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Vocal Evolution / Live-Action TV

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  • The Brady Bunch: An entire episode – "Dough Re Mi" – was built on vocal evolution ... specifically, Peter's voice entering puberty and breaking at the worst possible time ... oldest brother Greg trying to form a family singing group with his siblings, and (with a non-refundable deposit already paid) having only that opportunity to use the studio to record the song. The voice break was humorously used in the TV version of "Time To Change," with the break dubbed in from the studio recording; indeed, the album and single versions do not feature Peter's "voice break," as Christopher Knight was in tune – as best as he could be, since by his own admission he couldn't sing – during the actual recording of the song.
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  • In an unusual live-action example, the same happens to Karen (Megan Mullally) in Will & Grace, whose voice gets more high-pitched and distinctive as the series progresses, arguably as her character's wackier traits are played up, but also as she got more rare serious moments.
  • Actress Pauley Perrette in NCIS: Abby's voice changes noticeably over the run of the show. In the early seasons, it was deeper and more throaty; later, her voice becomes faster and higher-pitched, and Abby's verbal tics become more exaggerated.
    • Ziva's voice got slowly less husky as the season went on, and she lost most of her Israeli accent.
  • Michael's voice in the pilot and early episodes of Burn Notice — especially during his voiceovers — is noticeably higher and more nasal than the one he settled into.
    • Fiona's voice also went through changes, in the pilot she used an Irish accent with her, but soon after she has a more American accent to her.
  • SCTV: Compare the McKenzie Brothers' accents between this skit and that skit.
  • Steve Smith's voice for the title character of The Red Green Show was always a deadpan, gravelly tone, but it started off a little softer, quieter and more hesitant. Over time, he began putting more range and emotion into it, and became a lot less hesitant.
    • Smith's voice in the beginning seasons of the show is closer to his voice in Real Life, but he found using the "Red Voice" as he calls it was surprisingly less stressful on his vocal cords, to the point where he has no problem using it for hours on end, which he found quite useful for personal appearances.
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  • Mike Smith's Bubbles voice (and body language) becomes less uptight and forced after the first two seasons of Trailer Park Boys.
  • Beginning in season two of Gossip Girl, Chuck Bass more seldom spoke in the lighter voice he had during season one, and by season three only speaks in a deep, guttural voice which some fans complain make it difficult to hear what he's even saying. After a while his actor, Ed Westwick, confirmed the fan theory that Chuck's voice had gotten deeper because it was easier for the English Westwick to maintain his American accent when he dropped an octave.
  • Three of the four announcers on The Price Is Right have had this happen over time:
    • Original announcer Johnny Olson didn't lose much in the way of energy on Price, although he did get a little more slurred due to old age. However, he sounds noticeably less enthusiastic on the few episodes of Body Language he announced shortly before his death in 1985.
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    • His successor Rod Roddy initially had a loud, resonant voice that was well-suited for a high-energy game show. Starting in the early 1990s, he became a lot less energetic, although he seemed to perk up a little bit at the Turn of the Millennium. (Rod was frequently sidelined by cancer for most of the few years leading up to his 2003 death, which explained both his decline in energy and frequent absences.)
    • Rich Fields, who took over from Rod, is an interesting variant. Before taking over on Price, Rich announced Flamingo Fortune (1995-99) with a fairly mellow, deep voice. When he started filling in on Price, his voice became much higher and more energetic. Once he became the official announcer, his delivery jumped all over the place as he settled into the role (it's said that he intentionally changed his style to keep things interesting). By the time Drew Carey took over hosting duties from Bob Barker, Rich had pretty much settled into a rather loud, screeching tone that sometimes went non-rhotic for no reason (e.g. "A NEW CAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"). Shortly before the producers decided to let Rich go in mid-2010 (because they wanted an announcer with improv comedy experience, although Rich reportedly had some personal problems as well), he did some post-production work on summer reruns, which had him reverting to the style he used on Flamingo Fortune. He kept the mellower style when he did some substitute work on Wheel of Fortune in late 2010-early 2011, and again on Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza later in 2011.
  • And speaking of Wheel of Fortune...
    • Jack Clark, who replaced original announcer Charlie O'Donnell in 1980, left the show in 1988 due to bone cancer that ultimately took his life. Near the end of his tenure, his voice had gotten much weaker. This is most evident on a short stretch of reruns in Summer 1988, where Jack dubbed in new Promotional Consideration plugs for the reruns, and clearly sounded very rough. It quickly reached the point where they just had hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White do the plugs instead, before M.G. Kelly was chosen as the next announcer that fall. Kelly lasted less than a full season, getting the boot in February 1989.
