View Full Version: Beware of PBS' Edited Version!

Downton Abbey Discussion Forums and Role Playing Game > Off-Topic > Beware of PBS' Edited Version!


Title: Beware of PBS' Edited Version!


Eolivet - April 5, 2011 02:12 AM (GMT)
This post I hope will serve as a caveat emptor to any posters from the U.S. who are planning on watching S2 of "Downton Abbey" on PBS. After reading what was cut from S1, maybe they will find a way to get the whole series instead of the edited version. :)

For S1, PBS broke the 5 45-minute episodes and 2 hour-long episodes into 4 "episodes" of 90 minutes apiece -- which would mean about 25 minutes were missing from PBS' airings.

PBS (and the UK production company) got a lot of flak for that -- they claimed not to have cut "much," just "reordered" it. As someone who originally saw the show on PBS, and only now has seen the whole unedited season, I can say that flak was well-deserved.

The problem was, nobody could say (or wanted to say) exactly what was cut . After watching the whole show, I have a hard time explaining it, as well. What I keep coming back to is: context.

As far as I can tell, this is what was cut:

-William saying he was homesick in ep 1 (short scene)
-Multiple scenes with Matthew and Isobel: a couple from ep 3 (one pre-Pamuk incident, and one post-Pamuk incident), one from ep 5 (post-dinner party) and two from ep 7 (one right before Mrs. Byrd comes in, and the one where Isobel blames Violet for Mary's non-answer)
-The Anna/Bates vs. Thomas and O'Brien snuff box plot in its entirety in ep 5

Ep 6 and ep 7 were the most egregious offenders, as they stuffed 1 hour, 45 minutes+ of episodes into 90 minutes:

-About 75% of the Willam's mother subplot in ep 6 (the only scene that was shown was Mary telling William he needed to go home)
-A couple scenes with William and Daisy, where William talks about telling the truth when she's trying to lie for Thomas
-Several minutes of Sybil/Branson interaction in Ripon, during the count
-The scene with Sybil and Gwen, where Sybil tells her not to give up hope of finding a job
-A couple minutes from the Edith and Sir Anthony car ride
-Several lines (and a couple crucial seconds!) from the Matthew/Mary post-Sybil rescue sandwich dinner scene
-Carson and Mrs. Hughes commiserating over what to do about Mrs. Patmore (on PBS, it seemed like that was taken care of the instant it happened)
-Lots of "Thomas and O'Brien scheming" scenes in ep 6 & 7, but it was hard to get a handle on all of them. I think the "Bates was a thief" subplot was a good 10 minutes shorter -- the background O'Brien provides about the note she receives was definitely cut
-The post-dinner Matthew and Robert scene in ep 7
-Some of the pre-garden party scene with Branson, before he answers the phone

What I found so interesting about the cuts is that, while they left in all major plot points, they cut out a lot of what I like to call "relationship bonding" time. Anna/Bates and Sybil/Branson (and William/Daisy) seemed far more superficial in the PBS version. While Matthew/Mary was largely left alone, Matthew practically didn't exist in scenes without Mary (and never talked to his mother!) -- which made his character more limited.

One of the articles I read trying to justify the cuts claimed they just cut Violet and Isobel hospital scenes. Blatant lie: every single one of those scenes made the PBS cut. In fact, Violet, Robert and Cora were the only characters who practically escaped unscathed! Maybe PBS thought its viewership wouldn't stand for less Maggie Smith and Elizabeth McGovern (the only American!)

Bottom line: Avoid PBS! Find the show online! Any extra time it takes is more than made up by the extra character development and better-told stories. :)

ClaireH - April 5, 2011 10:01 AM (GMT)
I can't believe how many Matthew/Isobel scenes they've cut - they're so crucial for developing his character! And the post-dinner scene with Robert in ep7!! VITAL!! It's very disappointing to hear. (And has nothing to do at all with my pervasive love for Matthew :wub: lol!)

Eolivet - April 5, 2011 12:46 PM (GMT)
I agree, Claire! Ep 7 is like an entirely different experience, unedited. It did a real disservice to Matthew's character to eliminate all those scenes with his mother (although to me, the most egregious is the ep 5 post-dinner convo, though I'm admittedly biased! ;) )

I also came away with a different opinion of Bates -- who I thought was sort of railroaded in the PBS version, but in the unedited version, it's very clear that Thomas and O'Brien are absolutely meticulous in setting him up. There was a lot less handwringing about what to do about Bates in the PBS version, too -- it actually makes both Carson and Robert seem like they don't care as much. :(

I remember thinking the PBS version of ep 7 was anticlimactic -- because it seemed like the Anna/Bates and Matthew/Mary subplots were just parallel "I've got a secret" stories. The way it was edited, it seemed like the show kept each of those characters in isolation chambers until the end/near the end. :unsure: But seeing the lengths Thomas and O'Brien went to in order to discredit Bates makes Anna's ultimate discovery of what happened that much more poignant, and to see Matthew really struggling (to other people) about Mary not giving him an answer makes him seem more vulnerable. Those missing scenes make each story so much more dynamic (and not really similar at all!)

