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Dr. Who, Tardis Rocket Into City 14 Years Late

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1981-07-13 Wichita Eagle Beacon.jpg


He has two hearts and a body temperature of a cool 60 degrees.

But he looks like your ordinary eccentric rumpled country gentleman, complete with floppy brimmed hat and school scarf trailing carelessly on the ground.

He's from the planet Gallifrey, where he may one day return to claim his rightful role as president.

This time traveler, with distinctly British accent and outlook, has been shuttling across the universe for 14 years, "sorting out galactic problems and vanquishing monsters."

The problem, you see, is that his spaceship, the Tardis, is temperamental and unreliable; it often leaves him stranded in locations and in time periods he had no inkling he might visit.

THE TARDIS looks like an ordinary British police call box (sort of a blue telephone booth), so as he dashes in and out, nobody, supposedly, is the wiser. And where did the name come from? From "tardy," perhaps?

This time traveler battles the ancient Egyptian god of darkness with the aid of robot mummies on Mars.

He combats enormous, wasp-like creatures called Wirms that threaten *space station near Earth.

He takes on Loch Ness monsters that eat oil rigs, a living hand that tries to regenerate its complete evil body via nuclear power, and he even fights murderous clones of himself.

And for the next few months, he will be caught in Wichita's time warp, making a nightly appearance (6 p.m., Monday through Friday, starting tonight) on KPTS, Ch. 8.

HE'S "DOCTOR WHO," who began as a BBC kiddie hero on the other side of the Atlantic but who has become an adult cult figure in syndication on this side because of his science fiction adventures.

His video adventures have even spawned a comic book series.

All of this (data supplied by a woman in the New York BBC office) is a necessary introduction. Although Channel 8 has 98 shows (23 adventures broken into 2-to-6 cliff-hanging episodes, like mini Saturday matinee serials), the station wasn't able to start at the beginning.

The initial, scene-setting shows weren't available for Wichita area viewers. In fact, according to the BBC spokesman, we aren't even getting the original Doctor Who.

Like another famous Briton who took America by storm (James Bond — Agent 007), Dr. Who has been played by various actors in a series that stretches back 14 years by unofficial guess of the BBC spokesman.

WE'RE GETTING tall, gangly, bug-eyed Tom Baker, whose eccentricities remind me of Ray Bolger's loose and limber scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz."

Anyway, jumping into the middle, as Channel 8 is forced to do, is a bit confusing if you know nothing about the doctor.

Tonight's opening show, in fact, requires you to be aware that he has two hearts or you won't get the appropriate chuckle when an Earth doctor displays astonishment at what he hears through his stethoscope.

"You're not fit," the physician warns.

"Not fit?" Doctor Who demands. "Aren't they beating fast enough?"

The stories are exceedingly juvenile, make no mistake. They aren't heavy with pop philosopy like some sort of cross-Atlantic "Star Trek."

And the special effects, astonishingly touted in England, are simplistic, stagey and inferior to the state-of-the-art in U.S. television.

BUT DOCTOR WHO is a wry, dry and very droll hero, somewhere between Sherlock Holmes and Flash Gordon. And he begins to grow on you after awhile.

I previewed the first two episodes (tonight's and Tuesday's) which are half of the four-parter called "Robot."

The story has been done to death: Evil, elitist scientists trying to take over the world via a huge, murderous robot.

But the doctor and his Earth companions a snoopy female reporter not unlike Lois Lane and a stiff-upper-lip lawman) provided enough chuckles with their acerbic British pacing and wit to hold attention.

If the series were American, it wouldn't work at all. It would appear to be mired in the mid-1960s, and it would be hooted off the screen by even the youngest viewers.

But with the British ambience, it has an undeniable attraction — even charm.

Caption: ACTOR TOM BAKER ... Britain's time traveler

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to

  • APA 6th ed.: Curtright, Bob (1981-07-13). Dr. Who, Tardis Rocket Into City 14 Years Late. The Wichita Eagle p. 11A.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Curtright, Bob. "Dr. Who, Tardis Rocket Into City 14 Years Late." The Wichita Eagle [add city] 1981-07-13, 11A. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Curtright, Bob. "Dr. Who, Tardis Rocket Into City 14 Years Late." The Wichita Eagle, edition, sec., 1981-07-13
  • Turabian: Curtright, Bob. "Dr. Who, Tardis Rocket Into City 14 Years Late." The Wichita Eagle, 1981-07-13, section, 11A edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Dr. Who, Tardis Rocket Into City 14 Years Late | url=,_Tardis_Rocket_Into_City_14_Years_Late | work=The Wichita Eagle | pages=11A | date=1981-07-13 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=20 June 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Dr. Who, Tardis Rocket Into City 14 Years Late | url=,_Tardis_Rocket_Into_City_14_Years_Late | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=20 June 2024}}</ref>