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Who convention just what the Doctor ordered

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1986-11-23 Sacramento Bee.jpg


HE IS OVER 750 years old. He has two hearts and a body temperature of 60 degrees. He travels through time and space in a machine known as Tardis, which is bigger on the inside than on the outside.

Who is this man? He's Doctor Who — a Time Lord from the planet of Gallifrey who is better known as simply "the Doctor" — and he is the main character of an immensely popular British science fiction series that Channel 6 has been broadcasting in Sacramento since late 1984.

Like "Star Trek" in its heyday, "Doctor Who" has acquired a large and loyal following. Throughout the country, fans gather at Doctor Who conventions, where they exchange trivia, meet the actors and view videotapes of episodes that are not yet available on PBS. Such a convention is being held today at the Red Lion Inn near Cal Expo to celebrate the series' 23rd anniversary. Mayor Anne Rudin has declared today to be Doctor Who Day in Sacramento, and convention visitors will have the opportunity to meet Colin Baker, the actor who has portrayed the Doctor in Britain for the last two seasons.

Colin Baker is the sixth actor to have played the role. Most television shows could not survive a single change of lead actor, but for "Doctor Who," such changes have become almost commonplace. They are accomplished through the Doctor's ability to "regenerate" into a new body — and a new personality — if he receives certain types of otherwise-fatal wounds. Each of his five regenerations has allowed a new actor to take the role, each time injecting new life into the series.

The most famous of the six Doctors is Tom Baker, who played the role for seven years. Colorfully attired in a floppy hat and a 17-foot scarf, he gave the character a piercing gaze and toothy grin that became instantly recognizable to audiences throughout the English-speaking world. His 41 episodes were the first ones to be shown by KVIE, and will be rebroadcast next year.

Sacramento audiences are also familiar with the fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, and the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee. Davison's episodes were broadcast last year, and the actor himself was in Sacramento for a convention in June. The Pertwee episodes are currently being shown at 10 p.m. Saturdays on Channel 6.

Colin Baker, however, is new to local fans, and it is likely that as many as 1,000 of them will be at the Red Lion to meet him and to view the inevitable videotapes.

What makes "Doctor Who" so popular? It isn't the special effects, which by Hollywood standards are generally poor and often laughable. Nor is it the plots, which are frequently juvenile, contrived, or incomprehensibly convoluted. Instead, the primary attraction of the series is its main character.

The Doctor is a hero with whom it is easy to relate. He may occasionally be cranky, self-centered, or absent-minded, but his heart — or perhaps one should say hearts — are in the right places, and he usually triumphs not only over his foes, but also over his own shortcomings.

And at its best, the show is also an entertaining mixture of humor, adventure and interesting ideas. It proves that science fiction can be produced without fancy special effects or a large budget. Many fans

appreciate that: "Doctor Who" allows them to use their imaginations.

One fan, a Ph.D. student in sociology, makes an additional observation: "The Doctor," he says, "is something like a clinical sociologist. He travels around the universe visiting sick societies and figuring out how to cure them."

It isn't often that life can be so simple.

THE DOCTOR WHO FESTIVAL AND EXHIBIT TOUR will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m today at the Red Lion Inn near Arden Way and Business 80. Admission is $8.50 for adults. $5 for children. For information:

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  • APA 6th ed.: Lovett, Richard A. (1986-11-23). Who convention just what the Doctor ordered. The Sacramento Bee p. Encore, p. 4.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Lovett, Richard A.. "Who convention just what the Doctor ordered." The Sacramento Bee [add city] 1986-11-23, Encore, p. 4. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Lovett, Richard A.. "Who convention just what the Doctor ordered." The Sacramento Bee, edition, sec., 1986-11-23
  • Turabian: Lovett, Richard A.. "Who convention just what the Doctor ordered." The Sacramento Bee, 1986-11-23, section, Encore, p. 4 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Who convention just what the Doctor ordered | url= | work=The Sacramento Bee | pages=Encore, p. 4 | date=1986-11-23 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 February 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Who convention just what the Doctor ordered | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 February 2024}}</ref>