Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
Now I was doing a bit of research for my Victorian Literature class and learnt that Charles Dickens serialized his novels. Intrigued I researched more and learnt about all these things that we lost over time due to the changes in the world. But just because it has changed doesn’t mean it’s lost forever. So here are six things I miss from the past but celebrate what we have instead.
What We Lost: Movie Shorts. I was really surprised to learn as a kid that the likes of the Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry use to be made for the movie theatre. Nowadays I’m more knowledgeable and know all about the history of these shorts… but I still lament the fact that they’re all but gone in the modern day. I mean thank goodness for Pixar and their big push at bringing them back (which Disney copied with much success), but that’s about it really. You don’t see really any good cartoon shorts any more in theatres or on TV. But fortunately…
What We Have: Online cartoons. This is probably one of the few times I think we have an upside thanks to modern technology. There are too many good online cartoons to list as we all have our own, but it does allow people to have real freedom to do stuff you couldn’t show on TV. Still it’s a shame we don’t see more short cartoons in front of movies. Still I can’t complain in this case.
What We Lost: Saturday Morning Pictures. Now I’m sure Les could tell us about this great of a time, but from what my Dad told me you use to go to the movies every Saturday morning to watch the film serials. Some of the most famous film serials are Flash Gordon, Captain Marvel, Superman, Batman, The Green Hornet, The Phantom. Now the common thing amongst all of these serials is something that still lives on till today. Say it with me now:
â€œHow will our heroes get out of this predicament. Join us next week, same time, same place.â€ The heroes would end up in peril, only to get out of it quite quickly the next week. But of course you had to go to see the next one to see how they got out of it. You just had too. So these film serials, whilst being of a really low budget, are still excellent.
What We Have: Saturday Morning Cartoons. For better or for worse Saturday Morning Cartoons came to be a big part of pretty much all children of my generation. Everyone watched Saturday Morning Cartoons or their brother, After School Cartoons. So many great series, from Disney-produced shows to anime to environmental PSAs disguised as cartoons. I could easily spend a blog or seven talking about the various cartoons that inspired me and my writing, but suffice it to say that at least the Saturday Morning Serial lives on in some form or another.
What We Lost: Radio serials. This was back in the day before TV killed the radio star. You often had the family get around the radio to listen to the latest adventures of Superman in audio form. And more often than not a lot of these audio dramas would be quite good, challenging the mind with amazing stories and fantastic settings. Also they were relatively cheap and easy to make. Although even with TV having been invented they still didn’t died out, since The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy started out as a radio drama and The Archers is still going strong after its debut in 1950 (and since it has over 17,300 15 minute episodes it has become one of the longest stories in the history of mankind, clock in at about 4,325 hours aka about 6 months worth of non-stop playback from start to present). But you don’t get radio dramas like Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds or radio adaptations like The Lord of the Rings (with Frodo being played by the man that played Bilbo in the Peter Jackson movies, go figure).
What We Have: Various. Truth be told there’s not one specific thing that has replaced the radio drama since the radio drama itself never actually died. But what we have now are two almost separate things. Firstly we have audio plays, stories specifically written for the audio format, starring characters from the likes of Doctor Who and Judge Dredd. On the other hand we also have the Podcast Plays. Whilst there haven’t been that many on this site they still capture the spirit of the radio drama quite well, especially done by an amateur cast. Add to that various other podcast plays made by other people (perhaps the most famous being a Doctor Who/My Little Pony crossover audio drama) and the genre is still alive and well today.
What We Lost: Serialized Novels. Back in the day you didn’t get novels in a big go. Oh no, you got them in little bit-sized instalments. Every week there was a new section of the novel ready to be brought and consumed. It’s hard to imagine nowadays, but what if something like Harry Potter was a bunch of really short books you brought once a week to find out how Harry got out of his latest peril. I mean sure it’d probably cost quite a lot in the long run, but it’d be an interesting read. Most Victorian literature was published this way, so you can still read it that way if you chose too. But on the whole it’s pretty much gone nowadays. If it wasn’t for…
What We Have: TV shows. In may ways TV shows are the next logical step for serialized novels (after radio dramas of course). They come out in weekly instalments, often broken up in many parts and occasionally tell one large over-arching story. So whilst I will bemoan the fact that we won’t probably ever get serialized novels ever again, I’m happy in the knowledge that at least TV exists.
What We Lost: Pulp Magazines. Back in the day if you wanted to read the latest Sherlock Holmes story you went out and brought The Strand Magazine, a magazine filled with a variety of short stories and on-going stories. Now they were called pulp because they were created on the cheapest paper possible and designed not to last. One of the most famous characters from this area is The Shadow, best known for the inspiration of Batman and superheroes in general. Not to mention the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs with his Tarzan and John Carter stories. So whilst the magazines were cheap the stories in them were fantastic at times.
What We Have: Blogs. I mean we basically have writers who can talk about whatever they want to talk about, more often then not non-fiction then fiction. Nevertheless blogs are designed to be cheap to make and not very weighty, but still good in their own way. In fact Manic Expression itself is a pulp magazines of sorts, a collection of on-going stories and blog series found in one place. The pulp magazine genre is alive and well on this site and I hope it stays this way.
What We Lost: Penny Dreadful. The name kinda says it all, doesn’t it. They were stories that cost around a penny (which was more in the Victorian times then it is now) and were often thought as being quite rubbish. They were designed to be read to the family before throwing them away. They were something to keep the working class happy and in line, not made for weighty analysis or literacy criticism. In short shorts written dirty and fast to make a quick buck and keep people happy.
What We Have: Fan Fiction. Now whilst there are some great fan fictions out there… yeah there are quite a few bad ones as well. Written quickly, badly and ultimately for the sake of writing them then for any real literacy worth. Fortunately they cost next to nothing to read and made perfectly for the working class to escape from their everyday life. So once again we haven’t lost a style of publication, merely changed it instead.
So there you have it. My disjointed look at what we’ve lost and how it’s evolved to keep up with the world we find ourselves in. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.