Doctor Who in Mexico
When fans think of
Doctor Who in the Americas, they tend to give little
thought that, as well as the United States and Canada, the
series has been broadcast in Mexico in the past.
Perhaps the first
appearance of a Mexican fan is a letter which appears in issue #62
of Doctor Who Monthly, dated March, 1982, written by
Martín Bonfil Olivera. He claims the Hartnell episodes were
broadcast in the Mexico City area in the early 1970s, but
were only shown for a short time due to poor ratings.
Actually, according to Richard Molesworth, these were shown
in 1967, with further showings in Baja California as late
as 1973. The Spanish title on these is El Doctor
Misterio, which means either Doctor Mysterious or
The Mysterious Doctor, though the Spanish titles of
the first episode of The Dalek Invasion of Earth and the fifth episode of The Chase would tend to suggest the
former. A listing of the episodes shown, with their
translations, is included here. Interestingly, no historical serials were included in this group of episodes apart from The Aztecs.
on, the Tom Baker episodes up till The Invasion of
Time were also broadcast, beginning in 1979.
My first contact with
the series in Mexico took place in February, 1996, when I
was visiting the city of Puebla, which is one of
the most populous in the country. I happened to go to a
shopping mall, I believe it was called Las animas, and
inside were a small number of video games and pinball
machines. Lo and behold, there was a Doctor Who
pinball game there! I played a few games, at cost rate of
one New Peso per game (at the time a US dollar was worth
about 7.5 New Pesos), and did rather poorly (I've never
been that good at pinball).
My next encounter
took shortly afterwards, when I managed to obtain a copy of
Part One of The Android
Invasion dubbed into Spanish! This episode hails
from a television station in
Monterrey, Mexico, and has a voice-over at the beginning saying the title of the
series, episode title and number. These dubbed Tom Baker
episodes are actually the edited for US sale versions,
which had introductions
placed on them, narrated by Howard da Silva.
The dubbing is rather haphazard in places, with everyone's
footstep sounding the same no matter what the terrain is,
the background sound effects suddenly starting and
stopping, and some awful 1940's-style film noir
music added to replace the original music. In El
experimiento Sontarún, for example, the sonic
screwdriver and Styre's robot are completely silent in some
scenes, and one of the Galsecs is clearly heard to shout
"please!" in English at one point. It would also appear as
though each episode has been edited more than the da Silva
episodes were, as each of the three episodes that I possess
in this format is about 23 minutes long including three
short commercial breaks.
Following this, I visited Puebla again in May, 1998. On my
visit, I visited another shopping area, I forget the name,
and saw yet another DW pinball game! The very next
night, I happened to visit a Blockbuster Video store
located in Colonia las margaritas, and saw a copy of the
Paul McGann telemovie on the shelves in the new releases
section! The video had logos for MCA, Videovisa and CIC
Video on its spine, and the back of the box claimed a
running time of 100 minutes. When I saw this, I knew I had
to rent it, thinking perhaps there was 10 minutes of new
footage on the tape. Unfortunately, the extra running time
is courtesy of a series of trailers on the tape before the
movie itself begins. The text on the box seemed to match
text on the BBC version from what I'd read, and it did say
"He's back and it's about time" in Spanish above the title
on the front.
Unlike the Tom Baker episodes, this one had subtitles in
Spanish, which were often quite amusing. For example, the
Master is referred to as "El Amo," which I at first thought
meant "the love," but in fact is the term used for a master
such as a school master, or the master of a dog. The TARDIS
is known as El TYDRES, which stands for Tiempo y
Dimensiones Relatívos En Espacia.
(The last word could also be Espaciales, but I can't
remember.) One interesting thing is that these subtitles
were created by a studio located in Los Angeles!
Blockbuster, I asked if there were any stores in the area
where I could buy a copy. The clerk seemed surprised that I
couldn't buy this American (to him anyway) production in my
country, but informed me that there were no such stores in
the area that he knew of. As a side note, he pronounced it
"Doctor Whoa", the last word like what one would say to a
horse... And again, in September, 1998, I visited another
Blockbuster Video in Cancún, and saw two more copies of the
video, strangely enough located in the action/adventure
In 1999, I happened to acquire a copy of the last episode of Planet of Giants dubbed into Spanish. The print itself is unedited, ie with no breaks where commercials would be inserted, but it is rather dirty with numerous artefacts, especially during the opening title sequence. There is a voice-over saying "Doctor Misterio" (with no definite article) and later on, the same voice says, "Today we present for you, Crisis." Like the later Tom Baker episodes, the dubbing is a bit haphazard in that the actors' mouths will open and there is a short delay before words come out of them in Spanish. The music is also changed, and is in more or less the same style as the Bakers. For all the TARDIS scenes, the relevant sound effects are included in the background. Near the end, the voice says, "In our next episode, we will present for you, The End of the World!," which is the Spanish title for the first episode of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, aka World's End. However, it is completely different in the list of Spanish titles. The print includes the "Next Episode" caption, unlike the ones in current North American syndication.
In September, 2000, my wife, who is from Puebla -- hence all my visits there -- travelled to Cancún with her sisters, and saw the first two Radiophonic CD's at Mix-Ups, a record store there, several weeks before their official US date of sale. She did not buy them, thinking I had them already...
The DVD of The Web Planet includes an option to hear the Spanish version of the final episode, so nowadays anyone with this disc may hear the wonderful voice-over of... El Doctor Misterio!