Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Closed Captioning

Doctor Who season 3 is playing now on SciFi channel. Sometimes they break it in very bad places to squeeze in a commercial. You’ll come back and it feels like they’re in the middle of a scene and you’ve missed something. And maybe you have. I’ve also heard they’ve rearranged scenes, but I haven’t gotten proof of that for myself.

The SciFi closed captioning sucks. One line was ‘That scarecrow is all askew.’ and the closed captioning turned it into ‘That’s certainly true.’ I don’t know if they’re using a computer or a real person to do their captioning, but whichever it is, they don’t understand British accents, British slang, science fiction terminology, or Dr. Who words in particular.

What I don’t understand is why. I’m sure the original when it aired in the UK had captioning.

In contrast, the Season 1 episodes airing on one of our local PBS stations has captions made in heaven. Who is speaking is attributed accurately. All the lines make sense, even when they’re talking rapidly and over each other. When I can’t quite understand something, I can rely on the captioning to straighten it out for me. It looks like they captioned it from a script, except that there’s no wrong lines, missing lines, or extra lines like you’d get if it was straight from the script. So it’s like they took the script, but made sure it actually matched what ended up on film. And I think they did change to American spellings. So I don’t know if they captioned from scratch, with the help of the script, or if they used superior British captions and just changed the spellings. Whatever they did, they did it right.

BBC America has been running commercials on SciFi for Torchwood. Yay, Torchwood! One can hope BBCA won’t chop it to bits, and will use good captions. I don’t get BBCA, so I may never know. But if you get BBCA, you should totally watch it. Let us know if the sex scenes are intact. :)

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