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Friday 7th August 1998



This Week In Doctor Who USA - August 7th, 1998
Welcome once again to another edition of This Week In Doctor Who. This week the column faces for the first time a mysterious phenomenon that must utterly baffle people who've never lived in the United States - the pledge drive. This unusual being infests PBS stations across the United States.

Either 2, 3, or 4 times a year, a PBS station will replace its regular schedule with special programs and special editions of their regular shows. They do this so that people will send them money so they can afford programming, most of which is made by PBS and already paid for in American taxes. Don't ask me to fully understand it. The basic approach seems to be "send money or we'll keep talking". I will try to note which stations are running pledge breaks around the episodes.
Breaking news:
Good news for SPACE fans in Canada! When the initial report came out, it sounded like only the 7:30AM weekday broadcasts would remain, and they probably wouldn't go through the episodes a 3rd time. I have e-mailed SPACE. The Sunday broadcast will remain (I'm not sure about the 3:30AM rerun). And from the sounds of it, they have the right to air the early episodes several more times, and plan to do so. Hopefully the fans will all flock to the 7:30AM eastern broadcast and boost its ratings so SPACE will purchase more episodes and restore better time slots. Let's prove that people are watching.
The situation with FOXTEL in Australia is somewhat more confusing. Their last scheduled Who broadcast is August 16, after which it disappears from the air. At some point FOXTEL reported that they would air a number of Doctor Who specials, then start airing the series again in October beginning with An Unearthly Child. But the person in charge of responding to viewer questions did not know anything about specials, did not know when in October Doctor Who would resume, or in what form. They will probably resume the show, but they don't seem to be certain.

» the series returned on 5th October in a strand called "The Who Files".
And now, the regular suspects/stations:


NHPTV (New Hampshire Public Television) is New England's sole source for the good Doctor. Currently they are running through the 2nd Doctor stories Friday nights at 10PM at the rate of 2 episodes a night. This week - The Mind Robber, episodes 2 and 3. The TARDIS has been destroyed while in a dimension outside reality. Now they face death, schoolchildren, fairy tale characters, and heaven knows what else. And let's not forget what happens to (spoiler) when (spoiler) is (spoiler) by (spoiler), twice! If only the episodes weren't so short.
WQED/WQEX 13/16 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania continues to follow the Whosaver Master Plan this week with episode 4 of Robot Saturday night at 10:30PM. His plan - use a special mini- pledge drive around each episode at the moment to raise the money to afford the series and keep it from being dumped. Offer long lost merchandise not commonly available during pledge drives. Show the infamous DeSilva introductions to remind viewers how the Tom Baker stories first arrived in the US two decades ago. By getting the money in before the episodes are ordered, Whosaver tries to prove that the fans actually want the shows. So far, the Whosaver Master Plan has resulted in the purchase of the first 8 Tom Baker stories (32 episodes). And remember, Pittsburghians, that there's going to be a viewer's choice Doctor Who special August 15 at 10PM.
MPT (Maryland Public Television) appears to be trying an experiment in creative scheduling. This Saturday (August 8) late night at 11:30PM they air The Dead Planet, episode 1 of "The Daleks", which ends with the famous plunger scene. Then, they pull the story for pledge specials! August 15 has the special version of The Five Doctors. Then, on August 22, they're airing the two Jon Pertwee stories they omitted when they decided to jump to episode format. Those stories will air all night. Fans wanting to see the resolution to this week's cliffhanger will have to wait until August 29, when The Survivors, episode 2 of the Daleks, will finally air. Note - the August 8 episode may begin late. They'll be airing pledge specials earlier in the day.
A Floridian Castrovalva, part one. WUFT 5 in Gainesville, Florida reaches the first Peter Davison story Saturday night at about 5PM. The movie format version has a 2 hour slot to allow for pledge drives.
A Floridian Castrovalva, part two. If you prefer your Castrovalva in episode format and without pledge drives, head to Tampa Bay, Florida. WUSF 16 will show episode 3 of Castrovalva Saturday night at 11:30PM, following Red Dwarf. Adric is caught in the Master's web, the Doctor doesn't know who he is, and something is amiss with physics in this episode.
WCET 48 in Cincinnati, Ohio offers viewers another installment in the Mel Chronicles Saturday late night at 11PM. Delta and the Bannermen disrupt the vacation the Doctor and Mel have just won. Travel from the far future to 1959 Wales. Famous actors including Ken Dodd, Don Henderson, and Stubby Kaye round out the guest cast. A movie format story slightly under 70 minutes long. Their pledge plans begin next week.
WFWA 39 in Fort Wayne, Indiana offers viewers who stay up really late Saturday night the conclusion to the Key To Time series. It's The Armageddon Factor, in a movie format package. Romana meets "the Romana who is to come". K9 gets fried, meets a friend, turns evil, and more. And the Doctor faces the ultimate temptation. It's 2hrs, 20 minutes long, and it doesn't start until Midnight. Warning - it may have pledge drives, which would make it last much longer.
WTBU 69 in Indianapolis, Indiana is the only non-PBS station currently airing Doctor Who. Actually, it airs more international programming then most PBS stations do. This week, it's movie format Sunday 6PM broadcast features Destiny of the Daleks, the first story of Season 17. The Daleks have returned to Skaro to pick up something of vital importance. K9's voice is in for service. And something about Romana has changed. 90-95 minutes long. It might begin early.
LPTV (Louisiana Public Television) offers Saturday night 3rd Doctor episodes to Who fans. Tune in at 10PM for the concluding 2 episodes of Day of the Daleks. The Doctor and Jo are in the alternate future, and must try to figure out what went wrong with time before the Daleks catch up with them. Meanwhile, the Dalek's toady struggles with his conscience.
IPTV (Iowa Public Television) and its Friday night Science Fiction lineup presents 2 2nd Doctor episodes Friday nights at about 11:05PM. This week, they offer episodes 2 and 3 of part one of The War Games(don't ask). Evidence forms that maybe this isn't 1917 after all. Can the Doctor and company live to prove it?
KBDI 12 in Denver, Colorado has a truncated Doctor Who schedule this week. In their normal 11PM Mountain (1AM Eastern) slot, they encore episodes 3 and 4 of The Mutants, a 3rdDoctor story. However, the Saturday night episodes are apparently being pre-empted for pledge specials. This makes sense considering that last weekend they ran episodes 3 - 6 in the Saturday slot.