    • A few months after Charlie returned to the show in 1989, he became noticeably deeper and less enthusiastic. He returned to his usual energy around 2001, and he actually became more energetic in the 2000s (three words: "Twenty-five THOOOOOOOOOOOUSAND dollars!") despite staying in the lower register. The lower but more energetic delivery stayed mostly intact until his 2010 death and subsequent replacement by Jim Thornton after a rotation of substitutes.
  • In Mork's first appearance in Happy Days, Robin Williams uses a high-pitched voice for his character, emphasizing that Mork is an alien. By the time Mork got his own show, Robin uses his normal voice, although Mork still makes silly high-pitched noises on occasion.
  • Trace Beaulieu's original voice for Crow T. Robot on Mystery Science Theater 3000 was, well, robotic and stiff and has frequently been described as "baby-like." His voice for Crow got more natural and casual as the show progressed and developed. A similar change occurred with Beaulieu's other character, Dr. Forrester, who in early episodes came across as more of a traditional hammy mad scientist.
    • When Kevin Murphy took over playing Tom Servo it almost seemed like he was trying to imitate the voice J. Elvis Weinstein used for Servo. By the start of the next season he debuted a new, deep, rich voice for Servo, but as the series went on he dropped most of the affectations and Servo basically just wound up with Murphy's natural voice.
      • Beaulieu called this the "Jim-Hensoning" of their voices, much like how Jim Henson's Kermit the Frog voice eventually turned into his regular voice.
  • Puberty can do this to any young actor or actress simply by being on a Long Runner or just happening to have their voice break in between seasons:
    • Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton) on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
    • Carly and Freddie on iCarly. It's most obvious with Freddie, whose actor Nathan Kress was barely adolescent during the filming of Season 1, and grew up in a big way during the long break before season 2. It's even discussed on the show itself, with Sam asking what happened to his voice, with 'I dunno, puberty' being the reply. Carly and Miranda Cosgrove's voice grew gentler and less 'whiny'. Sam on the other hand, didn't change at all, because her actress Jennette Mc Curdy had been playing Sam in a lower tone of voice to begin with to suit her character better.
    • Cat on Victorious. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when it happened, but some time after the first season, Ariana Grande's voice had deepened due to puberty, so she started speaking in a higher tone while playing Cat in attempt to match her previous voice, which resulted in Cat having a baby-ish Simpleton Voice.
    • Zack and Cody from The Suite Life on Deck developed deeper voices by the second season of the series since real-life actors Dylan and Cole hit puberty during the production of the second season. In fact, even in the first season, their voices started to become slightly lower.
    • In Land of the Giants, Barry (Stefan Arngrim) had gotten older over the two seasons and by season two was a bit taller and had a deeper voice and seemed a bit less naive.
    • Frankie Muniz' voice went noticeably deeper between Seasons 1 and 2 of Malcolm in the Middle.
    • Caused a bit of a problem on Everybody Hates Chris, when Tyler James Williams, playing the main character who's an Expy of Chris Rock, had his voice drop to a register that is quite a bit lower than Rock's.
    • Jaleel White of Family Matters originally voiced Urkel in a whiny, nasal version of his natural voice, and throughout the first few seasons you could hear his voice drop an octave, while still retaining the whininess. But as of the fifth season or so, he started to speak in a squeaky falsetto that only grew more and more bizarre as he aged. It was hard for post-puberty Jaleel to imitate his old voice.
  • The TV show The Goldbergs based an entire episode around this. Adam and his friends signed up for the school choir, along with the rest of the boys in the 8th grade, but the realisation that all the boys' voices were starting to change sends them and their teacher into a panic, fearing that they'll sound off-key and ear-achingly awful at the talent show. On the news of Milli Vanilli being caught lip-syncing their live performances, Adam's mother suggests that the choir should lip-sync, and their teacher doesn't hesitate.
  • Supernatural has the Batman voices. Particularly notable, Jensen Ackles started speaking with a much growlier voice during season 4, possibly in an attempt to out-growl Misha Collins, as he joked. Jared Padalecki's voice change was a bit more subtler, but is extremely notable if you watch the first anime season that is based on season 1 and 2, with Jared dubbing Sam, who doesn't sound at all like he did in the show's first season.
