Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Downton and dumbing down


Downton Abbey’s airtime is to be cut from eight to six hours when it goes out Stateside next week amid fears it will be too complex for American viewers.
It is thought “there might be too many references to the entail and they have been cut. It is not a concept people in the US are very familiar with.”
Well, I have to say I’m not familiar with an entail either. Why would I be? My family even at its most extended and affluent has never had cause to think of such a thing, and I think that goes for most of the British population.
“American audiences are used to a different speed when it comes to television drama and you need to get into a story very quickly.” Not only in their tv, darling, but in their books, too. Miss out the detail, go for the action seems to be the cry.
“Matthew Crawley (played by Dan Stevens) – a middle-class third cousin of Lord Grantham (played by Hugh Bonneville) who becomes the unlikely heir to the family’s estate – will also arrive earlier than he did in the UK version to increase the show’s “drama and conflict." He is a pivotal character and his arrival brings with it drama and conflict. In the British version he doesn’t arrive until episode two. In our version he is there in episode one.”
The eight hour running time has been cut to six for the US, but there is hope for those who would like to see the whole story – the DVD boxed set will be the eight hour version.

Perhaps this goes someway to pinpointing the differences in UK-US film/tv culture. Most of the film stuff that comes out of the US these days makes me think of the cartoon characters in the comics we used to read as children. Angelina Jolie in Salt, for one – the action sequences should have killed her off in the first reel but no, up she bounces, dives off a motorway bridge and ricochets off yet another moving juggernaut on the lane below. I gave up counting how many times she ought to have died and thought of her as an indiarubber doll rather than a human being.
This is a bit of a rant for the New Year! Maybe I'll save books for the next post.

1 comment:

Anita Davison said...

A rant maybe, Jen but a very amusing one and so true. I felt the same watching Evelyn Salt, whose credability was removed for me when she scaled juggernaughts roofs and yet didn't get a smut of dirt on her clothes!

The entail plotline is pivotal to the Downton Abbey story, its why the characters do what they do or otherwise it doesn't make sense. I think it's an insult to American viewers to assume they won't be able to keep up - those likely to watch the series aren't the same people who watch 'Iron Man'