I started writing a comment on Mickie's Two Versions Blog and it occurred to me that it would make more sense to just write it as a response blog so I could post my thoughts on the issue as well.
For those in the UK who have previously been unaffected by the editing of BBC television for other parts of the world, let me fill you in. There are always multiple versions of BBC shows. You guys are just noticing it now because it may affect you for the first time. Every episode of Doctor Who or Torchwood we see in the US is cut down for time because we don't have the same run times in the US as in the UK. We only get to see the full episodes once the DVDs come out. And content, well, you're not the only one struggling with that either. When we had Torchwood on BBC America they've had to censor some things because it's not a pay channel like Starz. Particularly I think we lose the swearing. But we don't get the worst of it. Other non-UK countries have it much worse. If they get it at all on TV, they get these shows delayed by WEEKS, MONTHS or even YEARS and when they do get them they are vastly different. All the questionable language and sexual content is cut. This is not a new issue this is just the first time it might affect the UK.
As for the BBC censoring some of the content of the show I don't know the details I assume there is stuff that is OK to show on Starz that isn't OK to show on BBC. Mickie mentioned the show Rome having aired on the BBC and having strong sexual content as well as being very violent. I've not seen this show so I cannot vouch for how extreme it is but let me give you a little insight into Starz. The pay channels in the US, specifically Starz, HBO and Showtime are known for their caution-to-the-wind adult programs. That's not to say they push the envelope just because they can, they have a lot of beautifully done shows that are improved or only possible because they don't have restrictions. But let's be clear. These channels and what they are allowed to show is one step down from porn. In fact, I think there are tamer "adult films" out there than some of the things I've seen. I don't know if that puts it into perspective for you all in terms of what the BBC usually sees fit to show but I imagine they have restrictions that Starz does not, even after watershed.
Mickie took issue with the two companies creating a show together that neither could air in it's entirety. I get that, I don't want to have to compare notes with my friends across the pond and try to track down the UK versions to get the whole story but that might just be the case. I hope they at least give us the full unedited episodes on the DVDs.
In defense of the networks let me say this. If I had the chance to create Torchwood without restriction. Or if I was creating any show really I would never dream of holding back. I think the executives of both networks came to the conclusion that they needed to make the best show possible and worry about editing later. There's nothing wrong with that. And if all goes as I hope we will all eventually see the full versions.
I feel bad for my UK friends, struggling with this for the first time. Until now they never had to worry about losing any content because the shows have been tailor made for BBC television. This year with Torchwood taking on the US trying to be noticed globally (as it should be) they really want to make it the best series yet. As much as neither of us wants to have edited versions I would hate it more if the shows was simultaneously shorter and more toned-down to meet the needs of the networks. We have to take a hit for the team here. Accept that we might not get the full version until the DVDs but know that all the versions airing around the world are going to have a higher entertainment quality. This is a bigger picture scenario. We're all in love with this show but if the rest of the world really grabs on that could mean 7 more years of Torchwood and then everyone wins.
I think there has been a lot of negativity amongst fans surrounding this new series of Torchwood and I'm not saying I am entirely innocent but I do try to keep positive. At every turn fans are questioning what that networks are doing and really complaining about every decision we're not even privy to yet. I'm not sure why fans seem to think this series was doomed from the get-go but I suspect it mostly has to do with it being a US/UK co-production. I think people need to take a step back. What's the point of worrying about an outcome we really don't know about and certainly have no control over? It's unnecessary stress about something that should be bringing fans joy. We get more Torchwood! Isn't that what we've wanted all along? Why speculate about all the things that can go wrong when we can look forward to all the things that can go right?
I may be a huge fan of the show and of John but guys, it's just a show. It's fiction and at the end of the day it's for entertainment purposes and it doesn't actually matter. It should be a happy thing in our lives, it certainly is in mine. Everyone has spent this whole wait expecting the worst and now my friends who saw the BFI screening have nothing but positive reviews. Have a little faith. I do. I don't think any of the people involved would have agreed to this collaboration if it was going to make Torchwood worse. From the start John Barrowman has been saying it's going to be the best series yet, and you know what? In Barrowman I trust. I am excited and I am going batty waiting the last 12 days until it's on my TV.
I've said my peace, feel free to say yours. I would love to hear people's opinions even if you don't agree with me. And I hope that after you read this you can anticipate the return of Torchwood with a smile and leave all the network politics to the networks. xx