Doctor Who: A Video Home System

Last week was a special week in Doctor Who for me.  As I mentioned, I recently acquired a number of episodes on VHS.  No, before you ask, I didn’t pay for them–unless the effort of lugging them from my parents’ house to mine counts.  (And it shouldn’t ‘cause my dad carried them out to my car, and my houseguest carried them in to my apartment.)  So as you’ve probably surmised, I snatched these from my parents—from my mom, specifically.  She’s been trying to clean out the house and get rid of stuff.  When she asked if she should toss them, I said no way!

My original plan was to take them, sort through them, and ditch all the episodes that are easily accessible via Netflix (either streaming or on DVD).  And that’s still my plan…really…uh huh…  No, seriously, it is.  I just wasn’t prepared for the emotional reaction I’d have to holding those tapes again.  My houseguest, C, was laughing at the squeaky sounds I was making at being reunited with my “old friends,” as he called them.

They really are old friends.  The number of hours I spent watching (and labeling—Mom was rubbish at labeling promptly) those clunky things is beyond measure.  They literally got me through one of the worst summers of my life.  And then my brother came along and wanted to watch them too, so I started right back over at the beginning with him.

So anyway, it looks like they’ll be staying for a little while at least.  I’m simply not ready to part with them just yet.  And they don’t look half bad all stacked up along the wall next to the TV.  It’s like (retro) modern art.  (Or so I’ll keep telling myself.)

They’re sorted by Doctor (1-8).  It’s pretty clear which eras my mom favored.  There are very few repeats in there.  I haven’t looked through them thoroughly yet, but I think there may be three different copies of the Trial of a Time Lord season, so picture the Colin Baker stack a good deal shorter.  Also, please note that almost all of these were recorded on EP, which means there’s about 6 hours of Doctor Who on each tape.

So this should give you an inkling of what it was like to grow up in my household.  Doctor Who took precedence over just about everything else.  In fact, there was one time in particular when Dad had a friend visiting, and the Green Bay Packers were playing some important game at the same time Doctor Who was on.  Catastrophe!  That particular problem was solved by Mom renting a motel room for that Sunday, taking the VCR, and taping it there.

Come to think of it, that wasn’t the only time Mom went to a motel in pursuit of Doctor Who.  One weekend the Madison PBS station was having a Doctor Who marathon.  Problem: we lived near Milwaukee, so we couldn’t get the channel.  Solution: Mom got a motel room halfway between Milwaukee and Madison, took the VCR, and spent the entire weekend taping Doctor Who.  It’s worth pointing out that we were not exactly well-off, and renting motel rooms (and even shelling out for VHS tapes) were not insignificant expenses for us.  But for the good Doctor, ‘twas all worth it.

One thing I meant to do and forgot was to go through Mom’s box o’ memorabilia.  I think she got rid of some stuff over the years, but I know she still has a bunch of items from the various cons she attended back in the day.  She’s got autographs from most of the actors who’d played the Doctor by that time, old fanzines, bookmarks, lots of neat stuff I only half-remember because I wasn’t allowed to look at it unless she was there to make sure I didn’t ruin anything.  Maybe next time I’ll remember to delve into that treasure trove of memories.

Until then, I’m well-fixed with my precious precious videotapes.  Scoff if you want, but right now, the cockles of my heart are about as toasty as they get.

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