Robert Briggs via disquiet discusses the cultural territory of silent television by taking measure of its relative absence:
There has been no significant silent television, unlike in film, which was preceded by a full and popular “silent” era. Briggs, naturally, points out the “myth” (in the words of Raymond Fielding) of silent film, how few if any “silent” films were viewed in silence — if anything, they were rambunctious affairs, with live musical performance, choreographed sound effects, and an audience comfortable with discussing the on-screen activity. …. If anything, Briggs notes, it’s the rise of the talkie that turned the movie theater from a convivial place to a library-like zone of quiet.
Fast forward to today:
As shows get more and more cinematic, we’re witnessing more sequences that move the story forward without dialogue — think of the interstellar shots Battlestar Galactica, the fights in Human Target, the Oceans-style heists in Leverage — and we may yet be entering into one of the more “silent” periods in television’s history.
If the transition from silent to talking, then, marked a new era of listening because it demanded aural attention to the film itself, are we entering a new regime of aural inattentiveness? And if so, how do we write for silence?