Format Specific Joke/Ruins The Joke
When a joke made specifically for theatres or television doesn't work on home release.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-04-16 19:03:27 sponsor: StevenT edited by: QuestionMarker (last reply: 2014-07-09 18:27:41)

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The makers of a work decide to add a joke specific to the format it will initially be displayed in, usually a movie theatre or broadcast on TV. All meaning to the joke is lost when the work the work is released on Blu-Ray or DVD.

Possibilities include:
  • 3D-dependent elements in a 3D movie which are lost in 2D
  • A TV show makes jokes about a commercial break is shown on DVD
  • A TV show makes jokes about the ads which run at the bottom of the screen during a show
  • A TV show interacts with or makes mention of the network's logo bug floating in the corner of the screen

This is not limited to movies. Early music albums which were recorded for distribution on vinyl records generally contained tons of these, which didn't work when the albums were distributed on CD.

Super trope of Born in the Theatre.

Examples

Film
  • Averted with the VHS release of Gremlins II: The New Batch. Instead of the Gremlins invading a movie theatre, they break the VHS tape.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The movie begins with a parody of theater promos about the refreshment stall and theater etiquette.
  • Tropic Thunder begins with fake movie trailers. These might possibly make sense on DVD, but it also begins with a fake movie theater candy commercial.
  • Toy Story 2 features a Barbie doll saying goodbye to people as they leave the theater. Doesn't really work on DVD or TV.
  • The Simpsons Movie mocks viewers for going to the cinema to watch cartoons when they could watch them for free on television at home.
    • As Homer and Bart are playing in the yard, a news banner rolls across the bottom of the screen displaying the message, "Yes, we even advertise during movies now." The implication is that the advertisement is being done live, but the joke is lost on a DVD.
  • The original ending to The Little Shop of Horrors has a laughing Audrey II breaking through the movie screen.
  • Bean: ends with an after-the-credits gag of Mr. Bean sitting in a cinema, saying that he stays after the credits as well.
  • The Stinger of Ferris Buellers Day Off consists of Ferris asking the audience why they're still in the theater, telling them to go home. CM Punk's Blu-ray/DVD ''CM Punk: Best in the World", also ends this way, presumably as a Shout-Out.
  • In Fat Albert, the characters tell the audience to sit back down as the movie isn't over yet. However, they're clearly addressing a film audience, calling out "you in the back", so it doesn't have the same effect if watched on DVD.
  • In the middle of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, Tony Randall comes on screen out of character and compares film's big screen to the tiny TV screen.
    Ladies and gentlemen, this break in our motion picture is made out of respect for the TV fans in our audience, who are accustomed to constant interruptions in their programs for messages from sponsors. We want all you TV fans to feel at home, and not forget the thrill you get, watching television on your big, 21-inch screens.
  • In Spy Kids 3D, there are a lot of scenes specifically made in such a way to showcase the 3D effect as forcefully as possible. While this works if you're in a 3D theater, watching this movie in 2D shows very clearly just how forced such moments are.
  • The last gag in Aladdin has the moon suddenly start laughing with the Genie's face, then for Genie to break the fourth wall and announce "Made you look!" The gag was meant to psych out audience members who started leaving early because they thought the movie was over, only to look back when something else starts going on. Nowadays in home viewings the reason for the gag is much less clear.
  • The Mickey Mouse short Get a Horse had the characters coming through the movie screen and into the theater. When watching it elsewhere, the effect is somewhat less engaging.

Literature
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy features the famous line "The spaceships hung in the sky in exactly the way that bricks don't". The film adaptation, using visuals rather than narrative description, simply depicts brick-shaped starships... and the Lemony Narrator element of the humour is absent.
  • Film adaptations of Terry Pratchett's novels are unable to indulge in his famous Footnote Fever.
  • Invoked by Terry Pratchett in Mort, when he tries to use a Twisted Echo Cut in prose, then has to explain it in a footnote:
    "You're a wizard. I think there's something you ought to know," said the princess.
    THERE IS? said Death.*
    * That was a cinematic trick adapted for print. Death wasn't talking to the princess. He was actually in his study, talking to Mort. But it was quite effective, wasn't it?

Live-Action TV
  • * An episode of The X-Files about a plague of cockroaches threw in a gag where a roach appears to run across the TV screen on which the program is being viewed. Watching this episode on a large television detracts from this effect, because the roach looks so big that it'd be too heavy to scamper across a vertical surface.
  • In one of The Drew Carey Show's April Fools' Day "spot the mistakes" episodes, one of the mistakes is the ABC logo bug floating away from where it's supposed to be (in the corner of the screen) and Lewis catches it & puts it back in its proper location. In syndication (and presumably on DVD release if there is one) the ABC bug is replaced by a balloon, but it makes no sense for a balloon to be there.

Music
  • All the gags in the "run-out groove" of a vinyl LP, as the record ended and ran out to the finish, are lost on CD. (For instance, the "backwards bit" at the end of "Sergeant Pepper".)
  • Neil Innes on the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band's Gorilla album opens a track with
    Good to see you, happy you could stick around!
    • This is puzzling to people who buy the CD, but in the original format it was on the start of Side Two, where you physically had to lift the playing arm, flip the record over, and re-start on the other side.
  • The people who physically created vinyl LP's used the format to add written messages in the dead space between the last track and the label; one technician used to sign his LP's with things like Another Prime Porky Cut, just to make his own creative mark on the record-making process.
  • CD pressings of Tom Petty's fourth album, Full Moon Fever, contain a hidden track inserted about midway through the album, consisting of Petty giving a brief monologue while his bandmates make animal noises in the background.
    Hello, CD listeners. We've come to the point in this album where those listening on cassette or records will have to stand up— or sit down— and turn over the record or tape. In fairness to those listeners, we will now take a few seconds before we begin Side Two. [Beat] Thank you. Here's Side Two.

Radio
  • When The Jack Benny Program moved to TV they realized that some of their most beloved running gags couldn't be replicated in a visual medium so they had to be abandoned: namely, Jack's underground bunker/safe & the polar bear guarding it, and Jack's very old car.

Video Games

Web Original

Western Animation
  • According to the DVD Commentary of The Powerpuff Girls Movie, when the Professor first creates the girls and stares right up at the screen, this was supposed to make the audience see his face the way the tiny girls did — huge and staring at them.
  • On an episode of Chowder they made a joke about the Cartoon Network channel bug in the corner of the screen. On DVD the channel bug just appears and disappears when the joke comes up.
  • Looney Tunes uses Is There a Doctor in the House? on more than one occasion, which makes no sense when watching at home.
    • They also use the "hair in the aperture" bit, where the projectionist's hand comes in to remove it.
  • On at least one occasion, Family Guy has built a gag around a promo running at the bottom of the screen. The joke stumbles a bit on DVD, or when viewed on TV in a country which doesn't have on-screen promos.
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