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The opening anecdote to this archive doesn't really have anything to do with the rest of it. Or does it?

This transcript is interesting, because it has people from three different countries comparing notes about local television. Tubba is from England, Brunnen-G is from New Zealand, and the rest of those involved in the conversation are from the United States.

Ellmyruh: I worked at Staples for a year.
Ellmyruh: Smiling didn't bother me. The new manager did.
Brunnen_G: The worst place I ever worked had rats in it...
Brunnen_G: I mean, running across your actual desk...
Ellmyruh: Oh, I've got some manager stories. I had two horrendous ones.
Ellmyruh: (Two horrendous managers--many more stories.)
* Sam sits back to listen.
* Brunnen_G does too.
* Dikimbe does as well
Ellmyruh: Sorry, guys. I'm not in the manager-story-telling mood right now. Remind me in a week.
Tubba: Aww.
Brunnen_G: Heh. All right. Whenever.
* Dikimbe is disappointed
* Sam gets into a week and reminds Ellmyruh.
Brunnen_G: I could always tell my "rat" story instead.
* Tubba resumes his listening position
* Dikimbe wants to hear about rats
Brunnen_G: Ok, this was when I was "in between" real jobs, by which I mean "taking any crap job there is, rather than go onto the unemployment benefit." So I took this job doing office work and accounting in this horrible little welder's shed.
Brunnen_G: There was a ditch running along behind the shed and there were these HUGE rats everywhere. They would come right into the office, which was just a little room in one of those portable instant building thingies.
Dikimbe: eww
Brunnen_G: Anyway, one day I went to get something from where the welders worked, and one guy had left a pie for his lunch on a work bench, and there was this rat sitting there eating it...
Ellmyruh: EWW
Brunnen_G: So later in the day I saw the guy, and I said, "Don't eat your pie, there was a rat eating it",
eric: yuck.
Dikimbe: You should have let him eat it
Brunnen_G: And he said, "Oh, you get that all the time here," and PULLED OFF the half of the pie with rat footprints in it and ATE THE OTHER HALF. End of story.
* Ellmyruh shudders.
Dikimbe: yuck
Brunnen_G: After that I realised these were not the kind of people I really wanted to associate with.
Dikimbe: that is sick
* Brunnen_G only worked there for three months. It took that long to find a decent job
Brunnen_G: It was right after that I got the magazine job. Different sort of rats, but much nicer office space. ;-)
Ellmyruh: People rats?
eric: yeah, and at least they didn't step in your food while they ate it
Tubba: A change of rats does you good.
* lockeai remembers some rats from his high school. in the summer when they didn't get rid of them they would come up to you in the hallway and follow you around. nasty vicious things. the mice were nice though
* Sam would have rather been unemployed during those three months. Sam is dreading the nearing end of his tenure in unemployment.
Brunnen_G: Ellmyruh: Heh. They weren't really all that bad. But I have too many morals to ever stay long in publishing. :-)
Dikimbe: My dog ate a mouse once
Dikimbe: just thought I would bring that up
Brunnen_G: Alec Guiness always reminds me so much of my dad. They're the same age and they've got similar faces. Uh, that's the only similarity, really, but whatever.
Sam: I've seen maybe 8-10 old Guinness comedies total and love them all.
* Brunnen_G loves Lawrence of Arabia almost more than many other movies.
Sam: BG: Wow. That's a startingly committal statement from you.
Brunnen_G: I thought I should stop saying "x" is my all-time favourite movie, considering I say that about several hundred different movies.
Sam: Or is it a thinly veiled insult? I think if I wanted to insult a movie and make it sound like praise, "almost more than many other movies" is THE perfect way to do it. With the word "almost" in there, that means there *are* actually many other movies you like better.
Brunnen_G: No, I didn't mean that. It was just a sort of randomly garbled statement. I love it.
Sam: No you don't. You hate it. You can't change your story.
Brunnen_G: I have it on tape. I stayed up until about four in the morning to tape it off TV and cut out all the ads as it went.
