Presentation of TV Episodes: Broadcast Order VS Production Order

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Joe Karlosi, Dec 7, 2004.

  1. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    This is something that's bugged me a bit about the STAR TREK Season One set (even though I'm a horror and sci fi fan of 42 and have seen just about everything movie and television-wise, STAR TREK is one show I've only just started to get into lately)!

    Anyway, I personally prefer the shows to be presented on DVD in order of PRODUCTION, not as they were originally aired. While I can appreciate the nostalgia factor in seeing the shows exactly as they first premiered, for a newcomer it just helps to see each episode in the order it was MADE. There are all sorts of early references, nuances and things which serve to educate you from the start. And in the case of StAR TREK, this is pretty important. We see Spock, for instance, start off more emotional until Leonard Nimoy got more of a handle on how to play him. The uniforms and things also change back and forth if watched in this "random" order.

    I know some people prefer "broadcast" order, even if it means watching episodes 11, 2, 6, 23, 1, and 5... what do you think?
     
  2. Jim Beaver

    Jim Beaver Supporting Actor

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    I'd rather have production order, I really like to see all the episodes in order.
     
  3. Eric Paddon

    Eric Paddon Screenwriter

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    I agree that Star Trek is a case where production order is superior, especially with Season 1. But production order vs. broadcast order IMO depends entirely on the kind of show itself, because obviously shows with a continuing storyline have to go in airdate order.

    The Dick Van Dyke Show did the smart thing by going in production order up to the last two episodes, which they placed in broadcast order instead since the next-to-last shot, "The Last Chapter" was meant to be the true coda to the series as a whole.
     
  4. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    I'd go further and say it depends on the circumstances surrounding the change in order of the episodes themselves. Often, production order is altered merely to accomodate shooting schedules or script development, and the episodes are never intended to be shown in that order.

    Since the reasons for changes vary, and the consequences for those changes vary, the only consistent approach is to go with airdate order.

    Certainly, in the case of ST:TOS, the episodes make more sense in production order. I have no problem with them being presented on disc in airdate order, with the production number next to the title as on Star Trek. That way, you can watch it in the sequence that makes sense for you.

    -Scott
     
  5. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I've been doing this for STAR TREK, Scott - but it's murder! The eps are scattered across various discs, so unless you know where the next show is, you don't know which disc to pull out next! I've taken an index card, listed 1 thru 29 on it, and put the corresponding title (and its disc appearance) next to the proper production number. It took some time, but I'll be able to keep this card inside the set to readily locate each show in sequence whenever I want to in the future.
     
  6. MattPeriolat

    MattPeriolat Supporting Actor

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    I personally like watching TV in the order it was originally broadcast, but that's just me, myself and I. That being said, I also have no objection to order of production, just as long as the original broadcast dates are included so I can watch them either way depending on my mood of the day as it were.

    It's all good as long as it's all there. These recent hatchet jobs on recent show like Alf and apparently Too Close for Comfort for example. Yes, I know, I'm as finicky as Morris the Cat, but I love my TV.
     
  7. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    I agree completely.
    Many series, however, really don't make much difference at all (like most half-hour sitcoms). And on these types of non-continuing storyline programs, I never ever watch them in any particular order anyway. I skip around all over the place.

    But with most hour-long dramas, I'd say "Airdate" order is absolutely essential. Episodes would be willy-nilly and make no sense (continuity-wise) otherwise.
     
  8. Gord Lacey

    Gord Lacey Cinematographer

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    The order depends on the show. Some shows make sense in production order, while others make sence in airdate order.

    Andy Richter Controls the Universe was messed up when it aired because there were characters (the two guys that lived down the hall) that showed up in the series only to be introduced a few episodes later. Undeclared had the same problem.

    Reno 911 makes no sense in production order (which is how they released it on DVD) because the final episode that aired in the season wasn't the final episode shot, and there was an episode done between a part episode.

    I think some of the later Star Trek series make sense the way they aired rather than the way they were shot. I've heard that some sci-fi shows will shoot out of order if a certain episode requires more special effects work, so those should obviously be released the way they aired.

    Companies need to take a look at each series (or each SEASON) and release the episodes the way they were meant to be seen. They can't rely on a blanket "production order" or "airdate order" rule.

