Do people look forward to Friday because of my questions or the weekend? I’ll foolishly assume the former.
Anja leads us off:
Please can you share your insight in how far translations usually get guidance from the original writers, if any? In Germany, every single non-German series or movie gets broadcast dubbed or, on rare occasion, subtitled. Over the years many translations (The Simpsons an often cited example) have been mocked by fans for notoriously bad translations, missing or misreading lots of jokes. Are translations generally supervised, or would this even be negotiated when something is sold to tv-stations abroad?
(Notice how this ties in with my CHEERS theme in German post from last weekend???)
The U.S. writers are never consulted. We have no idea what’s happening to our dialogue. When David Isaacs and I rewrote JEWEL OF THE NILE we needed the screenplay cleared by the Moroccan government so someone translated our draft into French. My wife, who speaks a little French, said everything was just translated literally. So of course most lines made no sense. The government cleared it.
I found this on line recently. Scenes from an episode of our series ALMOST PERFECT dubbed into German. You tell me if it makes sense… or is funny.
Fred Beiderbecke asks:
Watching COMMUNITY on Netflix the shows seemed to be slightly different in lengths, usually about 21 minutes and seconds. How do you do the timing for the time allowed? Do they ever sell more commercials and tell you to cut time, or vice versa?
The network gives you a format down to the second for how long your show can be. Usually, when an episode is first assembled it’s too long. We have to edit it down to time, which is fine because there are always jokes that don’t work, moments you could lose, things that could use tightening up, etc.
Rarely will a major broadcast network let you go over. I seem to recall they did let us once on FRASIER. Cable networks are not as strict. They can go long on occasion. What those cable networks need to do though is alert folks so our DVR's don't cut off and we miss the last seven minutes of a show -- like what happened last week with THE AMERICANS on FX. Hint hint.
Broadcast networks have no problem however if you come in short by either thirty seconds or a minute. They won’t add a commercial. They’re usually at the maximum amount allowed anyway. But they will happily add promos.
The format you are given remains the same from week to week unless you change time slots. Then it could change, but only by thirty seconds or so. Again, this is more a broadcast network policy. Cable might be looser.
ZERO HOUR was cancelled after just three episodes by ABC. How many episodes did the network order? (Or what is the usual number). What happens to the unaired episodes?
I don’t know the specifics on that show but now that networks own the studios they can order as many or as few as they want.
Back when networks couldn’t own shows they had to negotiate with studios for their product. Network license fees rarely were enough to produce high quality shows so the studios would be on the hook for the overage. As such, studios pressed for at least 13 episodes to give themselves a chance at recouping their investment.
Networks eventually got tougher and offered six on occasion. Depending on the deal the studios accepted. And then networks were allowed to own product and all bets were off. Now networks can order five or four. And once they place an order they can cut it back. When UP ALL NIGHT was yanked for re-tooling and the decision was made to convert to a multi-camera camera format, the initial order was for four. That got reduced to one. And now that’s even gone.
For hit shows they can add additional episodes… usually at the very last minute when the staff is working on fumes.
What happens to unaired shows? Most of the time the network just eats them. Or stream them. A few decades ago networks would air their unsold pilots in the summer, just to try to recoup some of the costs. They weren’t good but they were original material and back in those re-run days, original programming in the summer was a rarity. This was pre-reality. Networks couldn’t fill their schedules with marginal celebrity-diving shows.
What’s your question? Dank.