Grrr, stupid PBS!!!

Laura - April 5, 2011 04:34 PM (GMT)
I'm glad you posted these differences Eolivet. Hopefully it will clear up some of the confusion for viewers from the US.

When I first heard about these cuts, from another forum, I was very shocked at what was cut. Some of the scenes really do help develop the characters so much. With so many different characters, every second of screen time is important in developing them and helping the audience engage and understand them.

I'm not a big Anna/Bates shipper, but I love that subplot of the snuff box and was shocked it had all been taken out. It's a really interesting little story and shows Anna as a much more fiery and mischevious character who is not to messed with! Plus, O'Brien and Thomas' panic when the rooms are about to be searched, and then Mrs Hughes walks in on O'Brien, are priceless!

The lack of Matthew scenes without Mary is such a shame too. As the heir to the estate, he's quite an important character, OUTSIDE of Matthew/Mary. Those scenes with his mother and then Robert show he is far from a doormat for Mary to walk all over. The scenes between him and his mother show well their relationship and also Matthew's stubborn and proud streak - which is almost as big as Mary's at times! Perhaps more people would like Mary/Matthew if they saw both characters away from each other and Matthew not simply existing as Mary's puppet.

The cutting down of the William subplot is such a shame too, as William is such a sweet character, it's good that he gets his own story outside William/Daisy and Thomas' bullying. The story also shows Mary in a much better light - taking an interest in a mere footman and being concerned for him. The later scene between Isobel and Mary is also very telling of Mary's inner thoughts and sets things up nicely for future Mary/Isobel plots.

Another thing I heard was an extra Edith/Robert scene in episode 1 of the PBS version, which is only on the UK deleted scenes DVD extra. That seems to have made some people much more sympathetic to Edith. That is fine of course, but may explain some of the venomous hatred towards Mary regarding their bickering.

I guess I'm trying to say that it means we haven't all necessarily seen the same show, so people's opinions and interpretations are even more thinly spread and differing. It makes discussions a lot harder too, as the differing opinion may well simply be due to seeing the different versions.

Of course, even with the edit's mentioned, Downton Abbey is still fantastic and better shown edited than not at all! Still, hopefully PBS have learned to keep the show in it's original format (it's certainly popular enough now) and don't do any more edits!

Sorry about my rant, when I'm lucky and live in the UK and saw the full version! I just think a lot of the problems I've had with discussing the show with people on other forums is due to the different versions. :D

Eolivet - April 5, 2011 09:18 PM (GMT)
QUOTE
The scenes between him and his mother show well their relationship and also Matthew's stubborn and proud streak - which is almost as big as Mary's at times! Perhaps more people would like Mary/Matthew if they saw both characters away from each other and Matthew not simply existing as Mary's puppet.


I agree, Laura -- well, to be completely fair to PBS, the only Matthew and Robert scene they cut was in ep 7 -- we saw all the stuff with the cottages, the great convo about treating Moseley more fairly, etc. But without the scenes with Isobel, the Matthew/Mary story becomes very...Mary-centric. I remember thinking in ep 3 why was he just showing up for no reason after what happened with Pamuk (especially since Mary was basically ignoring him). PBS' version made him kind of look desperate...the original airing clearly showed he was concerned (feeling his mother's letter was not enough) and took matters into his own hands.

I do wonder if some of the Mary-hate stemmed from the PBS version. And of course, the only scenes of hers that were cut was the William subplot, which actually makes her look better! But Matthew only appears sparingly in ep 7, making it seem like an inordinate amount of time is spent on Mary, and her perspective. Seeing it exclusively from her POV does her no favors -- her stalling brings to mind that great Supremes song, "You Keep Me Hanging On." <_<

QUOTE
William is such a sweet character, it's good that he gets his own story outside William/Daisy and Thomas' bullying.


Not like everything is about relationships (although I think a good portion of this show is), but I swear, PBS' version made it seem like Daisy liked William again only because she discovered Thomas was a bully. Whereas in the original version, you see William giving her advice, being nice to her...really being a true friend, so you could see why her opinion of him would change.

QUOTE
I guess I'm trying to say that it means we haven't all necessarily seen the same show, so people's opinions and interpretations are even more thinly spread and differing. It makes discussions a lot harder too, as the differing opinion may well simply be due to seeing the different versions.


Good point! I'm just so happy this discussion seems to be constructive, because I was worried it would just be me ranting at PBS! :lol: And of course, you're right about some "Downton Abbey" being better than none at all. But I don't see PBS changing their tune next winter ("Masterpiece Theater" is always 90 minutes). That will make the edits even worse, as I heard DA is going to have more hour-long eps, right? (and a Christmas special?)

