The second day of our stay at the annual “Gallifrey One” Doctor Who convention in L.A. was nicely eventful.
Started off the day by getting into my “Stone Trek” Fred Flintstone/Star Trek mashup cosplay. Though Gallifrey One is primarily a Doctor Who convention, I’d seen other Star Trek cosplayers in attendance the previous night, so I was encouraged. Besides, the cast and crew were of the popular fan series “Star Trek Continues” were having a panel/autograph session later that day, and I was planning to meet them anyway, so it worked.
First up, I decided to attend (most of) a live commentary for the terrific 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special “Twice Upon a Time” in the main theatre. For those not familiar, a live commentary is basically the audio commentary track you can choose to listen to over a given movie/show as a Blu-ray or DVD bonus feature, except that, you guessed it, it’s performed live in front of an audience. In attendance was longtime (and recently departed) Doctor Who writer/producer/showrunner Steven Moffat, actor David Bradley (who flawlessly steps into the late William Hartnell’s shoes as the First Doctor) and talented British-American director Rachel Talalay. The commentary was quite funny at times, but there were many moments when the commenters would become so engrossed in the onscreen action, they’d simply forget to provide comments (oops!). With the audio of the program turned down to an inaudible level to better provide for their commentary, this became a bit frustrating at times. After about an hour or so, I moved on. A shame, since some of the live comments were brutally hilarious. Here’s hoping they record one for the DVD release (reminder to self: I need to pick that one up soon).
I then went on to meet two of the Doctors from Doctor Who; first up was the Seventh Doctor, the near-legendary Sylvester McCoy (who also played “Radagast” in the recent “Hobbit” movies) and the aforementioned new First Doctor, David Bradley. Bradley also played original First Doctor actor William Hartnell in the 50th anniversary Doctor Who biopic, “An Adventure in Space and Time” (2013). Bradley’s resemblance to the late William Hartnell is uncanny; it almost feels as though I met both actors in one man. The autograph queue for Bradley was somewhat longer than usual for Gallifrey One queues; and I suspect that had to do with his role on the wildly popular “Game of Thrones” (I’ve not yet seen a single episode of “Game of Thrones” but my wife loves it). Sylvester McCoy seemed a kindly soul; unassuming and good-natured. As likable a man as I’d hoped.
In all of my celebrity encounters at autographings, I try to abide by a simple rule; don’t be rude, and try to remember that you’re dealing with a human being and not a signature-making machine. Say something nice. Don’t try to embarrass them. Treat them as you would expect to be treated if the roles were reversed. Usually you’ll be met with equal courtesy in return. Sometimes you may not be treated well, but hey; everyone has bad days, too, even celebrities. The first thing I like to say to any celebrity I meet is, “How are you doing today?” Many of them are grateful just to be personally acknowledged, as would any of us. Maybe this is why most (almost all) of my celebrity encounters at conventions have generally gone well.
After getting the Bradley/McCoy autographs, I took some more cosplayer pictures; this is one of my favorite activities at conventions:
I then decided to break for lunch by scarfing down a bit of pizza (again; hey, it’s quick, cheap, and close by). Soon it was time to head back to the convention for the Star Trek Continues‘ panel. Yes, Gallifrey One isn’t just for Doctor Who fans. In fact, it’s rapidly evolving into a more inclusive general sci-fi/fantasy convention in the four years that my wife and I have attended. Personally I am very much okay with that…particularly since I was wearing a Star Trek/Flintstones mashup cosplay.
The Star Trek Continues (STC) panel was enormous; easily the largest single panel gathering I’d yet seen in the four years I’ve attended Gallifrey One. On the panel were writer/producer/director James Kerwin, producer Ralph Miller, makeup artist Lisa Hansell (whom I’d also seen recently at IMATS in Pasadena ), cast member Chris Doohan (some of the late original ‘Scotty actor James Doohan), Larry Nemecek (Star Trek author/expert/podcaster of Portal 47), STC actors Michele Specht (an absolute sweetheart), Gigi Edgley (whom I’d met at Comic Con), Rekha Sharma (also from “Battlestar Galactica”, “Star Trek: Discovery”), Cat Roberts (whom I’ve met at WonderCon a few times, along with her husband), Adrienne Wilkinson, Amy Rydell (whom I’d also met recently at IMATS; a very nice story there, too), Nakia Burrise, Tiffany Brouwer, Michael Forest (“Apollo” from TOS’ “Who Mourns For Adonais?”), Beau Billingslea (“Star Trek Into Darkness,” anime voice actor), and last but not least, Todd Haberkorn (the new “Spock”, and a voice actor I’d recently heard in “Shin Godzilla”‘s well-done English dub). Sadly unable to attend were STC’s mastermind, writer/actor/producer/renaissance man Vic Mignogna, and talented actress/writer Kipleigh Brown. They were missed.
