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The Doctor (Who) Is In South Orange - Maplewood

Thanks to a CHS sophomore, Doctor Who is popular among kids, teens, and adults. Sparkhouse has proof.

Box falls from sky. Man falls from box. Man eats fish custard.

If that makes sense, there's a good chance you know a Whovian. If not, chances are you soon will.

Doctor Who, the long-running, ever-popular British television series, is enjoying a renewed popularity in South Orange and Maplewood. Doctor Who figures are selling briskly at Sparkhouse, with a large Dalek on order.  Teens are planning to mark the new season, which begins March 30, with marathon viewing parties.

And much of the local craze can be traced back to a single Whovian, Columbia High School sophomore Russell Pinzino.

"I got into Doctor Who when I was nine years old, visiting my cousins in London," explains Pinzino. "When I came back home, it was all I could think about for a very long time. That summer, we got the box set for the first season. It was all I watched for a very long time, and I showed it I everyone that I could and most of them fell in love with it the way I did."

Pinzino brought his enthusiasm to Jefferson School and, especially, to the After-School Program. Interest in Doctor Who spread, with fellow students learning to fear the enemy daleks and follow the adventures of the Doctor and his erstwhile companions. Doctor Who remains something of a school legacy, as Jefferson fourth graders marked a class birthday with Tardis cupcakes in February.

Sparkhouse co-owner Michael Casaren is a fan, too, explaining that, "The show is exciting without violence for the sake of violence." He and his young own children watch together, especially since, as he notes, "The show doesn't go places I'm not ready for them to go."

Doctor Who was produced and screened by the British Broadcasting Corporation on their BBC One channel from 1963 to 1989, with a new series launched in early 2005. The series and its many Doctors are popular with all ages; one of the standing-room-only events at Comic-con this fall was a discussion of the Doctor's history.

Pinzino explains the appeal. "The reason I think it's such a great show is its variety. You can have the main characters (the Doctor and his companion) on a spaceship the size of Canada one episode, and then the next episode, they're in the Wild West."

"It's also great because it frequently has two worlds collide. You can have a hospital taken to the moon (seen in the episode Smith and Jones)," continues the sophomore.  "Aliens meet Agatha Christie (seen in the episode The Unicorn and the Wasp), or dinosaurs on a spaceship (seen in the episode Dinosaurs on a Spaceship)." 

Pinzino is planning a marathon viewing session to mark the new season.

Why? It's simple. "No other show on television can do anything like this, yet Doctor Who pulls it off spectacularly."

The new season of Doctor Who begins on March 30.

Doctor Who figures are available at Sparkhouse Kids in South Orange:

15 Scotland Rd  South Orange, NJ 07079

(973) 821-5227
Amy Nocito March 07, 2013 at 06:25 PM
For all you Whovians- Long Island Doctor Who is having a weekend convention in November and Sylvester McCoy is one of the guests.
Bronwen Jones March 07, 2013 at 06:58 PM
My son is a huge Dr. Who fan thanks to Russell! I think all the kids in the ASP program that year got hooked.
Marcia Worth March 07, 2013 at 08:23 PM
I agree! And the ASP legacy continues...
Lee Navlen March 07, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Russell was and remains the man! great article!

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