Friday, 24 February 2012 - Reviewed by Marcus
Gallifrey One's Network 23
The Marriott LAX Hotel, Los Angeles
17-19 Feburary 2012
Chairman: Robbie Bourget
Vice Chair, Programming and Events: Shaun Lyon
Vice Chair, Facilities: Joyce Hooper
Members of the Board, Dan Sandifer, Cathy Beckstead
Executive Secretary for the ISL: Elayne Pelz
Gallifrey One is one of North Americas longest running conventions, now in its 23rd year. This years event was the biggest ever with 3,183 attendees, that's up from 2186 last year and 1595 the year before.
The event is a must for Doctor Who fans, boasting some tremendous guests, some great conversations and a chance to totally immerse yourself in the world of your favorite TV programme for a whole weekend. After 23 years the event has a lot of regular attendees, and in other hands may have become a trifle cliquey. Not so with Gallifrey One where all are made to feel incredibly welcome, whether attending for the first or the twenty first time.
The convention hall is packed choc-a-block with attendees, many dressed as their favorite character from the series. It can be a bit over-whelming, especially to an inhibited Brit, to see the effort and enthusiasm that attendees put into the making of their costumes. But the quality of some of the costumes is incredible. Just a short walk through the lobby reveals life sized Daleks, a replica K-9, several hundred Doctors of all incarnations, and even a massive Adipose.
There were panels on a wide variety of issues, from chats with new series Directors, to discussions on Why we Collect Action Figures?. Most moving were the talks on Nicholas Courtney and Elisabeth Sladen from Lucy Chase Williams and Amy Krell, two people who were deeply involved with the two stars and who shared some of their most personal memories with the convention.
For those who wanted to spend, there was a well stocked Dealers room, and for those who just wanted to watch there favorite programme, two screening rooms showed a continuous stream of episodes from both the classic and the new series.
A further room showed off the TARDIS console from the TV Movie, freshly restored and spruced up ready for the convention.
The GuestsA convention lives or dies by the quality of its interviews, and Gallifrey One had some tremendous guests who provided some very entertaining panels. Friday was mainly dedicated to single guest interviews, while Saturday and Sunday saw guests grouped together in various combinations.
Philip Segal told how Paul McGann turned the role down several times before eventually being persuaded to join the cast. McGann said he only really realized the enormity of what he had taken on when his agent, Janet Fielding, was collared by a fan during the first day of filming in Vancouver. Also appearing were Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso. The only gremlin of the weekend was when Eric Roberts, who played The Master in the Movie, went AWOL for the panel. Question of the weekend came from the audience member who asked if he was absent as he was to busy 'dressing for the occasion'.
Other panels included Life with Doctor Who, where members of the cast of the revived series shared some of their feelings on how working on Doctor Who has affected their lives. Camille Coduri told how she was approached in the street by a man asking her to slap him, Caitlin Blackwood told of how her teacher has asked her to autograph a figure of Amelia Pond, and Simon Fisher-Becker told of how he turned up for his audition totally dressed in blue.
William Russell, Maureen O'Brien and Waris Hussein held the audience spellbound with their tales of Doctor Who in its earliest days from three people who were actually there. Excellently moderated by Gary Russell the memories were crystal clear as they told of the struggles to get the series made against a climate of hostility from many in positions of power in the BBC.
Hussein paid tribute to Doctor Who creator, Sydney Newman, saying he deserved a credit on every episode. They told of life working with William Hartnell, of how he had to be persuaded against his better judgement to take the role. Maureen O'Brien told of how her job had been to shake Hartnell out of his moods and to make him laugh.
Sunday featured a three screenings where guests were asked to do a live commentary on one of their episodes. The highlight was Richard Senior talking about Let's Kill Hitler. His enthusiastic comments and delight in the show shone through making a very entertaining 45 minutes. By contract the commentary on the TV Movie was rather muted, with the guests getting rather to much caught up watching the show they hadn't seen for several years, than talking about it.
The EntertainmentLouise Jameson. First up was a short 15 minute film. Cleaning Up by the Guerrier Brother is a short thriller staring Jameson along with Mark Gatiss, which was received very warmly by the audience.
The lady herself then appeared in person in her one woman play Pulling Faces, written by Helen Goldwyn and directed by Nigel Fairs. Jameson's performance was a tour de force as she inhabited the characters in the world of Joanne Taylor, an actress who has reached the age were she needs to seriously consider a face lift. Based on events in Jameson's life, the play is funny, entertaining and deeply moving telling the story of how life's priorities change with experience. Each character is real and well defined and perfectly realized by Jameson who got a tremendous reaction from the performance. Perhaps the fact the play was being performed just a few miles from plastic surgery central in Beverly Hills helped define the issues even more.
Saturday night the entertainment was provided in the form of the Masquerade, where sketches and presentations based on the show are showcased. Daphne Ashbrook performed three songs from her new album and Comedian Charlie Ross gave a new take on The Sound of Music.
Overall it is a tremendous weekend which also raised over $7000 for the Students Run LA charity. Next year promises to be even bigger and better as the convention celebrates the show's 50th Anniversary. Be there if you possibly can.