Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2002-01-18 Entry: "The Censors Strike Again"

Sky One continued their evil plot to cut the new series of Buffy to shreds last night. No-one's really sure why. They blame it on the ITC, but the ITC only recommend cuts based upon specific complaints and they haven't got any of those. Furthermore, as Sky show Buffy at 8pm, and they're an encrypted channel, they're post-watershed.

You see, in general, pre-9pm, stuff has to be cut because children might be watching. After this time, they just have to follow a small set of guidelines (to prevent people from imitating any techniques seen and causing harm to themselves or others). However, an encrypted channel has that watershed shifted to 8pm, as it's presumed that people have made a conscious decision to watch and therefore are responsible enough to get an extra hour of violence.

But we're two (or three technically) episodes in on the sixth series of Buffy, and they're still snipping bits out. This time it was Anya attempting to slice her face open with a knife while possessed. Last time it was Willow killing a deer and actually showing remorse for it - the deer still died, but they cut away at the knife being waved around.

Usually, our worst offenders are Channel 4, who (as with most British Terrestrial Broadcasters) assume all sci-fi is suitable for children and therefore show it at 6pm. This has been the case with Babylon 5, Stargate SG-1, Angel, and now Smallville. Angel was the most ridiculous, with them having to remove nearly twenty minutes from one episode to make it acceptable...

The BBC are slightly better. Unfortunately, their schedule isn't really able to cope with a 45 minute show (as most US series are 42 minutes plus or minus), so they pick the 6pm slot and then show two shows - an hour and a half, getting them back to normal programming at 7:30pm. Also, 6-7 is news on BBC1, so they can hide the sci-fi on BBC2. Of course, the 6pm time means they still have to cut. However, after a number of complaints, they've taken to showing an uncut repeat at midnight or thereabouts (when their schedule tends to break down anyway). Currently Buffy gets this priviledge.

Sky however, show their sci-fi in sensible time-slots (8-10 usually). This currently accounts for the pairings of Enterprise and Dark Angel, and Buffy and Angel. And then they decide to censor it?! From reading the transcripts, I'd say the bits they're cutting are fairly tame compared to later in the series, so I dread to think what'll happen...

I've seen no complaints about Angel so far, but I thought the fight scenes looked very choppy last night - it might just have been the broadcast quality...

And to add to the Sky woes, they've purchased the short version of the musical episode. They claimed that the long version wasn't available for internation purchasers, but the BBC went in there and decided they'd take the long, uncut version. They'll probably have to show it at midnight, but at least we'll get the full thing (and without add breaks - heaven).

Of course, when it happens I'm likely to be in the US and unable to see it anyway, but you never know.

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