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March 17 2006

SciFi UK picks up all five seasons of Angel. After the shameful treatment of the show by Channel 4 and Five, will the SciFi channel finally do the show justice?

Sky One, of course, aired the show in a prime time slot but on terresterial telly it was a farce from start to finish.

Handled properly Angel could have been as big a cult hit (oxymoron there I know) as Buffy.

Yes, UK terrestrial TV did a terrible job with Angel. Either the show was on early in the evening with huge censorship/cuts or it was on late at night with an erratic schedule. With Buffy, at least the BBC ran the show regularly at 6.00 PM with cuts and then ran a regular late night repeat without the cuts so that you could tape the whole show to see what had been intended.
How long has it been since original Trek was on in the UK?
Pretty sure i've caught it on various channels in the last couple of years. I think Channel 5 showed at least a season last year or the year before (or it might have been Bravo or UK Gold or any of a hundred other channels that've long since started to blur together, though it definitely had adverts so not Auntie).

Quite a while since the BBC2 6 pm showings of my youth though. Some weeknights they'd show Star Trek, other nights it'd be classic sci-fi films like 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' or 'It Came From Outer Space'. Happy days.

(this is actually not a bad line up for sci-fi though whether they absolutely massacre Angel like Channel 4 did remains to be seen)
The BBC ,and I think Sky, IIRC have shown it within the last 5 to 10 years.

As far as I understand what happened with AtS is that the BBC hesitated buying it partly because it was darker in tone and they knew it couldn't be transmitted in an evening slot

Of course then CH4 bought it and showed exactly why it wasn't suitable for an early evening slot
Oh and if you have Sky, there's going to be a SciFi +1 channel. Hopefully NTL will follow suit sometime this century.
I can't speak for Sky or the other channels, but this is a smart move on SciFi's part. Must admit, though I'd screamed at the heavens on this seven month delay of BSG, SciFi's performance has been extraordinary this past year. That's nice to see (psst...FOX, are you listening?).
Channel 4 and Five both messed up badly with Angel. The early evening slots were a disaster, leading to the heavy butchering of some episodes by the censors and certain episodes not being shown at all. The late night slots were not the answer either, with the show getting such a late slot that the only people who would bother to watch were the already dedicated viewers that searched for it in the listings. Any chance that Angel had of becoming as big in this country as Buffy disappeared because of this badly thought out treatment.

Angel should have had a 10pm slot, simple as that. If they had at least tried that there is a very good chance it might have even reached the popularity level of shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives. They just didn't have a clue what the show really was and therefore misjudged where to schedule it entirely.

Saje, it's very unlikely that SciFi will cut much out of Angel at all. The channel has a much more open mind to what is considered suitable for the various timeslots than terrestrial channels or even the likes of Sky One who also make considerable cuts whenever Angel is on during the day. Channels like SciFi and FX seem to push the boundaries a little more.

Don't know if anyone else noticed but it looks like SciFi are also going to be rerunning Firefly again. Good news.
I just wish a terrestrial channel would pick it up and show it properly. C4 and Five should be put up against the wall individually and collectively and shot for what they perpetrated.
UK terrestrial TV has still never shown AtS season 5. I had to rent the DVDs in the end.
To be honest i stopped depending on any of the UK terrestrial channels for entertainment a long time ago. They seldom show anything i'm going to be interested in and on the few and far between occasions where they do bother to buy some actually interesting television from the States they totally ruin it by treating it either as a childrens series in a 6pm slot or earlier or putting it in a late night slot where only the insomniacs or shift workers of the world will ever see it.

Channel 4 has recently started to improve, what with it's treatment of Lost and Invasion, but it's been way too long in coming and by now i would imagine anyone who is into quality US drama rather than dull as dishwater reality dreg like Wife Swap or the endless tirade of brainless soaps the terrestrial channels throw at you EVERY single night already has moved on to the better options that satellite or cable channel programming offers.
New US series currently showing on digital terrestrial TV include Tru Calling, ER, My Name is Earl, Supernatural, Invasion, House, The 4400, Desperate Housewives, The Inside, Surface and several flavours of Law & Order and CSI. Which of those are considered "quality" will depend on taste, but there's more than enough for me to choose from. As it is, I've got a big backlog on my PVR, including a whole season of 24! If I particularly want to see something that's not (yet) available on terrestrial TV, e.g. Firefly, I'd rather buy or rent the DVDs than pay for the privilege of watching it with ads, logos and other annoyances. I must say I'm itching to see Veronica Mars--those DVDs are calling me...
But that would be digital terrestrial, requiring a set top box, rather than the standard five channels you get through your regular television aerial. Remove the likes of E4, ITV2 and such and you suddenly have a great deal less choice.

The point being that unless you are willing to pay for extra channels, be that as a one off payment for a box or as a monthly subscription, then you are pretty much limited to whatever the BBC or ITV is pumping out.

Actually the BBC is currently not living up to it's own charter, at least not as i understand it. Because of the way it is funded by the television license system the BBC is supposedly expected to provide programming for all tastes, as much as is possible. Given that there is a significant number of people in this country that prefer to watch US imported shows, particularly in the science fiction/fantasy genre, surely it is up to them to provide that kind of entertainment to those of us paying the license fee that want that.

Currently i'm paying the BBC over 100 a year for the privilege of being able to watch other channels that i have to pay for seperately because the Beeb doesn't show anything of interest to me. They have four family entertainment channels and not one is currently showing any form of US series, as far as i'm aware. Very annoying.
Currently i'm paying the BBC over 100 a year for the privilege of being able to watch other channels that i have to pay for seperately because the Beeb doesn't show anything of interest to me. They have four family entertainment channels and not one is currently showing any form of US series, as far as i'm aware. Very annoying.