Each member of the STC panel shared their own anecdotes about how each of them got involved with the project (most of them were persuaded through Vic Migogna’s pure, unfiltered passion for the project, it seems). Several cast members came late, but managed to add their stories as well. There were follow up questions from the audience, and the panelists then reminded everyone to meet them for the group signings afterward in the Dealer Hall, at Autograph Alley.
Autograph Alley is where my wife and I met up with the STC group. I’d previously gotten in touch with Michele Specht (whom I’d met many times at various conventions) via social media, and told her that my multi-talented wife had made special buttons (using a custom button-maker of hers) for the cast/crew saying “McKennah Lives” (that’s a bit of a spoiler, if you haven’t seen the 11th episode/finale). After taking some pics with Specht, Rekha Sharma (whom we’d long admired from her work on Battlestar Galactica), Chris Doohan and Todd Haberkorn (all of whom offered to pose with my “Stone Age-phaser” prop), we gave Michele the custom buttons and she loved them. Also got a chance to say ‘hi’ to talented makeup Lisa Hansell and Cat Roberts (who’s a doctor in real life, by the way!). Also nice to see Amy Rydell again (her mother played the “Romulan commander” in TOS’ “The Enterprise Incident”; a role her daughter reprised in STC’s final two episodes). The Star Trek Continues’ bunch are some of the sweetest people I’ve yet met in my decades of ‘conventioneering.’ Here’s hoping they all live long and prosper!
After that wonderful time spent with the STC cast, my wife and I managed to get in touch with our friend Jen, who (luckily) was attending the convention as well (yay!!).
Bit of backstory; I’d worked with Jen in retail for several years, and she is one of the wittiest, kindest people I’d ever worked with in 26-or so ass-kicking years of soul-crushing retail. She often made work a pleasure, even on the lousiest days. After leaving retail, she and my wife became fast friends on social media. As luck would have it, we’d packed a Doctor Who t-shirt we’d gotten specifically for Jen at Comic Con last summer (on the off-chance we’d meet), but had never gotten the chance to give it to her. So we met her in the Dealer Hall (just as I texted her asking where to meet…hehe), shopped the convention a bit, and proceeded to take a few more cosplay pictures.
Later that day, after we’d (finally) given Jen’s Doctor Who t-shirt to her, we decided to have dinner together (pizza yet again…hey, it’s quick and cheap; I’ll get back to my normal, healthier foods when we get back…). Catching up with Jen (in person) again was wonderful. We had a nice long conversation about fandom, movies, politics, you name it.
Jen? Thank you so much for brightening our weekend.
Earlier in the day, I’d once again ran into classic Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel (whom I’d met the previous night) and he really liked my Stone-Trek cosplay. He’d asked me if I’d return to his Dealer Hall table later on so that he could take his own picture. Well, of course I would; flattery will get me everywhere. Not to mention that Cartmel was a nice guy, and I was glad to do it. The previous night, I started digging into his book that I’d bought from his table, and it was great stuff. For classic Doctor Who fans who enjoy the Sylvester McCoy era as much as I do? Andrew Cartmel’s “Script Doctor” is indispensable. He really turned the show around; turning out some of the best episodes of the latter seasons of the classic show (“Curse of Fenric” and “Remembrance of the Daleks” being personal favorites).
After making a final sweep of the convention (my wife would later return for the masquerade ball and other activities), I went back to the hotel and crashed like a ’76 Ford Pinto in need of a brake job. I worked for a bit on this blog, but decided that I needed some quality vegging time instead; my pea brain was fried, and my arthritic old bones were aching…
Waking up this morning (Sunday, February 18th) and feeling a bit more like a human being (and not an arthritic dinosaur) I finish this second entry of my Gallifrey One experience thus far and present it to you, my valued reader.
So today I plan to head out to the convention a bit later, since there are no real pressing events for me to attend; and frankly, I’m too damn broke at the moment to seek any more autographs. My ‘plan’ is to simply see what I can see, and go where the day takes me. Sometimes, those sort of days turn up some of the greatest surprises.
As the Tenth Doctor (my personal favorite of the modern Who era) would say… allons-y!