentioned that the cop, Sam Tyler, would have a 'Quantum Leap'-like moment in which he got to meet Marc Bolan of the group T-Rex. (Apparently, the show takes place two years before Bolan's death in a car accident and Sam warns him to stay away from the minis.)

So it was a shock to watch the credits for the fourth episode and see that Marc Bolan was supposedly in there and yet I never remembered seeing the scene.

Here's how I wrote it up for Since I had to post it to a piece written back in January and which is now stuck in some dusty archive somewhere, I don't think it'll ever be seen by anybody. So that's why I'll trumpet it here. (As if I have that big a readership!)

Not sure if a comment added to a post from back in January will ever get noticed, but here goes anyway.

I just watched my tape of this episode which aired on BBC America Monday night.

When the credits ran at the end, I noticed the name of Marc Bolan as a character and remembered Martin's mention of him in an encounter with Sam.

I know I didn't walk away from the TV during the episode, but maybe I looked away and the scene went by faster than it sounded.

So I rewound the tape and it's obvious to me that BBC-A edited the scene out!

Near as I can figure it, the chance encounter with Marc Bolan happened inside the night club run by the bad guy. It must have been just after Hunt treated Annie horribly on the stairs up to the VIP lounge, but before they entered Warren's office.

I figured it was there, because Sam seemed sympathetic to the treatment Annie received from a boss, but when we see him next, he's got this beatific smile as he shakes his head in wonder.

Since he's in the VIP lounge of the club, I have to figure that's where he met Marc Bolan.

And it also looks like they cut out most of the references to the Grand National and how Sam predicted the winner. For an American audience, I don't think we even know what the pageantry on the TV is for in the few scenes we see.

I don't know why I continue to be suprised when a cable outlet pulls a stunt like this on me. They're just in it for the revenue, same as the big broadcast networks. But I keep hoping they remember that in their own particular niche, they should be providing a service as well as the content. That they should be caretakers of their particular venue of programming so that future generations can enjoy these shows as they were first broadcast.

And as we've seen in this case, it's not even a matter of generations, just a matter of months and a jump over the ocean and we don't get to see the same episode as shown in England.

The same disillusionment is with the Sci-Fi Channel for showing wrestling on Tuesday nights after 'Eureka' - but then, I switch over to 'Rescue Me' on FX anyway. It's just the idea that wrestling is on there that bugs me.

Unless one of those wrestlers rips his own skin off to reveal that he was really some alien bug in disguise, where's the science fiction?

And a block of 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' on Sci-Fi one night? Even if every one of them dealt with Detective Munch's conspiracy theories, it's not right.

And don't get me started with TV Land, which is supposed to be the reliquary of our TV cultural heritage. They've sped up scenes to make them look like jerky silent movies (see the episode of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' where Rob and Laura are trapped in an elevator with Lyle Delp [Don Rickles].)

And they edit out key scenes so that later scenes don't even make sense. (A good example of that - in "Chuckles The Clown Bites The Dust", Mary holds up a vegetable mobile and asks Ted to take it with him when he's cryogenically frozen. But you don't see anymore the scene where Sue Ann Nivens gives the Happy Homemaker prop to Our Mayr.)

I don't even know why I keep watching these shows when they air; I collect the DVD sets of the shows in which I'd most notice these edits. I suppose it's just the result from years of conditioned experience.

But getting back to 'Life On Mars', I suppose what really irks me about the editing is that we never even got the chance to at least see it once in its unedited form. I can understand doing it for the repeats, like AMC does with 'Hu$tle' and its afternoon showing the next day - they take out almost fifteen minutes of material by then. But at least you had the opportunity to see it in the original 45 minute format twice the night before.

And this from a movie network that puts commercial interruptions in its movies. At least they know how to treat a TV show properly.......


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