Gallifrey 23: The Wrath of Con
By Kyle Anderson on February 20, 2012
After a year of waiting, Gallifrey One’s “Network 23″ has come and gone. But what a weekend! The convention brought in over 3,000 people over the three days to revel in the love of Doctor Who. Nearly every facet of fandom was explored from costuming and cosplay to podcasting to action figures, and if you’re one of those weird people who just likes the show and wants to know some behind-the-scenes stuff about it, you had plenty of that this weekend too. It was a chance to cut loose with fellow nerds and see some Who people in the process. The people are what makes Gally such a wonderful convention. The staff and volunteers are some of the friendliest, most helpful people you could hope to meet and their enthusiasm always translates to happy guests and happy attendees.
The programming for this year’s convention was truly fantastic. The guests last year were wonderful, but I was particularly impressed by the diversity of this year’s lineup. There were members of the cast and crew from nearly every decade of the show, each offering their own perspective. There were writers from Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well for panel discussions and commentaries to expand the experience. In addition to these, there were also panels focusing on specific aspects of not only the show but various other related nerdly exploits as well, like doing your own web series, crafting, and fer realsies outer space.
Costuming and cosplay were a huge focus this year, and it was immensely impressive to see how creative people got with their wardrobe. The yearly “Masquerade of Mandragora” highlighted some of the most elaborate and detailed. Some of my favorites included three different generations of Cybermen, a super screen-accurate Morbius monster costume from 1976′s “The Brain of Morbius,” and a giant Adipose which was both adorable and disturbing. Matt Mira and Chloe Dykstra from Nerdist Industries were on hand filming a piece for Nerdist’s new YouTube channel (launching in April) which will showcase the con’s various awesome costumes, so be on the lookout for that when it drops. Our Nerd and Master Chris Hardwick was there as well, being a super swell guy and meeting fans.
The convention was packed with things to do and see, so it was impossible to attend everything. I went to as many things as I could and enjoyed each of them. Some of my favorites included:
- A live Radio Free Skaro podcast which started the convention on Friday, wherein Steven, Warren, and Chris, the three amiable Canadian chaps who host, chatted with Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Barnaby Edwards (Dalek operator), Simon Fisher-Becker (Dorium Maldovar), Toby Haynes (director of “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” “A Christmas Carol,” & “The Impossible Astronaut/The Day of the Moon,”) and Gary Russell (author, script editor, huge megafan). It also featured a live episode of the 2 Minute Time Lord podcast, hosted by Chip.
- “Doctor Who in the Sixties.,” wherein the aforementioned Gary Russell interviewed three people who made the early days of Doctor Who what it was, William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Maureen O’Brien (Vicki), and Waris Hussein (the show’s very first director). The stories these people had to tell were astonishing. Mr. Hussein detailed the struggles he, producer Verity Lambert, and series creator Sydney Newman initially had in getting the series off the ground, which was particularly enlightening. William Russell is 87 years old and is as spry as a spring chicken, and told delightful stories from being one of the very first cast members, and Maureen O’Brien, who joined the show in the second season, seemed completely astonished herself learning these things along with the attendees. And of course, they all had plenty of stories to share about First Doctor William Hartnell and what an irascible old coot he could be.
- The TV Movie Reunion Panel. Actors Paul McGann (The Eighth Doctor), Daphne Ashbrook (Grace Holloway), and Yee Jee Tso (Chang Lee) and producer Philip Segal talked with moderator Charlie Ross about their experiences making the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie, Segal’s attempt to reignite the series, which was sadly never more than a one-off. Segal in particular talked candidly about all the many hoops he had to jump through to finally bring the show back, seven years after it had been cancelled.
- “More Magic of Doctor Who Music.” The sequel to last year’s excellent panel about the music of new series composer Murray Gold, this panel talked about the evolution of the theme song, some distinct musical features of each decade, and examples of the different scoring methods. My girlfriend happened to be on this panel, but this is not the only reason I liked it. The music is an integral part to the success of the series and I love learning about it, given I knew next to nothing about that stuff.
- Live Commentary of “Let’s Kill Hitler” with director Richard Senior and Gary Russell. Senior is the youngest director in Doctor Who history and his enthusiasm over getting to be a part of the series was palpable throughout the episode. He talked about getting the most out of a small budget and the fun of making Swansea look like Nazi Germany, pointed out continuity errors, and said how utterly gobsmacked he was when he first read Steven Moffat’s crazy script. Excellently enjoyable 45 minutes.
There were tons of panels I didn’t get to go to and wished I had, like the “Day of the Moon” live commentary with Toby Haynes and Mark Sheppard (Canton), the “Inspector Spacetime” panel discussing Community‘s version of Doctor Who, panel discussions with Louise Jameson (Leela) and Richard Franklin (Capt. Mike Yates), and a thing about the state of Science Fiction on television. There’s literally never a lack of things to do, see, and buy at Gallifrey One, so if you’re bored, it’s your own damn problem.
If you’re a Doctor Who fan, there’s pretty much nothing better. I was so happy to see friends I’d met last year as well as meeting some brand new ones. It’s a weekend of getting to spend time with great people and see some super cool stuff. I bought a pass to next year’s convention already. How could I not? If you go to Gallifrey One once, you’ll be a lifer.
Pictures provided by my beautiful girlfriend Emily. For the rest of her great pics from the weekend, check out her Flickr page.
-Kanderson is already dreaming about next year. Follow him on TWITTER