Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in retr

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Richard Charles Skryngestone
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Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in retr

Post by Richard Charles Skryngestone »

Often a long-running television programme takes a little while to be fine-tuned. This may be due to the actors changing the way the characters are written. Or certain things simply do or do not work. When someone is familiar with a long-running programme, sometimes going back and watching the very earliest episodes may provide shocks, or least oddities.

In the earliest episodes of Dad's Army, Mainwarng calls his platoon "chaps", Wilson is a normal sergeant, even shouting out his commands(albeit in his public school accent), Pike is a competent soldier, Godfrey is clearly elderly, but his frailties haven't set in yet, and there's no sign of the vicar.

The earliest Doctor Who episodes show a Doctor who smokes, nearly kills a man, and routinely refers to the TARDIS as a 'ship'. The first Dalek serial has them unable to leave their city, as they run on static electricity.

The earliest episodes of The Avengers have none of the Fantasy elements of the better-known stories. And the main character is Doctor David Keel.

What are others that people have noticed?
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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by Brock »

TV Tropes has a term for this - Early Installment Weirdness (sorry for American spelling).

I recently watched the opening episode of Countdown, where Carol Vorderman's role is purely to check the numbers game; Cathy Hytner puts the letters up, and there's another hostess (Beverley Isherwood) who puts the numbers up but says absolutely nothing. The lexicographer is introduced briefly but then becomes invisible for the rest of the programme. Quite disconcerting.

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by andrew baker »

Re The Daleks

The great attraction of the Daleks in 1963/4 was that they ran on static - rather like dodgems with metal floors. We all bought Rollikin daleks (or diddy daleks) an made cardboard cities with tracks for them to run on. It seemed a copout when they picked up power through sort of satellite dishes on theor backs in the next story.

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by Mark »

Of course, that was before anyone knew they would be a hit and have to come back.

To be honest, all long running series feature this particular phenomena, it's because TV shows have a life of their own, and 'evolve' as they go along, no format is perfect to begin with, and changes are inevitable, that's why, from our point of view, it's better to have complete series on DVD rather than 'best of'.

You can see the process, as you watch each episode, and it's fascinating to see the train of thought of production teams, same goes for radio series too.
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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by marsey »

In the original Blackadder, Baldrick is by far the most intelligent and cunning of the team, with Edmund a fool. By the time of series two the roles were entirely reversed.

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by brigham »

I've been re-visiting Inspector Morse recently, and Thaw's early interpretation is distinctly 'out of character' compared to the Morse we came to know.
In the first Upstairs Downstairs, the strait-laced Mrs. Bridges is a closet drinker, a trait which soon disappeared.

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Richard Charles Skryngestone
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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by Richard Charles Skryngestone »

Brock wrote:TV Tropes has a term for this - Early Installment Weirdness (sorry for American spelling).

I recently watched the opening episode of Countdown, where Carol Vorderman's role is purely to check the numbers game; Cathy Hytner puts the letters up, and there's another hostess (Beverley Isherwood) who puts the numbers up but says absolutely nothing. The lexicographer is introduced briefly but then becomes invisible for the rest of the programme. Quite disconcerting.
Thank you for that link. I was unaware that such a page existed.

One thing I found strange was that the American website makes no mention of the American series MacGyver. The first episode has him firing a gun in the very first scene. Then we meet his boss/contact, a character who never appears(or is even mentioned) ever again. Interestingly, that role is later taken over by Pete, and the Pete actor Dana Elcar appears as a totally different character.
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Ian Wegg
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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by Ian Wegg »

Mark wrote:To be honest, all long running series feature this particular phenomena, it's because TV shows have a life of their own, and 'evolve' as they go along...
My immediate thought was Last Of The Summer WIne followed very quickly by Top Gear. Mark is correct, it's hard to find a long-running series that hasn't changed in some way although I suspect these days with formats going through endless committees and focus groups before ever getting to screen the phenomenon is in decline.

