Here I present part 1 of what I hope to be a continuing series of discussions comparing and contrasting Star Trek and Doctor Who episodes that aired in the same week. My focus is sound-driven, so there are clips to watch and listen to for illustration and reinforcement. This is kind of like a window into the research I do. Enjoy!
This week I’m giving a talk on my dissertation project, which is an historical study of television production in the UK using Doctor Who as a test subject. An idea that popped into my head to try and highlight the differences (and similarities) between American and British television at the time was to find an episode of Star Trek that aired the same week as an episode of Doctor Who, and play clips to show the difference. It seems like it would be a good jumping-off point into further discussion of the differences in television at the time. A logical starting point is the first aired episode of Star Trek, “The Man Trap,” which transmitted on Thursday, September 8, 1966 on NBC. Two days later the BBC transmitted part 1 of “The Smugglers,” which is unfortunately on the list of wiped episodes. While we have the remaining audio, the video is gone, and if I’m giving a visual presentation I should stick with something that the students can watch. The next overlap of existing episodes is “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” [ST], aired Thursday, October 6th, 1966 on NBC, and the first part of “The Tenth Planet” [DW] aired on Saturday, October 8th, 1966. So that’s where I’ll begin. read more
From the vault! Here is a very poorly recorded copy of the Director’s Roundtable panel from the 2010 Gallifrey One Convention. Moderated by Gary Russell, and featuring Colin Teague, Graeme Harper, and Alice Troughton, this roundtable discussion covered topics of the role of the director, working with producers, working on the various Doctor Who franchises, and the differences in production from Classic Who to New Who. read more
You know, sometimes, I think picking complex/difficult exercises is really good for my students. Things that are open-ended, things that even I’m not sure I have a good answer for. Like this clip from Blackpool (BBC, 2004):
I used this clip in my discussion sections of Introduction to Music and Film Sound this morning. Watching them struggle with making their arguments about what’s happening in the clip was really interesting. Many focused on diegetic vs. nondiegetic. Some of them tried to argue one way or another, and some couldn’t. The point being … you can make an argument for neither/both in this clip. As long as you qualify your argument and make your point clearly and meaningfully we will be happy! I also made the point to them that they can talk about expectations caused by convention, and discuss how this clip subverts them. When “Cupid” starts playing, it’s safe to assume that there is an audio advance going on. But as soon as she looks up and starts singing you retroactively realize there wasn’t an advance, and that some kind of audio dissolve occurred. Or maybe the subverted audio advance was itself a dissolve? I don’t even know. But it made for interesting discussion in class today.
Also, this clip is cool because it has what I consider a “visual audiodissolve.” When Ripley stops singing as he sees the pin, we’re given a visual indication that the song has dissolved out and the performance is ending. Very cool. “The Boy With a Thorn in His Side” does the same thing at the beginning. When the dancers start moving in the background we’re given a visual clue that a performance is about to begin. They could have easily used the song just as underscoring, and again, convention let’s us feel safe about that assumption, but the dancers indicate that it is a performance and not underscoring or an audio advance.
Sometimes I feel like complicated examples are easier to use in discussion than straightforward ones. Well, at least they’re more interesting.
I’ve been a big fan of yours for, well, for as long as I can remember. My late night routine was Letterman and then flipping over to your Late Night show. I remember you going off air while you moved to LA and being SO SAD that I had to wait until June. And how we have to wait again … until September! And who knows where you’ll be!
You’ve gotta find a way to come back to us, Conan. Maybe a free webcast of you just doing zany, goofy stuff? On YouTube or something? They’ll let you do that, right?
I feel like I’ve grown up with you, so it’s very strange to not have you around on TV. I guess I’ll have to try to fill the void by watching old Late Night clips online.