Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mack Sennett schedule heads-up

TCM is running a salute to producer Mack Sennett every Thursday in prime time in September. The promo that TCM has been running says TCM is showing something like 87 films, many of them premieres. The reason TCM is able to run so many films is because most of them are shorts. Sennett did, after all, start his career in the days before people even made feature films in the modern sense of the term feature film.

This does present some problems with TCM's scheduling. Traditionally, the features all begin on an exact quarter-hour; that is, at either :00, :15, :30, or :45 minutes after the hour. When they're showing a bunch of shorts, that's a bit difficult to do. Instead, TCM is running something like five shorts in the first hour, all of which are listed on the schedule as "8:00 PM". That's followed by a lot more shorts with a 9:00 PM list time, and several more at 11:00 PM. The one film with a clear start time should be Tillie's Punctured Romance, overnight at 12:45 AM. I think this was the first feature-length comedy ever made, with a listed running time of 72 minutes, before the next set of shorts begins at 2:00 AM.

In theory, it ought to be possible to look at the running length of each of the shorts and figure out when they're airing. However, TCM's schedule page and IMDb list a different running order for the shorts! (I'd guess we should trust TCM here.) I think some of the shorts are even listed with different running times. Go figure. I'm interested in seeing some of the Keystone Kops shorts, since I don't think I've actually seen any of them before. There's one, Bangville Police, listed in the 9:00 PM block, but I don't know precisely what time it will be beginning.

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