Gallifrey One was born in the last days of the Sylvester McCoy era, and didn't actually happen until after Doctor Who went off the air. Sure, there were still seasons that hadn't shown in some regions of the US, and KTEH here in San Jose continued to air Doctor Who until only a year or two ago, but production had been suspended and nobody expected it to come back anytime soon.
It was enough momentum to get a convention started.
It was enough momentum to allow that convention to recover from staggering debt incurred in its first year.
It was enough momentum to keep that con going for 16 more years.
That, though, was helped by a publishing machine (BBC Publishing, Virgin Publishing and Telos) turning out Doctor Who novels one after another and fans for whom reading was almost as satisfying than watching television. BBC Radio (and eventually BBC Interactive) kept producing new Doctor Who content. Fan media houses like BBV and licensed operations like Big Finish Productions also kept voracious fans in videos and audio plays.
15 years of conventions for a show that was canceled. Sure, there was also a movie in 1996, but it was a bit of a disappointment to many fans.
15 years? Didn't I say 16 more?
Back at Gallifrey One's Fifteen Minutes of Fame news of a new series to be produced by Russel T. Davies was the big topic of discussion. I missed The Sixteen Swashbucklers of Gallifrey One, but I'm sure that was still everybody's favorite subject. The first episode, though, didn't air until 6 weeks after it passed.
This was the first Gallifrey One since the new series started airing in the UK and Canada (CBC was an investor in the project) and making its way around the world via BitTorrent.
That's a hell of a lot of back-story for a convention report, I suppose. The stage needs to be set, though.
As I said, kproche and I missed last year's convention. Had the joke about shaunskywalker getting Davies as a guest come true, I probably would have been inconsolable. As it was, San Francisco's 40th Coronation just left me exhausted, but dead-set on making Galli this year.
We stuck with tradition and drove down to LA Thursday night after work. Leaving San Jose at around 9:00 was kind of mind-numbing (I would have much preferred 7-ish like we pulled off for Anime Los Angeles) but plans had gone chaotic in the last week. Packing wasn't done, and we both got out of work later than desired. Still, the drive was pretty good (heavier traffic than ALA, but no cloud layer half-way up the grapevine). That extra 20 miles the move from the Airtel Plaza to the LAX Marriot added sucked, but we were pleasantly surprised when we finally got to the hotel.
Other people were less pleasantly surprised. Our surprise, though, was the scale of the suite that Christian had obtained for us, a large two-bedroom affair opening out onto the pool deck (well, except for the fact that the pool was half-torn-out for renovations). I've been told that the convention burned one of their room upgrades for us, as they like the loeg party and what it does for the convention. We got everything moved in and (it being after 3:00am) crashed.
Friday morning we got our badges at the registration desk and had breakfast with a few friends. After getting in some important visiting, we hauled off to Trader Joe's for a final grocery run (party shopping was one of the things that went chaotic) and then decorated the room.
Somehow we fit in dinner (with friendlypinet) and got K dressed and down to judge the Masquerade with Jennifer Kelley and Laura Freas. Yep, the masquerade (a.k.a. the Masque of Mandragora) had been moved to Friday night. We got our Friday night party and got it after the masquerade.
There were, not surprisingly, people wanting to get in when, after presentations but before the judges returned with awards, I went to set out snacks open. With a very short masquerade, a very short half-time show and judges constrained to finishing in the allocated time, I just finished putting out refreshments when K got back with a bunch of others in tow. It was, by my estimation, the most successful party we've ever thrown at Galli (thanks partially to our absence the previous year), and ran until 4 in the morning.
If you haven't guessed that much of Saturday was a write-off, you're not paying enough attention. K watched some episodes of the new series. They're really fantastic. It's such a contrast to the huge ensemble cast shows that are dominating American SF television these days. I hit the dealers' room and snagged copies of the new Titan Books Modesty Blaise collections from Cargo Cult Books. I'm still short Modesty Blaise: Top Traitor and Modesty Blaise: The Black Pearl. How I ever missed out on this British comic strip I'll never know. It's a real contrast to the very silly 1966 movie. I also snagged a copy of The Aristocrats because I've been dying to see it.
We did get out to the LGBT Fan Gathering to catch up with folks we hadn't seen much of to that point. There was one problem, though. It was scheduled against Mary Tamm's autograph slot. Let's see. Room full of boys, or autograph from the gal who wore all those fabulous outfits? This was a difficult decision for some people.
