(Re)Framing Transmedial Narratives

The absolute highlight of my time at MLA09 was the night panel on transmedia narratives. I finally got to meet my friend Christy Dena and also catch up with some other friends. Here are my notes:

Marc Ruppel

  • The biggest shift in storytelling has been multiplatform narratives
  • What are they? digital/analog, oral/audio, etc
  • Examples of transmedia narratives: Lost, Buffy The Vampire Slayer series eight comic, etc
  • Connectivity: Edges as transactional spaces
  • Reading paths, instead of just left to right now…(It’s refreshing to hear this; I’ve been saying this for a long time!!!)

Migratory cues:

  • Direct-URLs, books, phone numbers, business cards (the series Heroes was the example for some of these)
  • Intermedial-Direct prescence of one site’s content in anothers
  • Intersectional-One site reflects and approximates momentary events of another
  • Often used in combination
  • Visualize network as a whole

Christy Dena

After this, I just sat and listened to everything Christy was saying. Her work is fascinating and close to what I originally wanted to write about in my Master’s Thesis before sliding to something more “Englishy” (see my first symposium presentation about Distributed Narrative)

I also asked a question to Marc and Christy about the role of canon in fan culture. Specifically, I was curious how they regarded fan fiction and spinoff noncanonical media in regards to their examples of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who. The BTVS series eight comic is pretty established as canonical, but what about Doctor Who where there are numerous comics, Big Finish audios, and other things where their place in the canon is murky at best. Both Marc and Christy said that trying to decipher between all of that just wasn’t worth doing, so they regards everything in the same manner. I can certainly understand that.

Afterwards, while catching up with Christy, we also talked about the defining of new terms which she does in her work. While writing my Master’s Thesis, I had trouble enough with resistance to terms like ergodic, distributed narrative, hypertext, etc. Christy is creating new terms as she goes.


Weekly Reader


  • The New Yorker piece on Obama’s early years in Chicago politics is another indicator he is just as scummy and slimy as the next politician.  Making the right friends, the right votes, the right influences; you might counter by saying “that’s politics” but I say that if you take part in that crap, I blame you.  I’d rather have no government than one filled with slimeballs.  None of the above…yet again…in 2008.

  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn recently passed away.  When we moved to Manahawkin, I remember the first friend I made was reading The Gulag Archipelago at the time.  We started to bond while discussing that and other books.

  • Io9 offers a guide for fans of the modern Doctor Who series who wish to get into the classic series.

  • Scott Esposito comments on the amazing ending of The Mill On The Floss and links to a review of the novel from a 1860 issue of The Atlantic.

  • PETA still sucks as much as I remember.


Weekly Reader

Meanwhile, on Twitter…


Planet Of Evil

Planet Of Evil.JPG

I recently watched the newly released Forth Doctor adventure, Planet Of Evil.  I am always happy to view another serial with The Forth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith, but this serial was not that impressive.  There is a lot of filler and a very boring villain with really cheesy, even for Doctor Who, special effects. 

Destiny Of The Daleks

Destiny Of The Daleks.JPG

I recently viewed the newly released Destiny Of The Daleks DVD.  This serial serves as a sequel to perhaps the finest Doctor Who serial, Genesis Of The Daleks.  The serial begins with Romana freshly regenerating into Romana II, played by the stunning Lalla Ward.  The playful relationship between The Doctor and Romana II gets off to a great start here, including the matching (but pink, ugh) outfit Romana picks out to match The Forth Doctor's trademark outfit. 

Overall the story is pretty sold-The Daleks return to Skaro in an attempt to find their leader Davros.  There is a humorous reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide To Galaxy when The Forth Doctor is seen reading The Origins Of The Universe

The best part of this serial is Romana II and The Forth Doctor playing rock/paper/scissor to try to teach the Movellan a lesson about endless war.  By far, however, the highlight of this DVD is the bonus Prime Computer ads starring Lalla Ward and Tom Baker, which includes this totally adorable one parodying their recent marriage. 

Overall, not the best adventure for The Forth Doctor, however very significant because my favorite companion is introduced.  It is hard to go wrong with Daleks as well, although the Movellans are pretty bland. 

The Keeper Of Traken & Logopolis

(No pictures this week…forgot to take them!)

This week’s I received and watched, The Keeper Of Traken and Logopolis, the final two serials for The Forth Doctor. 

I really enjoyed The Keeper Of Traken.  The opening banter between The Doctor and Adric is hilarious.  Tom Baker is especially good in this scene.  This serials also introduces Nyssa as a new companion.  Nyssa is smart and, while she does fall into peril, keeps up with and challenges The Doctor.  Oh, and you cannot forget the big surprise of the serial’s villain being The Master in disguise.  Actually, it is not that big of a surprise, at least to me, and is significantly downplayed surprisingly.  The bonus documentary confirms that The Master’s appearance was added late in the script writing process and would serve to introduce his newest incarnation.  His possession of the body of Nyssa’s father so he could regenerate seems to be the main reason for his being in the script at all.  Nyssa looking for her absent father is a well done, and pretty sad, way to finish the serial. 

Overall, this is one of the better Forth Doctor serials in the later years.  Anthony Ainley is wonderful as The Master and is my favorite incarnation of him until the most recent at the end of the 2007 series.  Something cool in the extras: At one point the actors are discussing Tom Baker’s leaving the series and a news clip is shown on the screen announcing a rumor that the next incarnation of The Doctor would be played by a woman!  How cool would that have been?  I remember rumors when Billie Piper left a few years back that she has desires on becoming an incarnation of The Doctor (which I think could be amazing…or pretty horrible…but I do see a lot of potential) but I had never heard anything going back that far.  I think it is about time for a female Doctor. 

As an aside, speaking of The Master, and female Time Lords, I don’t think The Doctor and The Master are the only Time Lords to survive the Time War.  There have to be more Chameleon Arches out there…perhaps Romana?  Some have speculated The Rani was the woman who picked up the remains of The Master at the end of Last Of The Time Lords.  Since the new series seems to have a lot of focus on Forth Doctor serials and companions (although the Children In Need special for this year with The Fifth Doctor was quite lovely) it would make sense for Romana to appear someday. 


Immediately following the events of The Keeper Of Traken comes Logopolis, which becomes the final serial for Tom Baker as The Forth Doctor and introduces yet another new companion, Tegan Jovanka.   I have not seen many serials with Tegan but she has never impressed me that much.  Anthony Ainley’s Master returns in this serial and does quite well, as does Tom Baker in his send off.  The story is fine, but perhaps a little slow.  It is quite amusing that years and years later The Doctor still has not fixed his Chameleon Circuit. 

The Forth Doctor is done, but we move onto Peter Davison’s portrayal of The Fifth Doctor next.  I will get to that soon.  In fact, it may be a short while because the freshly released Forth Doctor, with the lovely Romana II, serial Destiny Of The Daleks came in the mail from Netflix today.  Stay tuned.