Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Look Back in Time

Travel in an RV has certain trade-offs. For one thing, TV watching is hardly a matter of schedules anymore. Many shows happen when the RV is on the road, or when you're parked in places where you can't get the signal. When we bought this RV, it had a VCR tape player for those times, but to be honest, we've hardly used the player, and in the last cleanup while we were home, I just removed it.

Instead, I have a Directv DVR which can capture shows when we're parked at convenient places, and my Mac Mini-based system for watching my collected library. The DVR has several disadvantages, not the least of which is that none of the local channels are available. No NBC, ABC, CBS, etc. We can capture SCIFI network shows, and such, but many of the shows Mary Ann and I watch aren't available. Smallville has to wait on the home DVR until the trip is over.

My library has the advantage that iTunes supplies several of the shows, like Veronica Mars, which I can't get otherwise. There are also a few old classic shows that I pick up when I have the bandwidth. Tonight, prompted by my current time-travel novel in progress, I chose to download the first season of The Time Tunnel.

There are a couple of interesting facts I notice from this look into the past. Current TV shows from the year 2007, with commercials removed, weigh in at about 43 minutes apiece. The Wonder Womanepisodes from 1976 were about 50 minutes long. And the Time Tunnel shows from 1966 were about 51 minutes long. In addition, a full season of shows from 1966 had 30 episodes, in contrast to the current 22.

I suspect it all has to do with the legal limit of commercial time per hour these days, but it's interesting to see what the shows have done with that extra 8 minutes. Or to say it another way, what had to be cut out to make the episode play nicely with advertisements?

The first episode of The Time Tunnelhad long establishing shots of the huge underground base, copied almost directly from the 1956 movie Forbidden Planet. It was clearly an Irwin Allen extravaganza. The Wonder Womanshows are always spending long seconds with her twirling around while changing clothes. The pacing of the shows are clearly different, and feel dated because of it. But my question: Is our current sense of video pacing due to the commercial pressures, or to other factors like our fast-paced lives?

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