DOCTOR WHO IS SPECIAL (Part II)

DOCTOR WHO & FANS SUPPORT EACH OTHER!

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Doctor Who fans helped each other hang on during the pandemic; we were just following the fine example set by the folks who make the show. For me, it all began with Jodie’s message to the fans (in character as the 13th Doctor) reassuring them that they would get through this and urging them to “listen to the doctors.” While it was comforting for the young fans for whom it was obviously intended, the thought behind it was also heartwarming for the older ones.

Chris Chibnall continued to boost our spirits by posting a message on the BBC’s website at the start of the original lockdown: We’re living through some strange times right now. With people staying home, and families stuck together, I thought maybe a few little presents from Doctor Who might help. Something to read, together or alone. New treats, from the people who make Doctor Who. We’ll try and post things here once or twice a week…

Stay safe,

Chris X

True to his word, over the next few weeks the site featured new short stories from Russell T Davies, Steven Moffatt, Paul Cornell, and others.

Emily Cook of Doctor Who Magazine started “watch-alongs” of Doctor Who adventures. The BBC’s Doctor Who family quickly added their support, with writers, actors, and even showrunners supplying tie-in mini-sodes, animations, or short stories for the viewings.

Doctor Who extended its support beyond its fans. During The Big Night In (a special night of programming to “celebrate the acts of kindness, humour, and the spirit of hope and resilience that is keeping the nation going during the…pandemic”) ten actors who had portrayed the Doctor recorded a “thank you” for the NHS and frontline workers.

Several Doctor Who-related organizations not officially associated with the BBC also made material available to fans for free. Big Finish Audio provided “lockdownloads” for fans in April of 2020. Conventions made videos of past events accessible online. A quick search of YouTube turned up hours of mini-sodes, specials, interviews, and other material, some fan-made.

With such selfless examples, how could we not strive to be kinder to each other by creating sources to help fans through the self-isolation of that first year?

Our own Bob Brinkman had the brilliant idea of publishing the temporary fanzine Tales from the Matrix during the pandemic. He took on the massive job, with impressive results, while continuing to produce the Gallifrey Guardian. This led to a collaboration between DWCA members who had launched DR Productions Audio, which provides a showcase for fan audios and podcasts. Some of the stories in Tales from the Matrix were chosen to be adapted for audio. It was, as Bob referred to it, “the fruit of the multi-club associations forged during COVID.”

We, along with other fan clubs such as the Prydonians of Prynceton, began making much of our content available to non-member fans. GoG Blog posts were made that included trivia contests, instructions for crafts, and links to sites with more ways to pass the time in lockdown. No Doctor Who fan with internet access could complain of having too little content (from around the world!) to occupy their time. [My favorite link was to the “Homemade Who” video compilation.]

While keeping each other busy was helpful during times of social isolation, sincere and caring messages of encouragement gave us the strength to do what was necessary. Quite a few from the Doctor made it into the GoG Blog. The tagline on one of my early COVID-related posts was, “Until next time—stay strong, stay safe, and STAY HOME!” A rare personal note was included in my News column for the April 2020 issue of the Gallifrey Guardian: I know it’s rough out there right now, but we have a chance to save the world just by staying home! 

From Arthur’s Lord President’s column December 2020: On the Wholiday season, it’s all about the Fam. As we eagerly await a new adventure with the Doctor’s Fam, we must make a sad necessary change this month, for the safety of ours. Due to concerns of COVID 19, GoG cannot meet in person this month…A huge THANK YOU to everyone, for sticking with us…By blood or not, face to face or virtual, Fam is precious. Any way you can be with family, enjoy the season. And the Doctor, of course. A phrase that really touched me came from Bob, also referring to the cancellation of the WHOliday Party: “While we understand that many of you may be disappointed, we are missing one another now, so that when we gather next, noone will be missing.”

Was there a moment during this ongoing crisis when you were lifted up by the outpouring of love and support shown by the Doctor Who community? Share it with fandom; you might help someone else who needs a lift right now.

On a personal note, I would like to thank everyone who attends our meetings for being responsible and understanding, and helping to keep us all safe.

NEXT TIME: Charitable Who

(…and because this post seems a little too sentimental, here’s some fun–a link to a costume contest judged by Jodie Whitaker and David Tennant in June of 2020 from The Late Late Show with James Corden.)

‘Doctor Who’ Cosplay Contest w/ Jodie Whittaker & David Tennant – Bing video

WHY DOCTOR WHO IS SPECIAL (Part I)

For a while now (well, over a year—I’m the ultimate procrastinator!) I’ve wanted to blog about what makes Doctor Who different from other shows. It’s not just that the main character changes regularly into another person, or that conflicts are usually solved without the hero resorting to violence, or that the time travel format allows for a wider range of storylines, from straight historical to the wildest sci-fi. I’m thinking more of the community of people involved, both in front of and behind the camera (or the desk), and even the fans themselves. A recurring theme of both primary actors and visiting guest stars is how welcomed they feel.

