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 Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia

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Redfern
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PostSubject: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:09 am

To avoid derailing the threads in the producs discussion section, I decided to start this thread so Newton and I (and any others who wish to join) can yammer about the "golden age" of US based Doctor Who viewing, PBS based broadcasts of the 1980s. We both can get a tad verbose, so just picture us as a couple of ol' farts sitting in rocking chairs as we talk about the "good ol' days". Wink

Sincerely,

Bill
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Ronpur
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:28 pm

Oh, I will play! LOL. Great idea.

I started in the fall of 1981. I went to college at the University of Illinois, in Champaign, Ill. My dorm mates rapidly discovered I like Star Trek, and one asked me if I like Doctor Who. I had heard of the show from Starlog, but never watched it. Then, when I was home on Thanksgiving break, I watched it with my brother. It was part 2 of The Ribos Operation. I was totally confused, but the madness of Tom Baker had me hooked.

When I returned to school, I found that the campus bookstore had tons of Who books. Those TARGET novels. They also had the program guide, so I got it, and discovered the entire universe of Who.
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Redfern
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:59 pm

I started almost a year later, August 1982. As I mentioned in the Zarbi thread that prompted this one, I had witnessed my childhood fictional hero, Mr. Spock enter that "tanning booth of death" to save the lives of his fellow crewmates. Now we know how things eventually turned out, but at that time, Nimoy was quite serious about leaving behind that role. As originally scripted, Spock was to have remained dead. Well, that was a bummer!

During that summer, I had been sporadically watching a Brit-com on my local PBS affiliate, a series titled "Doctor in the House". By mid summer, whenevr a given episode concluded, an advert played for an upcoming "acquisition", something to debut late that August. That series was...Doctor Who. The ad played snippets of scenes from the early Tom Baker era, like his entering Sutekh's space/time tunnel, reacting to the guards within the Citadel on Gallifrey, going into a trance in "...Zygons" making that strange howl. Basically, the advertisement played up his alien nature.

Wait, I had read about this series! Like RonPur, I remembered my old StarLog issues. I dug out my collection (still complete at that time) and found every article and snippet I could. I read them again with the intent of "preparing" myself for the upcoming August debut.

The article pointed out this Doctor was only known by his title, no one, no human at least knew his name. He traveled in time and space in a machine "disguised" as a British phone booth, and despite its outward scale, it was far, far larger inside. StarLog also explained that 4 actors had played the role and none of them resembled one another, either in appearance or demeaner. The reason being, when about to "die", this Doctor underwent a kind of metamorphosis to save his life. Okay... The special also mentioned while encountering many adversaries, one in particular had returned again and again since 1963, the Daleks, a race of nuclear irradiated mutants forced to live in armored shells despising all other lifeforms.

This "primer" at least partially prepared me for that fateful Monday afternoon in late August. I thought I knew what I needed to, but even so, the show jumped straight into the action when an attractive brunette declared, "Brigadier, look! I think it's starting!" The shot cut to a distinguished fellow stretched upon the floor, a senior gentleman with curly white hair. And with a simple lapse dissolve effect, the man's features faded to those of a younger man, still having curly hair, but now it was brown and less lines upon his face.

I thought I was going to be prepared, but my first thought was, What the...? What led up to all this? Yeah, I know that white haired man was also this mysterious Doctor, but what forced him to change?! Talk about hitting the ground with both feet running! Looks like this is gonna' be a wild wnd weird ride!

Little did I know!

Sincerely,

Bill
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Ronpur
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:42 pm

My PBS Channel really made it worse for me, LOL. Realizing that Who fans paid their pledges more reliably than most PBS viewers, Doctor Who became the centerpiece of their channel. They started rerunning early Baker episodes on Saturday, So I caught up that way. Then, they bought Peter's episodes, then Jon's then Bill's and Pat's. We got the Five Doctors special on Nov 23rd, 1983. A great Thanksgiving treat. They finished up Peter's run and brought Colin's episodes in as movie specials that they used for Pledge Drives. The even brought K9 and Company in. I bought my first VCR just to record these episodes. I still have Mind of Evil. The last surviving VHS-DVD burn of those episodes. I remember getting the Radio Times 20th Special magazine as a pledge gift. Also, an autograph poster of Colin. They brought that touring trailer of Who props with Bessie, and Sylvester. It was a great time to be a Who fan.
Thank you, WILL-TV, Champaign-Urbana, Il.
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happydalek
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Thu Sep 09, 2010 5:54 pm

My first memory of Doctor Who came from the short-lived Pertwee run in the early 70s. All I can remember is being terrified of this one particular image, which I've narrowed down over the years to being either: when the Silurians break through the wall of the Doctor's lab to kidnap him, or when the doors of Stallman's lab open and he emerges as a Primord.

