buggered by doc martin and company

THE BRITISH 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 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 …




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