* eric loves The Mummy almost more than several other forms of painful torture.
Brunnen_G: The Mummy, Lawrence of Arabia, what's the difference? Lotta guys running around deserts wearing towels on their heads.
* Brunnen_G loved The Mummy too
Sam: LOL! I do that too. I've been trying to build a complete commercial-free set of The Dick Van Dyke Show on tape. The show went off the air before I finished, but while it was on, I was setting my alarm clock for 5am, waking up for a half hour just to record and cut commercials, then go back to sleep for a couple hours. It ruled.
Ellmyruh: Leave it to Sam...
Brunnen_G: Yeah, I figure if a movie's worth taping and keeping, it's worth not being broken into tiny segments by screamingly irritating and inappropriate ads.
Brunnen_G: Of course, some would say if a movie's worth staying up until four a.m. just to cut the ads out of, it's worth going and *buying* the damn thing. But I'm cheap. :-)
Tubba: Do you have any ad-free channels?
eric: only premium cable channels, pay per view, and pbs
Brunnen_G: Tubba: Ooh...say those words again...I like them.
* Brunnen_G has no ad-free channels.
eric: and pay per view is not likely to show sinbad of the seven seas any time soon
Sam: I don't tape movies off stations that have commercials, though, because if they have commercials at all, you can be sure that they've also trimmed the movie to fit in the time slot. I only tape movies off premium movie channels, where they air them uncut and without commercials (or AMC, which isn't a premium station, yet airs movies without commercials and usually uncut anyway, which confuses me). But you don't have those luxuries in NZ, I suppose. So I guess it's fair that you get the Civic.
Sam: eric: Oh yeah, PBS. You know, I actually got an unedited version of Robert Mitchum's R-rated "Farewell, My Lovely" off a PBS station? I couldn't believe it. PBS RULES.
Sam: What other station would even SHOW a hard-boiled detective movie made in the 1970s anyway?
Ellmyruh: An R-rated uncut movie on PBS?
Sam: Ellie: Yeah. It was on late at night. That station aired two movies after 11pm or so every Saturday night, then re-aired them Sunday afternoon. That week, they didn't rerun "Farewell, My Lovely" on Sunday night but instead aired another movie. :-) And it wasn't a "hard" R, like they make today. It was the 1970s. But I'm surprised the FCC let them.
eric: sam, not even the FCC watches late-night pbs. of course they got away with it.
Brunnen_G: Well, you get two choices here. Prime time movies, at about 8.30pm, get sliced and diced pretty badly to fit the ad breaks. Really long and/or classic movies, like Lawrence, or Gandhi, or similar, get shown uncut but so late at night it ends up taking all night to watch them, including the ads.
Brunnen_G: I remember a few years ago when they screened Blackadder and were cutting ten minutes out of each half-hour show to fit more ads in.
Tubba: Brunnen-G: That's taking it too far.
Brunnen_G: Some people formed a pressure group to stop it, and dumped a truck load of turnips on the steps of Parliament. They re-screened it uncut. :-)
eric: LOL
Ellmyruh: Woah! New Zealanders are cool!
Brunnen_G: I mean, what a government. They don't pay any attention to other lobby groups, but they'll bow to the pressure of a small group of demented Blackadder fans. Go figure.
Sam: Tubba: Yeah, well, it's common practice here. Reruns of "I Love Lucy" get four minutes cut out of every episode, because, back when that show was on, the standard was 26 minutes of show for every 30 minutes of air time. Now it's 22.5 minutes, and I've noticed that often, for brand new shows, it's as low as 21.
Ellmyruh: I didn't know that!
eric: you mean i watch edited lucy? that's AWFUL! i'll KILL nick at night!
Sam: Yeah. For a while, Nick-At-Nite was my HERO, because for the first few years after they started airing I Love Lucy, they cut into their commercial time and kept all 26 minutes in, reducing their commercial time to 4. Then, I don't know, they relented when the show was on long enough and, I imagine, the ratings died down, and now they're cropped to 22.5 minutes.
