Let me share one of the great sci-fi traumas of my childhood, as its thirty-year anniversary has recently come to pass.

For a brief, glorious time when I was in the fifth grade, one of the local UHF stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, KXTX-TV 39, began running the Tom Baker era Doctor Who in thirty minute installments at 10 PM every weeknight. This seemed like a pretty bold move at the time, since the channel was known mainly for airing old TV westerns, interspersed with The 700 Club, Eight Is Enough, and Star Trek. (Fans of Office Space may recall a line of dialogue in which Ron Livingston asks Jennifer Aniston if she'd like to come over and watch a Kung-Fu marathon on "Channel 39"; this is a direct reference to the station.*) This was the Time-Life syndicated package, which maintained the serial 30 minute format of the original and added some odd, weirdly off-key narration by the American actor Howard da Silva. Our local PBS affiliate seemed frankly embarrassed by the show, despite its enormous popularity on public television stations in major cities like Chicago (which as everyone knows, is the Whovian capital of North America) and New Orleans.**

The good news is that I was able to see most of the core episodes from the utterly fantastic Phillip Hinchcliffe era. "Ark in Space," "Genesis of the Daleks," "Terror of the Zygons," "Seeds of Doom," "Deadly Assassin," "Talons of Weng-Chiang," "Horror of Fang Rock" โ€” all of these classics I managed to catch in their entirety (though I may have missed an odd episode here and there). I saw most of them with my parents, who became fans in their own right, and I managed to convince the few friends I had to watch the show, even if it meant staying up past their bedtimes (as incredible as it sounds now, most kids were expected to be asleep by prime time in the 1980s).

Sadly, the good times came to an end. Whether it was poor ratings or simply seniors complaining about tuning in expecting to see The Rifleman or Pat Robertson and getting a faceful of Krynoid juice, Doctor Who's days were numbered on Channel 39, and the station pulled the plug on the program right after "The Androids of Tara." That's right โ€” barely little more than halfway through the Key to Time storyline. And what show, pray tell, did they replace it with?


Mork and fucking Mindy. Talk about adding insult to injury.

So to this day, I still harbor a deep resentment towards KXTX, even though it effectively ceased to exist years ago and is now a Telemundo affiliate. And I have never been able to watch a single episode of Mork & Mindy since, or think about the program without wincing in half-remembered pain.


But here's the important thing: KXTX 39 is long gone***, nobody gives a shit about Mork & Mindy, and Doctor Who IS FUCKING EVERYWHERE. It's a poignant reminder that life goes on, and sometimes the good does endure over the dumb and short-sighted. If you're dealing with someone who doesn't like or understand you, realize that it's a temporary thing, and that luck or fate or whatever will put you in contact with kindred spirits who'll share and value your point of view. So don't get discouraged by the unimaginative or the empathy-challenged. It's a big world, and the horizons are always wider than you think.


*The movie is clearly supposed to be set in Dallas, but it was shot almost entirely in Austin โ€” albeit the most Dallas-like parts of that generally pleasant and idiosyncratic town.


**And eventually the local PBS station did pick up the show, and I TAPED EVERY. FUCKING. SERIAL. Yes, even the ones with Adric in them (though I never could make it through "Logopolis.")

***Shame about the Kung-Fu marathons, though.