Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Ch. 15's 'Dr. Who' has limited audience appeal

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1984-11-03 Roanoke Times and World News.jpg


For months, my friends at Blue Ridge Public Television have been talking excitedly about putting "Dr. Who" on their schedule.

Tonight's the night.

The series will be introduced with a 90-minute special at 10 on WBRA (Channel 15). Starting Monday, there'll be a half-hour episode nightly at 6.

"Dr. Who" is a compound of fantasy and science fiction, delivered with a sense of humor. It seems to parody sci-fi while being sci-fi,

Robert MacKenzie summed it up well in "TV Guide" last June 2: "'Dr. Who' is too laboriously elaborate to be just a joke, but too cheap and tacky to be serious."

Someone else has described it as "'Star Trek' as done by Monty Python."

The series originated in Britain and has been a hit there for more than 20 years. There also is a loyal audience in this country, though it's usually referred to as a "cult following."

Since this newspaper is underwriting the series, I wish I could say "Dr. Who" will amuse, educate, cure the dandruff, pay the mortgage and water the plants of everyone who sees it. Unfortunately, no such claim can be made.

Lots of people are going to regard "Dr. Who" as a hopeless stiff.

I've previewed four episodes and half of tonight's special. None of it made me laugh. None of it held my interest. The only way it exercised my mind was to make it wander.

Yet I know plenty of people are going to love it and that's marvelous. There's nothing wrong with their judgment. With "Dr. Who," taste is everything.

Science fiction is a matter of taste and so is so-called British humor, of which the drollery of "Dr. Who" is one kind. For me, it was the wrong kind. Nothing in "Dr. Who" was sufficiently amusing to overcome my indifference to sci-fi.

The show's title character is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. He's more than 750 years old. He has 13 lives, two hearts and a constant body temperature of 60 degrees. He's a scientist and scholar and he tends toward the eccentric.

The doctor moves through both space and time, solving problems, vanquishing monsters and generally thwarting the villainy of galactic troublemakers. As in "Flash Gordon" or "Star Trek," the characters are as likely to wear loin cloths as space suits, to use crossbows as ray guns.

The doctor travels in something that resembles an old-fashioned phone booth and is called the TARDIS. The letters stand for Time and Relative Dimensions in Space.

The vessel is larger inside than out, which is handy, but is not notable for navigational accuracy.

Since "Dr. Who" went on the air in 1963, the title character has been played by six different actors. Five of them will be seen in tonight's special, which is titled "The Five Doctors."

Tom Baker, who assumed the role in 1974 and kept it for seven years, is Dr. Who in the 260 episodes that Channel 15 will begin running Monday. He plays the character as incurably curious, a little forgetful and always imperturbable in the face of crisis. His Dr. Who, like the others, never fails to pull through for the cause of righteousness.

Baker looks like Harpo Marx as a brunet. His trademarks as the doctor are a floppy hat and a colorful scarf that's said to be 20 feet long. I'd love to meet the guy at a party.

But at 6 o'clock weekday evenings, thank you, I think I'd rather watch the news.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Debell, Jeff (1984-11-03). Ch. 15's 'Dr. Who' has limited audience appeal. The Roanoke Times p. 23.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Debell, Jeff. "Ch. 15's 'Dr. Who' has limited audience appeal." The Roanoke Times [add city] 1984-11-03, 23. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Debell, Jeff. "Ch. 15's 'Dr. Who' has limited audience appeal." The Roanoke Times, edition, sec., 1984-11-03
  • Turabian: Debell, Jeff. "Ch. 15's 'Dr. Who' has limited audience appeal." The Roanoke Times, 1984-11-03, section, 23 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Ch. 15's 'Dr. Who' has limited audience appeal | url= | work=The Roanoke Times | pages=23 | date=1984-11-03 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 February 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Ch. 15's 'Dr. Who' has limited audience appeal | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 February 2024}}</ref>