Saturday night was taken up by Sweets, a much more leisurely gathering. dinogrl & dave_gallaher, Dave Clark, Mark & Chris, Merv & Judith, Mo Starkey and a few others came over and sampled sweet wines. It was actually the weirdest Sweets party ever. We did a mix of non-fortified and fortified wines peppered through with all sorts of exotics. The Bodegas Aguirre "Postre" Merlot was well liked. The Hakusan "Sweet Blossom Sake" was despised, I thought it tasted more of mushrooms than sweet blossoms. A nice trockenbeerenauslese followed, and then an Inniskillin Icewine that got mixed but mostly positive comments. Alas, we weren't out of the woods yet. The fortified wines were yet to come. An Aeppeltreow Pear Dessert Wine was likened to pear seeds soaked in wood alcohol. The Trader Joe's Raspberry Wine turned out to actually be a framboise, and a very thick and syrupy framboise at that. It was still appreciated, though, and blended beautifully with a bit of dry sparkling wine. The Wild West Blackberry Port that followed didn't do so well; it tasted like many things, but blackberry wasn't one of them. Finally, the new Bent Creek Zinfandel Port was very young, pretty flat and very rough, but that may have been bottle-shock. A half hour breathing did wonders for it.
New Rule for Sweets: Bringing something you haven't actually tasted is a bad, or at least risky, idea.
After sweets we went down to the ballroom level and found the hallway party going strong.
Gallifrey One is a rather British convention, due to the influence of British writers, actors and fans who would much rather be at a Doctor Who convention in LA in February than anywhere else in the world. It's subject to the "pub effect." British conventions don't have room parties (rooms are too small, booze is too expensive and food service regulations are scary), so everybody goes to the pub instead. A good convention hotel will have several pubs set up and reasonable prices. The LAX Marriott didn't have reasonable prices and the hotel sports bar was ridiculous, but they did have a bar set up on the ballroom level Friday and Saturday nights, so the conference lobby turned into the
Sunday was a lot easier. We watched a few more episodes of the new series (including The Christmas Invasion), gave the dealers' room a last spin (it was a good dealers' room), and watched a bit of the 2005 retrospective tape and the closing ceremonies.
Yep, the con was over Sunday evening. Last year they switched back from 4 days (ending Monday) to 3 days. A lot of folks still stayed over, and the con didn't close until 7:00 on Saturday, but it was a weird shift in the con vibe.
To wind down we had the "boy party" in our room; a bunch of friends came over, had some cosmos and played a bit of cards. I did well in Guillotine but the only other person who crashed worse than me in Burn Rate was one of the other Andys.
Monday morning we awoke to an unexpected extra hotel bill, but Robbie and Joyce got things sorted out with the hotel very quickly. We packed and started heading north. It was kind of a rough run back. Traffic on the 405 to 101 and from 101 to Agoura Hills was pretty ugly even at lunchtime. We did a quick stop at a McDonalds there, and K lost his phone. We stopped at the rest stop near Gaviota State Park, and noticed an odd smell. We stopped in Solvang, discovered the phone was missing and the smell (something akin to burning rubber and stink bugs) was still with us. The belts and tires were all fine, though, and it didn't smell like any other burning smells I would expect from a car, so we went on. There was some gunk on the catalytic converter that seemed to be cooking. We did make it home, albeit very fried.
I've spent a lot of years militantly proclaiming myself a general fan. Yep, I'm in to costuming, filk, anime, yaoi, SCA... the list goes on. I didn't go to a Doctor Who convention until 4 years ago. But damn. A Doctor Who convention. New episodes of Doctor Who. Great new episodes of Doctor Who.
It's a bit of my childhood I've got back.
We've already got our memberships for The 18th Amendment of Gallifrey One next year. Davies, Eccleston and Piper have given the series and the fandom a long-awaited kick. David Tennant is even more amazing in his first outing as the Doctor. The DVDs are shipping in Canada now (I ordered the set from Amazon.ca) and we've got the Eccleston episodes appearing mid-March here in the US on Sci Fi Network. It's going to be a fantastic year for Doctor Who.
There will be a few other substantial posts based on the weekend, but they're self-contained items for wider distribution, so they need to be written up separately.