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Hold the cheese: Dr. Paul Bearer II makes TV debut sans horror flicks.

Like a zombie climbing from his grave, a beloved (and sometimes beheaded) Tampa Bay pop culture icon is coming back to television life.

But like a zombie, he won't exhibit behavior that we're accustomed to seeing.

Dr. Paul Bearer II, aka Winter Haven resident Richard Koon, is being exhumed at his old haunt, the studios of WTOG Ch. 44 in "St. Creaturesburg," as the bad doctor would say.

Dr. Bearer II will host Tombstone Tales on Sunday at 12 noon, essentially a rebranded Creature Feature, a program broadcast on WTOG from 1973 until the 1995 death of Dick Bennick Sr., the original Dr. Paul Bearer. Koon got the blessing of Bennick's widow to continue the character, making public appearances since 2008.

One problem: Sunday's schedule on the station's website doesn't list Tombstone Tales. The noon movie slot is occupied by Nicolas Cage in National Treasure (which is an altogether different sort of horror). Dr. Bearer's Facebook page assures visitors he'll be there, with a phone number to text for chances to win prizes.

A representative of WTOG said Tuesday that Dr. Bearer will indeed be showing National Treasure, not something ghoul-cool like The Brain from Planet Arous or I Was a Teenage Werewolf. So, you really have to wonder: What's the point?

Koon's clone is expected to continue Bennick's tradition of morbidly terrible puns and props. The forumla was a Saturday afternoon pastime for thousands of pre-cable viewers, from first shriek to Dr. Bearer's sign-off line: "I'll be lurking for you."

But unless it's Cage pagan-prancing in a bear suit in The Wicker Man, eating a cockroach in Vampire's Kiss or going full Ghost Rider, things won't be the same. That spinning sound you hear may be Dr. Bearer in his grave.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 3:30pm]


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