The television series Doc Martin has been recommended to Berni and me by several people with whom we share similar tastes in that form of entertainment. As we both tend to enjoy the better British programming and movies, we looked forward to the show. After I got home from work on Thursday evening, we sat down with dinner (Berni had had one of her periodic awakenings from her cooking coma and had made a Pichelsteiner–ish meat-potatoes-and-whatever-veggies-were-at-hand stew) and slipped the disc in to watch.
Everything went swimmingly for a while and then we began having some difficulty understanding the lines of several of the villagers due to their accents. So, I pressed the button on the remote that brought up the language options in the DVD’s subtitles. You know, the blue bar across the top of the screen that pops up while the video is playing and presents several languages—English always one of them—or none at all.
So we pushed the ROOT MENU button on the control assuming we would have a LANGUAGES selection at the beginning of the video.
So we boldly ventured forward a while longer. Oddly, I could understand most of what was being said but not all—I especially couldn’t get what actress Caroline Catz (rather delectable with her eyepatch) was saying. This caused me to reach for the control, put the video on hold, and turn to Bernie and ask, “What did she just say?”
Several times . . .
Conversely, Berni had no problem understanding her but did with a couple of the male villagers, which caused her to grab the clicker, push PAUSE, and ask me, “What did he just say?”
Several times . . .
Needless to say, this herky-jerky manner of watching the show was less than hunky-dory for either of us.
This led to a conversation about the (many) other videos of English origin in which the English language as spoken by English actors did not translate well to American listeners of said language and the lack of subtitles on those DVDs. That is, Doc Martin is not the first DVD of a British television series or movie that we gave up on.
Now, it says without going that virtually every video made for DVD by an American company in the past ten years (at least!) has an option for subtitles in several languages (or ‘closed-captions for the hearing impaired,’ which we weren’t—yet, but if we both live a few years longer may be).
Not so with DVDs of British origin!
So, for my readers across the pond: what’s with the lack of consideration for your mates over here in the former colonies? Berni and I are not the only Yanks who have this problem; I can’t tell you how many people we know who threw their hands up at trying to interpret the lines in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels!)
And, well, blimey if we don’t feel bloody buggered!
If we can provide subtitles so you don’t have to struggle through Mississippian drawl or Brooklynese—or, perish forbid, the heynabonics of the anthracite coal-mining regions of Northeastern Pennsylvania—why not you? A few extra pounds spent on your side to a proper subtitling company and Bob’s your uncle—everything’s right as rain and we can say we are no longer buggered by Doc Martin!
PS1: We acknowledge that some of the problem is that the transfer of the audio portion (the soundtrack) of a television series or a movie from film to video can muffle some sounds, causing parts to sound a bit garbled if not actually distorted. That would still be in the domain of the company responsible for said transfer and the okaying of the video and we are essentially back to step one.
PS2: If Braveheart—one of my faveravest films of all time!—had been made in England with an English cast speaking in the same manner, it would have grossed $200,000 worldwide instead of $200,000,000 . . .