Welcome to Open Mic Mondays, and a late, but sincere and very appreciative thanks to my friend Bryce for pointing out the more…Cronenbergian connotations of this feature’s original title.
This week’s column comes to us from a colleague and friend of mine. Laura is a fellow former SFX blogger and a tirelessly enthusiastic, intelligent commentator on fannish culture. She does great work and this week she’s talking about the problems that fans in the US have with some of the choices BBC America have been making.
I have a confession to make.
I’m a geek of the female persuasion, and I just don’t care about vampires as a general rule. The same applies to werewolves, zombies, and ghosts. But as with all rules, there are exceptions.
Or perhaps I should say there is an exception. For though there is a short list of characters and films, from Remus Lupin to Shaun of the Dead, that I consider fun times despite not really being my thing, there is one show that takes my little rule and blows it to smithereens.
And that’s Being Human.
I have loved this show from the minute Annie’s voiceover came on my TV, and though I struggled through season four for several reasons, season five made me fall head over heels for it again. And yes, the vampires had a good deal to do with that. Of course, so did the werewolves – especially George – and the ghosts. Heck, even the zombie in season three dragged me into her plot. Yes, I love them all, but mostly I love the witty dialogue and genuine emotion this show puts into such an odd supernatural setting. I’m one of those Being Human fans who watched every extra video the BBC put out and read the blog and snatched up every bit of fandom I could.
Except that often that wasn’t much.
See, I’m American. I live on the other side of the ocean from Being Human’s birthplace.
And so I couldn’t watch the extra videos the BBC made, because they were geographically restricted. They simply wouldn’t work here – at all. I had to wait for some caring fan to download them and post them on YouTube to see them. I couldn’t watch Becoming Human until some wonderful soul did the same. And it took months for me to see the episodes of the show, because I don’t pirate media.
So I had to carefully avoid spoilers (and yes, at the last minute, through a random tweet from someone who is lovely and didn’t mean to, I was spoiled about the ending of season three – dammit) for months until the episodes aired here.
This was all a tremendous pain, but honestly, it was okay. You folks on the other side of the pond have been dealing with this for ages with American TV. I figured it was just my turn to wait.
I can live with that. Frankly, it’s great that at least we get British programming here now with some semblance of practicality (meaning it’s not on at midnight on Saturday, like Red Dwarf was, and that we get more than one show at a time).
But what I can’t live with is the fact that apparently BBC America thinks it’s okay to cut up the shows we love just to make them fit into the broadcasting schedule here. I realize that the stupid FCC makes them cut out “the F word” and such. I can deal with that. It’s dumb, but whatever. I know what they’re saying. And blurring naked bits is equally asinine, but again, whatever. It’s fine. But to cut content is simply unacceptable to me. I realize that due to adding commercials, BBC programs that take an hour to air in the UK take about seventy-five minutes to air here. I also realize that’s a huge inconvenience, but it’s still the case. Or rather, it should be. When Being Human first started showing here, that’s what happened.
But I noticed something odd when season five aired here just this past month. The time slots were only an hour long. I didn’t think much of that at the time. I just didn’t put it together. Until I was watching an episode and got very confused. The characters referenced something that I didn’t remember. Something that, trust me, I would have remembered had I seen it.
So I went online and found a clip of said something. I watched it, then went back to my DVR and rewound the episode. No sign of said scene was seen.
I was flabbergasted, and beyond confused. I recalled the time slot change, and it all came together. I realize that bits and pieces of British shows are cut here for time. And though I’m really not okay with that overall, this particular segment was not a little piece. It was nine plus minutes of continuous footage just gone. It left a serious gap in the episode.
I’ve since gone back and watched the several of the episodes of season five by other means, and I’d missed several other little things. Most of them don’t add a lot to the show (though a few give the characters much more depth in only a few seconds), but this particular cut just makes no sense at all.
Now, it’s not like I’m not going to buy the DVDs (oh, wait – I already have) and rewatch the entire season and then likely the entire series again (why, yes, I am in series two again right now), so it’s not a huge deal to me in theory, but in reality, I’m mad as hell.
When I watch a show, I want the whole thing! I don’t want just part of it! We watch Copper, Broadchurch, Ripper Street, Whitechapel, Sherlock, and Top Gear in this house (no, we don’t watch Doctor Who, okay?), and I know I’m missing other scenes in other shows. It just took my obsession to prove this to me.
I’m not okay with this! I pay my cable company extra money to be able to watch BBC America, for crying out loud! I’m fine with that – if the service I received was up to snuff, but it very much is not.
So I propose a simple solution. One not mired in proxies and false ISPs.
Dear BBC: please let me pay you directly for your content! I will gladly give you my money to watch the shows I love in entirety. Charge me by the show. By the season. Give me an annual fee. Whatever works for you. I don’t care. Just give me my shows whole and unadulterated. Let me subscribe to you and get them as they air, even. I’ll pay premium for that! And trust me, I’m not alone in this! You could make a killing!
I don’t want to pirate your wares! I believe artists should be compensated for their work, and I want to support them and their products not just with my words but with my wallet!
But this type of thing makes it really hard to stick to the straight and narrow. Making me wait anywhere from three to six months just to see you butcher the shows I love via the axe of BBCA is hard to take, so as the phrase goes, shut up and take my money!
Thanks Laura. You can find her online at wabbit89.
Got something you want to talk about? Then please get in touch. By this stage I think you should have a good idea of what sort of stuff works in this slot but I’ll be posting a recap before I go on holiday for my birthday (Birtholiday? Is that a thing now?) later in the week. In the meantime, a random section of this paragraph has been linked to my gmail account. It’s not really to foil the spammers, because I know that won’t happen, more to keep them amused.
See you next week