Evidence of Things Not Seen Tuesday, October 31, 2006

OK, so earlier today I was complaining to my friend Jordan about the "West Wing: Sixth Season" DVD set. (Yes, the same Jordan who promised years ago he'd run the Marathon with me, but has since completely reneged on the deal.)

I was hoping to be able to get through season 6 during my treadmill workouts. Without commercials, each episode runs about 42 minutes, which is about how long my workouts are taking.

I got through some of season 5 during my previous brief stint of jogging (in March). Because my treadmill is a little loud, I turned on subtitles so as to not miss any of the dialogue.

So here's the problem with the season 6 DVDs: no English subtitles.

At first, you might think, "So what?" Well, let's stop and consider a couple of things.

1) They talk fast in the West Wing.

Ok, so Toby would roll his eyes and correct me (he talks quickly), but you know what I mean. Aaron Sorkin practically invented the walk-and-talk, and sometimes you just miss something. Subtitles help with that. A lot. (And yes, fanboy, I know Sorkin didn't write season 6.)

2) They talk about obscure aspects of government.

Sorkin is a policy wonk. So are the current writers for the show. Sometimes you miss what the hell they're talking about now because you're still trying to absorb some fact from 15 seconds ago. Like why the Secretary of Defense is trying to torpedo a uranium transfer from the Republic of Georgia for budgetary reasons. Subtitles help with that, too.

3) The plot and character development are ENTIRELY dialogue-driven.

In the West Wing, we hardly ever get to see anything actually happen. We usually hear third-hand about what happened somewhere far from the White House. Sometimes we hear the CIA director talk about how it happened. Then some guys from Foggy Bottom talk some more about what to do about it. Sometimes people talk loudly. But mostly they talk quickly. While walking around. About obscure aspects of government.

4) One of the recurring characters is played by an Oscar-winning actress who also happens to be deaf.

Savor the irony.

What logic would lead someone to include subtitles for French and Spanish, but not English, on a North American release? Boggling, just boggling. And it's interfering with my running.

Well, not so much "interfering" as "making a little less fun." But as Josh would say, that's an important ... thing.