Picking up where she left off in Part 1 of the Friday Report, Violet continues her recap of Day 1 at Gallifrey One 2016, the annual Doctor Who convention, which took place February 12-14, 2016 at the LAX Marriott.
Live Commentary: Flatline
We went to a live commentary of Dark Water last year during which the episode’s director, Rachel Talalay, had provided commentary. I really enjoyed hearing all the behind the scenes info, so I was looking forward to attending a couple of live commentaries this year. Due to some last minute schedule changes, the Flatline live commentary had moved from Sunday morning to Friday afternoon, and having just attended the Kaffeeklatsch with the episode’s writer, Jamie Mathieson, it made me all the more excited to hear his commentary.
The Flatline live commentary took place in the main room, Program A, at 4:15pm. What happens is that the entire episode plays on screen with the volume a little low, while the commentators, in this case writer Jamie Mathieson and moderator Steven Warren Hill, have microphones and speak over the dialogue in real time.
Although Flatline aired as Season 8 Episode 9, one episode after Mummy on the Orient Express, which Jamie Mathieson also wrote, Flatline was actually the first Doctor Who episode that Jamie wrote.
As the episode began, Jamie joked that the first rule of Doctor Who is that you kill someone in the first scene. He then went on to talk about having come up with the idea of 2D monsters and being surprised that Doctor Who hadn’t done this before.
When Clara comes into the TARDIS and is talking to the Doctor about having left stuff there, the whole conversation is just so that she has a bag to carry the TARDIS in later! Then Jamie gives us a little insight, telling us that having a shrinking TARDIS was to give Peter Capaldi a bit of a break and have a “Doctor-light” episode.
We learn a little about how Jamie named the characters. The grumpy old workman, who isn’t named on screen, was named Fenton, who was Jamie’s college roommate. Additionally, Rigsy was named after his Best Man, contrary to the popular belief that it was a reference to the graffiti artist Banksy.
He talks about having made a list of “gags” so that the episode wouldn’t get boring. He points out that although he is a feminist, he wasn’t actually trying to make a feminist point when Clara assumed the role of “Doctor Clara,” this was just another “gag.” He never would have thought that his idea for a joke would turn into Clara running off with a TARDIS and essentially becoming “Doctor Clara” in the final episode of the season!
Jamie points out that in the first few drafts, Clara was wearing a huge earpiece, but that eventually got changed. So when Rigsy makes a comment about her earpiece, it’s like, “How do you know she’s wearing an earpiece?”
In the part where we see the Doctor’s face in the small TARDIS, that wasn’t CGI, they actually built a false wall in the TARDIS.
Jamie talks about how in some scenes it seems like Rigsy is suicidal, but many of the scenes that reinforce that were cut. He also tells us that much of this episode contains ADR (automated dialogue replacement), which is audio recorded after the fact, so that people didn’t get lost as to what was going on during the episode.
Jamie tells us that he had to fight to keep the bubble chair scene. As for the officer that gets killed by the boneless, he tells us that there was a hatch that she fell through. He then tells us about the nerd in him wondering how the boneless get into walls if they’re 2D. Jamie jokes about the scene where the bubble chair crashes through the window, saying that it’s just another example of “We can’t afford to do the stunt, so let’s cut away and use special effects.”
Steven Moffat pushed Jamie to go more in the direction of Clara lying and telling people they’ll be okay.
Jamie points out how when the Doctor names the Boneless, there had been a natural progression of how he arrived at that name, but one of the scenes was cut, so now it seems more abrupt when he arrives at that name.
In an earlier draft of this episode, the episode began in the middle. Initially, there was a lot more happening in the tunnel, such as graffiti artists who looked up to Rigsy, and the train that they stop had passengers on it that joined the group.
Originally, the Doctor’s speech about the Boneless being monsters was in the middle of the script, but Jamie thought the speech was “too good,” so he moved it to the end.
We learn more about character names — Stan was named after Flat Stanley, and George was named after his nephew. Jamie also points out that although the group is trying to find a way out, there’s a door behind George that they could have gone through that they don’t use!
