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N.J. Network Determines Who's 'Who'

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Loyal "Whovians" who have been tracking the exploits of the "Who's Who" of "Doctor Whos" on New Jersey Network the past four years will "who-op" it up at 8 p.m. Saturday.

At that time, NJN will embark on its second "Doctor Who" special, "Doctor Who: Then and Now."

Since the British sci-fi hit initially trekked across the universe nearly 25 years ago on the BBC, there have been six "regenerations" of the "Doctor."

Along the way, the quirky series has attracted more than 100 million followers in 56 countries.

"Regeneration is a technique used in the show which permits the 'Doctor' to escape death by completely restructuring a new face, personality and physique," says Ray Nicosia, NJN manager of publicity and press relations.

Nicosia says one benefit of regeneration is that it helps explain casting revisions.

"And it also carries with it the ability to keep the role completely fresh " Nicosia says.

"Doctor Who: Then and Now" will probe the program's earliest history. Then it will examine the series today.

"What we'll see here is the seventh regeneration of the 'Doctor' and that's going to be terribly exciting for all the avid fans of the show who are more commonly known as 'Whovians,'" Nicosia says.

Among the guests interviewed in the hour-long special will be Terry Nation, one of the series' original writers.

Nation also created the show's arch villains — the "Daleks."

"The 'Daleks' did for the 'Doctor' what 'Darth Vader' did for 'Star Wars' movies," says Eric Luskin, producer of "Doctor Who: Then and Now."

Luskin says Nation will speak about the original "Doctor Who" production team.

"Terry also will supplement his reflections on the early days of the series with vintage still photographs," says Luskin.

"He'll have audio recordings of the original designer of the 'Daleks,' Raymond Cusick.

"Raymond took Terry's extremely vague description of the 'Daleks' and from it came up with the concept of these metal-encased enemies."

A native of London, England, Nation flew from his Los Angeles home to a taping in NJN's Newark studio where he answered questions from some staunch "Doctor Who" buffs.

"And through the magic of television, Terry will be joined on the June 27 show by Verity Lambert, the original producer of the series," Luskin says.

"Additionally, there will be some footage of those nasty 'Daleks' conversing in Arabic.

"These features are being afforded to NJN viewers, courtesy of the BBC archives."

Another show highlight will be an interview with Carole Ann Ford, an original cast member who portrayed the role of the first "Doctor Who's" grandaughter, "Susan."

The interview never has been seen in the United States.

The concluding segment of the special's "then" phase includes an interview with the late Patrick Troughton, the second "Doctor Who." Troughton died in March.

During this interview, Troughton discusses his three-season reign as the "Doctor."

But Luskin says the program won't peer solely into the history of "Doctor Who."

The second half will showcase the current series as British science-fiction journalist Patrick O'Neill joins Luskin to put the nearly quarter-century program into perspective.

Also making a special appearance will be the newest companion of the "Doctor," Bonnie Langford, who will handle the role of "Melanie."

Nicosia says arguably the show's brightest spot will be an interview with Sylvester McCoy, the newest "Doctor."

NJN taped this interview during McCoy's first trip to the United States after he was selected the seventh "Doctor Who."

"The interview gives viewers a glimpse of McCoy's background and they can hear what he hopes to bring to the role," Nicosia says.

McCoy will star in the series during the 1988-89 season on NJN.

"Besides Sylvester McCoy, we'll also have an interview with the series' longtime producer, John Nathan-Turner," Nicosia says.

Luskin says the special has been on the drawing board for almost a year.

"I was in Atlanta helping Georgia Public Television with a fundraiser and they were nice enough to let us tape the interview with Sylvester and John Nathan-Turner while we were there," Luskin says.

He says the idea for the special was initiated with "a few casual remarks between writer Terry Nation and myself."

"Terry was in Trenton more than a year ago assisting NJN with a live fundraising campaign and he had such a fabulous time we began saying 'wouldn't it be nice if we got together and worked on a special,' Luskin says.

"Thankfully, Terry has been true to his word."

Nicosia says the "Doctor Who" series boasts thousands of southern New Jersey viewers.

"We get a tremendous response for the show from all over South Jersey," Nicosia says.

And to what does Luskin attribute the series' popularity for all these years?

"I feel it is the 'Britishness' of the series that contributes to its mystique," Luskin says.

"It can attract both young and old. Over here, it has a large and very enthusiastic conglomerate of viewers who enjoy the series on different levels.

"What endears the fans to the series is the central character.

"The premise is so challenging that viewers are willing to forgive the specials (special effects), which, particularly in the older programs, are known for being a bit 'tattered.' "

(Press staff writer Sonny Schwartz's column appears in The Press on Monday, Wednesday and, in Venture, on Friday.)

Caption: WHO'S BEHIND SPECIAL — Among those involved in New Jersey Network's 'Doctor Who' special are British journalist Patrick O'Neill, left, Eric Luskin, producer of 'Doctor Who: Then and Now,' center, and Terry Nation, one of the original 'Doctor Who' writers.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Schwartz, Sonny (1987-06-26). N.J. Network Determines Who's 'Who'. The Press of Atlantic City p. V4.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Schwartz, Sonny. "N.J. Network Determines Who's 'Who'." The Press of Atlantic City [add city] 1987-06-26, V4. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Schwartz, Sonny. "N.J. Network Determines Who's 'Who'." The Press of Atlantic City, edition, sec., 1987-06-26
  • Turabian: Schwartz, Sonny. "N.J. Network Determines Who's 'Who'." The Press of Atlantic City, 1987-06-26, section, V4 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=N.J. Network Determines Who's 'Who' | url= | work=The Press of Atlantic City | pages=V4 | date=1987-06-26 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=21 July 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=N.J. Network Determines Who's 'Who' | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=21 July 2024}}</ref>