Epic Doctor Who recap post is epic

24Apr11

(Apologies in advance for the ridiculous length of this post. It kinda got away from me a little…)

So! Almost two weeks ago I went to New York for the BBC America Doctor Who preview. While some people could say I’ve been very lazy in writing about it, I would counter with the argument that I’ve been saving my post for the  premiere, which is today. Or possibly yesterday, depending on what time I finish this post. It was totally deliberate!

Ok, yeah, I’m just lazy.

I first heard about the event just three days before, I think from the BBC America facebook page. “Hmm, I don’t have to work on Monday,” I thought. “It’d be totally crazy and ridiculous to travel up to New York to go to this! Would never do that!” Then I realised, hey, I could totally do that, and isn’t that what a gap yah is for, doing random things on the spur of the moment? Even if it is for something so nerdy.

My awesome housemates told me I should do it, because they are awesome, and on Saturday morning I gave in and just booked the damn tickets. Bus up and back, and two nights in a hotel. Sunday morning one of the aforementioned awesome housemates gave me a lift to the bus, and I was on my way.

Sunday in New York was lovely – continuing the “spontaneous decision-making” theme of the trip I bought a ticket to a matinee performance of the broadway show “Mary Poppins” as I walked through Times Square on my way to the hotel. The show was entertaining enough, although I don’t think I was quite in the target age-demographic. Incredible staging, though – lots of flying through the air and walking on the ceiling and houses being raised and lowered throughout. Impressive stuff.

After the show ended I basically wandered aimlessly around New York: bought a lovely cardigan in the painfully hip Muji store located in the New York Times headquarters, admired the Spring flower display in Macy’s, stumbled across the Flatiron Building, took photos of the Empire State Building, and finally found myself in Union Square looking at a sculpture of Andy Warhol. You know, a typical evening stroll.

I stocked up on snacks at Whole Foods, then headed back to my hotel.

At this point I should probably make clear that the preview screening wasn’t an RSVP type thing, it was a “line up in order to get in” type thing. I knew it was going to be crazy popular, if only by the number of people who’d RSVPed for the facebook event. I had planned to get there about 9am to join the queue – early, but doable. Just before I went to bed, however, I had a quick look at twitter and a few blogs and was horrified to discover that at 10:30 the night before there were already 150 people in line. Madness. Briefly considered not going at all and just spending the day being a tourist. But! In for a penny, in for the proverbial pound, as they say.

So! I radically revised my arrival time to 5am. When my alarm went off at 4am (after only about four hours of sleep) I was seriously regretting my decision, but eventually hauled myself out of bed and got a taxi all the way down 3rd Avenue to the Village East Cinema. In the 5am darkness it looked like a hobo camp had been established on the sidewalk; in reality it was a lot of nerds sleeping outside to see a show about a man with a police box. The line was already crazy long, extending half way along the block, but I found the end, introduced myself to my fellow line-mates, and sat down to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

All in all I was in that damn line for fourteen hours. My tweets for the day possibly reflect a level of ambivalence about the whole enterprise.

Tweet from 05:39am: "In line for @BBCAMERICA #drwho screening. Got here at 5am, 140ish in line. I'm possibly insane. Definitely sleep deprived..."At 9:45am I wrote:

"Feel like been here forever, has only been 5 hrs. Crazy respect for (slightly crazy?) people who slept here. 9 hrs to go! Hooray? #dwlinecon"People had started to line up from 4pm the previous day, which I think indicates the level of crazy fan-ness in that line. By 11am the line stretched along two sides of the city block, and had turned the corner and began to creep down the third side. By the end of the day the line stretched all the way around the block and came back to eat its own tail, as it were.

My view for most of the day?

Yes, that’s “Bad Wolf” written on the pavement.

The reactions of passers-by were equally friendly and cringe-inducing. For some reason people seemed to always stop directly in front of my area to ask what was going on, perhaps because none of us were dressed up and looked vaguely normal. The majority of those who stopped had never heard of the show, but a few had seen some of the old episodes.

Tweet at 10:44am: "Policeman just walked by, saw collection of dr who figurines: "that was the 70s? I was too busy drinking beer to get into that." #drwholinecon"Here’s a photo of the figurines in question, complete with a chick dressed up as Eleven, quizzical passers-by, and “Bad Wolf” scrawled on the pavement in chalk.

I sat next to an awesome family who were fine with watching my stuff while I went for wanders, got stuff to eat, and used the facilities. They also shared a similar level of enthusiasm as me for the entire day. I’ve never been to any “fannish” type events, and I think this whole thing confirmed that while I’m a person who is a fan of Doctor Who, I am definitely not a Fan with a capital f. I was just there to watch the episodes two weeks ahead of everyone else – if it hadn’t been a preview I don’t think I would’ve bothered, even with the cast Q&A afterwards. The family I sat with felt the same way. But a lot of people in line were hard-core in their love.

There was a lot of dressing up. Mostly Elevens (where do you even go to buy a fez?!) and Amys, with the odd Ten and Rose thrown in. Disappointing lack of Martha and Donna love. One guy at the front of the line was dressed up as Rory, which basically just meant wearing scrubs for 24+ hours. Comfortable, I guess?

