Currently working through the missing episode audios...

Discussion in 'Doctor Who' started by Candlelight, May 30, 2012.

  1. Candlelight

    Candlelight Admiral Admiral

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    My copy of Galaxy 4 has a scratch on it, so have to wait until I find another copy. So I decided to jump into a story that I never really considered to be any good based on the solitary surviving episode and the fact it sticks out like a sore thumb in the proverbial 'season of monsters'...

    THE ENEMY OF THE WORLD
    9/10

    Boy was I wrong. This story was undeniably brilliant. First, I found out at the very beginning that it was written by David Whittaker, arguably my favourite author of the 1960s. I never knew! Next, there were so many awesome sequences in most episodes (the hovercraft chase, the helicopter exploding, the volcanic eruption, the underground colony - seriously, who didn't see that one coming!?). Salamander is a great megalomaniac, the solar satellites generating the natural disasters (though I can't recall if they explained it; are they super heating the earth causing the lava to expand and trigger a volcanic event??). My only gripe is the final episode is horribly rushed, and I would hazard a suggestion that a seventh episode might even help with the resolution. Astrid's reaction at the episode 5 cliffhanger about Salamander attacking Swann is questionable; after all she's been through why wouldn't he?? In my opinion, this was the best story of Season Five.

    Might dip back into Hartnell territory next.
     
  2. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    read the novelization of the Enemy of the World many many moons ago and wanted to see it only to find out it no longer existed.

    Then again as I found out with Tomb Of The Cybermen, the book added stuff that wasn't in the episodes so I might have been disappointed.
     
  3. Candlelight

    Candlelight Admiral Admiral

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    The first few episodes made me feel this would be excellent as a tv serial but doesn't really work as an audio-only story.

    Now after finishing it I think it works really well as it is, though would love to see it found.
     
  4. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    Slightly belated addition... I suspect there wouldn't be any way to recover such data, as the tapes weren't just recorded over: they'd be put through a bulk eraser, and then have a new testcard/tone track recorded onto them, as a precaution against the sort of leak through from old recordings you're hoping for (certainly, that was standard practice at my university TV station during the 1980s, which was using ex-BBC surplus equipment dating back to the 60s and had adopted the same routines).
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Yes, but my thinking is that such a procedure might not have been total, and that the kinds of digital technology we have today might be able to extract information that would've seemed to be completely erased by the standards of 1970s/80s analog technology.

    After all, the Reconstruction Team was able to extract that color information from black-and-white copies of the originals. The copying equipment wasn't designed or set up to transfer any color information to the copies at all, yet somehow a trace of such information was transferred over anyway, which is amazing to me. And people working with modern computers were able to extract those fragments of information, interpolate what was missing, and combine it with the existing monochrome information and photo reference to reconstruct what had been lost. So if such hidden information could be found in a copy that wasn't supposed to contain any of it at all, then who knows what leftover bits might linger on the originals, despite the best efforts of '70s technology to eradicate them? It might just seem to be random specks of noise, but a powerful enough computer might be able to divine a residual pattern. And maybe at least a partial reconstruction could be achieved by using the existing stills and clips as reference to help interpolate the missing image information. (For instance, if you know that the pattern of magnetic traces on frame X corresponds to such-and-such a frame capture of the Doctor in a particular pose, then understanding the pattern beneath those traces could let you deduce that the traces in a subsequent frame correspond to the Doctor having moved a foot to the left. And so on.)

    So no, it's not a sure thing -- in fact, it's a heck of a reach. But most anyone would've thought it was impossible to reconstruct the color information from those Third Doctor episodes, yet it was done. So at least it would be worth looking into this, trying to track down the original tapes and seeing if there was a way to extract useful information from them. No harm in trying, right?
     
  6. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Or FTL. Get out in front of the television signal wave front. It would be horrifically degraded, but perhaps multiple ships, operating in concert, at different points on the wavefront sphere... :)
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    At any distance greater than about a light-year, it would be so degraded as to be almost indistinguishable from background noise (contrary to the myths about I Love Lucy still being viewable from 60 light-years away). The technology necessary to reconstruct the signal out of that noise would be essentially equivalent to that needed to reconstruct it from the original erased tapes. So just finding the original tapes themselves strikes me as an easier first step. ;)

    There's also the possibility of contacting aliens and discovering that they've been monitoring Earth from hidden satellites for decades and have recorded all our broadcasts...
     
  8. Sindatur

    Sindatur Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm still holding onto the hope that for a 50th Anniversary Gift, the Doctor will leave behind a case containing all the missing episodes, which he has collected up prior to destruction for us over the years (This may even be why some of them went missing in the first place, because he grabbed the copies to rpesent us for the 50th) :bolian:

    That, or yea, someone needs to invent a Time machine so we can pop back ourselves and save copies from destruction.
     
  9. Candlelight

    Candlelight Admiral Admiral

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    I'd say the best hope right now lies in either:
    - Lies in the hands of film collectors who don't realise they have a missing episode
    - Lies in a vault that a tv station has forgotten about or not catelogued (such as Sierra Leone)
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Sure, that would be the best hope, of course, and I'd love it if there were some vault that turned out to have every remaining lost episode. I'm just thinking that maybe there's a last-ditch option to be investigated when all else fails, and I'm wondering if anyone involved in Doctor Who restoration has given any thought to tracking down the actual physical tapes and determining if there's a way to extract erased data from them.
     
