From the beginning of 1984 through the end of 1987, I was as wild and enthusiastic a fan as you’ve ever seen. I absorbed just about every bit of information and ephemera that I could find, drew hundreds of pages of woeful Doctor Who comics, attempted to follow a couple of the walking tours of London in the poorly-edited Travels Without the TARDIS, got snooty because a well-intentioned relative bought me the Target Web of Fear novelisation with the Andrew Skilleter cover instead of an earlier edition with massively superior Chris Achilleos art, and even ran a British TV fan club that, by the beginning of 1988, had a lot more articles about the Smiths and George Harrison than about television.
During this period, one of the biggest and best cons in the Atlanta area was Dixie Trek, which was run by a great fellow called Owen Ogletree and his pals, and which you should read about at my best friend Dave’s site here. Dig around the rest of the site when you finish; it’s a super look at what Atlanta fandom was like when we were in high school. Dixie Trek was typically held in May at a pretty big hotel. Every November, they put together a much smaller one-day show, with no guests, at the Oglethorpe University student center, where Dixie Trek had first begun. The small show was called Britcon, and it had panels and trivia contests and a small dealers room and two video rooms.
In November 1987, my pal Shelby and I went to Britcon, and I met up with some other friends and had a good time and spent a little money, and we watched the most recent seven episodes of Doctor Who: all of “Time and the Rani” and the first three parts of “Paradise Towers.” We’d had part one of “Rani” for a few weeks; mine was a third or fourth gen from that original camcorder copy that I mentioned. It was great to see the rest of that one, and “Paradise Towers” was even better.
At that time, I was a fifteen year-old long-haired hippie weirdo completely obsessed with Who and Monty Python and 2000 AD and “Towers” was written specifically to appeal to me. Obviously from the cold eyes of adulthood, the silly voices and overacting of the Caretakers are an obstacle, but I loved it at the time. And the Kangs? I didn’t need a guidebook to explain that these girls were talking the same language as Halo Jones, Rodice, and the Different Drummers. I had my Increased Leisure Citizen T-shirt, unlike you thrillsucking non-scrots.
I left Britcon punching the air, wondering when I’d see the conclusion. And several weeks later, I found myself not caring.
I never fell out of love with Who, and I certainly thrilled to just about everything that came next, but sometime between Britcon and actually getting copies of the episodes, I hit that wall that boys hit when guitars suddenly make more sense than Doctor Who. And this was never more true than when the issue of Doctor Who Magazine shown above (source: The Grand Comics Database) made it to shops. My interest in the magazine had been waning a little bit because the artwork in the comic wasn’t appealing like it did. (I liked John Ridgway’s art, but not when Tim Perkins inked him, sadly.) Then they cut eight pages and put the American price up to $3.50. I could buy a used Depeche Mode LP for that.
And that issue was the first one I didn’t buy after about three straight years. I could get a Banshees twelve-inch single or I could get Sylvester McCoy and Richard Briers lit like a pair of old pumpkins.
Ages later, it seemed, I finally saw part four of this story. Sure, the first three parts are badly flawed in retrospect, but it really is a good script with some great ideas and good characters. Then part four features Richard Briers’ absolutely unbelievable performance, just hands down the worst acting in the entire run of Who.
Taking girls to concerts seemed like a much, much better use of my teenage time after that.