    Gord
     
  9. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Screenwriter

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    I would agree that there is no clear answer to this. The show "Homicide" is a great example. The season 1&2 DVD set are in the order that the creators wanted, not the air order. Reason? The air order was at NBC's whim without regard to continuity. They wanted to show what they felt were "strong" episodes. The set made things right.

    Usually I prefer air order for shows that follow an ongoing story arc. Can you imagine "24" being released in production order if that order was dictated by who was availble when? I don't know how that particular show was produced, it could have been filmed in sections and then edited down and assembled into 24 episodes which would mean that production order did not even apply. Anyone know?
     
  10. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    This same thread comes up periodically here at HTF. I always give the same example.

    ST:TOS should be in production order, because of the very things mentioned above.

    ST:TNG needs to be in airdate order. If not, then Tasha Yar will, uh, leave the show, and then show up in the very next episode. That's the order it was produced. When shown properly, in airdate order, you see her last-scene-filmed before the character left the crew in the next episode, and in that scene she's left behind in the cargo bay while Picard and Dr. Crusher walk out and between them she leans over and waves goodbye at the camera. The next episode is ta-ta time.


    So the right answer to this question is always, "it depends".
     
  11. Linda Thompson

    Linda Thompson Supporting Actor

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    One of my major pet shows, LA FEMME NIKITA, ran for 4 seasons (22 eps each), plus a 5th mini-wrap-up season (8 eps) which was never supposed to have happened. (Suffice it to say "Long story" for those who don't know the history.)

    For the 4th and mini-5th seasons, airdate order and production order were the same (miraculously!).

    As for the 1st 3 seasons, it was all over the place, and quite frequently the order in which the episodes were televised (after the original broadcast run) made a lot of difference in continuity and character development.

    When the show ran on Oxygen, the network cluelessly insisted upon following production order. When they got to the end of season 1, that always had them airing the last-produced ep of the season (a regular "business as usual" ep) immediately AFTER the season finale, a cliffhanger in which Nikita "escaped" from Section. Made it a bit hard for newcomers to the show to make any sense at all of the originally-intended plotline.

    Thankfully, both of the first two season DVD sets present the series in airdate order. Of course, for fanatics, there are a few niggly little continuity things that can be picked up due to the discrpencies between production order and airdate order, but, for the most part, airdate order is the ONLY order that makes any sense for this particular show.
     
  12. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    I agree with Gord and Saved by the Bell was another good example. The first season featured 11 episodes where A.C. Slater was already at Bayside and in the 12th episode aired, they show him moving to Bayside high and it was not done in flashback.

    So it definitely depends on the show. Also if you went by air date order how would you handle shows that have episodes produced for one season but don't air for another season or so as is the case with Futurama and with some if not all seasons of the Simpsons? So there is no easy answer to this or no hard and fast rule either way.
     
  13. Jim Beaver

    Jim Beaver Supporting Actor

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    I agree as well. I don't know much about Star Trek so I didn't know about that thing where they filmed an episode of a character dieing first then doing anoather one where she is back. So I guess with things like that you have take it by ear as Gord had said.

    In the long run it's not really a big issue, it's like cut episodes or music replacements it really sucks and I wish they hadn't done it but I still want that show on dvd.

    I remember getting my first TV Show on DVD it was Clerks and it was great being able to own a show that I loved and was unfairly cancelled. There were new episodes I hadn't seen before and the episodes were in order they were intended to be. It was just really cool seeing that for the first time.

    And now with shows like Keen Eddie and That 70s Show are shown out of order it's too bad. I wonder about Casey Werner's other show I love Grounded For Life whose 3rd season was really mangled around where most of it wasn't shown on tv and some episodes were thrown into the 4th season in between the new episodes on the WB. I hope if Grounded For Life comes to DVD that they show it in production order rather then the other.
     
  14. Paul Sandhu

    Paul Sandhu Supporting Actor

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    Saved by the Bell is a really annoying example, some episodes that were filmed in '89 didn't air till '91.
     
  15. Joseph Miller

    Joseph Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    I remember reading years ago that BROADCAST order would be preferred over PRODUCTION order, because the broadcast order is part of the "final editing" of the series. That was the term used.

    For me, the all-time classic example as to why broadcast order should be preferred involved "I Love Lucy." There was a two-part episode done during the shows set in Hollywood. They were filmed in reverse order, solely because the guest star scheduled for the first episode got sick, or something, and a replacement wasn't available for a couple of weeks. So they went ahead and filmed the second part before the first part.