    • Even Castiel didn't have a such a gruff voice in his first appearance in Lazarus Rising.
  • Don Pardo announced Saturday Night Live in his 90s and it shows. His voice had become a lot less booming than it was in the prime of his career (from the infancy of television to the mid-1970s).
  • On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Marina Sirtis originally played Deanna Troi with a vaguely Eastern European inflection, before dropping it entirely from the second season onwards, in favour of a more natural-sounding mid-Atlantic accent. This is still different from Sirtis's normal speaking voice, which is a standard London East End accent. By the time of the second TNG film, Star Trek: First Contact, Sirtis mostly just used her own accent, albeit with her East End inflections toned down.
    • She originally developed the accent as a kind of Betazoid inflection to further differentiate her alien character from the humans. All that effort was destroyed when Majel Barrett first appeared as her mother, Lwaxana Troi, and didn't even bother trying to attempt the accent.
  • On Friends:
    • Rachel started out with a whiny and screechy voice. Starting around the middle of Season 3, however, it deepened and became a little more raspy. The change was pretty well solidified by the end of Season 4.
    • Chandler's started out as loud and abrasive, gradually mellowing out and then settling on a very laid back and soft tone. During the first few episodes of Season Four especially, you can tell that Perry was struggling a bit with this change in speaking style, as he sounds a little unnatural during those episodes.
      • During the first half of Season Seven, Chandler sounds unusually timid and aloof. This is clearly the result of Perry's drug addictions significantly hindering his performance at the time.
    • Joey's voice became quite a bit richer and huskier throughout the series, due in no small part to LeBlanc's smoking.
    • Monica's voice actually had the exact opposite evolution of Rachel's, for the exact opposite reason of LeBlanc's. It started out as deep and direct in tone but became more high pitched and screechy over the years. This is because shortly before Cox and David Arquette got married, they vowed to quit smoking so that they could have a better chance at having a baby.
  • Bran's voice on Game of Thrones changes dramatically between seasons two and three.
  • Breaking Bad: Used to signify the parallel development of the two main characters.
  • In the first few episodes of Cheers, Cliff Clavin only speaks with a mild Boston accent, which becomes a lot more pronounced as the first season goes on. This was largely because John Ratzenberger didn't know whether his role would be an ongoing one (he didn't officially become a member of the main cast until the second season), and just used his normal voice in the early episodes, before taking the time to get the accent right after he was given a long-term deal.
    • Frasier Crane's voice was higher-pitched and less hammy sounding in his early Cheers appearances. The change was likely a combination of Kelsey Grammer's aging and drug/alcohol use, along with character's evolution.
    • Lilith also had a higher, more nasal voice in her Cheers debut that would disappear later on.
  • Top Gear: Jeremy Clarkson's voice has gone from a somewhat posh English accent to his trademark deep, raspier voice with a lot of between sentences thanks to his love of cigarettes.
  • The Big Bang Theory
    • Sheldon's tone of voice had an almost musical quality in the first few seasons. Later on his voice skewed deeper and generally rougher sounding. This was not some dramatic shift, as it mostly occurred over a long period of time and only noticeable comparing episodes a decade apart.
    • Melissa Rauch has said that Bernadette's bubbly, squeaky voice was a Throw It In! moment in her audition (based on her mothers voice) and was always higher pitched than her own. After about a year of playing the character the "squeaky" voice got ramped up more towards Helium Speech. Later episodes established her Beware the Nice Ones personality, and her vocal pitch became much "squeakier" to help facilitate those angry moments.
    • Penny's voice is more mature sounding in later episodes, as a reflection of Kaley Cuoco's aging.
  • Yes, Dear: Kim's voice is deeper and more throaty in the final 2 seasons as opposed to her high-pitched whine prior to that. Christine's voice became more gravelly over time.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, watching old episodes from before Goldar develops his highly distinctive voice can be almost bizarre.
    • Power Rangers Megaforce has Prince Vekar's voice undergo a sudden and bizarre change from being cool and calculated to irritating from his first episode to the second episode he appears in and it actually happens during the second episode starting out as normal but quickly devolving into a irritating shout this may have something to do with the sentai footage for his equivalent often showing him having tantrums
    • Power Rangers Wild Force has Jindrax's vocal style undergo a sudden drastic change as the writers decided what they really wanted from the character. In human disguise he's played by the guy who will be his second voice actor, so he sounds pretty much like he will later. When we first see his monster form it switches to a high-pitched, grandiose, and downright unstable sounding voice you'd expect from a Toku version of The Joker or something. But a few episodes later, he's back to the somewhat goofy and down-to-earth voice that's fitting of the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain who would eventually prove to be a Noble Demon, realize his Bad Bosses aren't very noble, say Screw This, I'm Outta Here!, and ride off into the sunset with Toxica.