It's the minor adjustments, like the Morse and Mrs. Bridges examples, that are most interesting. I remember Seth Armstrong's gradual transformation in Emmerdale Farm from surly illiterate to erudite comedian.

As a youngster I was always excited when one of the early editions of The Flintstones with Barney's alternative voice was shown.


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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by Focus II »

I'm not generally a fan of US television, especially modern comedies but my other half is a big fan of, "Frasier". I've probably seen the entire series at least twice. It was certainly rare in the sense it got very much better in later years and certainly ended on a high.

Looking back at the very early episodes coupled with the awful quality NTSC conversions at the time came as a bit of a shock!

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by wittoner »

Ian Wegg wrote:I remember Seth Armstrong's gradual transformation in Emmerdale Farm from surly illiterate to erudite comedian.
Similarly Roy Barrowclough's Alec Gilroy in Coronation Street began as a borderline gangster character with an edge of menace to him before mellowing into one half of a comedy double act with Bet Lynch.

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by MAldridge »

brigham wrote:I've been re-visiting Inspector Morse recently, and Thaw's early interpretation is distinctly 'out of character' compared to the Morse we came to know.
In the first Upstairs Downstairs, the strait-laced Mrs. Bridges is a closet drinker, a trait which soon disappeared.
I've only seen UpDown once, but isn't there a scene where Mrs Bridges steals a chicken from the house's larder and gives/sells it to someone? Quite out of character.

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by Brock »

Can I do one from radio? In the first series of Radio Active, Mike Stand is a smooth-talking former TV host, as opposed to the idiotic children's presenter he became in later series; and the reporter Nigel Pry speaks entirely grammatically instead of spouting incoherent rubbish. I think there was also a "Mike Cable" who completely disappeared.

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by ITMA »

Brock wrote:TV Tropes has a term for this - Early Installment Weirdness (sorry for American spelling).

I recently watched the opening episode of Countdown, where Carol Vorderman's role is purely to check the numbers game; Cathy Hytner puts the letters up, and there's another hostess (Beverley Isherwood) who puts the numbers up but says absolutely nothing. The lexicographer is introduced briefly but then becomes invisible for the rest of the programme. Quite disconcerting.
Then you must check out "Calendar Countdown" - the idea had already been tried on Yorkshire TV. The pilot (untransmitted?) is here, but there was a broadcast series here in yorkshire before Channel 4 launched. It's very odd.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OwSHIwZ4ak

I can't find any episodes from the broadcast series, but I do remember a very (VERY) brown set.

http://wiki.apterous.org/Calendar_Countdown

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by ITMA »

Any fans of Still Game in?

Not quite an early episode, but there was a stage show the preceded the series which made it to DVD. It looks totally bizarre: Winston isn't Winston, Jack and Victor are much edgier (and younger). All of the cast's language is foul (admitted there is much cursing in the series but it's usually said with warmth): in this prototype version the C-word is dropped frequently, and it's nasty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peESsZaMtNY

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by Mark »

Ian Wegg wrote:
Mark wrote:To be honest, all long running series feature this particular phenomena, it's because TV shows have a life of their own, and 'evolve' as they go along...
My immediate thought was Last Of The Summer WIne followed very quickly by Top Gear. Mark is correct, it's hard to find a long-running series that hasn't changed in some way although I suspect these days with formats going through endless committees and focus groups before ever getting to screen the phenomenon is in decline.

It's the minor adjustments, like the Morse and Mrs. Bridges examples, that are most interesting. I remember Seth Armstrong's gradual transformation in Emmerdale Farm from surly illiterate to erudite comedian.

As a youngster I was always excited when one of the early editions of The Flintstones with Barney's alternative voice was shown.


~iw
Talking of voices, David Auker ( Billy Watson) in "Bottle Boys", started off with a strange higher pitched voice, but must have found it a strain, as he reverted to his normal voice for series 2 and Dodo in "Doctor Who" was northern at the start , but the accent moved down south shortly afterwards.

