Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chance would be a fine thing (slight return)

Having mentioned that the untransmitted pilot of Chance in a Million was on the new DVD, I was asked elsewhere how the two versions differed. So, here goes. The first half of the pilot Plumstones and the tx version are identical. However, the second half was completely re-shot, indeed recast, and the plot differs considerably. The transmitted version is a much more interesting and satisfying experience, with the absence of the laboured food fight and the neat tying up of the various coincidences with the revelation of the waiter's identity. So we have:

Different recording of the theme tune, presumably pre-existing commercial recording on pilot, with glaring edit to fit the on-screen movement. Pilot has noticeable head-switching, so assume it's from VHS. Pilot has Thames ident, transmitted version doesn't.

Scene 1: Hotel - identical on both versions.
Scene 2: Street - woman locked out of car - identical on both versions.
Scene 3: Street - policemen apologising - identical on both versions
Scene 4: Street - identical on both versions, until "Make a run for it?/Yes"
- Cuts straight to part 2 on transmitted version.
- Pilot runs 20 seconds longer, with 'End of Part One' caption, over locked-out woman and husband chasing Tom's car, with sting from Ted Heath's Decca recording of Taking a Chance on Love, then VT clock for part 2.
Scene 5: Restaurant - different takes, indeed sets completely different.
- Longer chat with maitre d' on the pilot - "Special table? Ah, you are special people".
- Maitre d' brusque on the transmitted version - no special people, just "This way".
- Waiter takes drink order on pilot, transmitted version cuts straight to table after several pints of lager had been drunk.
- Waiter - Brian Croucher on pilot, Paul Chapman on transmitted version - brings more drinks on both versions. Keeps pint of lager for self on transmitted version.
- On pilot, Alison drinks wine - confusion over glasses, she gets Tom's lager. On transmitted version, she drinks lager too.
- Dialogue substantially identical.
- Conversation at table largely two-shot in pilot, but individual close-ups on transmitted version.
- A couple of lines cut on transmitted version when summoning waiter.
- Pilot "You want soup in soixante seconds?" - transmitted version "You want soup in sixty seconds?".
- On pilot, waiter spills soup on Tom's lap, very deliberately. On transmitted version, waiter spills soup on Alison's lap, obviously an accident. “If it was deliberate, I would have done it like this”. On pilot, maitre d' breaks Tom and waiter apart. Tom responds by smearing food on waiter's head, then pouring gravy in maitre d's pockets. Maitre d' responds by asking for the sweet trolley and starting a long food fight with Tom. Cutaways to laughing diners. When waiter puts ice down Alison's blouse, Tom announces they're leaving. They do to applause from diners. In waiters' changing room, it emerges that “special people...special table” is code for slapstick - “You are from the Sarah Bernhard School of Drama?” “No” “Oh...”.
- On transmitted version, maitre d' passes and asks if Tom and Alison are enjoying their meal. Tom says waiter can say what he has to say to his face. Waiter plants custard pie on Tom's face. Cuts to changing room, with maitre d' apologising, but admitting it was a mistake to taunt the waiter so close to the sweet trolley. Waiter – now sacked - comes in. It emerges that he's the lover of the woman locked out of the car earlier.
Scene 6: Outside Tom's house
– pilot has short bit of dialogue from Alison about not wanting to miss tonight for anything. “I've really enjoyed myself, in a way”.
- Obviously studio set.
- Transmitted version on location
- Both end with Alison climbing in through open window. In pilot, it's the lavatory (“Mind the cistern”). In transmitted version, just the window next to the front door. Both versions end with policeman shining torch on Tom and Alison, and Tom's line “Alison, I think you'd better come out now. (I think) We've just hit (found) another plumstone”.
Some people credited on pilot not credited on transmitted version. Most notable is the designer credit – Alison Waugh on pilot, Peter Elliott on transmitted version, despite pilot hotel scenes being re-used.

The transmitted version runs 25m 6s, the pilot runs 29m 20s, although a minute is taken up by the ident, black level and the VT clock into part 2.

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