Disney may think they’ve got that “happiest place on Earth” business on lock, but allow me to disagree. I see your long lines and $8 ice cream bars and I raise you 3.5 FULL DAYS of programming; 3600 Whovian compatriots; and one healthy grope by John Scot Barrowman. This…is Gallifrey One.
Last year was a milestone: this blog’s first trip to the con, which is America’s largest Who-fest. But this year was our first SECOND trip, significant because of what was the same. The LAX Marriott lobby was just as we left it (except for the Starbucks finally accepting gift cards – IMPORTANT); we already knew how to best tackle the schedule and the floor plan; and – this is the raddest part – we were reunited with so many fandom friends. Gally is going to feel more and more like home every year; and I pity anyone who would dare try to stand between us and our annual pilgrimage.
There’s almost too much to report, so we’ve again joined forces with Kelly of The TV Mouse to bring you OT3 coverage of the convention. (For more goodies, make sure to hit up our Instagram feed. It gets a serious workout at cons, because cosplay. Cosplay everywhere.) Ready for a run-down of Thursday and Friday? Then Al-to-the-friggin’-lons-y.
Ice Cream Social/Lobby Con:
We learned many things – about snow, about airports, about ourselves – in last year’s mid-blizzard dash to Gally 1. The most important lesson? LEAVE A BUFFER DAY. The east coasters of our party peaced out of sub-zero NYC early Wednesday morning, leaving us plenty of time to get to LA, buy all the boxed wine, house some Griddle pancakes, have a ladies night on the town, and settle in to our home base, all before the convention even started. By the time the first official Lobby Con rolled around, we were well-rested and even tan-lined. (Side effect of sunbathing next to Doctor Who producers – a thing that happens at Gally.)
What IS a Lobby Con? I’m glad you asked. Lobby Con is an amorphous group hang. It’s anywhere and everywhere (not just limited to the lobby, as you might assume); anything that’s unstructured fan-ish chill time can safely be called Lobby Con. Lobby Con is where you and yours make yourselves available to reunite with old friends, meet new ones, and exchange Gally’s most valuable currency: badge ribbons. Thursday is a veritable feeding frenzy for badge ribbons, since most attendees have a bag or two of freshly printed ones burning holes in their pockets. (And maybe some Twelfth Doctor valentines.) Word to potential future Gallifreyans: ORDER THEM. Ribbons are not an inner-circle kind of deal; if you come without any to trade, I guarantee you will regret it. Decide on your content (most are graced with Doctor Who quotes, but it’s not unusual to receive a few with Torchwood, Sherlock, or even Firefly references) and use RibbonsGalore to lay out the badge ribbon of your dreams. With your own shinies to exchange, you’ll end up with a train as long as the Fourth Doctor’s scarf. (Another piece of advice: bring duct tape to reinforce those suckers!) By the way, shout out to the LAX Marriott for so many things, but especially for being so cool about hundreds of costumed weirdos taking over their common space, often until dawn. You the illest.
On night 1, Lobby Con spills over into a new-ish Gally tradition: the ice cream social. There are few better ways to meet your social media buddies IRL than over some free dessert.
Strengthened by our chocolate chip and sprinkles, we resolved ourselves to brave the karaoke room. Always a mistake. Despite signing up early in the night, we spent much of the evening lolling around on the conference room floor, waiting for our song and watching the same table of locals sing over and over again. For such an inclusive con, the karaoke room is a clique-y anomaly. And our frustration over the reliable shenanigans had a negative effect on Gillian and my duet of “Take Me or Leave Me.” (Yep, it was the “frustration.” I’m going with that.)
What makes this all bearable? CON CUPS. Gally is about as family-friendly a con as you can get; and by no means will anyone who’s not imbibing be laughed out of the hotel. But if you do choose to booze, bring your own. (I recommend the Trader Joe’s boxed red – affordable and tasty.) We were unable to snag a room in the actual Gally hotel, so each night before we left the Embassy Suites across the street, we filled up our plastic mason jar sippy cups from CommuniCon (THANK YOU BRITTLES) with that sweet nectar. Alternatives are the lobby sports bar for a decent list of draft beers; or the limited selection at the Marriott’s pop-up bars. Both can be pricey. An alternative alternative is to make nice with the major league Gallifreyans, who never travel without a full bar set-up. (They’re real and they’re spectacular.)