He then tells us about the scene was cut that he told us about in the Kaffeeklatsch, where the Doctor gives a boost to Clara’s phone, which is passed around for the workmen to say goodbye to their loved ones. Then Fenton and Rigsy make a pact to call each other’s people because they say they don’t have anyone to call that wouldn’t hang up on them. So we see Rigsy talking on the phone on behalf of Fenton, and Fenton says, “It’s okay, I know she hung up.” So at the end when Rigsy calls his mom, it’s supposed to have more of an impact.
We then get to the scene of the TARDIS on the train line, which Jamie wrote into the third draft. He got an email from Steven Moffatt saying that when he read this part, he “punched the air” in excitement. Jamie said he thinks it was this specific scene that got him Mummy on the Orient Express.
Jamie jokes about a cut scene where the Boneless affected the Doctor inside the TARDIS by making his hair shoot into his head, and that a lot of people say that Peter Capaldi got a hair cut, but that’s not the case. Then we see the Doctor do his little dance, and Jamie tells us that the only direction there was “The Doctor does a victory dance.”
Jamie reveals that there were other drafts where Fenton died, and where Rigsy sacrifices himself. There was also a draft where Clara says to Rigsy as he’s driving the train, “Come with me and do something really hard: live,” which was cut, and maybe they should have left it in. In one of the drafts, the train was teetering and there was glass shattering, but he was told, “Nope, can’t afford that.”
The moderator asks about Jamie’s thoughts on Rigsy coming back in a later episode, and Jamie jokes that “It’s fan fiction!” However, then he says that it’s great that he’s carried on without him. A few moments later, Jamie remembers that Sarah Dollard, the writer who wrote the later episode with Rigsy, is in the room!
Jamie told us that he first saw a version of this episode with no music and no special effects, and he thought to himself, “This episode is terrible,” and he thought he was doomed. However, he watched the finalized episode with his wife, and was quite pleased.
He mentioned an earlier draft wherein the Boneless slid from side to side, like they were on a skateboard. Jamie joked, “And I would never say I invented Colony Sarff…”
In Jamie’s original outline, it took place on a alien planet which had been flattened into 2D, so they could always go back to that at some point. He likes that we still don’t know what the Boneless were doing or what their plan was. In another draft, we see that the Doctor missed one.
Jamie joked about having Fenton back in another episode where he also survives, and suggested a spin-off with him as well.
Also in another version, before they shrunk the TARDIS, the Doctor couldn’t get back into it because it was covered in graffiti, which they thought was the Boneless. But then it turns out they were in a bad area, and it actually was just graffiti.
At that, the episode wrapped up, and Jamie thanked us for listening to his “ramblings.”
Checking In and Ribbon Trading
The Flatline commentary ended around 5pm, and not having any other plans for the moment, I decided it would be a good time to check into the hotel. As I mentioned before, we were lucky enough to snag a room in the host hotel, the LAX Marriott, at the convention rate of $140/night. There were other people checking in, but several clerks available, so I didn’t have to wait more than a minute.
We were assigned a room on the third floor, one floor up from the lobby, so I went and checked out the view — of the restaurant. I took some time to just lay down and relax. Being an introvert, I certainly needed this recharge time. However, I was starting to get lonely having been on my own all day, and not really having made any friends yet. Plus it was getting to be dinner time, and I wouldn’t have anyone to go to dinner with. I put out a tweet, hoping my Twitter friends at Gallifrey One would respond and invite me to join them.
In the meantime, I saw that there was a Ribbon Exchange Group Gathering out on the patio scheduled for 5:30pm, so considering that my ribbon collection was quite small, and I had brought 100 ribbons to trade, I figured I’d go check that out and possibly make some friends in the process.
