Production Order vs. Broadcast Order

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by ballard22, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. ballard22

    ballard22 Auditioning

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    First time, long time. :)

    Great forum. It's nice to meet so many fellow purists.

    And from a purist POV, just wanted to ask some of the members what they believe is the closer to creative intent between a long-running series viewed in broadcast vs. production order. (Sometimes dramatically different.)

    Couple examples: "The Fugitive" seems to make more dramatic sense (and certainly location sense) if viewed in production order. And the same with "Danger Man". In fact, some of the DM eps are almost non-sensical if watched in broadcast order, as both the production values and the great Patrick MacGoohan's command of the role gets stronger and stronger through Year One if watched in the order they were filmed.

    I'm sure this question is dependent on series, but just generally. . .

    Thanks in advance.
    b22
     
  2. kemcha

    kemcha Second Unit

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    376
    Likes Received:
    0
    Actually, it should be by production order because that's the original chronology of events. Broadcast order generally means that the network wants to air a particular episode or series of episodes at a certain point. It also confuses fans because episodes are produced by production number despite the fact that networks typically don't air episodes in order of their production number. This often leads to continuity issues that fans of a particular show may pick up on.

    Star Trek, every series that has been produced, is the worst case scenario in this case. Producers of TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise often never broadcast episodes for each of those series in the order in which they were produced.
     
  3. Tim Tucker

    Tim Tucker Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Messages:
    1,023
    Likes Received:
    1
    In the case of Danger Man, there is also the difference in UK and US broadcast order. The UK order makes more sense, but I don't know how close that is to the production order.
     
  4. Midnight Mike

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think it depends on the show. For example I would watch shows like Star Trek and Danger Man in production order for the reasons mentioned, character growth and actors relaxing into their rolls.

    But I would watch I Spy in Broadcast order, because those episodes were filmed in blocks in one location, and I think the idea for that show was that they traveled the globe each week, if you watch in production order, they are in Japan for a long stretch, and the same for other countries. I Spy is more interesting to me if they are in a different location each week.
     
  5. FanCollector

    FanCollector Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Messages:
    4,823
    Likes Received:
    604
    Real Name:
    Lee
    Generally, I think the production order is more informative and logical, but there are often exceptions. Several multipart All in the Family episodes, for example, were filmed non-consecutively. That is, part one would be filmed and then other episodes would be filmed before part two of the same story. The fact is, besides broadcast and production orders, there is also the order in which the scripts are written. Sometimes (as with those All in the Family shows) different drafts are written at different times and then sent back for revision. Someone mentioned Star Trek, and that was certainly true on that show. The City on the Edge of Forever, for instance, was one of the first few scripts assigned, but it required so much rewriting that it was filmed and aired at the end of the year. The biggest exceptions, of course, are the "final episodes". The last episodes of M*A*S*H, The Odd Couple and numerous other shows were not produced last. In those instances, the broadcast order obviously takes precedence. Conversely, the premiere of Remington Steele, which sets up the concept of the entire show, was filmed fifth, but it has to come first in viewing order or the show wouldn't make sense.

    The other issue with broadcast order is that sometimes it is the network imposing an order, but other times it is the producers or the studio making the choice. In Columbo, for example, the entire first year's episodes were filmed before the premiere, so the producers chose their favorite episode as the first to air. The producers of Get Smart would check the schedule in advance and try to bury their least favorite shows on major holidays. (Leonard Stern tells a funny story of airing their least favorite on New Year's Eve one year, only to hear from all their friends that everyone watched it before going out to their parties.) The Fugitive is a subtle example. I agree that the geography and sometimes the characterization is more logical in production order, but I'm sure no one concerned expected that kind of scrutiny. Producers, studios and networks running shows with stand-alone episodes tend to feel very free to air them in any order. I am not a big fan of serialized dramas, but at least when the story is run on a continuing basis, there isn't too much controversy about in what order the shows belong.
     
  6. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2004
    Messages:
    1,819
    Likes Received:
    1,120
    Location:
    Southern California
    Real Name:
    Rob Ray
    Another classic example of something Lee touched on occurred during the Hollywood season of "I Love Lucy." There's a two-parter in which Van Johnson appears in one part and Harpo Marx appears in the other. Due to scheduling availability (Van Johnson was a last-minute replacement for Ray Bolger), Part Two with Harpo was shot first. For decades in syndication, stations would broadcast the show in production number order and this two-parter would invariably be shown backward. So broadcast order is sometimes not only preferable but essential for story sense.
     
  7. DeWilson

    DeWilson Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2006
    Messages:
    2,220
    Likes Received:
    145
    Real Name:
    Denny

    Which makes you wonder why ABC-TV Chose to run them they way they did.
     
  8. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Messages:
    26,462
    Likes Received:
    3,675
    Location:
    The basement of the FBI building
    Like others have said, there's no absolute rule. There's an episode of The Lone Gunmen that aired after the season/series finale that would make no sense if you watched the episodes in broadcast order. And there's a pair of episodes in the first season of Lost where the production order would definitely be incorrect so you want to watch it in its broadcast order.
     
