Sunday, January 25, 2009

Meanwhile, on Caprica



Like Ron Silliman, I am a fan of Battlestar Galactica. Unlike Ron, whom I'm guessing has watched it as a reasonably fluently programmed sequence, broken only by seasonal hiatuses & a writers' strike, my viewing of it has been somewhat chaotic.

Australian TV is separated into two streams, free to air & (cable or satellite) subscription. Free to air has two subsets, one (three channels) paid for by the airing of commercials & the other (two channels) subsidized out of the public purse. The introduction of High Definition has/will increase the number of fta channels, but there will still be only the same five players.

When subscription TV was introduced, the Federal Government of the day gave first option rights, mainly relating to sporting events, to the free to air channels in order to protect their revenue base. There were also restrictions added to drama shows along the lines of subscription TV being unable to show a series until the fta channels, if they had purchased it, had shown the last episode of that particular series.

It all sounds reasonable, until you remember that the commercial channels are driven by ratings, & that a program that doesn't rate can be suddenly dropped & the remaining episodes put on a back shelf somewhere so that the final episode never gets seen & therefore the series never makes it to cable. & you also can't buy a DVD in local format until the end, or very near it, of its fta "life".

West Wing was a prime example. A commercial channel just stopped showing it midway through the—I think—fourth series which was even then running two years behind its original U.S. showing. Eighteen months later, the main publicly-subsidized channel did a deal & picked up all the remaining episodes, showed them on a weekly basis in two-episode blocks, no break between series, & then, for the final series, reverted to the standard one episode per week. Even so, it was almost a year after the final episode aired in the States that we saw it here.

Battlestar Galactica is another show that has suffered in a similar fashion. The first two series made their way through fta TV in a pattern that you could only follow if you attached a tracking bracelet to its ankle. Series 3 took so long to go to air in Australia that I think some covenant must have been breached that allowed the DVD to be sold, eighteen months or so after that season finished in the U.S. & at least six months before it finally went to air here.

When the third series went to air here, it was on the network's High Definition channel. There's been no imperative so far for us to switch to HD—the offerings are, in the main, the same—&, even though the first half of Series 4 followed on immediately, the release date of the DVD was not that far away so we decided to wait for that.

We also had resigned ourselves to having to wait for the DVD of the second half of Series 4 to come out before we could watch it. But something weird has suddenly happened: the local SciFi channel has just announced that next Saturday it's going to be showing, one after the other, the ten episodes of the first half of Series 4, followed by the first three episodes of the second half of the series. Which means that we get to see the third episode the day after—nominally; the Date Line actually makes it two days—it goes to air in the States.

I have no idea what's going on. The regular scheduling of Battlestar Galactica continues later that night still in the first episodes of the third season. There appears to be no scheduling at this point of any new episode beyond the third. ¿Quien Sabe, Dude? Frak it. Who cares! All I can say is never look a gift Cylon in the vizor strip. I'll be watching.

2 Comments:

Blogger craig freeman said...

Do you watch House or Nip/Tuck?

4:55 AM  
Blogger craig freeman said...

you can watch newer episodes here, www.hulu.com

2:01 AM  

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