On Radio, in "HHH", Andree Melly had a french accent as Hancock's Girlfriend, but dropped it later on.

In the early episodes of "The Professionals", Cowley limped about with a wounded leg, but everybody got fed up with that, so it got better.

Blakey (in "On The Buses") started off with a more normal way of speaking before developing his famous "Errrrr" voice, and the Butlers living room door changed position from series 3 onwards.

Also, the living room in "Home To Roost" lost it's conservatory later on, with a change of camera position to hide it's absence, probably took up too much room in the studio.

In "Billy Liar", George A Cooper's use of the word "Bloody" in nearly every sentence, caused some concern, and was changed to something more innocuous in series 2.

Game shows often evolve to keep interest, "Deal Or No Deal" began as a simple 'open the box' show, but they soon developed little rituals for the contestants and then extra rounds with quick bonuses on offer.

Watching "Starsky And Hutch" on Forces TV at the moment, and that first theme was far better than the second one ( different Dobie Actor in the pilot as well).
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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by David Boothroyd »

In the first episode of 'Face to Face', there is a brief cut to look directly at John Freeman.

Wasn't that early Radio Active character 'Mike Hunt'? I think the name was proposed, expecting that the BBC would veto it given the running joke with the other characters, but it was unexpectedly allowed and the team had a difficult job working out exactly what he would do. Eventually given the job of performing 'dangerous' stunts that were actually quite routine actions. After the second series the BBC intervened.

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by Simon36 »

brigham wrote:I've been re-visiting Inspector Morse recently, and Thaw's early interpretation is distinctly 'out of character' compared to the Morse we came to know.
In the first Upstairs Downstairs, the strait-laced Mrs. Bridges is a closet drinker, a trait which soon disappeared.
Yes indeed, I much preferred the earlier Morse episodes. His accent is quite different too. The character later seemed to become the ultimate eligible bachelor. I remember cringing at the box set that described him as “the gentle romantic with a flair for a puzzle”. Thaw himself had been eager to lose the seedier aspects of Morse.

The first season of Minder jars here and there, Arthur snogging someone in Monday Night Fever, and also George Cole’s cockney accent isn’t in use in some scenes.

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by Brock »

David Boothroyd wrote:
Wasn't that early Radio Active character 'Mike Hunt'? I think the name was proposed, expecting that the BBC would veto it given the running joke with the other characters, but it was unexpectedly allowed and the team had a difficult job working out exactly what he would do. Eventually given the job of performing 'dangerous' stunts that were actually quite routine actions. After the second series the BBC intervened.
"Oh-so-daring" Mike Hunt didn't disappear after the second series - he was a regular feature for much of the programme's run. (In fact I'm not sure if he was even in the first series.) He may not have appeared in the last few series but that's probably because the programmes were more strongly themed, and there wouldn't have been a role for someone performing silly stunts. Or perhaps they just ran out of stunts for him - I doubt whether he fell foul of the censors.

EDIT: TV Tropes says "it took several seasons before the censors realized the implications of having a character named 'Mike Hunt' ".

TV Tropes also confirms my belief that there was an early character called "Mike Cable" (to fit with Mike Flex, Mike Channel and Mike Stand), but I've no idea what he did. The DJs were fairly generic and interchangeable in the first series - the feud between Mike Flex and Mike Channel hadn't developed.

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by squidney »

‘The Simpsons’ look and act quite different from when they were little filler pieces in ‘The Tracey Ullman Show’ ( edited out of Uk showings I believe at the time,) to the versions we see now.

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Re: Early episodes of long-running shows looking strange in

Post by Brock »

Brock wrote: TV Tropes also confirms my belief that there was an early character called "Mike Cable" (to fit with Mike Flex, Mike Channel and Mike Stand), but I've no idea what he did. The DJs were fairly generic and interchangeable in the first series - the feud between Mike Flex and Mike Channel hadn't developed.
More on the "Mike Cable" character here.

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