Every five bloody minutes there’d be another person walking down the line with a fucking camera taking a video of the line. Several people did this repeatedly throughout the day. What was supposed to have changed I don’t know, but my god was it ever annoying. There was a girl who was fixated on getting an accurate count of the number of people in line who also had weird/disturbing/unintentionally hilarious stories about how a princess once tried to get her fired from Disneyland. As you do.

I was surprised by how young the crowd was, and how overwhelmingly female. Overheard a comment that the number of women who watch the show “is bad for Doctor Who” which is so mind-numbingly dumb I couldn’t think of an adequate response in time. The crowd was also very, very white. One possible explanation for why fans don’t like Martha? (ooh, controversial?)

Mid-morning Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darville came by the line to drop off donuts… but only came to the front of the line, so I didn’t get to see them. I did get a donut though, which was nice? From the photos I saw on twitter of them it was clear that all three of them were dressed in their typically fabulous hipsterish outfits.

By early afternoon there were mutterings that we wouldn’t get into the main theatre where the cast would be doing the Q&A because of the number of people who’d joined friends in line further up. Rumours had been going round all day about how many people could fit into which theatre, when the doors would be opened, whether we’d be allowed to leave once tickets were given out sometime later in the day. We were all getting fairly fed up by this point, and with some good reason – the entire thing was pretty shoddily organised, clearly on a very tight timeframe. Why they didn’t do online ticketing I still do not understand; making people wait in line for 14+ hours is a bit of a cruel joke.

At 2:30ish BBC America staff finally started to make their way down the line, giving out wristbands. It was a very close thing, but I did get a magic blue wristband that guaranteed me entry into the main theatre. There were only ten or so people behind me who also got in; after that people were given wristbands for entry into other theatres where the Q&A was simulcast.

In a further display of organisational incompetence, the wristbands were not numbered, so even though there were four hours to go we had to stay in line in order to both get in and get a good seat. But because I was sitting with awesome people I was able to escape for an hour and a half or so, and actually went back to my hotel room for a bit.

On my way back a familiar looking guy slowly rode past on a bike…

Crappy photo, but I swear that’s The Satorialist (aka Scott Schuman)!

Theatre staff started to come along the line at 5ish, asking people to only bring small amounts of stuff into the building – don’t want fire hazards etc. People in line seemed to interpret this request as a strange signal to start condensing the line, which meant that we all basically had to stand up for the last two hours, slowly inching forward to nowhere until everyone was jam-packed with nowhere to go.

The cast and Steven Moffat arrived in a Cadillac at 6:30ish.

(Photo from here.)

Of course I couldn’t see any of this because I was in a claustrophobic crush of people half a block away.

They finally opened the doors at 6.45. We had to raise our arms to show the wristbands as we went in, which made us look like a very white crowd all giving a Black Power salute.

And then we were in! Finally!

The Confidential crew were out and about, leading the crowd in a fairly lame chant of “DOCTOR WHO! DOCTOR WHO!”, complete with lame hand pumps.

And then! Finally! What we’d all waited decades in line for: the actual episodes. By the time I finally finish writing this post, the first episode wil have been broadcast in the UK and US, but not Australia (I think it’s on the ABC next weekend). So, as River Song would say, no spoilers, except to say that it was AWESOME. And surprisingly scary.

Here are some sneaky photos I took during the episodes:

(FREAKY DOUBLE IMAGE.)

After the screening came the Q&A with the cast and crew. The initial portion, hosted by Chris Hardwick was great – truly interesting questions that included everyone on the panel. All of my photos of this are pretty blurry and crap, but here are  a couple anyway.

It was only when questions were opened up to the audience that things got painful. “Oh my god I love you all so much and I’m literally crying right now but oh god I want to be an actress and I was wondering how I could get a job on Doctor Who?” “Like, I’m like a like writing student at like NYU, and I’d like to like get into like screenwriting, so like Steven Moffat would you like have any like tips for like someone like me?” Arrrrgggghhhh.

There was also some akwardness when someone asked a stupid question about why the cast wasn’t doing a signing afterwards. Tension was diffused by some awesome guy up the back who shouted out, “we just got to see the two new episodes, and the cast are here doing a Q&A! WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT, PEOPLE?!” Amen, brother.

Then… it was over and we all filed out (but not before we were held on the stairs for 10 minutes while something or other happened downstairs that we were clearly not allowed to see) into the night, some wearing the free Doctor Who caps we all got, and others Centurian helmets. As you do.

And that’s the very long story of how I went to New York and got my Nerd on. I’m glad I did it – story to tell hypothetical grandkids in 50 years time when Doctor Who is stil going, if nothing else. But I’m not sure I’d do it again, unless maybe I had someone to go with. The whole experience would’ve been a whole lot more fun if I’d had my friend Emma next to me, instead of emailing her every five minutes with updates from the line…

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2 Responses to “Epic Doctor Who recap post is epic”

  1. 1 Matt

    OK, I got so far in this post and then saw the link for “Gap Yah”. Yeah, left blog immediately and watched the video and then chundahed everywah.

  2. 2 justsomethings

    I did the same thing when writing the post. So good to re-live the comedy gold.


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