    This show was shown in production order in syndication, and for years (decades, even) that two-part episode was always shown with Part Two before Part One. Finally, someone over at TV Land saw the light and started showing "I Love Lucy" (and everything else) in broadcast order, so that two-parter was shown correctly.

    There was another example of this on "I Love Lucy" -- the show where Little Ricky played the drums at the nightclub was shown BEFORE the show where he learned to play the drums in the first place!

    I vote for broadcast order straight down the line, because that was the way the shows were MEANT to be seen. Production order is dictated by guest star availability, what sets are available, and other technical issues which may interfere with continuing story lines. It's no different than a movie, which of course isn't filmed "in order." Would you want to watch a movie with the scenes in the order they were filmed, as opposed to the order the story dictates?

    About the sets I mentioned -- if I'm not mistaken, I believe "The Dick Van Dyke Show" filmed several "army flashback" episodes in a row so they wouldn't have to dismantle and then reassemble the army sets. But they were never meant to be shown in a row, as they were "special occasions" and also somewhat repetitive in nature.

    So, to repeat what I read many years ago, the broadcast order is "final editing" and the result of decisions reached by the creative team to make the series as effective as possible.
     
  16. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    What would be wrong with studios opting for a third option with regard to episode order placement on TV-On-DVD sets? .......

    Such as:

    "Perfect Continuity Order".

    This may entail the Film Date Order, or the Airdate Order -- or a combination of both.

    Why is it absolutely essential for DVD makers to strictly adhere to ANY particular order, be it "Production" or "Airdate" variety?

    I say just show 'em the way that makes the most sense, continuity-wise. Which, of course, 99% of the time, is the Airdate Order. (Because why would any shows be run deliberately out of continuity order by a program's executives?)

    But, as mentioned previously, sometimes the producers of shows mess up and air a few eps. out of the proper order. This can be easily fixed, however, when packaging a DVD set (provided the DVD makers know what gaffes to look for I suppose).
     
  17. Tarkin The Ewok

    Tarkin The Ewok Supporting Actor

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    David VP brings up a good point. Sometimes, within a single show, air date order makes sense most of the time, but production order makes sense in other cases.

    A good example is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. "A Man Alone" was broadcast after "Past Prologue" but produced before it. A number of small changes were made to the looks of the characters between the production of those two episodes, but nothing in the storyline would be affected if those two episodes were shown in production order.

    On the other hand, the two-parter "Improbable Cause"-"The Die Is Cast" was originally produced with the episode "Shattered Mirror" in between them. The reason was that "Improbable Cause" was not originally meant to be a two-parter, and the creators could not adjust the production schedule at the time the decision was made.

    Usually, production order will make more sense at the beginning of a show's run, while airdate order is almost required as the run progresses.
     
  18. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I agree - it's about PROPER CONTINUITY, be it as produced or as aired. I guess it all depends on each individual show as many have said, and really the only show I was having a problem with on this anyway was STAR TREK: TOS - which many have agreed works best in production order. It's just a shame the shows on the official Season Sets DVDs are in order of airdate; they make less sense that way when watched in sequence (at least for the first episodes of Season 1).
     
  19. Adam*M

    Adam*M Stunt Coordinator

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    For the show Stargate SG-1, the broadcast order has almost always been different than production order. There was a big mistake made when season 5 aired in the UK (and this always happens when Sci Fi re-runs this season.) In one episode they crash a spaceship into a planet. Then a couple episodes later, they go repair it and use it to save Earth. Needless to say, it doesn't make much sense in reverse.

    Also, production order often has a stand-alone episode being the last one shot. Kind of silly to put that episode after a season finale cliffhanger.
     
  20. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    To further add to it, on ST:TNG "Unification, Part II" was filmed before "Unification, Part I" to accomodate Leonard Nimoy's shooting schedule. If you were to view both episodes according to production order, then it would be really lopsided to have Spock in all of Part II then finally make his entrance at the end of Part I.

    And let's not forget the problems that occurred when ST:VOY aired the final four episodes produced for the first season as part of the second season. Where would you fit them in? Some people say leave them where they belong, in the early part of the second season. But the ST:VOY Companion, as written by Paul Ruditis, handles those four episodes as part of the first season.

    With those particular exceptions aside, I prefer watching a TV on DVD based on production order.
     

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