An Open Letter to the Sci-Fi Channel

Dear Sci-Fi Channel,

Let’s talk about the fourth season Doctor Who finale, “Journey’s End.”

You may have heard; the finale is going to run 65 minutes long on BBC1. Without commercial interruption.

That’s significantly longer than other episodes of Doctor Who you’ve broadcast. Those have generally come in around 43 or 44 minutes, which historically you’ve cut down to about forty minutes and which can be padded out to a 60-minute broadcast slot with commercials.

To put “Journey’s End” into a 60-minute slot, you’re going to need to gut the episode like a fish edit the episode down to about 40, 42 minutes. That’s approximately a twenty-five minute cut. In percentage terms, a 40-percent cut.

Cut anything by about forty percent, be it book, movie, or television episode, and it becomes incoherent. (Unless it’s Pendragon Pictures’ War of the Worlds film, which ran three hours long and desperately needed an edit. But that’s the rare exception that proves the rule.) An incoherent episode will confuse audiences. Worse, not only can it turn them off your channel, but it can turn them off the franchise forever.

There’s a better solution available to you than gutting the episode cutting forty percent of the episode.

Split “Journey’s End” into a two-parter.

Take the sixty-five minute episode. Chop it into two. Create a “Previously on” montage for the second part. And Sci-Fi, you would end up with two episodes of approximately thirty-five minutes length.

You can pad out those two thirty-five minute episodes with twenty-five minutes of commercials to fill out the sixty-minute slot.

It’s a win-win. “Journey’s End” remains coherent for viewers. You, Sci-Fi, get more commercial revenue as you end up with another episode to broadcast.

You have a month to get this right. Don’t gut cut the episode, Sci-Fi. Split “Journey’s End” in two. It’s the right thing to do.


Allyn Gibson
Concerned Doctor Who fan

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Sci-Fi Channel

  1. Pingback: Bow. James Bow.
  2. Generally, I thought they cut it down to a 42 or 43 minute slot–still problematic, though.

    Anyways, its win-win if they’re allowed to show that many commercials. I thought that the FCC limited them to a certain amount. On the other hand, I can’t find any information on that online, so I might well be making that up. 🙂

    They could show it in a 90-minute slot, though. That would call for roughly 60-65 minutes of content–in other words, pretty much exactly the length of the episode.

    I wonder what they’re going to chop out of “Turn Left”–I assume that, like “Last of the Time Lords”, they’re just going to cut it up. Unlike “Last of the Time Lords”, I can’t think of any gratuitous scenes like “Track 3”.

  3. The commercial regulation sounds familiar, but chances are it applies only to broadcast, not cable.

    “Turn Left” did run long, didn’t it?

    Hmm. The first half, I thought, dragged pretty badly. I don’t know what I’d cut specifically, but it should be doable to cut it down by six or eight minutes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *