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Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 27/05/96

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Where nobody knows your name

A week ago, I was ranting about cuts being made to shows when they migrated from the ABC to commercial channels. This was not a development that surprised me. What does surprise me is that commercial stations are now making major cuts to programs that originated on commercial networks in the first place.

As a longtime watcher of Cheers, I have been aware ever since Channel Nine began its five o'clock weekday repeats that little bits have been snipped from the program. Sometimes this has been mildly subtle; the opening sequence has been omitted, or the shorter version of the credits (from Series 11) has been used. More often, though, entire scenes have been omitted, or the show has returned from a commercial break halfway into some important bit of dialogue. The average Cheers episode runs for just 20 minutes 30 seconds on Nine, which meanswe're losing anything up to 3 minutes an episode, the greedy pigs. As well, Nine has been skipping episodes in the sequence, particularly those which deal primarily with Sam and Rebecca's plans to have children. There's a parellel with the Seinfeld repeats, where every episode with a vaguely sexual theme has been pulled on Channel Ten, but there appears to be even less method to the Cheers cutting.

Last week, though, Nine really excelled itself when they showed the hour-long episode in which Woody and Kelly get married. With previous double episodes, Nine has showed a remarkable facility for putting on four minutes of 'last time on Cheers footage', thus leaving just sixteen minutes in which to fit the remaining half of the show. I anticipated this problem, but Nine shocked even me. They just skipped the first half of the episode altogether, reducing the whole thing to a single, incomprehensible to the uninitiated gagfest.

Who needs continuity? Who needs all the great gags from the first half when Woody finally loses his virginity? Why not sacrifice these for a few more mindless ads and previews of upcoming inanity with Larry Emdur? This is the thought process that will make you a successful television executive.

Compared to its US success, Cheers was never more than a mild curiosity in Australia. If Nine keeps treating the program like this, I can't see the situation ever changing. Roll on pay TV.


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