ALL THE COFFEE, ’cause it’s the first full day of Gally 1!
Your OT3 bloggers were up and at ’em early on Friday to get a decent spot in the Kaffeeklatsch line. Kaffeeklatsches are otherwise known as “Are You Shitting Me?” sessions (by me alone), because they are included with your badge and give you intimate access to some of the coolest creative people at the convention. (Are you shitting me?) The programming track takes place in the Marriott board room; attendees can sign up to join an hour-long roundtable chat with the guest of their choice. (Plus, sign up as an alternative for another.) The attendance is limited to twelve people, so the experience is rich and unique. Our #1 choice was to be in the room with series 8 writers Jamie Mathieson (“Mummy on the Orient Express”, “Flatline”) and Peter Harness (“Kill the Moon.”) Unfortunately, Peter fell ill before Gally and had to cancel, so he was spared our grilling over an episode that put the “problem” in “problematic.” (You get off easy this time, Harness. Hope you got well soon though, kisses.) Our spots secured in Jamie’s sesh, I also opted to list as an alternate for the conversation with Arwel Wyn Jones, only the imagination behind the entire visual identity of Modern Who and Sherlock. More on that later.
From there, we took spots in the Main Ballroom for the welcome session, “Good Morning Gallifrey One.” Organizer Shaun Lyons took the stage to say hey, pre-preemptively thank the guests, and tease some “changes” to next year’s ticket process. (GULP.) That led nicely into the Radio Free Skaro panel, where the popular podcasters chatted with Jamie, writer Phil Ford (“Into the Dalek”), special effects supervisor Danny Hargraeves, and more. Some highlights:
- Phil and Jamie spoke about attacking their scripts without the benefit of Twelfth Doctor casting knowledge. After a few drafts, Moffatt hinted to Jamie that the new guy would be a bit of a grump and slightly older, so – as anyone would – he started to write for Gregory House.
- Peter Capaldi hung out on set even on days that he wasn’t working. He’s so excited to be our Doctor, you guys.
- Danny is well aware that he has the “coolest job in the world.” Though maybe Peter would fight him on that.
- Danny made everyone feel the feelings when he told us that during the filming of “End of Time,” the set was cleared for an hour so that David Tennant could privately welcome Matt Smith to the TARDIS. Oh, to be a fly on the round things.
- Matt Smith’s first job as the last of the Time Lords was to not die. Danny set up the console room explosions and then gave him the directive that had to be this post’s title: “Just stand still, and welcome to Doctor Who.”
- To no one’s surprise, the drunken giraffe is a klutz. “Matt Smith broke everything. You would give him a cup of tea and he would break it.”
- Capaldi was the one to suggest the jelly baby line in “Mummy.” He is truly the chosen one.
“The Impossible Girl” Panel
Let’s talk about Clara, man.
Kim and Kelly were panelists for this session, joining Nerdist’s Kyle Anderson, Karen Park, and star moderator/Verity Deb Stanish. The topic was Miss Oswald, who is about to become the longest serving modern companion. She’s a polarizing figure in the fandom because she (gasp) dares exercise her free will, without permission and with varying results. Most of the panel agreed that her complexity makes her a compelling character; the dreaded “U” word raised its ugly head. The theme of the conversation became: Is Clara Oswald “unlikable?” What does that word even mean? And if she is, by that definition, why should we care?
- Let me say (with considerable bias that you should ignore) that Kim and Kelly were persuasive and articulate up on that dais, even when the conversation’s tone got a little dicey. Whether you believe that Clara takes advantage of the Doctor or nah (though how a human takes advantage of a 1200 god-like being you’ll have to explain to me), that relationship should absolutely not be compared to one of physical and emotional abuse.
- After that comparison was made, a guy in the front row suggested that blood was visibly coming out of Kim’s ears, which is entirely possible.
