Monday, November 18, 2013

How Many Doctors Do You Have?

There are two types of Doctor Who fans: those who have discovered the show when it appeared in PBS stations around the mid 1970s, and those who discovered him when he returned in 2005.

Thanks to YouTube, DVDs and BBC America,  those who say their first Doctor was Nine can discover who their favorite Time Lord was like long long ago. Remember, he was off the BBC for 16 years, not including Fox's attempt to revive him through Paul McGann and (unwisely) Eric Roberts as Master 3.0.

My first Doctor that I saw in the flesh was Jon Pertwee. He visited San Jose back in 1984. One thing I will always remember is seeing dozens of fans following him as he walked near the Hotel Saint Claire where the con took place.

Actually, KRON in San Francisco showed Doctor Who in the early 1970s, but it started with Pertwee's second episode when he encountered the Silurians. It would have been better if they showed "Spearhead from Space," which would have been a nice entry point for the uninitiated. Well, he didn't catch on until Tom Baker arrived, but Pertwee was a big hit in San Jose. Showing him a picture of the soon-to-be Sixth Doctor, then getting his reaction, was something I won't forget.

It was also back in the days when local fan clubs met to see bootleg copies of fresh episodes from the UK. A bunch met in a small room near San Jose's KTEH.  It was also where I saw my first Pertwee episode in more than ten years, "The Time Warrior". Ah, the popularity of circulating the tapes. I also helped out in a couple of Who-themed pledge drives for KVIE in the late 1980's.

Anyway, that led to the BBC and other groups bringing Doctor Who cast members, including Time Lords past and present, to the U-S and a a grateful public. It also led to a shrinking time gap of getting fresh shows. Thanks to those cons, I got the autographs of Pertwee, Patrick Troughton, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. They're all in the BBC's 20th anniversary book for the show. It also includes several companions, the Brigadier and the Master 2.0. If only I started taking pictures back then.

The book also has this postcard that was signed by McCoy. Using my status as a news director for a small radio station, I asked him if and when his unique sweater would be available. I actually got a response

Of course, thanks to the internet, people can sell such homemade versions of those sweaters, or even extra-long Tom Baker scarves. It can also lead to fans no longer having to wait until July to see the Christmas specials.

When I finally got to see a Time Lord in the flesh with David Tennant at Comic-Con four years ago, it was a fantastic feeling. I only wish I could have shaken his hand. Then again, it's not every day you get a taco served by Eleven a couple of years Comic-Con of course.

Since then, I have been lucky to get some autographs of companions including Elisabeth Sladen, Caroline John, Katy Manning, Wendy Padbury and Sophie Aldred (in the form of a first-day cover). I would love to get a 21st Century Doctor, but thanks to the internet (again) and big business, it's not as easy as it used to be. If I had steady paying work, I'd pay 100 bucks for Matt Smith or David Tennant's signature. That's unlikely right now, but I can always hope.

Still, I'm very satisfied and proud of my collection of Doctor Who autographs, plus some other relics of old-style Who fandom. It sets me apart from those who have recently discovered Doctor Who. I can say that I always knew him, even back when he had a mop of hair and a really long scarf. In a way, that was cooler than a bowtie and a fez---mostly.

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