Jodie Whittaker, on filming during the pandemic: …what was immediately reassuring is as soon as you got on set, no matter if the logistics or the face of the show seemed different because of masks and all of that, all of the heart and all the love was still there and it was still great fun. We were able to be safe as we could be and as caring as we could be and not lose the atmosphere on the set. It was such a pleasure to be around people, so I was delighted!

Jacob Anderson (Vinder from Flux) asked the difference between Doctor Who and other sets he’d been on: It actually feels like walking into somebody’s family home. Everybody knows and cares about each other and you can tell that this is a group of people who have spent a lot of time with each other and would choose to continue to. There are some people who have been working on the show for fifteen years and you feel that, but you can also feel Jodie and Chris’ influence on the environment.  It’s just a really welcoming, comfortable, warm place to work. 

He went on to talk about the fans: I tend to hide a bit whenever there’s any type of announcement but in the immediate announcement I saw some really nice “Welcome to the family” type tweets from Whovians, “Welcome to our crazy family, it’s going to be an adventure!” I really appreciated that and thought it was really nice.

Adjani Salmon (Nick from Eve of the Daleks) from an interview: It felt like we were welcomed into a family… The entire Doctor Who clique is like a family and a unit. It feels like a family working together and when we were in a high pressure environment it was still this synergy of everyone working and moving and getting it done. 

And in a Tweet: Working on Dr. Who was like going to a friend’s house for the holidays. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly.

The cast also seems great at keeping their spirits up and being responsible while working through the pandemic. No whining, no complaining, just acceptance of what must be done. In an interview with the Sunday Times last year, Jodie said: We’ve had to be very cautious with filming because we have a duty of care to everyone involved. Things are slower but it hasn’t dampened our energy on set. Everyone’s in the same boat: the world has to carry on during the pandemic while managing the risk.

[Previous comments of Jodie’s regarding the COVID crisis have appeared on this blog; see last year’s January 14 post.]

NEXT TIME: How the Doctor Who community supported each other during lockdown.

…and a few more pieces…

One: Here’s a blast from the past for my masquerade fans.

Can you guess what this is? Answer at the bottom of this post.

Two: I added a copy of the artwork mentioned in Chas’ MagiCon article to the Classic Guardians page. The hand-written number at the bottom is the page it appeared on in GoG’s ‘92 Yearbook. Yup, we had to hand-write the page numbers, as the publication was created on a word processor, not a computer. How things have changed!

Three: I received a Star Wars postcard from a friend and fellow Club member, complete with a Star Wars stamp. It got me trying to remember the last time I received personal physical mail that wasn’t a birthday or holiday card. Again, how things have changed! Years ago, the Guardians sent a mass-signed letter through the regular mail to the BBC suggesting they speed up the release of the Classic series episodes on DVD. We received a letter back that gave a very strong hint of the show’s return, so the Guardians had a little advance notice before the news hit the major fandom news sites. (Yes, we saved the letter in the Club records.) Nowadays, any communication would likely be online, as when we were contacted about having one of our members interviewed on a British TV news show. (See my August 13, 2021 post.)

Back to topic One: The photo is of my Millenium Bug costume, which I entered into a contest–not in 2000, but in 2001. As the MC read, “It was not until the clocks turned to 01-01-01 that computers in 7-11s all over Florida crashed.” True story; everyone was so paranoid about 2000, but the binary code caused no problem with that date. I finally took the costume apart recently, removing the CDs. Now I have a silver tarp with 80+ tiny holes and a LOT of CDs to recycle. Any suggestions?

More Bits

I recently finished reading A Life in Film: Peter Cushing and was surprised at how many of the actors, directors, writers, and producers I recognized from Doctor Who. While the section covering Cushing’s two Doctor Who movies (or should that be Dr. Who movies?) was relatively small, several references were made to the role throughout the book. Peter himself brought it up in an interview many years later.

I had just taken down my calendar from Cushing’s second Who movie, Dalek Invasion Earth 2150. (I purchase old Doctor Who calendars at Guardian auctions and re-use them. Every January, I check my collection for one that starts on the correct day for the current year and put it up in my home office.)

I also found out that the RiffTrax version of Dr. Who and the Daleks was on Amazon Prime. Three Peter Cushing references at once; is the universe trying to tell me something?

Not Who, but…

Visiting family just before Thanksgiving, I was concerned my being masked up might freak out the little kids, but I needn’t have worried. Wearing an N-95 mask, I walked into a room where the boys (4 and 6 years old) were doing some pretending. The older one looked at me and shouted, “Look out! It’s Darth Vader!” so I pointed at them and—in my best Vader voice—said, “Luke, I am your father.”