    • While Tommy's voice itself has always been consistent throughout the series, his manner of speech when morphed is subtly but noticeably different when he returns in Power Rangers Dino Thunder, sounding less abrasive and slightly more restrained. This makes sense, considering his role as a mentor likely requires him to be more stable.
    • Rocky's voice is raspier and slightly lower when he returns in "Dimensions in Danger".
  • Doctor Who:
    • Due to the very long-term existence of the characters, recasting voice actors, changing technology and the BBC not always bothering to keep track of what effects or settings they had been using, the Dalek voice effect is wildly variable. Over the course of the 60s, Daleks gradually get faster in delivery, a bit less RP in accent and more hateful-sounding (this last one was due to the voice actors doing Ham-to-Ham Combat to entertain themselves) and the quirk of raising the vocal pitch as the Dalek gets more panicky begins to be established. Daleks in the early 70s were forced to do the robot effect with their own voices as the BBC had not supplied ring modulators - they get away with it in "Death to the Daleks" but not in "Day of the Daleks", which was actually redubbed for the DVD version. The Daleks in the TV Movie also don't have the ring-mod effect, and are pitch-shifted up to Helium Speech levels (with expected results). For the new series, the production crew went out of its way to get copies of the exact equipment the Radiophonic Workshop had been using in the Daleks' first appearance, and used the often erratic ring mod programming of the Classic series as an excuse to give different Daleks different modulation frequencies to differentiate them.
    • The Cybermen's voice changes even more than the Daleks. In their first appearance they had ring-modded voices (at a higher frequency than the Dalek ring-mod effect) and creepy AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle voices based on early talking computers. In their next appearances they spoke in a buzzing Creepy Monotone courtesy of a 1960s medical electrolarynx. Eventually the electrolarynx was replaced with a normal voice with a high-frequency ring mod. The New series voice is a 'real' voice processed with ring mod like the 80s voice, but with a flat and hollow affect rather than an expressive one.
    • In "Robot", the Fourth Doctor's voice is relatively high pitched and often quite gravelly or gurgly, and the accent is occasionally overly clipped and prissy, or overly relaxed and conventional. It takes until the filming of "Revenge of the Cybermen" for Tom Baker to reach the low, breathy, dramatic tone and subtle accent quirks associated with the character. His voice also generally gets lower and more 'bedroomy' over the course of his first three seasons, to the extent that going from (say) "The Hand of Fear" to "The Ark in Space" is quite a shock.
  • Ross McCall lost his Scottish accent when his family moved to Kent at a young age. This early appearance on The Bill shows him with a standard Kent accent. After playing numerous Fake American roles ('Band of Brothers, White Collar'') he now has a blend between English and American - as heard here.
  • The Cryptkeeper from Tales from the Crypt for the first season had a high pitched raspy voice, as the series went on his voice beame lower and more nasally.
  • Bruce Wayne's voice started deepening during season 2 of Gotham because his actor is pubescent.
  • In Blue Bloods, Danny Reagan's kids' voices deepen around season 6, which is when their actors hit puberty.
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Stephanie Beatriz played Rosa Diaz with a higher-pitched voice in early episodes before settling on a lower gruffer tone.
  • In Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery's voice for Cousin Serena was originally just a slightly deeper version of her regular voice, but she kept hamming it up further and further with each new appearance.
  • Once Upon a Time's Zelena was introduced speaking with a very clipped RP accent. Around Season 5 they stopped having Rebecca Mader put on a posher voice and she spoke in her own Cambridge accent.
  • Red Dwarf - Robert Llewellyn's faux-Canadian-ish voice for Kryten gradually raises in pitch and becomes more refined and polite sounding, reaching it's final form around his third season in the role.
    • Some scenes in his first season, Red Dwarf III, were recorded before Llewellyn had settled on an accent for Kryten - Marooned has a particularly bizarre non-accent while a scene in Polymorph and a deleted scene from Bodyswap feature Kryten speaking in an English accent similar to that of his previous actor, David Ross.


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