BBC1 has Medium, which is shown late on a Tuesday night. BBC2 shows Family Guy on Sunday nights. The problem the BBC faces is that it simply cannot compete in the bidding wars that go on these days. The licence fee does not generate anything like the revenue that comes from advertising.

The 1996 Royal Charter for the continuance of the BBC states that the Corporation is to provide programmes of information, education and entertainment. I don't think it specifies that these must meet the personal needs or wants of every television licence holder as such. If anything, the BBC is discouraged from purchasing American series in favour of producing home-grown programmes.

The BBC has recently produced a superb new adaptaion of Bleak House and is currently showing the critically acclaimed new David Attenborough series Planet Earth. This is where a lot of the money is going - not forgetting, of course, that the BBC has to provide several national radio stations and the World Service.
Medium, awful show and extremely overrated in my opinion. Talk about your predictable tv shows. It makes Bones seem like 'on the edge of your seat' television.

Now, Family Guy i do admit to loving but the fact that you were only able to give two examples out of over 500 hours of television per week spread over the four BBC channels just goes to show what i'm saying. Especially as one of those two shows is not all that good in the first place.

I was under the impression that the BBC is supposed to cater to all reasonable tastes in television shows, due to the fact that it bleeds money out of every single one of us with a tv in our possession. Preferring American television shows to British is hardly uncommon these days. In fact i don't remember the last time i had a conversation with any of my family or friends about any series that wasn't a US import. We discuss Lost, Invasion, Supernatural, American Idol, Battlestar Galactica, along with older series like Buffy, Angel, Farscape and so on but frankly i'm at a loss to remember the last time there was a British show worth watching, let alone discussing.

Quite honestly it's my opinion that if the BBC is going to not bother catering to my taste in television and spend the money i am giving to them on the likes of Bleak House (which was never going to be on my list of things to watch, that week or any other) then there should be an option to opt out of even receiving those channels. I don't watch them so why am i paying for them?
I agree the license fee system is wrong. If the BBC is considered a social service it should be funded out of general taxation. Otherwise it should be forced to operate on a commercial basis. At the moment the license fee is effectively a regressive and inefficient tax.
frankly i'm at a loss to remember the last time there was a British show worth watching, let alone discussing.

These things are always going to be a simply a matter of personal tastes, but just as a few examples, Dr Who, Bleak House, Life On Mars and Planet Earth were, I thought, all superb recent examples of the BBC getting it right.

As to the contentious subject of the licence fee, I would much prefer that things remain as they are. There is much wrong with the BBC, just as there is much wrong, for example, with the NHS (for whom I work), but I am not at all convinced that the alternatives would be an improvement.

Regarding Medium, I love the show, but whatever.
With the digital switchover coming soon in the UK, the BBC should become a subscription channel. Those who don't watch anything on it should not have to pay for the privilege of its existence.

In addition (sorry to get a bit parochial for non-UK viewers) the licence fee pays for BBC3, BBC4, News 24 and other channels that are not available on terrestrial tv. Far better that people just pay for the channels they want.
You are correct of course, dashboardprophet. Television, as much as anything else, is a matter of personal taste and i'm glad to see that the money i'm giving them is able to fund the shows that suit your personal tastes sufficiently. I'm slightly less happy that they have failed to impress me even once in recent years yet still chose to make me pay for everybody else but then that's life, i guess. Regardless, not one of the shows you listed was anything i personally wanted to watch and so that is just four more examples of me paying for things i don't want and that i never asked for.

Also, i don't think the license fee is in any way comparable to the NHS. TV is not a matter of life and death and whilst i'm willing to pay for a health service that i may or may not ever use (preferably the latter, actually) i'm not willing to pay for television stations i will never watch.

There is absolutely no reason why anyone should be forced to pay for entertainment they do not want, which is what the license fee does today. Either they need to make the BBC an opt out service for those who don't want it or provide television series for everyone, including those of us who want good American television on our screens. Or option three, start advertising on the channels and scrap the license fee altogether. It's the 21st century so why the hell not?
Demonic, I might simply have misinterpreted the tone of your message, but it seems to have been somewhat sarcastic, which I am not entirely convinced my previous messages warranted.

As to the comparison between the BBC and the NHS, let me make it perfectly clear that I was not trying to say the BBC provides a service to the public that should be equated to that of the NHS. I merely used the NHS as an illustration to say that the alternatives, in my opinion, would not be better. A lot of people would disagree with me (on both counts).
Life On Mars is well worth the license fee alone. It's the best new show of the last few years period (and that included shows in the States).
That actually was me being sarcastic, dashboardprophet, but not towards you yourself so much as towards the issue itself. I was trying to make the point that unless a given service is guaranteed to be of benefit to everyone then it should not be a service you are forced to pay for. Particularly if that service is one we could very easily live our lives without.

What i am trying to point out with the above sarcasm is that you have only served to illustrate my point that i'm currently paying to entertain you. Not entirely fair, in my opinion.

Simon, i've got to say that i tried Life On Mars out on the recommendation of a scifi magazine reviewer and i was left totally underwhelmed by it. Not a patch on the US series i watch and certainly not worth my license fee money to me, which i would much rather have put towards a couple of DVD boxsets and some cd's that i would actually benefit from.

Again, i'm not saying that there should not be a BBC or that it doesn't create programming to suit others but until it is able to entertain everyone then not everyone should have to pay for it to exist.
Thanks, Demonic, I get the point of the sarcasm better now I do see where you're coming from.

I suspect we won't find much common ground on this issue in general because I don't begrudge paying the licence fee. It is far from perfect, but I believe the BBC provides a generally excellent service (not just on television), although I personally make very little use of it because much of it is not of great interest to me. However, the counter-argument is equally valid, even if it's not the way I would personally like to see things go.

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