- Kyle put the main reason for my newly re-invigorated love of this show into words by comparing the “plot twist” who traveled in the TARDIS in series 7B to the living, breathing human we got to know in series 8.
- Kim postulated that Clara is so hurt by the Doctor abandoning her in “Kill the Moon” because she chose to stand by him while he pressed the button in “Day of the Doctor.”
- Karen did have a point that much of the room agreed with when she protested that Clara and Danny’s relationship was never quite believable. I lean towards Kelly’s interpretation of it, which is that Clara assigned more meaning to that relationship than it really deserved so that she could claim a grip on her “real life.”
- Kim talked about what being a teacher tells us about who Clara Oswald actually is. This occupation ties in with her identity like being a nanny absolutely didn’t. (Remember how Amy Pond was a MODEL? Sigh.)
- When asked by an audience member why the Doctor continues to forgive and help Clara after she “betrays” him, Kelly drops the mic with, “I never know why, I only know who.”
- I’m impressed at how calm Kim was when answering the audience member who asked if anyone on the panel ships the Doctor and Clara. (“And see me after for fan video recommendations.”) I’m also impressed with me, Whouffaldi Patient Zero of our friends group, for trapping you all in my web.
Clara drama continued throughout the weekend. More on that from Kelly and Kim. A preview: we get heated defending a lady’s right to be the main character in her own life story.
Arwel Wyn Jones Kaffeeklatsch
Arwel came straight to Gally after wrapping Sherlock‘s first Christmas special, making him a pinata full of super juicy set secrets. He stayed strong though.
- David was very, very hard on his poor TARDIS. After series 2, Arwel and his team had to reinforce the console to defend against the Scottish Destroyer.
- 221B’s wallpapers come from a specialty warehouse. They’re vintage, and quantities are limited. Arwel has no idea what he’ll do when it’s gone. Someone please keep Sherlock from getting bored. #SavetheWallpaper2K15
- Arwel puts his son’s initials into every set he dresses. You can see them most clearly, he says, in the graffitied wall of the space station in “The Impossible Planet.”
- His wife Claire Pritchard (the shows’ hair and makeup supervisor) was also supposed to be chatting with us that afternoon. But she was stuck in traffic after meeting with Kurt Sutter to head up the team for his new series, so she is very forgiven.
- Now that his friend is officially Doctor Strange, Arwel is not above hitting Benny C up for those Marvel gigs.
- This isn’t really a spoiler, but fair warning that I’m going to bring up a detail about the Sherlock special….since the time period is shifted, the design team had to essentially create the Victorian version of the regular series sets. Most difficult and important: identifying the perfectly armchairs for the flat.
- Confirming what everyone on Tumblr already knew: yes, props often make the jump from show to show.
Kill the Moon Live Commentary
Like I mentioned above, writer Peter Harness wasn’t able to make it to LA. So the live commentary put in the very capable, enthusiastic hands of Ellis George (Courtney Woods). And believe me, this girl can fill a room. She offers the same kind of commentary I would in this situation. “In this bit, I’m actually really proud of my hair,” was one memorable tidbit. “I took the socks. They were the comfiest socks,” was another. And my favorite: “I love this scene, because Clara wasn’t afraid to stand up to him.” Wanna be on the next Impossible Girl panel, Ellis?
An Interview with Naoko Mori
Naoko Mori came straight to her mainstage interview after wrapping a meal at In ‘N Out, so she was a pinata full of Animal-Style fries. She unbuttoned her pants halfway through. My hero.
Gallifrey turned out to be quite the Torchwood reunion. Naoko (Tosh) was there, as was Burn Gorman (Owen), Eve Myles (Gwen), and of course, Hurricane Barrowman (Jack). Lovely humans, all of them, and clearly still great friends. I started a series rewatch as soon as I got home. Anyway, here are highlights from Naoko’s solo panel.
- Friendly reminder that Naoko is not only tight with the AbFab ladies, but also THE SPICE GIRLS. (She was the pregnant friend in Spice World! “How’s bebe?”) When asked about her favorite, she shouted out Victoria (“hilarious”) and Geri (“she still looks amazing”). But she loves them all.