(I’ve been wanting to take a black Sharpie to an N-95 and turn it into Vader’s mask for over a year now—guess it wasn’t necessary!)

Orlando for NASFic 2023?

During our Zoom business meeting today, Juan* of the Orlando Area Science Fiction Society brought up Orlando’s bid for NASFiC in 2023. (Serendipitous, as I had learned of it earlier from http://www.file770.com and planned to make that the subject of my next blog.) The North American Science Fiction Convention is held only when Worldcon takes place outside North America. As Worldcon will be held in China in 2023, a group of fans has thrown Florida’s hat into the ring. The group has a Facebook and Twitter presence, with a “placeholder” page for a starter website.

In 1992 Worldcon, called MagiCon that year, was held in Orlando, and the organizers for the 2023 NASFiC bid are looking in the same area for a venue (i.e., near/at the Orange County Convention Center). You can get a taste of MagiCon on our “Classic Guardians” page with a newly posted reprint of an article by Charles from our 1992 Guardian Yearbook.

*Juan has attended so many WorldCons that in 2017 the Orlando Sentinel ran an article on his over quarter-century history with the global convention!

Bits and Pieces (not necessarily Who)

Danny Marie Elias, who runs Square Peg Studios, the prosthetics design firm used for Series 13 of Doctor Who, said the character of Karvanista was based primarily on Chris Chibnall’s dog.

Steven Moffat, in response to a suggestion at an Oxford Union Q&A, replied that he was on Grindr: “I’ve been on there for years because I find it fascinating. Unfortunately, everyone goes: ‘Oh, you’re the man who wrote Doctor Who.’ I’d never meet anyone off Grindr – I’ve got too much fear of being murdered…I write a lot about the modern world, and it’s very helpful. That’s why I read Twitter but don’t belong to it. I go on Grindr, but I don’t Grind.”

In Disney’s Encanto, doors open onto rooms that are bigger on the inside.

Ben Brainard, a (formerly local) stand-up comic, switched to making YouTube shorts during the pandemic with a series called “The Table.” In an episode about Georgia, a character talks about the ‘cult of the carpet’ and shows a very recognizable swatch from the hotel that housed DragonCon.

It was so good to have a Wholiday Party again, complete with trivia, an outdoor game, a piñata, and an auction. The Zoom business meeting was a nice addition, too, allowing members who could not be there in person to participate. Thanks to Arthur for humoring me with my (admittedly a stretch) dinosaur theme by supplying the trivia contest and related video choices.

Last-Minute New Year’s Spoilers!

In this New Year’s Doctor Who special, Eve of the Daleks, the TARDIS crew have to reach a solution to a time loop trap that decreases by one minute every time the loop is reset. The episode is set in a storage facility in Manchester at ten minutes to midnight. The Doctor has landed the TARDIS to repair the damage it incurred from the Flux. The villains of the story are referred to as “execution Daleks.” This new type of Daleks have slightly different weapons, which they use to get revenge on the Doctor.

Lovesick Nick and oblivious Sarah join with the Doctor, Yaz, and Dan in what showrunner Chris Chibnall has described as a “romantic comedy with Daleks.” Director Annetta Laufer said she wants the audience to be left with “a feeling of happiness and a warm glow inside. After all the heavy months we have been through, I think everyone deserves a bit of magic and cheer.”

Doctor Who Gifts for the Holiday!

I was busy with family last week, but I’m back to show off my new holiday goodies–and the mask cover I made from an old Club T-shirt to wear at the Wholiday Party.

Somehow I had missed Series 8 in my collection, but thanks to the Guardian auction, that has been remedied. (The Pat Troughton animated DVD was a gift from a friend and fellow Club member.)

I also was determined to outbid anyone for the TARDIS lamp, not just because of all the time and effort I put into painting the lampshade—three different types of paint!—but because in a darkened room it looks like this:

Cool, huh?

More Auction Items

Additional items for the auction this Saturday include:

Doctor Who Series 8, parts 1 and 2 on DVD

Series 9, part 1 on DVD

The entire series of Class on DVD

And this item…

The base was donated by Juan of the Orlando Area Science-Fiction Society and I found a lampshade that worked with it. There are a couple of surprise features to this item that you’ll just have to come to the party to see!

Auction Items!

Here’s a few pics of the items to be offered at the Guardian auction next Saturday. First, for Doctor Who collectors, we have several new books, mugs, and a bust of Captain Jack.

Next, a few offerings for Star Wars fans.

And finally–Bam! Pow!–for Batman afficionados:

I am still re-vamping a recent donation, so check back in a day or two for one more Doctor Who item!