Monthly Archives: February 2013

Trip Report: 24 Hours of Gallifrey One

This weekend, Tara and I attended our first Gallifrey One – 24 Hours of Gallifrey One.

The original plan had been for the full family, including The Kid, to attend as well.  But, on Thursday night events transpired so that it was decided it would be better if he missed a day of school and I drove him out to Yuma to start his week with his grandparents in Arizona a few days earlier. This had the drawback of putting us a bit later in our planned departure.

Originally, the plan had been for Tara and I to pack ourselves and the car starting when we got home (me about noon, her possibly as late as 1) and then leave straight after picking The Kid up at school – about 2:30.  Instead, I didn’t get back from the round trip to Yuma (about 180 miles each way) until 2:30 or so, and I still had to do some of my own packing and pack the car.  So, it was nearly 3:30 when we got on the road, and I was tired enough to have Tara do the driving.

We did learn one thing on this trip: if the GPS in the car is programmed to provide directions, and my phone is connected and given permission to make data calls for traffic information, we should trust it if it tells us to leave what we think is the obvious route.  We were detoured around a bad block on The 405 shortly after we got on it at the end of The 73 tollway, and might have saved 2 or 3 more minutes if we’d followed its directions to not get on The 405 there at all.

On the other hand, by the time we got to LA and checked into our hotel – we were staying at the LAX Hilton a block away from the LAX Marriott hosting the convention since the room block filled in about an hour – we were too tired to do much more than drop off the stuff we brought up for Rebecca to use in the Staff Lounge, grab dinner at Denny’s and vegetate in our room.

Saturday, we grabbed the breakfast that Hilton had made available to us since I was a frequent guest member and headed back to our rooms to see if we could upgrade our Comic-Con memberships to give us preview night.  Due to an attempt to connect to the hotel’s WiFi (and choosing the wrong SSID) I didn’t make my first attempt to connect until a few seconds late.   Then that attempt returned an error page, so it was about 2 minutes into the sales period that we actually started waiting.  After about 45 minutes without anything visible being returned, we gave up and headed over to Gallifrey One.

On Staturday, we spent some time wandering around looking at the fan tables (and talking to people we knew in and near them), and looking at the stuff for sale in the Dealers’ Room and on display in the Art Show.  In the afternoon, I sat in on two panels – plus the last part of a third.  The partial panel was an interview of two of the directors of recent and future episodes.  The next panel was the interview with Ben Browder.  I then stayed through for the presentation by Dick Mills on the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop – especially on Doctor Who. We didn’t stay late on Saturday, grabbed dinner at Denny’s again and returned to our room and turned in earlier than at some conventions.

On Sunday, we got over to the Marriott before much had opened, so sat and waited for the main panel room to open.  In the morning we caught the interview with Freema Agyeman, then did some more wandering and shopping.  Later in the day, we listened to joint interview with Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines, and Mark Shephard’s solo Q&A session.  I stayed for the panel featuring everyone at the convention who acted on Doctor Who prior to 2005, while Tara walked off a muscle cramp.  We decided that staying for the year in review video was going to put us on the road too late.

We headed out, stopping for dinner – at Denny’s yet again – and gas in San Clemente, getting home to three lonely cats about 9:00.

We are definitely planing on going back next year, and will probably be bringing our niece up with us (which may or may not alter our travel plans depending on her class schedule next spring).

We also brought home some purchases: personally autographed pictures of Sylvester McCoy and Mark Shepherd, a knit robot hat for Tara, the second compilation of Assimilation² , the Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who crossover comic series from IDW, four Big Finish audio Doctor Who  dramas, three new prints to be framed and hung (and we’re behind on that as it is) and some assorted jewelry and knick knacks.

Television Opening Musings

Yesterday, it occurred to me that over my lifetime – and mostly over the last 10-15 years – I’ve seen a change in how US (at least) television shows open.

The earliest 60 minute single camera shows I have memories of – mostly mysteries, cop shows, and a few SF titles – generally fell into one of a few styles of opening:

  • A teaser scene followed by an opening sequence and then a commercial.
    • Star Trek is an example that followed this for sure.
  • A “Tonight on …” teaser made up of clips, followed by an opening sequence.  I don’t recall if these then went straight into the show, or had a commercial afterwards.
    • I think Hawaii Five-O followed that, but since the clip teasers aren’t on the Netflix stream, I’m not 100% sure.
  • An opening sequence that incorporated clips for the upcoming episode
    • Mission Impossible is the only example I know of from my early TV viewing.
    • Space: 1999 also did this, but I watched only one or two episodes when it first aired – KOB returned to the regular NBC schedule after just a couple of episodes.

Over time, the teaser scene became more common, eventually becoming universal or nearly universal.

The first departure I recall from any of these would be Hill Street Blues which usually opened with scenes from recent episodes (“Previously on…”), a practice previously only used for two-part episodes, followed by the roll-call scene and sometimes a squad room scene before the opening sequence.  The next departure, sort of, was Quantum Leap, which started running a fixed sequence setting up the series, followed by the teaser and then the opening sequence.

Somewhere between the late 1980’s and now, a new style has appeared and become the most common:

  • A teaser scene – sometimes lasting longer than in earlier shows – followed by nothing more than a title card, or a quick opening that only credits the name of the show, and sometimes the main producers.  The rest of the credits are run over the first scene following the opening.
    • In my current (February 2013) selection of new shows, this is true for Arrow, Once Upon a Time, NCIS: Los Angles, Vegas, and White Collar.
  • A teaser scene followed by a more traditional opening sequence
    • Current shows: Hawaii 5-ONCIS, CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationCSI: New York, and Psych.  Hawaii 5-O and NCIS go immediately from the opening sequence into the first scene, the others go into an ad break.

Person of Interest starts with a Quantum Leap type explanation of the premis which ends with the title card, and then flows into the first scene with most of the credits running over it.

I don’t recall where Continuum falls into this.

30 minute multi-camera shows all started with an opening sequence, and then often an ad break before the opening scene until fairly recently.  A few had teasers early on (WKRP In Cincinnati  and Cheers comes to mind).  The first departure I recall was Murphy Brow which opened directly into the first scene – quite often an dialog-free scene with a Mowtown song playing over it – with the credits run over that scene.  This trend has become pretty common for 30 minute multi-camera shows, even if the only two I’m currently watching (The Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons – which pretty much qualifies even though it is animated) still use a more-or-less traditional opening sequence – but neither include any credits other than title, creator and producer over the sequence.