Dumbass of the Week – Versus Network

They ruined Field of Dreams.  I mourn the atrocity.

First, a quick preface.  I’ve never done a top 10 all-time favorite movies list.  Not because I have something against those lists but because I don’t have 10.  I have 3.  For reasons I can’t quite describe (I’ve never even tried to review it), Field of Dreams is one of those 3.  I’ve watched it umpteen times on broadcast TV – if I’m channel surfing and it’s on, I watch.

Just this past Thursday, I happened to be doing exactly that – channel surfing.  And lo and behold, the Versus Network was showing Field of Dreams!  I was even coming in right at the beginning.  My teenage son was watching with me, his first time seeing the movie – the joy!  I knew he would love it as much as I do (no I didn’t, but I had hope) and it seemed like the perfect remedy for crappy spring weather and a hard week of high school.  Ha!  Stupid me.  No, stupid them.

Versus ruined Field of Dreams.  I can’t quite believe it.  They chopped it into the tiniest possible pieces, adding commercials every time a character paused to take a breath.  No exaggeration, there was one point when they gave us four minutes of commercials, three minutes of movie and then another four minutes of commercials.  Are you kidding me?  They also had, at least half a dozen times, some idiot car racing thing run across the bottom of the screen.  Not just a little corner – at least a quarter of the screen.  Race cars zooming across complete with sound effects in the middle of the movie.  There is something seriously wrong with that choice.

Field of Dreams is all about atmosphere.  The building of the field, the introduction of James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster, the little tingle when the ballplayers show up, each element builds a sense of time, place and magical suspension of disbelief.  I’ve seen it successfully transferred to commercial TV many, many times.  The commercials always disrupt the flow a little, but you just roll with it like all other network TV.  Not this time – Versus was so excessive that even I had a hard time enjoying the movie.

Even worse?  It was the same damn commercials over and over and over.  If I had to see that woman in the Progressive ads one more time, I might have cut my own throat.  I’m sure she’s a lovely person, but now, sadly, I HATE HER.  And watching his mother’s bloody self-maiming would certainly have even further tainted my son’s first viewing of the movie.  Curses, Versus.

I have a positive history with the Versus Network.  They broadcast the Tour de France extremely well.  With a minimum of commercial interruptions, even.  But they should never air another movie.  Ever.  I don’t care if it’s a sports movie.  I don’t care if it’s the only thing keeping them financially viable.  I don’t care if they cry.  They suck.  Ruining Field of Dreams is tantamount to a cardinal sin and more than earns them Dumbass of the Week.  Maybe they can replace any and all future film showings with Jesse James retrospectives.

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