Sam: Nick-At-Nite aired uncut Alfred Hitchcock Presents back when that was on, too. Better than that: the only commercial breaks were around Hitch's intros and NOT in the middle of the actual story. But that's not even on that station anymore.
Sam: Lots of British comedies -- and I have no clue WHY -- including Black Adder and Fawlty Towers -- often EXCEED 30 minutes. Some episodes of Fawlty Towers are as much as 34 minutes. Fortunately, the British TV we get airs on our PBS, which is not only uncut but commercial free, so we don't have an editing problem with those shows.
Tubba: We have a tendency to overshoot.
Tubba: Things like Blackadder and Fawlty Towers air on the BBC, which is ad-free, and often pushes things like the news back.
Sam: Tubba: Hey, I'm a fervent supporter of your tendency to overshoot. If 34 minutes is what it takes to do it right, that's what it should be. Here, that would be UNHEARD of.
Ellmyruh: Yeah, I think they aim for 10 minutes in America, knowing they can always use extra commericals.
Sam: I mean, geez, here they air commercials *DURING* the credits on shows and movies by squashing the credits into a tiny upper corner of the screen and taking over the audio. If there is something more vile than that practice, I have no idea what it is. Last I saw, Nick-At-Nite doesn't do that, but I haven't watched that channel in a while.
Brunnen_G: OOh, that IS evil. I couldn't believe that when I saw it in the States.
Ellmyruh: It REALLY annoys me if they show the closing scene of a show during the credits. They make the credits take over about a third of the screen, so you can't even get the full effect of the FINALE.
eric: sam: what's worse is that sometimes CBS crams the picture into a corner RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SHOW so it can give you the day's lotto numbers. that really skewers my beef. that's AWFUL. and when they do that, the closed captions go away!
* Sam , therefore, refuses to watch anything he cares about on anything but non-commercial stations.
* Sam is grateful there is VERY LITTLE that airs on commercial stations that he cares about.
Tubba: Wow. We get an ad every 15 minutes on the free channels, once in the middle of the prog and one between each. We get it easy, here.
* Brunnen_G saw something even more evil on US TV, though...
Brunnen_G: They go to a commercial break, and when the show comes back, it's only for the credits to run!!!!!!! I mean, what's UP with that?
Ellmyruh: Yeah, that annoys me a lot, too.
eric: that's even worse when they say "stay tuned, there's more to come" before going to the break
Brunnen_G: You get led to believe there's more scenes coming up, and it's just the CREDITS? Give me a break. Do they still do that over there?
Ellmyruh: They sure do. Well, you usually get another 30 seconds of the show, but that's about it.
* Brunnen_G never even IMAGINED anything so stupid until seeing it in the USA
Sam: LOL! I like it, because it means they don't have to break up the show for commercials. Even if there's a last scene that plays under the credits, still -- the commercial break doesn't interrupt the drama and thereby diminish its effectiveness.
Brunnen_G: Here, they pile on the ad breaks in last part of the show because they know you'll probably keep watching, but the last segment + credits is always a decent length.
Sam: So I am not at all opposed to that practice. Nor to the practice of frequently having a commercial break immediately after the *opening* credits. The commercial breaks in the middle are the problems.
Brunnen_G: Man, you guys put up with a lot. I thought the amount of ads HERE was bad.
Tubba: Well, we get our ads in the middle of programs.
Tubba: They write around them here though. So in a way, we get two little programs instead of one big one.
Sam: BG: Well, we *don't* put up with a lot. At least I don't. Remember, I *don't* watch commercial TV here. The only stations I ever watch of my own accord are public television, which is commercial free and uncut, or the movie channels on cable that are uncut and commercial free. You don't have to put up with the butchering practices of commercial TV here unless you actually want to WATCH something on those stations, and this country no longer produces anything worth watching.
Tubba: Well, we *do* have to put up with it, having only 5 channels.
eric: five channels? egad!
Tubba: Well, 4 and a half.
Tubba: Only part of the country gets channel 5.

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