Friday, August 29, 2014

A Whovian Tale


Doctor Who is a rock star

Because a girl can't live on rock n' roll alone....

I'll admit it – when it comes to Doctor Who, I'm a bit of a geek.  I read the online synopses of episodes, have animated conversations with friends about who was the best Doctor (For me – Jon Pertwee) worst companion (Peri IMO) and generally sound like a bitter old fuck by repeating, “This isn't the show I grew up with,”

A lot of people following me on social media are surprised at the sudden Doctor Who spam on my twitter and Facebook, being used to romanticized posts about Fast Eddie Clarke.  The truth is, I've been a lapsed Doctor Who fan for awhile, but I first started following the show in the mid 80's.  When they “rebooted” the show in 2005, I very loudly refused to watch it.  There was a younger man in a leather jacket dashing around with over the top special effects and costumes.  Part of the fun in watching the original show was pointing out when an “alien's” wig was falling off or the Dalek tipping over.  Long story short, eventually I caved in, fell in love with the re-vamp but still did the bitter old “back in my day...” mumbling.  (“Christopher Eccleston  was great – dark moody and Northern  – but really, do all the companions have to fall in love with the Doctor?”)

Right now, August 2014 there is a shit-ton of publicity for the new series of the show.  There is a new actor, Peter Capaldi, playing the lead role, and all reports suggest the tone will be darker and closer to the style of the original program.  To introduce the new Doctor and to spark interest in the already hugely popular show, the BBC sent the lead actors on a “world tour” to promote and meet fans ...well..sort of...but I'll get to that.    BBC announced the dates and cities for the World Tour, and slowly gave out information about the technical details, like where  in each city the event would be.  New York was the only American date and I was going berserk waiting for tickets to go on-sale.  They didn't announce the venue until 3 days before the event, and through a series of bad timing and lack of information, I wasn't able to snag a ticket.  Then again, neither were thousands of other Who fans who like me, took to the internet to voice their displeasure.  (My “this is fucking bullshit” tweet got re-tweeted quite a few times!) The tickets to the 1,000 + seat theater sold out in less than 8 minutes. I couldn't even flex my Ripple muscle and reach out for a press pass because I could not find out who to contact.  I'm not here to complain or say anything negative because everything else BBC America has done regarding the show has been fantastic – and I'm sure next time they do something like this it will be a more appropriate venue, like Madison Square Garden!

Day of the event, my friend PM and I take the subway out to the Ziegfeld theater on 54th street.  We got there around 5, about 2 hours before the doors were due to open and there were already hundreds of people lined up outside the venue.  The non-ticket holders like us were relegated to standing across the street and hurling mean epithets at those who did snag tickets. I will say this right now – anyone who is REALLY into something, to the point where they dress up in costumes or get tattoos related to the thing – SCARE THE LIVING FUCK OUT OF ME.  Maybe it's hypocritical given my groupie history, but I didn't dress up like the band members!! And I never got a band tattoo because – not my thing – to each his own – but I always found that level of devotion a little creepy - personally.  You know what though, god bless those fanatics because they keep the entertainment industry going.  So yesterday there were chicks in TARDIS dresses, girls dressed like the Doctor's assistant Clara, and more than one person dressed up like various Doctors.  Almost everyone around us were wearing Doctor Who related t-shirts- like at a concert where you wear the band tee.  At first I was a little intimidated, but I had a nice group of families around me, and we all started talking and they realized I was a little infatuated with the actor playing the new Doctor.  I guess I'm not known for my subtlety. 

A presenter from BBC America came over to us and started asking on camera some routine questions, “What do you think the new Doctor will be like?”, “How do you feel about an older Actor playing the role?” Capaldi is 56, his predecessor Matt Smith is 31.  He interviewed a few kids, then at one point, said “Would anyone else like to be interviewed?” while looking dead at me.  I shook my head, while I obviously had a lot to say, I was too self-conscious about my lazy eye.  But I think I photo-bombed the people who were on camera because I just could not get out of the way. 

About a half hour later, a checker cab pulled up a few feet away from where we were standing and everyone went ape-shit.  It took awhile for me to see what was going on, but it was Capaldi and actress Jenna Coleman who plays Clara, and the show's executive producer Stephen Moffat.  Phones were out, people were screaming, and I could have sworn I was outside a concert venue when the rock stars showed up, not a posh theater where a bunch of actors came for a screening.  If this WERE a rock show, I would have had a clue how to react, who to talk to , how to con my way would have been perfectly acceptable to throw myself at the 6 foot tall gray-headed Scotsman waving at us.

I watched from afar as the actors posed for professional photos across the street and had microphones shoved in their faces.  The crowd around me grew, and my friend PM who at one point was behind me but still in eye-shot, was behind a wall of people five deep.  All of a sudden I felt that warm fuzzy feeling that I was surrounded by people who “got it”.  All we wanted was maybe a photo op with the actors or at the very least, autographs.  The people on the opposite side of the street, the ticket holders, were treated to that, the actors did a walk by and posed for pics and signed a few things.  I got a “PETER” chant started, to get the actor's attention, but he barely glanced at us.  The woman next to me yelled, “We have brownies!” and I said if he came over and she didn't produce brownies, it was on her.  At one point, they tried bargaining for tickets, using me as a sort of sacrifice, “We'll trade you this lady for tickets...” not saying I was totally against that.  I want to say a huge THANK YOU to the woman who handed me a “WHOVIAN” wristband because she was so impressed with my allegiance to the show. 

 Right before the cast went inside, they did do a walk-by on our side of the street.   This was it, my big moment...So what did I do? Screamed “I LOVE YOU!” While jumping up and down like a teenage girl at a one-direction show.  Capaldi looked at me and said “I love you too!”  I got hi-fived and patted on the back by the people around me.  I couldn't help myself.  He totally looked like a rock star, dark sunglasses, skinny leg trousers and doc martens....  But let me just say this, when Peter Capaldi was announced as the new Doctor last year, I went back and did my research on the man.  He is a very prolific actor, probably best known to Americans as the Scottish dude at the CDC towards the end of the Brad Pitt movie “World War Z”.  My favorite Capaldi role is as the foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker on the British TV show “The Thick Of It” AND....the US made movie of the show, “In the Loop” - which features a brilliant battle of wits between Capaldi and the late James Gandolfini.  Yes Doctor Who arguing with Tony Soprano is PRICELESS. (video below)  Oh – and Capaldi IS a musician of sorts – he was the singer in a punk rock band with Talk Show host Craig Ferguson back in their native Glasgow.  SO THERE.  Rock n' roll connection!  Plus he's been quoted as saying he wants a Marshall stack in the TARDIS so....there you go.

Eventually the actors went inside, the crowd who weren't going in went on our separate ways.  I contemplated schemes to get PM and myself inside the theater but I'm too old for wacky adventures, plus I had to get my sixth cup of coffee for the day and eventually something to eat. But for that one afternoon in New York, Peter Capaldi, Doctor Who, was a rock star, and like many other “WHOVIANS” - I'm really looking forward to his TV debut in the TARDIS on August 23 on BBC America.

Doctor Who on BBC America:

- Rys

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