  11. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    Well, the tape numbers are known (most, if not all, of them are listed in the wiping paperwork summarised in Wiped, which is written by one of the Restoration Team, and I'm guessing that when there's no wiping paperwork 'Before 1971' means that 'The programme now on this tape was made in 1971, so....'). So they could certainly be checked, assuming they survive (some of these tapes had already been reused so often that they were falling apart: at least one episode of Tomb of the Cybermen was almost untransmittable as a result). If they do survive, they'll now be at the British Film Institute's archive, as the BBC's 2inch tapes were all donated to there after they were transferred to digital D3 in the 1990s.
    Your example of the colour restoration from the B&W prints is an interesting one: the problem of the colour info turning up as interference patterns was known, and the technicians were supposed to use a filter to remove the colour info. But as there weren't enough filters (until late 1969 BBC1 wasn't in colour, and all the relevant film copies date from before summer 1971, so you can understand why Enterprises didn't initially have enough), they got on without it without them.
    In other words, people got on with doing the job even if it meant breaking the letter of the rules. So there's a chance that some Who tapes were reused without being comprehensively 'blanked'.
    But... you mention how it becomes increasingly impossible to retrieve a usable TV signal a few light years out from Earth. Suspect the chances of retrieving anything usable from a reused tape are equally low (though it does make me think: I have an audio cassette where a 'ghost' of a lost Week Ending episode can be heard under the later recording. Maybe, just maybe, it's salvagable).
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Sure. I'm not saying it's a sure thing; in fact, I'm sure it would take a great deal of computing power, brilliant reconstruction work, and sheer luck to make it happen. I just think it would be worth investigating as a last-resort option. We're at the point where it's deemed unlikely that many more lost episodes will be found, and when you get to that point, that's when you consider the desperate, crazy, Hail-Mary options. Heck, that's the Doctor's standard operating procedure. ;)
     
  13. Candlelight

    Candlelight Admiral Admiral

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    There's apparently only less than 20 quad tapes that originated with 405-line recordings on them still in existence at the BBC (or Windmill Road, or wherever the masters are stored these days), so considering if any of those were actually Doctor Who, the first 187 episodes of the show were shot on 405-line tapes, 81 of which are missing episodes - the most you'd get back would be "less than 20".

    But they're not. Of the 625-line tapes only 25 are missing episodes, and only The Enemy of the World 3 has ever been tracked down.

    It's likely they're all gone forever...
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Well, that's a shame. But at least it answers my question about whether an effort has been made to identify and track down the original tapes. (At least I think it does. I don't quite follow what you're saying in your second paragraph.)
     
  15. Candlelight

    Candlelight Admiral Admiral

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    25 of the 106 missing episodes are of 625-line origin. Only one so far has been identified as an original Dr Who master tape. Of the other 24, they may still exist or they may have been junked, who knows....
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    So you mean they have identified a tape that used to be a DW master but has been taped over, or that they found one that still had an unerased episode on it? You mentioned "The Enemy of the World" episode 3, which is a surviving episode, so it's not quite what I'm talking about.

    And when you say "405-line" and "625-line," do you mean the number of scan lines making up the image, i.e. the resolution?
     
  17. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    Yep, that's what he means (though as with NTSC=525, some of those lines were used for sync pulses, subtitles, etc, so the actual resolution was a bit less: 377 lines for a 405 line picture. And, to add to the complications, the film telerecordings could only record every other line, so they were only 189-lines. Fortunately every Who episode up til then was re-recorded when an 377-line improved technique was developed in '67, but a few surviving episodes recovered from overseas only exist as the earlier 190-line versions).

    So, every episode up until Enemy of the World 2 was made on 405-line video, usually on 2" Quad VT (though about 10 1960s episodes were transferred to film before transmission, either so they could be edited more easily, or just because there wasn't a VT machine available).
    Enemy of the World 3 through to War Games 10 were made in the colour-compatible 625-PAL format, but only in black and white. After the all film one-off of Spearhead from Space at the start of season 7 (a strike cancelled the studio scenes, so they were shot on film on location to get round this), the rest of the original run was made in 625-line colour PAL. From Seasons 7 to 19 they were recorded onto 2" tapes, then the new 1" format took over as of Arc of Infinity.
    All the surviving tapes from seasons 7 to 19 were given to the BFI archive after the BBC made digital archive copies in the 1990s. The 1" tapes were also copied to digital, but haven't been kept.

    One possible, but not proven, reason for Enemy of the World 3 surviving is that it was the first 625-line episode: a film copy MAY have been made for BBC bosses to view to see how Doctor WHo looked in 625-line (in theory, you;d think they'd have watched a videotape. But the BBC had a lot more film projectors than VTRs, and the latter would be too busy actually making or broadcasting programmes). The original video tape exists with a 1971 Blue Peter on it (but, as mentioned, that would be an early 625 line tape, not a 405-line one. Though the tapes are identical, just used for a different format).

    A reason for the absence of tapes dating back to the 405-line days MAY be that the licence fee for a colour-capable 625 line TV was about four times as much as the old Black and white licence. That meant the BBC got a real boost to its income as people converted, which MAY have let them buy new tapes and bin the 10 year old ones that were falling apart...
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^So you're saying the tape that originally held "Enemy of the World" episode 3 was recorded over with a Blue Peter episode, and they've located that tape? Sorry, I'm still confused.
     
  19. Candlelight

    Candlelight Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, that's what he's saying:

    http://www.purpleville.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/rtwebsite/archive.htm

    Warriors of the Deep; the last 2" tape was The Five Doctors. From the same link:

     
  20. Candlelight

    Candlelight Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, and then there's this:

     

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