So I went down there and saw a gathering of people of all ages, even children. Pretty much how it worked was that people saw you had a bag (or container) full of ribbons, asked you if they traded with you yet, and if not then they traded with you, and then they moved on to the next person. I hadn’t had a chance to trade ribbons other than that morning just before Good Morning Gallifrey One, so my answer was easy at first – no, we haven’t traded yet. But then as the same people kept circling, the answer sometimes changed to yes, we have traded. In some cases, people had more than one ribbon, and you could pick which one you wanted. There was also one lady collecting ribbons as donations to a ribbon chain for the charity auction. I donated, and got a special ribbon in exchange for that.
One guy seemed to be lost in the frenzy, and asked me how this worked. Obviously, I wasn’t really an expert, this being my first time involved in a ribbon trading event, but I explained what I had observed so far. Then he went and joined the masses of ribbon traders.
It got to the point where it seemed like I had traded with everyone there (which didn’t take very long), and I hadn’t succeeded in making any friends, and my introvert self needed a recharge after talking to so many people in such a short amount of time, so I headed back up to the room with my new collection of ribbons. I decided I’d hold onto them rather than attach them to my own badge so that Josh could have some ribbons when he got in. I relaxed in the room for a bit before heading down to my next panel – Julian Glover.
I’ve never seen Rocky Horror Picture Show, nor have I watched much classic Doctor Who (I know, gasp!), and I had already seen Patricia Quinn (who plays Magenta in that movie) during her Radio Free Skaro interview earlier in the day, so it hadn’t really been a priority for me to go to this panel. However, I did catch the end of it as I walked into Program A to wait for Julian Glover’s panel, which was scheduled to start at 6:30pm. She told an amusing story of running through Heathrow Airport, only having 3 minutes to catch a plane. While running, she exclaimed, “Where’s the bloody TARDIS?!”
Being a Game of Thrones fan, of course I had to go to Julian Glover’s panel, who plays Grand Maester Pycelle. He started out by talking about when he was 15 years old and performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which was when he decided he wanted to be an actor. His parents were very supportive of his decision. So he went to drama school, then was in the military, and then went back to drama school. As for actors that inspired him, he listed off quite a few actors, including Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, and Sam Wanamaker. He commented on Sam Wanamaker rebuilding Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theatre, which Glover said started out as a “freak fest,” but now people are queuing up to work there. Glover himself starred in Beowulf at the Wanamaker Theater there, which he reinterpreted himself, and described the play as a modern translation, but using a lot of Old English too. He had performed this one-man show for over thirty years. However, his son Jamie asked for it, so he passed it on to him.
Amusingly, Glover said that in the 1960s he played so many villains that he told casting directors not to cast him because the audience would know that he did it!
Of course, this being a Doctor Who convention, Glover talked a bit about the 1960s episodes he was on. When asked about William Hartnell, the First Doctor, Glover said that he wasn’t a very pleasant man to anyone, and wasn’t easy to work with. At one point, Hartnell made a sarcastic comment to Glover, accusing him of being “posh.” David Bradley, on the other hand, (who played William Hartnell in An Adventure in Time and Space), Glover praised, saying “You want to cuddle David all the time.”
Glover seemed to have a good rapport with the moderator, who he had already known for awhile. In fact, at one point, Glover said to him, “You are such an a**hole” for bringing up a story about him being on a Radio Times cover! He had been in 15 50-minute episodes of An Age of Kings, featuring Shakespeare’s plays about kings, and all the kings were to be photographed. Glover had specifically asked not to appear wearing a helmet in the magazine, and they assured him he wouldn’t, but made him take a few pictures wearing the helmet anyway. Of course, the picture they used was one of him wearing a helmet, which he said looked “so stupid,” and that he had a bulb on the end of his nose. Apparently he had a nose job at some point since then.
Glover brought up a part in a play that he thought he was perfect for, but he didn’t get it. Instead, they gave the part to a “footballer” — by the name of Sean Connery.
He then went on to talk about the City of Death episode of Doctor Who on which he appeared. He had gotten the call to appear as Kristatos in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only because of his character on City of Death — a villainous character, but apparently very nice. They had wanted a nice, good person who turned out to be bad. He talked about someone at the convention who called his character in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade an “evil man” — to which he responded, “What would you do for the secret of eternal life??”