  9. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2005
    Messages:
    2,138
    Likes Received:
    257
    Real Name:
    Joe
    I read in a book years ago that "broadcast order" can be thought of as the "final editing" of a series, and is the order the shows are meant to be seen.

    They might have been filmed in a different order for many reasons. For instance, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" would film several "army flashback" episodes in a row, because the sets were standing. They were never meant to be seen all in a row.

    Some series, for instance "The Beverly Hillbillies," will in the beginning of an episode often refer to what happened in the previous (aired) episode.
     
  10. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    3,084
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Clearwater, FL
    Real Name:
    Joe Kauffman
    Of course, sometimes even broadcast order, when intended to be the proper order, doesn't always work out. For instance, if post-production on a specific episode couldn't be delivered on time, an episode might get delayed, resulting in a continuity error across the episodes.

    Babylon 5 is a good example where watching in production order can be a very bad idea. The Season 1 finale was filmed 12th out of 22 episodes. In fact, the production order bears very little resemblance to the the broadcast order or the recommended viewing order (which is slightly different from the broadcast order).

    Take a look at B5 Season 1's production numbers in this broadcast order list:
    http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/countries/us/eplist.html
     
  11. BobO'Link

    BobO'Link Cinematographer

    Joined:
    May 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,355
    Likes Received:
    1,115
    Location:
    Mid-South
    Real Name:
    Howie
    Not necessarily true and a somewhat naive view. While that may be true of many series it's very flawed on others as the Producer(s) of the series did not make the decision of what would air when. I'll use "Firefly" as a prime example. Fox wasn't very happy with "Serenity" as a pilot episode and wanted a more "exciting" show as the premier so "The Train Job" was hurriedly written, rushed into production, and aired first... out of continuity and a somewhat confusing first episode as it did not have the supporting back story to answer the who is who questions. They then changed the order of the eps. around so much (and pre-empted for ballgames) that it never had a chance to build an audience as viewers were left scratching their head as to what just happened... what are they talking about... oh, wait, they talked about *this* event *last week* (or week before, etc.)! Pretty much the same with "Sliders" (again, a Fox airing). Production order is *much* preferred, and necessary for full enjoyment/understanding, over broadcast order for these 2 series.

    So... the answer is: It depends. You just have to research the show to see what the Producer(s) wanted as far as airing order. For most shows it really doesn't matter except in cases of multi-part episodes. BUT... on those for which it does matter it's a big deal and makes all the difference in total enjoyment and immersion.
     
  12. John Pannozzi

    John Pannozzi Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    Real Name:
    John Francis Pannozzi
    I wish Darkwing Duck was released in production order instead of broadcast.

    With the exceptions of the two halves of the pilot "Darkly Dawns The Duck" being in odd locations on the prod. code episode list, the production code order made complete sense story-wise, in contrast to the broadcast order, which shows episodes featuring certain characters before their introductory episodes.

    My ideal Darkwing Duck DVDs would start with the double-length pilot "Darkly Dawns The Duck" (in the original movie version that was released on VHS and Laserdisc back around 1993 and NOT the edited version that aired as two separate episodes in reruns and was unfortunately released that way on DVD), and then have the remaining 89 episodes in production code order.
     
  13. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2004
    Messages:
    4,065
    Likes Received:
    1,296
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Real Name:
    John Moreland
    I know on I Dream of Jeannie, especially in S2, the broadcast order is screwed up. In a couple of cases, Dr. Bellows refers to things that happen a couple of episodes later. In S3 they filmed 3 episodes in Honolulu, but aired one early in the season and the other two later in the season as if there were 2 trips to Hawaii. Weird.

    I think these days they put more thought into the order, especially as shows have become more serialzed in their storytelling, but frequently in the old days, at least on some series, that was not always the case.
     
  14. DeWilson

    DeWilson Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2006
    Messages:
    2,220
    Likes Received:
    145
    Real Name:
    Denny

    For some reason NBC didn't want to run the Hawaii episodes together and spred them out - I can't see why.
     
  15. Mike*SC

    Mike*SC Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    Messages:
    260
    Likes Received:
    2
    As some here are saying, there is no general answer. Even within a series, or a season of a series, there are episodes deliberately shot out of broadcast order (for pragmatic reasons -- the availability of an actor, for instance, or simply to move up a script that was in better shape) and there are episodes the network chooses to air out of the preferred order. Sometimes, the producers agree with this choice, and will tweak a finished episode accordingly (for instance, for a new series, looping in off-screen lines to establish character relationships). Sometimes, if an airing order change is known far enough in advance, the producers will create an episode to fit in between two episodes they've already shot. In at least one instance, an hourlong episode of a sitcom consisted of two half-hour episodes shot months apart (the second half-hour being retrofit to continue the story of an episode not originally shot with that intention).

    The point is, a strict purist can only be frustrated, because even within some series, there is no one perfect order.
     

Share This Page