Well, two out of three ain’t bad. Unless you count being groped by John Barrowman, which we very much do.
After turning in (read: passing out as soon as we queued up “Galentine’s Day” on Sage’s computer) at a decent hour on Friday night, we woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to take on Saturday. Note to future Gally attendees: you may feel pressure to stay up until the wee hours of the morning (many DO every single night of the con) but don’t be afraid to go to sleep. Seriously, the minute I made peace with the fact that it was okay to go to bed, the happier I was.
After I spent a couple of hours studying the schedule when Gally released it a few weeks before the convention, it turned out that Saturday was our lightest day when it came to official panels and interviews. (Me in an email: By no means do you have to do everything I say but I’m pretty certain this is what everyone will want to do. #Monica) But that’s the wonderful thing about this con: even when you DON’T go to panels, there is an abundance of things to do.
We took advantage of our free morning to both mentally prepare ourselves for our photo-op with John Barrowman and to make the rounds of the autograph tables. The great thing about the autograph tables, as opposed to photo-ops, is that you get the chance to have an actual conversation with them. Our first stop was the LOVELY Naoko Mori. We caught Naoko when she didn’t have a line at her table, which lead to us being able to chat with her for as long as we wanted. We congratulated her on unbuttoning her pants in the middle of her interview on Friday (“Guys, I had to.”) and commiserated about the weather on the East Coast, regaling her with the story of our dramatic race to LA the previous year (it never gets old). Sage promised to make a shrine for Tosh when she visits Cardiff later this year prompting Naoko to once again throw shade at the Torchwood-ian devotion to Ianto. (I genuinely wish that we had audio of the way she would say “Iantoooooooooooooooo.”) She signed Sage’s photo with a “Saaaaaaaage”, so clearly she knows how Paul McGann pronounces Sage’s name. As we said goodbye, Naoko chirped some incredibly sage advice, proving that she really knows what cons are all about. “Have fun! Get drunk! Kiss boys!” WE’RE DOING OUR BEST, GURL, BELIEVE ME.
Next, we moved on to Eve Myles’ table, where naturally we did some flailing over her work in season two of Broadchurch (SHE IS SO GOOD ON IT). Strangely, we did not ask her things like “Tell us EXACTLY how David Tennant smells” (HOW? We are failures). Instead, we spent most of our time gushing over James D’Arcy, who had been confusing/enticing us on a weekly basis with his dual performances as the shady Lee Ashworth on Broadchurch and the bumblingly adorable Jarvis on Agent Carter. She assured us that he is a delightful man and also thanked us for reminding her to watch Agent Carter. Our work is never done. She signed the Torchwood cast 8x10s by putting a halo over Gwen’s head and WANTING to draw devil horns on Jack (she also commented that Naoko’s signing of Sage’s name looked like “sausage”), so essentially, she’s a perfect human being and we want to be best friends with her.
Then it was onto the table belonging to our official con crush (aka the “Paul McGann Award”), Burn Gorman. This is why the Torchwood trio is perfect: Burn unknowingly landed the punchline to the joke unknowingly set up by Naoko. As Sage handed him her picture, he also read the way Naoko had drawn out writing her name. “Eve said it looked like she wrote ‘sausage’ instead of ‘Sage’,” Sage said. “Well, you know—” Burn began. “Oh no, this is boring.” “TELL US,” we shouted, and it’s a testament to his character that Burn did not flinch. “We’re anglophiles, we promise we won’t be bored,” Sage implored. “Well, we DO put sage in our sausages, so it’s very fitting,” he said bashfully, earning our love for life. After that, we geeked out about theatre with him, as he’s been living in New York while shooting Forever (and to THINK I quit watching, sigh) and seeing a good amount of shows. Sage continued her campaign to get every Whovian actor to do New York Theatre, while I commented on his somewhat unconventional casting as Bill Sikes in Oliver! on the West End. “Yeah, Cameron (as in McIntosh) wanted to go a whole different direction with the show and about halfway through changed his mind. I did bulk up quite a bit for that part though.” Then I told him that I had played Nancy in high school, and his response was “Of course you did! Look at you!”. I may have to get that compliment etched on my tombstone.