(Although I now feel like I have a great excuse for my rabid 'shipper nature: PBS' version made me do it! :D )

Laura - April 7, 2011 10:49 AM (GMT)
It really is such a shame that PBS have cut so much. When the cuts were first mentioned (amid lots of bruhaha due to the Daily M/Fail newspaper article) the cuts were only supposed to be to take out the more "complex" inheritance/entail stuff.

I sawthis in the IMDB FAQs sections:

What is the difference between the US and UK broadcasts of Downton Abbey?

The commercial breaks are different in the two versions. As a result, about 35 minutes has been removed from the US version of Season 1 to tighten up the pace. But these deleted minutes are made up of non-speaking scenes where characters are, for example, walking down a hallway.


I'm not sure WHO wrote it, but if it's someone from the official companies/shows, then it's a pack of lies and we all know it! If you're an American, had seen the cut PBS version and then read this, you wouldn't think you had missed anything! You ONLY need to see the DVD version to know it's a complete lie!

It's such a shame as, by the sounds of it, the cuts HAVE affected people's perception of the show and especially the characters. By the sounds of it, Mary and Matthew have suffered the worst, because of all the cut Matthew scenes.

Quite frankly, who on earth decided to cut ANY scenes with adorable Matthew in, is quite beyond me! I guess Anna and Bates suffered too, but more in terms of story than character development/understanding.

I just hope lots of US veiwers get a chance to watch the DVD version - which is not only cut proof, but has the episodes the right length. It must have seemed a bit odd where they started/ended some of the episodes, as a lot of the stories were set up to fit nicely in the UK's 7 episode.

If series 2 gets cut too, that would be such a shame. Maybe they'll put it in 5 x 1hr 1/2 episodes, but the episode structure would still be lost. That would be better than any scenes actually being cut!

mlt - April 7, 2011 04:41 PM (GMT)
I actually saw the PBS version first and then the UK version from Netflix later. For my part, I don't think the edits made me feel differently about the characters and story. I still felt the same for each character after the 7 episode version as I did after the first.

Although they did cut out a lot of "bonding" scenes I can't say that the addition of them later altered my view of the characters and their relationships. Yes Sybil/Branson was cut but I still got the gist that they love politics and possibly each other, and yes Edith and Anthony were cut but I still understood that they are both boring and like each other. I can't say that the cuts affected my view of Mary/Matthew either.

I will say that the addition of the Robert and Edith scene "we both loved him" did make me more sympathetic to Edith.

The main thing that watching the unedited version did was clear up confusion. Eolivet is right about episodes 6 and 7 (the last episode of the PBS version) being somewhat of a jumbled mess, especially in regards to the Bates and the SILVER THIEF! plotline. Basically all the scenes revolving around O'Brien's letter were cut which just made it SO CONFUSING as to how anyone knew about this and what exactly had happened. It was like one scene Bates was confessing to being a thief and the next scene is Robert going "Regimental Silver!". So confusing.

There is also so much going on for one episode. Each scene was jumping around from political rally to silver thieving to cataracts to pregnancy. It was very rushed.

Eolivet - April 7, 2011 05:07 PM (GMT)
QUOTE
I don't think the edits made me feel differently about the characters and story. I still felt the same for each character after the 7 episode version as I did after the first.


That's a good point, mlt (welcome, BTW -- I hope you'll introduce yourself in the Introduction thread, too! :) ) I don't think I did either -- but I won't lie that after I finished the original version of the show, I felt "cheated" by PBS. They didn't...keep anything from us, but I just didn't agree with some of their edits. I ended up feeling like they edited for time, when they should've edited for content.

For instance, they kept the telephone subplot in its entirety -- did we really need 10 minutes of that (yes, it's funny -- and obviously, we need some of it, because it's the background for Sybil to get Gwen that secretarial job), but surely they could've cut some of that! Or Isobel at the hospital (or the "Moseley doesn't have a life threatening disease, but just some form of poison ivy" plot). I realize, they wanted to leave every last minute of Maggie Smith footage in, but...did that really advance the plot at all?

What I don't understand is they seemed perfectly happy to move parts of ep 2 into ep 1, but after that, they kept to a "2 eps per installment" version (where PBS installment 2 was ep 2 & 3, PBS installment 3 was ep 4 & 5, etc.)

I guess I wish they hadn't edited to keep the episodes feeling like episodes, but edited on a plot/character basis, even if the PBS installment breaks weren't quite logical ending points. In other words: if you have to cut ep 4 in half, do it -- so you don't have to cut quite so much of eps 6 & 7.

The problem is, once they decided they were going to show nearly every last minute of ep 1, they were screwed -- because they just didn't have enough time to fit it all into 4 installments. So frustrating!




* Hosted for free by zIFBoards