KBDI is also available to some people in Ontario, Canada.
KTEH 54 in San Jose, California offers viewers something odd this weekend. It's not the original version of The Five Doctors. It's not the special restored, rearranged, and extended version. It's a version divided up into 4 episodes like a regular story. This rendition begins at 11:10PM (time approximate after other pledge specials) and will run until it's finished. Whoever thought pill bugs could be dangerous?
KRCB 22 in Sonoma County, California offers fans the conclusion to Frontios Saturday night at 11PM. The 5th Doctor, Tegan, and a petrified Turlough must save the last remnants of humanity from pill bugs that don't know their place. Don't laugh. They're very powerful pill bugs. Just look at what they did to the TARDIS.
KSPS 7 in Spokane, Washington continues the Nerva Chronicles with The Sontaran Experiment. The Doctor, Sarah, and Harry travel to an abandoned Earth, only to learn that it's not really abandoned. And the Sontarans are back. The 45 minute movie version has been given a 75 minute slot for pledge purposes, beginning at 10:45PM Saturday Pacific time (11:45PM Mountain). Some Alberta, Canada viewers can also see these broadcasts.
KBTC/KCKA 28/15 in Tacoma, Washington is setting up a cliffhanger for some of its viewers. This week's episodes are parts 1 and 2 of a 4 part version of Revelation of the Daleks. The Doctor and Peri visit an intergalactic funeral home, where the Great Healer is up to no good. The episodes are scheduled to air Saturday at 7PM and 12:30AM, and Monday at 7:30PM and 12:30AM. But beware, Monday viewers. This is the final Monday broadcast of the month. Unless you remember to tune in on Saturday the 15th, you won't see the rest of the story. Of course, someone will miss this notice, stop watching the show when the Monday broadcasts take a holiday, and believe forever that *that* cliffhanger was the end of the series. Oh well.
BBC America offers fans two more chances to see episode 2 of Robot Saturday night at 11:20PM and early Sunday at 5:20AM. It's a good episode, even if BBC America runs it again and again. This fall they promise to have more stories, though it might be easier to merge BBC America into BBC Prime. BBC Prime has everything BBC America has, more of it, stuff BBC America doesn't have, and a track record of successful broadcasting. BBC Prime even has Doctor Who! By the way, has BBC America been picked up by any satellite services yet? It'd be interesting to know.


And so another edition comes to a close. Thanks for reading. You can e-mail me with comments, suggestions, or schedules at bfelli...@jnpcs.com .
Benjamin F. Elliott