Lastly, it was off to Hurricane Barrowman’s line. We got to the table right as he was taking this picture. His assistant made fun of him because his tummy was hanging out…to which he retorted “HOW DARE YOU! I DON’T HAVE A TUMMY! IT’S FLAT!!” Because of course. We listened as he started composing his tweet, pondering exactly what to say. He settled on “I have a really long one but I want it longer.” Then *I* said, you should hashtag it “RibbonWhore”. He laughed and did that very thing. And proceeded to do so the rest of the weekend. You’re welcome, America. As he was signing for us, we showed him the picture we took with him at NYCC 2013 (the infamous BOOBIES picture) and warned him that we had a photo-op coming later and we needed to top it. He studied the picture and said “I might just have to grab them.” CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. We did our requisite flailing about Arrow (with John’s assistant pointing out Sage’s “Bitch with Wi-Fi” shirt to him) and told John we would see him for our photo-op. And boy, did we.
We’ve said it before, but the photo-ops are quick and dirty. There are a LOT of people to go through in a limited amount of time, so you have to go into your photo knowing EXACTLY what you want to do, be it something ridiculous or just having a good snuggle. We highly advise that when it comes to John Barrowman, you do something fun…because he’ll do everything short of kissing you. Gillian’s Lady Ten flashed him. Shannon wrapped her Fourth Doctor Scarf around him. Obviously Sage and I went for the boob and pec grab (with John being smart enough to change his expression to be different in our two pictures). He simply said “Turn around” to Michelle and then grabbed her boobs. And Kelly? Well she just said “Do whatever you want, John.” He replied with “Give me your leg,” and that’s how Kelly’s picture became the cover of a bodice-ripping romance novel. Where do we go from this collage, you guys? Only down.
After the photo-op, I was STARVING (all the virtual impregnation does that to you, after all) and craving a burger and fries. A group of us headed to the nearby Carl’s Jr., which is always a mistake. Note to future attendees, this is the slowest Carl’s on the planet. It took nearly a half hour for us to get our “fast food”. I was nearly crying from hunger by the time our food came. Note to self: always go to the Burger King that’s in the opposite direction from Carl’s. Don’t waste your precious time.
On our way back to the Marriott, I got a text from Sage saying “Whovian Feminism Meet-up on the patio in 15 minutes. Rachel Talalay is coming”. That’s right. The director of “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven” participated in an unscheduled event, talking with about 25 attendees, just because she had the time in her schedule that day. Honestly, things like this are what sets Gallifrey One apart from all the other cons: the guests are accessible and love talking with US as much as we love talking with them.
Rachel acknowledged that yes, gender parity behind the scenes on Doctor Who is troubling but she also recognized that there are a lot of factors at play that the fandom doesn’t realize. It’s not that Steven Moffat hates women (she had nothing but praise for him and the way he works), it’s that he is often constrained by things out of his control. One of the big reasons she was able to get her directing gig? Yes, she lobbied for it and was able to back it up with her resume…but she also had a British passport and therefore the show did not have to jump through all the hoops in order to get her a work visa. As was reiterated by Sage on her panel the next day (stay tuned for Kelly‘s post about Sunday), it’s very easy to lump 50 years worth of institutional misogyny on Steven Moffat’s shoulders since he is the current showrunner. Obviously, Moffat and the BBC SHOULD be pushed to hire more women and Rachel was very proud to be a representative of progress in that battle. She cared the most about just doing a good job as a director. To her, that was the most important thing. That she did her job well. Not that she did her job well “for a woman”. It was all very inspiring.
Other tidbits from Rachel:
– She read the script for “Dark Water” on a plane and FREAKED OUT at the Missy reveal. “I was dying that I couldn’t tell anyone!”
