Some Thoughts Stimulated by Gallifrey One
While attending Gallifrey One I got to thinking: Who’s your Doctor? If you’re a Doctor Who fan, when someone asks this question, the response is often followed by a number. If pressed to answer, I would say that mine is the tenth Doctor played by David Tennant. And, if we’re talking classic Doctors, the fourth played by Tom Baker. Like many fans of the smartly-dressed, quick-witted, regenerating Time Lord, I grew up watching BBC episodes on PBS where I learned to fear the Daleks and trust in the Doctor.
For the uninitiated, it may be difficult to understand the appeal of Doctor Who. The special effects are often sub-par (though the modern episodes have dramatically improved) and there’s this whole back story of the Doctor and his rivalries with recurring villains that goes back decades. It was confirmed for me at a panel of Doctor Who writers that they simply took a trip to the studio props room and built a story around whatever was available. So, if the prop department at the BBC had 6 canoes, 17 giraffe costumes, and a mummy’s tomb, the writers at Doctor Who would build a story around them.
But the show’s appeal has nothing to do with slick production value. It really has to do with the inventiveness of the writing, in addition to the charm of a time-traveling Doctor solving baffling mysteries and threats to the universe. The important thing to observe is that Doctor Who solves problems without violence or brute force. The Doctor teaches us that diplomacy is the greatest weapon against evil. This underlying theme of every episode of Doctor Who has certainly changed the thinking of longtime viewers, and this message has the power to change the world. Or at least, the world of Whovians.
Yes, I know the special effects can be laughable at times, but if you can look past the flaws and get through just a few episodes, I guarantee you will be hooked. And the attendees of the world-renowned Doctor Who convention, Gallifrey One are all hooked.
Having attended Gallifrey One (often referred to as “Gally”), since 2010, I have enjoyed not only learning the inside secrets of the show through question and answer sessions with the writers and stars, I’ve gotten to know the super fans who travel from all over the world to attend. This gathering of Whovians takes place in February at the LAX Marriott, which seems to transform into what must look like a galactic spaceport to outsiders. Even those not participating in cosplay often get in the spirit by wearing a long scarf.
The panels at Gallifrey One are top notch and attract talent like Colin Baker, the sixth Doctor. There’s so much fun to be found at Gallifrey One, including karaoke, all-night gaming, a charity auction, a masquerade ball, comedy shows, trivia contests, scavenger hunts, and unsanctioned hotel room parties.
And then there’s Lobby Con, the unofficial gathering in the hotel lobby where attendees and non-attendees hang out and enjoy adult beverages. Lobby Con is host to some of the most ambitious cosplay in the universe as Whovians show off their best. Many have worked on these costumes all year just to enjoy the reward of being admired at Gally.
As with any convention involving fandom, the merch room is the first place one will want to visit. If there’s a Doctor Who convention exclusive or rare item, it can be found here. So, if you’re in need of a sonic screwdriver from your favorite Doctor, Gally’s got it. If you’re seeking a Funko figure, Gally’s got it. And if it’s not at Gally, the Doctor Who Club on Gemr is a great resource, whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or even post your wants.
There’s always a sense of sadness that sweeps over me after the closing ceremony at Gallifrey One. But time has a way of moving fast… and the next Gally gathering is just one quick trip around the sun.