At that point, the moderator made a request for someone (no one in particular) to get them a couple of lagers. However, Glover said he would rather a glass of white wine. A little while later, someone did in fact bring them the requested drinks!
It was then opened to audience questions. The first person asked if Glover had ever played the part of any other kings in plays, and he said he had played Henry IV. He confirmed that the first time he played Edward IV was in An Age of Kings.
Another audience member asked Glover about seeing his death scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for the first time, to which he commented, “It was a bit too short for me,” and that it happened too quickly, “considering the hell I’d been through to make it.” He explained that it took 3 days to shoot that 13-14 second scene. He explained the process of shooting the scene, which was before CGI. There had been several stages of a modeling mask to make him look older and older, which they would film and then cut away from over and over, until he was dead. They let him keep the mask at the end of the movie, which his wife made him put in the garage because it was so grotesque, and which she later made him throw away when they were cleaning out the garage. Several years later, he learned that a dealer would have given him 25,000 pounds for it! Since then, he has learned to keep everything.
Regarding whether he was ever concerned about being typecast, Glover responded that he’s never been a star, so he’s never been in a position of choosing his parts. Although he has mostly played villains throughout his life, in his older age, he has gotten to play more “acceptable” characters — though he was reminded of having played a “nicey” in Theatre of Death (1967). However, he said that was a really dull part, and that villains are much better parts.
The moderator brought up the fact that Glover is working with David Tennant, which Glover praised as a “fine actor,” not just on the screen, but is a wonderful stage actor. Glover mentioned that David Tennant will be starring in Richard II as Richard II and Glover himself will be playing John of Gaunt at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in April. However, the moderator informed us that it is sold out. And with that, the panel ran out of time.
It was around 7:15pm when Julian Glover’s panel ended. I went back to my room to put my stuff down and make a decision about dinner. I hadn’t gotten a reply tweet from anyone inviting me to dinner, so I figured I was on my own. I decided to go down to one of the restaurants at the hotel, and see which one seemed less busy. However, upon going down, I suddenly felt very embarrassed about asking for a table for one, so I changed my mind at the last second and walked to Burger King, since it was the next closet fast food restaurant besides Carl’s Jr., and I didn’t want to go there again. It was kind of a scary walk to Burger King, considering it was nighttime and I was all alone. The line wasn’t all that long, but there was only one cashier, and it took about as long to place my order as it had at Carl’s Jr, and it was also a bit of a wait to get my food. I spotted a few people with Gallifrey One badges there as well. By the time I finished eating and got back to the hotel, it was time for the next event I was going to check out.
Escape from the Planet of the Daleks
I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have Casino Night this year, which I enjoyed last year. It seemed like in its place was Escape from the Planet of the Daleks, which was described as “a special meet-up/mixer event… and a series of puzzle games to keep your brain engaged as you socialize with fellow fans.” I’m into trivia and puzzles, and if I go to a party, I prefer for there to be some sort of activity to do, so I decided to check it out.
When I got down to Program C, there was a line of people waiting to get in. At that point, I was still under the impression that it was a party, so I was thinking that it was a pretty popular party. Anyway, so I went to get in line, and then the premise was explained to me. They were putting people into groups of 10 for an escape room type experience. I had somewhat recently done an escape room for the first time, so this sounded like it would be pretty cool. There was a group of 8 already formed, which seemed like a mix of people who did and didn’t know each other, so I was placed with that group. We were group 10, and were supposed to come up with a team name. It being a Doctor Who convention, of course we went with a Tenth Doctor saying: “Allons-y!”
So as the earlier groups finished up, they started sending in more groups. Apparently they cut it off at 12 groups, because as we were waiting to get in, I heard them turning people away. However, they did add a couple people to our group.
Anyway, so it wasn’t a traditional escape room, where there’s one group in one room and you have to figure a way out. This room was set up with several stations that you go to in order to get your next clue, so as to accommodate more people in the room at once. When it was our turn, the game was explained to us, and we were given our first clue, along with a “companion key” that we would need later. There were little tables set up in the room so that your group could examine each clue.