That Starlog article was a big influence on me as well, triggering my vague memories of Pertwee and making me fascinated with the background of the show. I thought the coolest part was how the episode guide was right in the middle of the magazine, on those yellow pages, so you could take it right out (which I did, carefully opening up the staples, taking out the pages of the episode guide, and pushing the staples closed again). At that same time, someone on my swim team was getting into the Target books (not the Pinnacle, but the Target ones!), so I learned more about the series from him.

Finally, "Robot" came onto KQED -- it was Wednesday night at 8:00PM, right after "Over Easy," a locally-produced talk show about issues facing the elderly (I liked the theme song -- it was played on either the oboe or clarinet; I remember it note-for-note to this day). I still have audio tapes I made at the time, with the very quiet "This is KQED, channel 9, in San Francisco" followed by the thundering "DUM-DA-DUM! DUM-DA-DUM! WOO-OOOOOOOO!" And remember those hilarious voice-overs that recapped the entire episode RIGHT BEFORE THE EPISODE ITSELF? What was the point? It's like, "here's a five-minute summary of everything you're about to see in the next 25 minutes." Part one of "Genesis of the Daleks" was my favorite one, as it summarized not just part one, but the gist of all six parts as well. I still remember it pretty well to this day: "In the longest war in the galaxy's history, the two surviving factions have turned the verdant landscape into a wasteland! The aided scientist Davros is still determined that his side will win. To this end, he has developed a new species -- THE DALEK! -- whose main directive is survival... at any cost!" etc., etc.

It aired weekly, just like in did originally in England, so it took four weeks to get through "Robot," which we thought nothing of at the time, but seems agonizing now, doesn't it? After a complete story aired, KQED would then run the entire thing late Saturday night. They didn't air the "movie" versions, but simply one episode right after the other. Eventually, channel 60 (which I'm pretty sure was also a PBS station) and KTEH in San Jose picked up the show, so that by 1980, there were plenty of chances to watch it; it was like a dream come true. Channel 60 showed one episode each weeknight, which KTEH would eventually do as well for many years.

As much as I loved "Robot" through "Invasion of Time," it was so exciting when the Key to Time season eventually came over! That kind of thrill is something that can never be felt again; wouldn't you agree? Nowadays if you want to watch something, you just type the name of it into your computer and you'll somehow wind up with some version of it. Once again, it was Starlog that kept my Doctor Who appetite whetted with little news pieces about the newest episodes. In the 80s, there was that magazine called Fantasy Empire that I picked up from 7-11, of all places, that focused on British SF/fantasy, with lots of articles on Doctor Who.

The first mail ordering I ever did was from Lincoln Enterprises, the outfit that dealt in Star Trek memorabilia. I still have my Lincoln tribble, a "Spock Lives" button; probably some other stuff as well. I also had a Kung Fu bumper sticker from them that said "SEEK PEACE -- KUNG FU," with a picture of the Golden Palm. But the first Doctor Who mail ordering I ever did was from a company in Tarzana, CA called Nightstar (or Nightshade?); does anyone remember them? I got Target books, a glow-in-the-dark keychain, a yo-yo; whole bunch of stuff. I still have the Doctor Who Crossword Puzzle book (with all the puzzles filled in), and my very first Doctor Who t-shirt (the diamond logo), which is on the verge of complete disintegration after 30 years (It's so thrashed that it's unwearable; I just have it for sentimental value).

I remember writing about pledge breaks in another thread; I'm sure that's a whole 'nother part of what Doctor Who in the US meant to us old farts.
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Ronpur
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:01 pm

I do have a vague memory of those Pertwee stories, too. Mine seems to be from Ambasadors of Death, which is weird, because I didn't think they sent the BW out in that package. I remember those spacesuits for some reason....
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happydalek
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:13 am

Quote :
I do have a vague memory of those Pertwee stories, too. Mine seems to be from Ambasadors of Death, which is weird, because I didn't think they sent the BW out in that package.

But they weren't in black & white then, remember? The early 1970s Time-Life package of Pertwee stories were all in color. I have to say, I actually prefer watching "The Mind of Evil" and "The Daemons" in black & white.
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:41 am

happydalek wrote:
Quote :
I do have a vague memory of those Pertwee stories, too. Mine seems to be from Ambasadors of Death, which is weird, because I didn't think they sent the BW out in that package.

But they weren't in black & white then, remember? The early 1970s Time-Life package of Pertwee stories were all in color. I have to say, I actually prefer watching "The Mind of Evil" and "The Daemons" in black & white.

