Sunday, December 5, 2010

Watching Dr. Who: Iowa City 1978

By 1975 to 76, after a childhood rich in watching a lot of television, I quit the habit. Sure, I still saw a thing or two now and then, but no more gluing myself to the tube as an opiate, watching reruns and prime time shows, I gave it up cold turnkey. But then, by the second semester in college, while living in Burge dorm, I started watching a bit again. One thing was our small dorm fllor, the majority of us, began getting together in Marty and Tim's room to watch Mork and Mindy once a week. I know, I know--lame show, lame activity, but it was a communal event and Robin Williams was funny enough. But the Tv watching I enjoyed the most became a semi-weekday habit of tuning in old Dr. Who reruns on a PBS station.
I'd head of Dr. Who but had less than a passing understanding of the show. But the local PBS station ran the half hour show every weeknight around the or ten thirty at night and, by that time of the day, I was done with classes and studying and Morn and Mindy etc and ready to settle in a bit before bed. Now, I had no TV set, but my roommate, Chuck (my third roommate being Jeff) had brought one, a small black and white thing which he had set up on some kind of pole near one of the desks. So, despite all of my good anti-TV intentions, I began to turn it on at night and watch the show. And I got hooked. It became a bit of a ritual: come 10:15 or so, I'd make the walk (sometimes with friends, often by myself) down to Vendo-Land (what I called the bank of vending machines down in the basement of the dorm; our half-hall was essentially in the basement, just 1/2 a flight of stairs up from it) and get my soda and snack, then return to my room to tune in Dr. Who.
The thing is, despite having two other roommates in the small dorm, I always watched the show alone. Not even Brock--a candidate for serious Dr. Who watching if there ever was one--joined me. So maybe this was part of the enjoyment, being alone, munching on my Sour Cream and Onion Lays potato chips, drinking my Coke or Mt. Dew or whathaveyou, watching the silly British show with tacky and campy special effects, semi-humorous story lines and characters. That Dr. Who was the big red-haired guy who always had a long scarf. That's my Dr. Who. Black and white. He had some primitive cave-girl type companion then (if you know Dr. Who, there are many actors who played him and he always has a constant Earth companion or two along for the adventure) and she was not horrible to look at as they gallivanted around the universe saving alien races or planets or saving Earth itself. Fun enough.
It was always a moment of respite. Moments of respectable waste of my time. Dr. Who and Sour Cream and Onion Chips. Dr. Who is back now on the BBC and I admit I've watched it. New actors and better special effects, an hour time slot. But it'll never be the same as when I was in Burge Hall in Iowa City in 1978.

No comments: