Last night was one of the best nights of my life. Getting tickets to the Doctor Who World Tour was like trying to get tickets to see The Beatles in their prime. Of course, the venue is a lot smaller (being that it is a theater and not a concert hall), so there wasn’t an overabundance of tickets. However, Doctor Who has grown in fandom size significantly over the past few years.
I remember before they sold tickets to fan screenings in NYC, you had to wait all day on the sidewalk hoping you were able to get into the screening. The first one that I went to was in April 2011 (with Matt Smith, Alex Kingston, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, and Steven Moffat). I arrived around 9am with a few friends, and the screening didn’t start until 7pm. Well, when we arrived at 9am, the line was already wrapped around the block and my friends & I had just made it into the 3rd theater. Not the theater with the cast & writer. It was a simultaneous broadcast in the theater I was in, and they did show the Q&A, but of course we weren’t in the same room. I would say, “we may as well have been watching them online or on TV”, but the experience was fun, and sharing a theater with die hard fans made it all worth it. I would have done it again in a heart beat (although, maybe arrived a few hours earlier).
Three years later, the fandom has grown probably three times the size, if not more. I remember not even two years ago, you had to buy Doctor Who memorabilia online through BBC websites over in the UK, or perhaps at a comic book shop. It wasn’t easy getting your hands on figurines, sonic screwdrivers, a miniature Tardis or Dalek replicas. I made many friends through my love of Doctor Who. I even turned many on to the show, as I was turned onto it by friends of mine. It wasn’t easy coming across a fan randomly, but when you did it was generally an instant friendship. Now, you can’t walk into Hot Topic, Barnes & Noble, or any other nerdy store without seeing a plethora of Doctor Who merchandise. It’s both amazing and annoying. It’s very much a catch 22 for me because I really do love that Doctor Who has become so popular and is loved by many, but at the same time, I loved it a lot more when people didn’t just love it because it was the trendy thing to love, but because they actually loved the show. I understand this is starting to sound very hipsterish, “I totally loved Doctor Who before you did.” I can’t necessarily talk because I know tons of people who watched The Doctor before I was even born. I suppose I’m okay with its popularity (and easily accessible merchandise) as long as it’s fans that really do love the show, and not for the trendiness.
Anyways, last night was perfect. I was still in utter shock that I somehow managed to get tickets. I suppose I should thank my internet speed, and the fact that BBC America’s Doctor Who twitter account replied the direct link to a fellow Whovian. The tickets went on sale at noon this past Monday, but they didn’t post a direct link. On their social media sites, they had simply announced that tickets were now available on Eventbrite.com. Thousands of fans, like myself, frantically searched through Eventbrite.com to purchase the tickets. Nothing. I was actually sweating and felt as nervous as I do before job interviews. It was 12:01pm and I had lost hope. I kept refreshing, searching, but deep down I knew that I was too late. I went back to twitter again, and scrolled through the replies until my eyes stopped at a direct link and not just ‘eventbrite.com’. Without even hesitating I clicked on the link and quickly put in all of my information, clicked confirm and the message popped up, “You’re going to BBC America presents Doctor Who U.S. Premiere Fan Screening Event at Ziegfeld Theater!”. I’m sure I stared at my computer screen in disbelief, because not even a minute after that, tickets were completely sold out. Thankfully, a few friends of mine managed to score tickets as well. Not all of us were able to sit together, but I’m glad fans that are friends with the same level of enthusiasm as me were able to enjoy this event.
It was Thursday morning, and Chris (fellow Nerd-Base member) and I were well prepared for the long wait. Although we had tickets, we knew there would be a massive line because of course every fan wants good seats! Both of us agreed we didn’t want to uncomfortably sit on the sidewalk or stand in one spot for hours, so we purchased cheap folding chairs that we had to toss out before we entered the theater (you cannot bring chairs into the theater). We may have lost a few bucks, but it was worth it. We also brought lunch, snacks, and plenty of liquids. It almost felt like we were going on a hike, but we didn’t want to lose our spot in line because we were hungry.
We arrived around 1pm and the line was already about 30-40 people deep. It sounds like a lot, but it actually wasn’t too bad. We were still in the first portion of the line so we knew we were definitely going to get good seats in the theater. The set up was far more intricate than when I went in 2011. They had signs directing ticket holders (and non-ticket holders) where to go, complete with fences to control the lines, and security guards to check tickets when fans arrived. They even had a blue carpet (like a red carpet, but Tardis colored) and an official backdrop for the cast to take paparazzi style pictures as they pose. Thankfully, there was a Hilton Hotel directly across the street (with very nice and clean bathrooms). As long as you were there to begin with, people were cool about holding spots and the security guards were good at memorizing who popped out of line and who needed to be checked for a ticket. The security guards (who were very friendly) were dressed up in suits as if the president was coming to the event. I felt bad only because they must have been sweating to death in those black suits.
Three years ago, pedestrians would walk by and ask, “What is this for?”, last night they said, “You’re so lucky!”. That just shows you how big Doctor Who has gotten…it’s only been almost 51 years!
The staff of BBC America were also very friendly and were interacting with the patient fans waiting in line. Shortly after we got ourselves settled in line, a lovely young lady from BBC America handed out donuts to everyone in line, and soon after, another staff member handed out Doctor Who themed buttons! Another one came around with adipose pens! Also, they were giving away prizes by doing trivia questions with fans, and allowing fans to take selfies with some props like an adipose plush doll and a mini Tardis.
There wasn’t as many people cosplaying as I thought there would be…a couple of Doctors (4, 6, 10, 11). Although, two cosplayers stuck out in my mind, one being the Tardis. I don’t mean the blue police box, I mean when the Tardis turned into a woman in Neil Gaiman’s episode The Doctor’s Wife. The cosplayer’s outfit looked screen accurate and fantastic! Another one was a weeping angel. She looked amazing as well, but my heart sank a bit when I saw her in the non-ticket holder line. I do believe she got into the event (I’m not sure whether it was from BBC America or a fan with an extra ticket). That is dedication!
Speaking of Neil Gaiman, he was apparently at the event! I, as well as many other fans who follow him on twitter, saw a photo he had posted of him holding up the Doctor Who World Tour lanyard with the word GUEST on it. I thought for sure he would be called up on stage, or announced by Hardwick, but he wasn’t mentioned at all. After the event, a couple different people mentioned he was sitting near them. It’s pretty cool that he was there simply to see the new episode like the rest of us!
Around 6:30pm Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Steven Moffat had arrived in a stylish vehicle (which is custom for the cast of Doctor Who to do at the NYC screenings). Unfortunately, I was not able to see any of them since they were in the street and there were lines of people behind me (although, in this case, ahead of me). Not to mention I’m about 5’4, so the lack of height didn’t help much either. Even standing on our folding chairs didn’t help much. It was nice that the cast did take the time to sign some autographs and take pictures with those who were standing behind the gates. Especially since most of the people who got the pictures and autographs didn’t have tickets to the actual event itself. There was also a cyberman walking around the same area, and pretending to ‘delete’ the traffic that drove by. Another site I unfortunately couldn’t see too well, but still amazing nonetheless.
Doors were supposed to open at 7pm, but we didn’t actually get in until about 7:30pm. It wasn’t too much longer, but as 7pm approached, fans were getting antsy. They handed us our official tickets (which were awesome lanyards) a couple of hours prior. Along with a merchandise form to make things easier on both the fans and the staff when buying. A very smart move indeed.
As the line began to quickly move, my heart began to race. This was it! The words, “Don’t run!” was said to fans multiple times by both security and staff. There’s nothing wrong with speed walking though, right? The seats we grabbed were perfect. They were actually ahead of the press seats, but not too close to the screen where we had to strain our necks to look. Although, those who did grab the seats up front and suffered with neck pain did get to see Capaldi, Coleman, and Moffat up close. So, I guess it all depends what was more important to you.
Obviously, I can’t say anything about the episode because of spoilers (and because Steven Moffat would have our heads). I will say I haven’t been this excited for a Doctor Who episode since the Tennant era. This doesn’t mean that I had anything against Matt Smith’s portrayal as the Doctor. I just think that Moffat’s writing with Matt Smith’s personality just didn’t mesh properly. There were a few episodes that I do love (Vincent and The Doctor, The Doctor’s Wife), but for the most part, I watched his episodes once. With Eccleston and Tennant I know I’ve seen more than half of their episodes at least a dozen times. Again, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with the writing alone, or the acting alone, I just think that they didn’t work well together.
Capaldi’s Doctor is very funny, but with dark undertones. It reminds me a lot like Sherlock (which is also written by Steven Moffat) and is absolutely brilliant. It’s still the fun, witty Doctor that everyone loves and that kids can still enjoy, but the dark undertones of it makes it more enjoyable for adults as well. It also helps that Capaldi was already a huge Doctor Who fan as a young boy and an adult!
The episode that we saw (Deep Breath) made me laugh and made me cry. It was even more exciting because the whole audience cheered for different appearances, or things being said, or actions made. It set up the tone for the rest of the season and made me love Clara even more. If you’re not watching or recording this episode on the 23rd, you’re seriously missing out. The new opening credits theme is brilliant and refreshing as well!
When the episode ended and everyone stood up out of their seats to applaud, the cheers got louder as Chris Hardwick made his way up on stage to introduce Moffat, Coleman, and finally, Capaldi (who very obviously got the loudest cheers). It was very exciting seeing all of them from about 8-10 rows back. Chris [Hardwick] asked a few of his own questions, talked about the episode, and then the fans were able to ask their own questions. Unfortunately, not a lot of people were able to ask questions since the event started later than expected and Capaldi, Coleman and Moffat were traveling the world to different locations. I think they’re actually in Mexico right now.
I’m thrilled to have been a part of this event and will remember it forever. BBC America did a fantastic job running the event, and hopefully there will be many many more of these in the future!