I’ve had a TiVo for a long time (14 years), and one of the cooler features is that the service learns what you like, and will record other programs besides the ones you tell it to, thinking you’ll like them.
So tonight I’m looking through the recorded shows, I found an episode of Doctor Who. Which immediately got me thinking, well, what is this? So I played the thing. Much to my shock it was black and white! And then I discovered it originally aired on Nov 23, 1963.
I WAS STUNNED – I MEAN I STOPPED FOR A SECOND AND STARED AT THE TV – Classic Doctor Who was on TV here – local to me, and on free over the air TV, too. Not a national network like SyFy (what a dumb name), but a local channel. So I looked at the guide listing, and indeed, they’re showing classic Doctor Who.
In a 30 minute time slot, twice at night in prime time in my Time Zone – one at 7PM and one at 7:30PM (and again on weekends). It is US commercial television, so there are commercial breaks. In An Unearthly Child 1, they had a commercial break right at the point where Ian & Barbara went into 76 Totters Lane. There was a second break right after the TARDIS took off near the end of the episode.
But hell, I was absolutely flabbergasted that not only was classic Doctor Who on TV here, but on free over the air TV on a (very) local TV station here. I didn’t even know Classic Doctor Who was being sold in the United States.
The station it is being shown on here is Channel 31 in Dallas, who goes by the odd call sign of K31GL-D. They’re what’s known as a “low power station“. The specific digital subchannel (31-4) is part of a national network called “Retro Television Network“, that shows various old TV shows. But it’s usually things like Dragnet, Bonanza, Starsky & Hutch, etc.. But they had bloody Doctor Who, and 60’s era classics as well!
I’m absolutely stunned.
So I looked around, and apparently this has been in the works for a bit now, but I didn’t discover it until today – found it quite by accident when, as I said, my TiVo recorded the first episode as a suggestion.
Even though I own virtually all of this on DVD, I’ll likely record all of it anyway, because TiVo recordings count in ratings, and besides, one could always use another excuse to watch classic Doctor Who. I’ll support this being on the air as best I can.
Huzzah to the Retro TV network for the first real, honest to God return of classic Doctor Who to US television since the show returned in 2005.
You can view a page that shows you all of the Retro TV affiliates around the United States on this page.
There is no proper guide info for the episodes, so all the episodes say “Doctor Who”, and have this as a description:
“Tue 08/05/14 07:30 PM on 31-4=K31GLD4, Duration = 30 mins, originalAirdate: 1963-11-23
A mysterious traveler can visit any point in space and time.”
So if you have a digital service like a TiVo, or rely on guide information, it won’t tell you what episode is airing, unfortunately. I might try and contact the network about that.
The Encore Block
Some late details on the “Encore block” that I got from one of their representatives on Facebook.
Retro TV is running two episodes a night from Monday to Friday, and will work their way through the catalogue of shows. The weekend encore block is, by one of their representatives’ words, “.. a second feed. So this Saturday will be episodes 1-4, next Saturday 5-8, etc.” So the M-F block started with Episode 1 on Aug 4, and will stop with Episode 10 on Friday Aug 8. Saturday’s “Encore block” will be Episodes 1-4, and then the following week will be Episode 11-20, the following weekend’s “Encore block” will be Episodes 5-8, and so on and so forth.
Anyway, they have a trailer out, and have some discussion about this on their Facebook group. Check it out.