Tuesday, March 20, 2007

And Now, On Tyranny of the Blank Page

Received my copy of the Doctor Who: New Beginnings boxed set the other day, courtesy of the lovely people at Roadshow. The triple-disc set, for those not in the know, covers the transition period from Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor to Peter Davison's Fifth, programmes that originally aired when I was around ten years old.

Now it's well known that the quality of the BBC's 'Classic Who' discs is superb - it's not exactly common for a DVD of an old TV show to have special features that make a lot of Hollywood blockbuster releases look spartan. No exception here, with audio commentaries, interviews, production text and more besides.

I've noticed, however, that whenever one of these discs arrives, it's not the show itself that I spin through to first. Nor is it the commentary. Not even the undeniably interesting behind-the-scenes pieces.

It's the continuity announcements.

Yep, the bits I love most are the little bits done by the BBC voiceover man. You know, the ones: 'In 25 minutes, it's The Generation Game, but first a new adventure for Doctor Who'.

Now I know that this admission is going to get me pillioried as a sad bastard, but there's sound reasoning here, not to mention evidence that I'm not alone (these little continuity snips used to be easter eggs on the discs, now they're a feature in their own right. Surely a sign of their popularity?).

The kind of person who buys Doctor Who DVDs will like as not have seen the show on the disc five, ten, fifty times already. For me, there's little or no association of time or place left with it - my memories of seeing it could just as well be from a repeat in 1985, as on a video in 1992, 1995, 1999 or 2002.

But to sit down and watch the clunky graphics and the blue and yellow spinning globe of the BBC, with the voiceover 'And now on BBC1' ... that could only come from one specific viewing, when I bounced down in front of the TV, an excited ten-year-old, to watch a brand new episode for the very first time. Watching these announcements, I recall the room, the furniture, the smells, the textures in a way that multiple viewings mean I no longer get from the show itself.

To have something so evocative of a particular place in the past ... well, that's time travel.


Anonymous The Buicks said...

Great stuff Pete.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Peter Pan said...

Its true. I am a nostalgia freak with these things.

8:28 PM  

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