PBS editors get carried away with ‘Downton Abbey’

By Letters to the Editor

PBS editors get carried away with ‘Downton Abbey’

To the Editor:
In the olden days, film editing was a skill, even an art that moved the action along, keeping audiences’ attention and per-mitting continuity of a plot in such a way that audiences wouldn’t know it was being done.

In the hoopla about the British production of “Downton Abbey,” we are told there are several versions of film editing. One is for Americans’ short attention spans and presumably our incapacity to comprehend any plot, assuming there is one.

As I joined the rest of the world, which PBS’s promotion of the series was certain would keep people glued to their television sets, I watched the latest version of film editing. Images bounced on and off my screen in a matter of seconds, I was cross-eyed at times and felt dizzy most of the rest of the time.

I tried to remember whose face it was that flashed on and off my screen. Film editing for Americans with short attention spans was at work. There was one scene that lingered seconds longer and appeared throughout the production.

I actually recognized it. It involved a long wooden table set in what looked like a darkened cellar where hired help sat in the shadows.

My attention was captured by trying to imagine the film editing. Had someone inadvertently sent the film though a private shredder? Was a crew frantically trying to glue together bits and pieces of film that had been vacuumed up?

PBS, which has sought support for being commercial-free, hysterically retrieved television commercials at their worst as they gasped that “Downton Abbey” “will be seen all over the world.”

Which reminds me, have you thanked a skilled film editor lately?

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