– She was very effusive in her praise for Michelle Gomez’s performance as Missy. She confirmed that the “Hey Missy, you’re so fine” bit in “Death in Heaven” was completely improvised. Initially she was panicked that Moffat wouldn’t allow it to stay in because of the money needed for song royalties. His response? “This is Doctor Who, we have the money.”
– Michelle Gomez was also desperately jealous that Rachel was there and had been texting her all weekend. Hey, Michelle, come in 2016, please.
– She told us that between takes Peter (aka PCap or PC on set) and Jenna would use that time to work on upcoming difficult scenes. Just the two of them. No one else. They are damn professionals.
– When asked if she would be returning for Series 9, Rachel remained mum. Which means probably yes.
After that awesomeness, we were lucky enough to get into the “Memories of Torchwood” panel. I say “lucky” because it was immediately following Barrowman’s Saturday panel. Another great thing about Gally is that they always schedule two panels with their headliners that are intended to be duplicate interviews and they institute an honor system that each attendee only choose one to go to so that everyone gets in and no one fights. The system has worked beautifully the past two years (we have always opted to go to the Sunday morning headliner panels) and it proves that 99.99% of Gally attendees are not assholes. So we had figured that no one would leave John’s panel with the rest of the Torchwood crew following him, but people did and thus we got to soak in more time with Eve, Naoko, and Burn. The panel was designed to go through the series chronologically and have the trio share their memories of each episode. Let’s get to the highlights.
– At the top of the panel, they broke the news to Naoko that John Barrowman was gay. “And Santa Claus isn’t real,” Burn added. “Wait, Santa Claus is gay?” Eve said. And that’s Torchwood, ladies and gentlemen.
– The filming of “Countrycide” was done entirely on location and thus resulted in some amazing stories. Eve recalled Barrowman showing up at her hotel room in freshly ironed Transformers pajamas (I would think she was lying about this but I know better) saying “Hey Evie, wanna go drinking?”. Her imitation of him is EVERYTHING and we haven’t stopped quoting it since.
– Eve also painted a picture of Barrowman being bored in the country, sitting in his chair on set, furiously flipping through a Hello Magazine (of COURSE he reads that) saying “I hate this shit.” Again, it was ALL in her impression of him.
– Burn continues to deny the stealing the bathtub story but methinks it’s sitting in his shiny new house that he just bought.
– The ultimate story of the panel is one that will change your perception of the “Random Shoes” episode. The episode focused around the “Dogon Sixth Eye”, so obviously there was a small round eye used as a prop. Eve recalled being on set with Barrowman and the eye had vanished. “I think I know where it is,” Barrowman said deviously. He walked toward her, made a face, and then said “I DEFINITELY know where it is.” That’s right. Right between the cheeks it was. Later, Eve had to hold said eye up close to her face and she was cringing. When the director asked her why she was having such a hard time with it, she exclaimed “No, but it’s been up Barrowman’s ass!”
– Forever a woman after our own hearts, Eve confessed that her big emotional moment in the season one finale was NOT acting but desperation for Fish and Chips day.
– Burn continued to comment on how weird-looking he was, completely unawares that the entire convention had the hots for him.
– One of the reasons everyone was hot for him? His pure understanding and respect for the Torchwood characters and the stories told regarding their sexuality. “They are who they are and they like what they like, and we’re not gonna judge them for it. And also they’re heroes.”
– Whenever she was asked about Broadchurch, Eve simply replied that she liked cats and Mexican food. She was that afraid of giving away spoilers.
– Later, when asked about dream roles, Eve said she wanted to be Wonder Woman. Yes, please.
– Naoko said they were often viewed as the red-headed stepchildren of the BBC Lot. They were always getting into trouble and causing a ruckus and it’s clear that they all relished that perception.
