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. Later 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 the 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!
At 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 section.
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!

Go back through the Gateway