- Torchwood was not Naoko’s first time working with John. They appeared in a production of Miss Saigon together, creating a bit of an unfortunate pattern. (“Every time I work with him, I die.”)
- Also, Barrowman used to be a bit more reserved. (“He didn’t used to be like this. Something happened to him.”) Eccles? Tennant? You guys wanna field this one?
- When she got the script for her role on Doctor Who, Naoko was in the Catherine Tate camp. She knew nothing. “There’s a word I don’t understand in the script: T-A-R-D-I-S?” Her agent had to put the phone down to collect himself.
- Naoko’s next project is Everest, which has a sick cast of rugged hotties. “I have a thing for beards.” Same.
- Naoko is understandably a little put out that Ianto has a shrine and Tosh doesn’t. “It’s allllll about Iantooooo…but he’s not here.” I swear, I’m bringing some white roses and an old keyboard when I go to Cardiff this fall. And condoms for Owen.
An Interview with Burn Gorman
SPEAKING OF OWEN.
Dr. Owen Harper was the sarcastic, cynical asshole of the Torchwood team, and so my runaway favorite. When his block of Gally guests was announced, Kim mentioned two or three of the other names to me on gChat. When I looked at the full announcement, I chided her for burying the lede. BURN frackin’ GORMAN.
- “I’m a Gallifrey virgin. But you all seem very nice. And quite sexy.” The man knows how to start a panel.
- On being typecast as kind of a dick: “I mean, what are you gonna do with this face?” Okay, confirmed that he has no idea how adorable he is. (Don’t worry, Eve Myles is on this. Just wait for Sunday.)
- Burn told us that he stopped looking at fan fic “a long time ago.” But he DID LOOK and that’s the important thing.
- The lights flickered out for a moment and Burn was right on top of it: “Grab the person next to you and squeeze VERY hard. Now’s your chance.” (He made did it clear that this was a joke. #CosplayIsNotConsent #NoTouchy #DontFeedMeNoLinesAndKeepYourHandsToYourself) When the lights came back on: “That was EMOTIONAL.”
- Torchwood was an interesting project because it explored “the gray areas” of people. None of us are all good or all bad. We’re just people.
- “Only strange people like Owen.” I’m 1000% fine with this.
- There is a rampant rumor that Burn attempted to steal a claw-foot bathtub (???) while they were filming “Countrycide.” He denies it vehemently, but where there’s smoke…
- “In the end, they didn’t sue.” Burn’s comment on the Bathtub Incident, also Torchwood‘s potential subtitle.
- Burn’s wife rang during the panel and he asked our permission to take the call. (As if we would deny this precious cinnamon roll anything.) They got the house! He did a victory dance on stage. Housewarming rager at Burn’s, y’all.
Classic Companions Panel
A shit show, in the best possible way.
- When you think about how long these people have known each other, it’s no wonder that they’re so difficult to control on a panel. “Right, behave.”
- Carole Ann Ford’s (Susan) only regret from her surprise appearance at the last Doctor Who BBC Proms was not greeting Matt with “Grandfather!”
- Wendy Padbury (Zoe) has the best haircut in 50 years of companions.
- Frazer Hines (Jamie) jumped offstage and into the audience to ask the first question. I…I don’t think they even need us.
- Janet Fielding (Tegan) is a FEMINIST HERO and takes no shit and has no problem calling out sexist producers even if they’re dead.
- Again, the classic ladies show nothing but love and respect for Rose Tyler. So many of them saw in her what they wanted their companions to be.
- Sophie Aldred (Ace) is the only one who seems satisfied by the amount of ass she got to kick.
- Seriously, can we hand it to all of these legends for looking AMAZING? There’s something in the water over at Classic Who.
Srs bsns done. Time for lobby pizza and TARDIS photo shoots.
**Psst: You can listen to that podcast here.
Can you believe we have TWO MORE DAYS of this? What a life. Kim and Kelly’s posts are coming soon.