After that joyous panel we headed to our KaffeKlatsch with Jamie Mathieson. Sage referred to these as one of the “are you shitting me?” perks of Gallifrey One and I have to agree. Jamie wrote my two favorite episodes of Series 8, “Mummy on the Orient Express” and “Flatline”, and I get to spend a whole hour with him (and 11 other people) picking his brain and hearing about his process. Sign me the eff up. At first, Jamie seemed adorably befuddled that 12 people wanted to sit in a room with him (“So…do I just start talking?”) but he relaxed quickly and proved to be just as witty and charming and self-deprecating as we expected him to be. He confessed that he had been trying to get on Doctor Who since the end of series one. Talk about perseverance! He detailed what it was like to interview/pitch stories as a potential writer; essentially you pitch monsters and see if any of them catches the showrunner’s interest. He said he had meetings with Steven Moffat where he completely blew it and then he had a meeting where he pitched four different monsters…one of which eventually became The Boneless in “Flatline”. While he was working on that script, he was offered “Mummy on the Orient Express”, being told his only constraints was the train was in Space. His response to that offer? *Vigorous nodding* “Yeah!”
– Every panel has an asshole. We knew we had found ours when one guy piped up with “I may be in the minority here, but I thought your episodes were the best of the season.” (Um…kinda sure we all held his work in esteem or we wouldn’t be here, buddy.) He then proceeded to shit all over Steven Moffat, saying that he had lost his touch and that Jamie should take over the show (after writing two, yes, fantastic episodes but still TWO EPISODES). Jamie was incredibly graceful in handling that statement saying that Moffat pushed him into being better and helped him shape his episodes to fit perfectly into the overarching story of the series. After hearing Rachel Talalay express her admiration, Jamie’s comment further solidified to me the amount of respect that the creatives have for Moffat. Well, that or they are just too smart to talk shit about their boss. Probably a combination of both.
– “Mummy” was originally written to be a caper where The Doctor and Clara were just trying to have a chill getaway and trouble kept finding them. The train was also originally stopping at all the Seven Wonders of the Galaxy and shenanigans would occur. Then Moffat informed him of the…erm…dire state that Clara and The Doctor’s relationship was in at the end of the previous episode (“He always knew EXACTLY where they stood.”) and the episode took on the “one last adventure” concept.
– Sage asked him if Peter Capaldi was the type of actor who liked to talk to the writer about particular scenes. Jamie said that writers often feel useless on set because everything is essentially set in stone once the cameras are rolling (unlike our concept of what happens on American Sitcoms where jokes are constantly being rewritten). He assumed those kind of conversations, if they happened, happened between actor and director. He also added that PCap sent him a thank you note after “Mummy on the Orient Express” saying what a fantastic episode it was. I hope he cast that note in iron and mounted it on his wall.
– I asked him about The Doctor’s “I name you the Boneless” speech in “Flatline”, pointing out that it was the first real “I am the Doctor” moment of the series and it was a moment we had been waiting 9 episodes for. Did he KNOW that it would be that moment? He DID know it would be a hero moment for the Doctor, but didn’t realize it would be the FIRST. It made him quite happy that it was.
– Kelly pointed out the parallels in “Mummy” and “Flatline” regarding the attitude of people dying for the greater good and that while The Doctor always seems to be fine with this, Clara tells Rigsy that he DOESN’T have to die. Jamie pointed out that even at her most Doctor-like, Clara is still always going to be Clara and want to save people if she can.
– In the middle of the writing process, he learned that the episodes were going to air back-to-back, which helped him escalate Clara’s building addiction to the Doctor and her increasing pile of lies. It gave a wonderful sense of consistency to the arc, IMO.
– He did admit that the “I could never hate you” scene in “Mummy” came from Moffat. He wished he could take credit for it.
– Since we were getting specific and nitpicky and because I HAD to know, I shamelessly asked if the “I love you” Clara says on the phone to Danny whilst staring at the Doctor (and the Doctor reacting to it) was intentionally written that way. He said that it was entirely a choice made by the director and actors on set, as they clearly saw it as a chance to ramp up the tension. So all you vidders sent your love letters to Douglas Mackinnon for that moment.
– Said asshole in our group kept talking about how he’s worked in TV and has been on set for things and NO Jamie is not going to give you a job, be quiet.
