Friday, August 22, 2014

Field Report: #DWWorldTour New York City Premiere & Fan Event

Last Thursday was the Doctor Who Series 8 US premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. As part of the Doctor Who World Tour (#DWWorldTour), tickets for the event were ridiculously difficult to come by, especially given that the theater only holds around 1100 people. Fans from all around the country were willing to fly in to see the event, so when the website appeared to sell out in under six minutes, I resigned myself to the perfectly acceptable alternative of watching it on TV, curled up on the sofa. However, thanks to a friend's combined good and bad luck, a ticket freed up and I found myself suddenly able to attend!

According to the Doctor Who on BBC America Twitter, even with tickets, fans had been lining up since nearly 1am.

Dedicated Whovian though I may be, I realized that such a long wait would probably kill me. I decided to take my chances in going after work and waiting the far more sensible (?) four hours.

"Is this how time normally passes? Really slowly. And in the right order?"

Unsurprisingly, by the time I got there, a lengthy queue had formed, winding next to the red carpet (which was actually TARDIS blue for obvious reasons). There was also a second line for fans hoping for leftover tickets.

The Fandom That Waited found plenty of ways to amuse itself. At one point, the front of the line collectively and spontaneously started to tap out the Master's four-beat rhythm from The Sound of Drums, raising eyebrows and momentary concern from event security. A few fans took to doing chalk drawings and scrawling "Bad Wolf" along the pavement:

Cosplay was also a great source of entertainment and conversation while waiting. I saw a fantastic Idris and weeping angel (sadly, neither of which I was able to get a photo of) and an enthusiastic teen in the 6th Doctor's outfit who kept walking up and down the line, talking to everyone. He was quite the presence and even made it onto the BBC America event gallery. He and I chatted for a few minutes, comparing notes on our coats (I was decked out in my Series 7 11th Doctor outfit with the purple frock coat) and he offered to show me how to access the "secret sounds" on my sonic screwdriver.

Event staff also kept the crowd enthused, interviewing people on the line for various promo segments, prompting screaming waves of "wooo!" (or, perhaps, "Who!") and throwing/handing out little giveaways like tour wristbands and (later) autographed postcards. 

A Cyberman patrolled the line, stopping to confuse nearby traffic, take pictures while strangling fans, and charge at obnoxious press. 

After several fake-outs by passing limousines, a vintage yellow cab pulled up to the carpet. My place near the end of the line put me, incredibly, in a perfect spot to see Steven Moffat, Peter Capaldi, and Jenna Coleman as they approached the venue.

The woman next to me shouted so loudly that Capaldi came by and took a selfie with her. It took a long time for the trio to make their way into the theater, especially as Capaldi came bounding back down the carpet a second time to wave at the fans who had amassed across the street. 

The crowd slowly found their seats in the theater. A friend texted me to say that she was following the event online and was excited to hear that Neil Gaiman was in attendance. As I responded that I hadn't seen him and wasn't really expecting to, someone pointed out that he was actually sitting across the aisle! I may have bothered him for a picture... He was immensely gracious and generous, patiently waiting as I tried to figure out my camera, and made sure the picture came out clearly.

And then the episode played.

Naturally, everyone who attended the event was given explicit instructions not to tweet, blog, text, post, or generally spoil anything in the episode, under threat of Cyberman deletion.


So, until the episode airs tomorrow, as River Song would say, "Spoilers!"

What I can say in advance is that the new title sequence is exciting and gorgeous, and that the title of the episode, "Deep Breath," is very appropriate on a number of levels. Capaldi's Doctor is certainly darker as promised, but also far funnier than expected. He very much puts the audience and Clara on edge. We also get to see some new sides to Clara. The tone and pace of the show feels entirely different from past years, but (in both good and less-good ways) Moffat's fingerprints are still clearly visible. This episode is sure to draw out lots of strong and varied feelings and opinions. I look forward to seeing where the show goes from here.

After the screening, Chris Hardwick hosted a Q&A with Capaldi, Coleman, and Moffat.

The content of the Q&A has been covered on a number of sites including the Nerdist and The Mary Sue. A video of highlights from the Q&A is also available from the official site.

Perhaps most striking in the Q&A was just how excited Capaldi is to be the Doctor. He spoke extensively about selecting his costume, talked about pushing the show on his daughter, and joked about his enthusiasm to have been part of it at all in The Fires of Pompeii, quoting his agent, "maybe you should read [the script] first, to be a bit professional?" He shared in the audience's collective cringe when his character in Fires, Caecilius, was misidentified as Julius Caesar. His appreciation for the show was clearly apparent and was very much appreciated by the audience in turn.

After such a hugely hyped introduction, it will be very interesting to see how the rest of the series unfolds and how fans respond.



Kidneys? Into Darkness!


  1. Great review of the premiere!!! BUT, where's the picture with Neil Gaiman??? :D

    1. I hope my comment doesn't show up 3 times. Sorry if it does!