No, I don't remember...its all rather vague, lol. Its just when I saw it the first time, I remember stuff. I like Daemons in BW too, rather than the color version. Mind of Evil, I have never seen any other way.
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:23 pm

I searched back through my own posts and found where I wrote about pledge breaks; it was under a topic called "Doctor Who Marathon":

Quote :
I still have some of these on tape. It was great to just stick in a tape and let it run all morning / afternoon, picking up Doctor Who. Not only that, but the pledge breaks themselves were often pretty hilarious. The very first thing I ever taped was the Five Doctors with Tom Baker co-hosting the pledge break, which is pretty ironic as he was only in it for about five minutes via stock footage from Shada. Rich Campanella, one of our local PBS dudes who co-hosted with Tom, made a few flirtatious comments about Lalla Ward, clearly unaware that she and Tom were once married (at that time, they had only been divorced for about a year)! Tom took it in stride, however.

Other fun ones I remember are Gordon Jump (Mr. Carlson from WKRP) being unable to pronounce "Weng-Chiang" correctly (yes, I got it on tape before it was banned!), and Nichelle Nichols referring to our hero as "Doctor Hugh." And it was always cool to see the phone banks staffed by all those folks decked out in Tom Baker scarves! The most enthusiastic guest host ever was John Levene, who stayed the entire morning / afternoon; that was nice of him. Just writing about these marathons makes me nostalgic for those tapes; maybe I'll dig them up and watch them.

Oh, one more awesome memory was how they would pick the absolute worst moments to interrupt the episode for a pledge break! It's like they couldn't have made it more agonizing if they had tried on purpose!
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happydalek
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:28 pm

I also wrote this, about my favorite pledge break gift:

Quote :
Another awesome memory that just came back to me is the fully functioning TARDIS that was offered as a prize if you pledged! It was a Dapol TARDIS, which the host enthusiastically demonstrated for us. He took off his watch and held it up to the camera, and asked the audience to look at what time it was. He then put it inside the TARDIS, and a minute later, he took the watch out and once again held it up to the camera to show us that IT WAS A MINUTE LATER! Yes, the watch had traveled forward in time by a minute! This TARDIS was actually a fully functional time machine, and it could be yours with a pledge of x dollars!
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The Castellan
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:35 pm

First time with Doctor Who was in maybe 1982 or 1983 on a Detroit channel "WGPR channel 62", a low budget station. Mainly it was showing Tom Baker in the later half of his tenure. Also learned of regeneration when I saw Logopolis and then Peter Davidson....though they never aired Castrovalva. scratch GWPR 62 is now CBS after that network tradeoff thing back in 1995.

After moving from Detroit to Lenox here, WPBS Detroit showed some Doctor Who in 1985....but really started getting into it in September 1987....though it was at 11:30 PM on Sundays, which was way past my bed time back then. Started with The Ark in Space. I think I still have that particular one on tape, my folks taped them for me to see. Now in 1989, they started showing Pertwee stories, and a few Hartnells and Trougtons. 1990 started showing McCoy stories, much to my annoyance. Though on Memorial Day weekend of 1990, PBS announced they would start showing Doctor Who on Saturdays instead of Sundays, so they was awesome to this then 11 year old. Summer of 1990 rocked Who wise. And in the summer and fall of that year, here was how my Saturday evening TV viewing was:

6 PM: Wrestling
7 PM: Super Force (a sci fi mix of Batman and Masked Rider is the best way to describe it. Awesome series, too. I so wish that would come out on DVD. Only the pilot I could find on tape, and it took me years to find a copy)
8 PM: Star Trek The Next Generation
9 PM: Wrestling again, but smaller organizations
10 PM: There's nothing good at 10:00, EVER.
11 PM: Red Dwarf
11:30 PM: Doctor Who

Finally got to see Castrovalva in June of 1991 (they also aired it the same month in 1992, also), and other stories I never got to see, or have not seen for a very long time. Unfortunately, PBS dropped Red Dwarf in the Spring of 1991, and Doctor Who in the fall of 1992. Until 1995, when I could find Doctor Who on home video, I had to rely on the tapes recorded during the 1987-1992 PBS run, and my mom taped over several of them with talk shows. Thank goodness I found them on tape in video stories in 1995 as I mentioned. Must have racked up 20-30 tapes by 1996, and renting whatever I could from the Troy library. Watching Tomb of the Cybermen that year, for the very first time (read it in a DWM May 1992 magazine that year) and watched it twice that night in that 1995 November evening.

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The Castellan
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:37 pm

in 1989, PBS had a Who Marathon:

Silver Nemesis the making of, an Unearthly Child, and the Mind Robber.

