Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 20/05/96

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.

The Young Ones face the axe

Bits of the media have been getting quite excited about the return of The Young Ones to Australian television screens this week (at 11:45pm this Thursday on Channel Ten). It's not actually the first time Rik, Neil, Vyv and Mike have popped up on a commercial channel; Channel Seven tried screening them in a very early morning timeslot a couple of years ago. Now, I love The Young Ones, it's the first TV show I ever became properly obsessed with and I can still probably recite most of the scripts. In all the excitement, though, everyone has missed the key point: this is a commercial station.

A typical Young Ones episode runs for 35 minutes, but Ten has allocated them only a half-hour timeslot. On top of that, there'll be between five and eight minutes of advertisements crammed into the timeslot as well, so up to 13 minutes will have to be cut from each episode.

Channel Ten has faced this problem before, with programs such as The Goodies and Are You Being Served?, and has shown all the subtlety and taste of one of Ray Martin's ties. Scenes are cut seemingly at random, regardless of continuity, character, or plot. We can't expect what happens to The Young Ones to be any better.

I very much suspect that the first things to go in each episode will be the digressions: in the first episode, for instance, there's the sequence where Rik sits down and watches Nozin' Aroun', the fabulous piece of 'youth' television. In plot terms (to the extent that TYO worries about the plot), this is disposable. In terms of the show's character and feel, though, these pieces are essential.

The problem wouldn't be quite so annoying if it weren't that the commercially-released videos of The Young Ones in Australia are also butchered; the episodes are out of order, and the credits are cut off, even in stories like Bomb where the storyline continues underneath them. In the UK, there's a pair of proper, in order, uncut video releases; is it too much to ask for these over here?

In the meantime, Ten could look to Seven, also now a big purchaser of UK programs, for guidance. Faced with British cop dramas which run for 50 minutes instead of the regulation 45, Seven simply extends its programming slot by five minutes to allow for the extra material. Given that advertisements are never going to disappear from television, this is the best solution we can hope for outside of the ABC.

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