The clues all were associated with Doctor Who, and some required specific knowledge of the show. Once you think you solve each clue, you go to the station that you think is associated with the answer, and if you got it right, they give you the next clue. Most of the clues involved writing things down and solving things on a piece of paper, which is a bit difficult for 10+ people to be able to all participate in solving. For some of the clues, I couldn’t really see what was going on. It would have been better in smaller groups, but I understand that they wanted to have as many people participate as possible.
In the end, our group managed to work together to get through all the clues, and were each rewarded with a special ribbon. Then we took a group photo to commemorate our victory! At that point, it was already almost 9:30pm, so I moved on to my next event.
Joseph Scrimshaw and the Time of Comedy
I headed back over to Program A to catch some stand up comedy from comedian and RiffTrax writer Joseph Scrimshaw. Much of his act centered on him growing up watching Doctor Who — how he first learned about it, how he got made fun of for it, how no one wanted to play “Doctor Who” on the playground. He even proposed to a girl, one of the reasons being because he thought he was lucky to find someone who liked Doctor Who! That relationship ended up not working out. But now he is happily married and still a big Doctor Who fan. He even did a little interaction with an audience member, and managed to work her suggestions into his act. His one-hour routine was pretty funny, and I hope to see him again at next year’s Gallifrey One!
The Idiot’s Lantern
Next up in Program A, starting a little after 10:30pm, was The Idiot’s Lantern, a sketch comedy group that performed several sketches, all about Doctor Who. Although they performed at Gallifrey One last year, I did not get the chance to see them. Their skits encompassed both new Who and classic Who, though a lot of the sketches involved the Twelfth Doctor and Clara. The actors had some really good cosplay outfits and certainly looked the part. There were also a couple of funny videos. One of the sketches involved the Twelfth Doctor going back in time and seeing Steven Moffat as a little boy, surrounded by Vulcan hands. Another was “companion heaven,” where the Doctor’s companions go when they die. Except it seemed like they somehow kept coming back to life… There was also a sketch where two travelers happen to wander into the “diner” from Hell Bent, when the Doctor has forgotten who Clara is. Considering that the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, and his companion Peri, Nicola Bryant, were both guests at Gallifrey One this year, there was a sketch with them, in which there was a companion swap — the Fifth Doctor and the Tenth Doctor traded Rose and Peri for a bit. There was even a “SuperWhoLock” sketch in which Sherlock Holmes and the Winchester brothers show up! The final sketch of the night was a parody of Summer Nights from Grease — except it was changed to Gallifrey Nights and the lyrics followed suit. The Twelfth Doctor was the guy, and Clara was the girl.
I had a lot of fun watching the show, even though I was alone, but the room was full of Doctor Who fans, so it was awesome that we all could laugh together. The Idiot’s Lantern group has already posted the pre-recorded video sketches on their Facebook page, where they had also posted a video of one of their live sketches at a previous Gallifrey One, so I’m guessing they’ll post some videos from this year soon, and then you’ll be able to watch and laugh as well. Click here to check out a YouTube page containing more of their previous Gallifrey One sketches.
It was a little after midnight when the show wrapped up. On my way out, I noticed Twitter friend @justplainjoe, who I’d never met before, so it was nice to finally meet him! That was the only time I saw him all weekend though. He went on to go join in on the late night festivities, while I was pretty tired from having been up so early and not having had a nap all day, so I headed up to my room.
I still hadn’t heard from Josh, and wasn’t sure when to be expecting him, so I turned the volume up on my phone, knowing it was likely I would fall asleep before he arrived. Sure enough, I fell asleep pretty soon, and was awakened to knocking on the door at 2:40am. Apparently I didn’t hear my phone or the sound didn’t work or something. He reported that the party was still going strong down in the lobby. However, we were more interested in sleeping. I had a little trouble falling back asleep after that, though, and therefore was tired the next day…
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Click here to continue to our Saturday Report of Gallifrey One 2016!