– The question on EVERYONE’S mind was whether or not Jamie was returning for series 9. He would neither confirm or deny anything, which we all know means yes he is.
– As the hour drew to a close, he mentioned that he was good friends with Peter Harness. His face when we said we had been dying to grill him over “Kill the Moon” was everything. “Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaah…be careful we’re mates!” “We would have been NICE about it,” we replied. We WOULD have.
Afterwards, some of our group made their way to the art auction to see if they won their items and that’s how Sage ended up having to carry this on her flight home…
Saturday night at Gallifrey One is all about the Masquerade. We did it last year and decided that once was enough. While it is enjoyable seeing all the cosplay onstage (and the intermission game of “Just a Minute” is a BLAST), it’s USUALLY cosplay we’ve seen over the course of the weekend already and the queue to get good seats took a BIG chunk of the evening time. So this year we opted to get the most out of our free happy hour at the Embassy Suites, get gussied up for the dance party following the masquerade, and then take advantage of the fact that most of the con-goers were occupied and eat at the Marriott Sports Bar for dinner. It was a wise decision indeed, as there were no crowds AND Burn Gorman was dining two tables away from us. We just subliminally sent messages that we loved him because we respect everyone’s right to eat their chicken fingers in peace.
After dinner, we hung out in the lobby while waiting for the masquerade to finish up. I joined the ladies after chatting with some pals outside (the WEATHER this year…divine) and did a double take when I realized they were talking with none other than Rachel Talalay. It turns out that Rachel had been passing by and Gillian, ever the most precious blueberry, had said “We love you, Rachel,” and she effing stopped and came back to talk. She gave us the scoop on her current project, which is a film based on a Canadian Serial Killer that sounds fascinating. She also told us that PC’s Doctor jacket is quite touchable, so we have that little nugget to file away. At the end of our conversation, she apologized for taking up so much of our time, which was adorable, since we felt we were monopolizing HERS. She’s the best, you guys.
Once the masquerade was over, we patiently (or not so patiently) waited while all the chairs were struck for the dance party. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep outside while we were waiting and I BLESS my friends for deleting the sure-to-be-unflattering pictures they snapped of my nap. I don’t know what was up with my energy level this year, you guys. Con life is exhausting! Finally it came to the point where it looked like they were ready, but there was no one in the party yet. So we took it upon ourselves to LITERALLY start the party. And what a party it was.
Apparently the Dance Party had taken a hiatus for a couple of cons and I sincerely hope it never does so again. In fact, we would be happy if they added smaller scale dance parties EVERY NIGHT (not in the main room because we don’t wish the striking of the chairs on the staff every night). Dance and music are the great unifier and it’s fun for EVERYONE as opposed to sitting in the karaoke room for three hours waiting for your song to come up. (Did you think I was going to write a post without throwing shade at the karaoke politics? You thought wrong.) The theme of the dance party was BritPop, which meant everything from The Beatles to One Direction to Queen Billie Piper. The best thing was the people dancing in full cosplay. We had a Willy Wonka (okay sure) and a TARDIS Playboy Bunny clear the floor as they busted some ballroom moves. There was a requisite Drunk Ten flailing about (not OUR Drunk Ten from last year, who we desperately tried to find) and there were plenty Drunken Giraffes. But the highlight of the party was this woman, in full Missy regalia, getting down to “Uptown Funk”. The entire room chanted “Go Missy! Go Missy! Go Missy!” while this woman got her groove on with complete and total abandon. Michelle Gomez would be so proud.
Michelle Gomez would be SO PROUD. #Gally1 A video posted by Head Over Feels (@headoverfeelsdotcom) on
Because we are us and we party HARD, we stayed until just about the bitter end of the party (seriously, my ankles were so swollen afterwards I had a serious case of cankles going on). But we remained aware that we had a big day the next day that was kicking off with Barrowman’s mainstage panel. Deliriously happy, we retired to the Embassy Suites. Stay tuned for Kelly’s breakdown of Sunday!