Slates, or in the UK known as VT clocks or VT countdown clocks, are the bits prior to an episode starting with a clock that counts down to 3 before going to black and the episode starts up. This was able to give the stations running the programs a countdown so the episode would start on air smoothly. I do not know why but I love them! I wish the DVDs were released with an option to see the VT clocks before each episode. This is something that Network DVD used to do with their releases so you could get the first couple of Series of Upstairs Downstairs and watch them with slates if you so desire. I have a quite a few Doctor Who episodes that have slates. I would love to have them all like that. It would be great for losers like me to see a disc released with nothing but slates. If anyone has good quality copies of Doctor Who episodes with slates (even from VHS) let me know.
For years, if you wanted to listen to missing episodes, you would get a tape and the quality would be horrible. Very garbled and muddy. I remember winning the audio for The Web of Fear back in the late 1980s. The episodes were essentially movie versions but they were recorded on really good tapes. That helped nothing. The quality was horrible. I couldn’t make out what was going on so I really never collected the audios after that. Marco Polo was bad too. Suddenly, these “Crystal Clear” audios showed up and they were important because it covered the majority of the missing episodes and from The Daleks Masterplan Episode 8 through to The Wheel in Space Episode 5, the mic was directly plugged into the TV set giving the audio unbelievable quality. All the other recordings were basically audio camera copies. These were mics set up next to a TV speaker and you could pick up not only the audio of the episode but the audio of anything else that was going on in the room at the time of recording! What made this even better was that for the first time dub sites were set up around the world through the Internet that would distribute these audios to fans for free. All they needed to do was provide the blank tapes and postage. So by the time I got it, it wasn’t 60th generation copy audio but maybe 3rd generation or so. They did this with the reconstructions too. Not only was all of this going on but we had an unofficial team working for the BBC who were remastering episodes of Doctor Who for the VHS releases. They were doing stuff that we never thought would be possible such as official colour releases of a lot of the black & white Pertwee episodes. For me it was a renaissance of knowledge and fun when it came to Doctor Who.
Robert and I shared our passion for Doctor Who tape trading and would share with each other the new things we would get in from other people. He had some really nice friends in the UK who would send him some of the orphaned episodes in spectacular quality which he would share with me. It filled in some of those gaps. These would also be used for the telesnap reconstructions so fans would get the best quality copies of the whole story. That group really worked hard to give people some really nice quality that was not available anywhere else. I remember when Robert showed me his new copy of The Underwater Menace Episode 3. It was perfect. It seemed like it was directly from the film print. It had a slight green tint to it.
Robert and his friends were getting stuff from the UK and Australia on a regular basis. After a while, I ended up following trends that my friends were setting to be able to get the best quality they could at the time. To start with, I moved from VHS to SVHS in 1997. It was cool to get high quality recordings from other people in the US. This is a bit naughty but I would borrow some of my friend’s pre-recorded NTSC video tapes and copy them onto SVHS for myself. I would add homemade electronic slates to the start of the episodes. What’s the point? None but I still had fun doing it. One of my favorite moments was on a day I got 2 teeth pulled. I went home to rest and a package was waiting for me. Opening it up Robert had sent me a tape that had The Tenth Planet on it. It was the best quality I had ever seen of the story up to that point. It was so good that it was the first time I noticed the cellophane tape holding the jugs to the Cyber-helmet to the actual helmet. I also noticed the human eyes in the stocking cap for the first time. It really was fun to watch but I wasn’t happy with just SVHS especially as I had friends in the US getting into PAL. That was the big step!
|Shelf 1 of 8 of British goodies.|
|My Tenlab PAL to NTSC converter|
|One of my PAL Doctor Who Pre-record VHS Shelves|
|Some of my Doctor Who DVDs|
|One of the pages from my master Database list. Page 437 of 885.|
|A page from my Doctor Who list from my database that shows all versions I have of a story.|
|This is what the main form looks like that I use to enter the shows into my database.|
Next week: Christmas programming begins for this blog. For the next four weeks, everything chosen will have a Christmas theme to it. I start off next with something that is transitional and merry all at the same time. It is the Yes, Minister episode Party Games!
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