The following year, that showed the making of Silver Nemesis again, and Silver Nemesis after it....though it was the abridged version.
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happydalek
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:46 pm

That's interesting, Castellan, that you got Doctor Who on Saturday night at 11:30PM -- here in California, that's also when it aired on two stations. KQED showed entire stories (not the "movie" versions, but every episode that constituted a whole story, one right after the other) at that time in the late 70s/early 80s, and KTEH showed the "movie" versions in that same timeslot throughout the 80s and into the 90s for a little while. KTEH was Who-crazy; I guess it really brought in the pledge $$$. Not only did it run episodes every Mon-Fri at 7:00PM, they aired the "movie" versions on Saturday night, and often had entire Doctor Who-themed days/nights (as did KCET). KCET showed "movie" versions on Saturday mornings at 9:00AM, right after "Sesame Street." Right after Doctor Who came "Newton's Apple," which had the most ANNOYING theme song ever.
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:50 pm

To follow on The Castellan's comments on WGPR...the awesome thing was the show aired afternoons Monday-Friday (at 5? 5:30?) and they showed the "movie" versions on Saturday afternoons. You could get your fix nearly every day of the week.

I started watching there late 1982-early 1983 I think...I saw most of Tom Baker, all of Davison and even "The Twin Dilemma"...so that must have been early 1985...? Any more Detroit-area fans have information on how long WGPR carried the show?
(Incidentally, WGPR was the first black-owned-and-operated station in America and was also the home of infamous horror movie host "The Ghoul".)

Before WGPR, I caught "Doctor Who" on TV Ontario out of...well, Ontario. We had a little black and white TV that could pick it up...I had read about the show in "Starlog" and a few months later while randomly looking through the TV listings actually saw it listed! This was late 1980...the first time I tried it, I caught part of a Pertwee episode...I came back the next week and soon realized, even with my limited information, that I was watching the last Pertwee episode...! Folks, let me tell ya...when I saw the man hit the floor and turn into Tom...Hooked For Life. (More or less...)

Every Saturday night at 7:30, I watched that little black and white...and caught Baker's first two seasons there. I shamefully admit...I have yet to see certain episodes in color. (Who knew Vogans were green?)

Sorry to ramble on like this, but after reading the ramblings of you other long-timers, I got to thinking about TV Ontario and the hosts they had for the show. (They were there to fill the rest of the half-hour and to provide some sort of "educational" requirement.) I went looking for more information and found an entry on Wikipedia...some of you may have read (or even written) some of this, but for others it may help jog memories. (I completely forgot about the name "UnDoctor"!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who_in_Canada_and_the_United_States
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:18 pm

6th or 7th grade, that couldn't be later than '81 or '82 (I think), I stumbled across Who in KRMA in Denver. I'm pretty sure the 1st show I saw was Pyramids, then a break before I caught another, that one Morbius. I was hooked at Sarah Jane in the white dress though (which is why I played sick and skipped church, managing to watch Morbius). Sunday 10:30 AM they broadcast the full show. I think when the next season began they started broadcasting it weeknights, but that may have been on KTEH out of San Jose CA when we moved there (or maybe it was Sat. nights for the each new episode and maybe it was weeknights for each episode from previous seasons?). The important thing is that Who had me from the first Jelly Baby. Heck, I owe Who my appreciation and deepest respect for that elixir, ginger beer as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:04 pm

happydalek wrote:
That's interesting, Castellan, that you got Doctor Who on Saturday night at 11:30PM -- here in California, that's also when it aired on two stations. KQED showed entire stories (not the "movie" versions, but every episode that constituted a whole story, one right after the other) at that time in the late 70s/early 80s, and KTEH showed the "movie" versions in that same timeslot throughout the 80s and into the 90s for a little while. KTEH was Who-crazy; I guess it really brought in the pledge $$$. Not only did it run episodes every Mon-Fri at 7:00PM, they aired the "movie" versions on Saturday night, and often had entire Doctor Who-themed days/nights (as did KCET). KCET showed "movie" versions on Saturday mornings at 9:00AM, right after "Sesame Street." Right after Doctor Who came "Newton's Apple," which had the most ANNOYING theme song ever.

Ey! I liked Newton's Apple's (wow, 2 apostrophes!) theme.

Here's a theme I think you WILL like.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mah-EOkKXOg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfoCN0p5sys

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PostSubject: Re: Newton and Redfern's 80s PBS nostalgia   Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:13 pm

The 2nd Doctor Roberts wrote:
I caught "Doctor Who" on TV Ontario out of...well, Ontario.
I loved that channel! Here's a few sites with clips of the all the shows they had on. There's even a section on Who! I visit these sites when I want to feel 7 years old again. Very Happy

http://www.rickstv.com/tvo/
http://www.angelfire.com/tv2/tvo2/
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