If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed that I was a bit excited this past week. The reason? DOCTOR WHO!!
What is so magical about Doctor Who?
- 50 years of history
- 13 actors who have/will played the role (and counting)
- 33 seasons of episodes
- 240 aired stories (plus 1 unaired due to strike)
- 799 episodes aired on television (plus 6 unaired due to strike)
- Average of 4.83 million viewers per episode (in the UK) at its low point
- Average of 11.50 million viewers per episode (in the UK) at its high point
- Nearly canceled during its first season
- Canceled after 26 season (1989)
- Brought back to life for a TV movie shared between the US and UK after 7 years off the air (1996)
- Failed to be picked up as a pilot after the TV movie
- Brought back AGAIN, this time after 9 years away from the screen (2005)
- 50th anniversary special was simulcast in 94 countries – including being shown in movie theatres
…And that’s the short list.
Although I have fell hard into the Doctor Who rabbit hole, I am relatively new to the show – 2009 being the first taste. Since then I have amassed quite a DVD collection, met a Doctor in Chicago, and started a blog with my wife (shameless plug, click the link on the right hand side of the page), so I guess this makes me an official fan. So when it was announced that Minneapolis (more specifically, Edina) was one of 11 cities in the US with a cinema screening for the show, I jumped, screamed, and did other celebrations (were they in my mind or did I actually do those things…?). Tickets were bought well in advance – OK, within seconds of going on sale – and plans were being formed even before I had secured said tickets.
Oh yeah, this thing was also going to be in 3D! ***As an aside, is this the same show we are talking about? The show with saran-wrap monsters, cheap sets, and old episodes that have been erased with only audio left as evidence?!***
I could keep going, but at some point I need to share the actual experience, and also probably end this entry.
Friday, November 22, 2013:
Though a day for a sad 50th anniversary, my wife and I decided to go over to her relative’s place and nerd out – it’s always good to prepare. We talked Who, watched the season 7 finale and the “prequel“, which leads up to the events in the 50th special, and went over the final plans for meeting up at the theatre.
Oh, I also celebrated at work by doing this to the elevator:
As there were 11 (known) Doctors who have made up the entirety of the character of the Doctor and our building has 11 floors… well, it just made sense. By the way, I work on floor Eccleston… though the events in the special described below would make this decoration and statement invalid.
Saturday, November 23, 2013:
Much like I prepare for baseball games, so too did I arrive at the theatre with PLENTY of time to spare. Just how early? Slightly before 8 am, with the mall entrance for the theatre opening at 8. The show wasn’t beginning until 1:50 pm, so we had about 6 hours to kill.
Expecting a massive line to form and us to be kept out in the hall of the mall, I got comfortable and brought games. The cinema workers started to arrive and by about 9 am so did some of the fans (maybe a dozen or so). I have been to advance screenings at this theatre in the past and it was always a crazy mess and long lines, so I was surprised when they let us in at 9, gave us our tickets, AND let us sit in the theatre. I guess it was the first showing on that screen, so they let us head right in.
Now with just under 5 hours to try to pass, we were faced with a choice: stay in the theatre and go crazy with the other THREE people behind us or try to walk around the mall. We chose option #2.
As luck would have it, my phone, which had been acting up – microphone for speakerphone/Siri not working, and the compass function totally messed up – so I went over to the Apple store at 10 am and made an appointment. Why did I need an appointment when I was clearly the first one, the problem was identified (and later confirmed in 2 minutes), and I KNEW that the resolution was going to be a replacement phone still under warranty?! Oh well, my 11 am appointment at least ate away another hour-plus.
Finally, with the noon hour approaching – and double digit temperatures outside – I decided that I was hungry and needed to get some lunch. I was going to drive, but since it is close to Thanksgiving at a large suburban shopping mall, I decided my prime parking spot was too valuable and legged it over to the grocery store.
Though it was in the teens and I was under-dressed, it wasn’t all that bad. I figured my mile walk only benefited my health. I also picked up some Beanitos chips with tabouli as my lunch, so that was two healthy decisions in one brisk walk.
I returned to my seat, plastic bag in hand from the grocery store (the workers did not care at all), just after 1 pm. The hour was upon us!
I was so excited and yet so nervous. What if there was a problem at the theatre? What if the lights don;t go down, or the sound doesn’t work, or they start late?
Well, they did start late – only a few minutes – and the sound was odd – only coming from the front speakers and not the surround sound – but this was OK. Why? Because the entire viewing experience was marvelous.
Strax’s speech about disrupting others in theatre was amazing!
The episode was everything a fan could have hoped for.
The “making of” at the end was a great ending to the cinema experience.
Oh, and I was EXPERIENCING DOCTOR WHO ON THE BIG SCREEN! IN 3D!! AT THE SAME TIME AS ENGLAND!!!
All of that and yet the celebration of Doctor Who was NOT over.
We went back to my wife’s relative’s house (again) and this time watched “An Unearthly Child” – the original episode from November 23, 1963. We had watched the newest AND the oldest episodes in the show’s history, which aired exactly 50 years apart.
Just before we put on “An Unearthly Child” we watched the other 50th anniversary special drama about how Doctor Who started back in 1963 – “An Adventure In Space And Time”. Seeing modern actors portray the original actors from the 60s, after watching the complete run they were recreating, was pretty magical. The story was fictionalized slightly, but the main parts were still there and the story of Who (at its essence) was captured beautifully. kudos to Mark Gatiss and everyone involved in that docu-drama.
Plus, there were Who-inspired snacks. Celery for the 5th Doctor, Jammie Dodgers for the 11th, and of course Jelly Babies for the well-known 4th. Also making an appearance in the photo is the first story of Doctor Who on DVD and the ticket stub from the 50th anniversary. PARTY!!!
After the party died down, we went back home and capped off the night with one last nerd adventure – The World’s End.
Sunday, November 24, 2013:
When I awoke, still excited from the day before, I immediately went to the computer and pulled up something I wanted to watch the night before, but couldn’t: “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot“.
Peter Davison – Doctor #5 – wrote, directed, and starred in this comedy about the classic-era Doctors and their involvement in the 50th anniversary special. I was not expecting much, to be honest, but when I saw that it was 31 minutes I was shocked (I was expecting 6 or 7 minutes). To summarize exactly what I thought is this (and I do not take this term lightly, and RARELY use it):
I was laughing out loud, literally. My wife came out and asked what I was watching because she had heard me laughing as she tried to sleep in. Everything I had watched this weekend was brilliant, but The Five(ish) Doctors somehow stole the show.
Watch Doctor Who.
Expanded Parting Words:
No, seriously. Watch Doctor Who.
One last time… Parting Words:
Once you have familiarized yourself with Doctor Who, watch the following 50th anniversary content in this order (I think it makes the most sense):
- An Unearthly Child (episode 1)
- An Adventure In Space And Time
- The Name of the Doctor (finale of series 7)
- The Night of the Doctor (Prequel)
- The Day of the Doctor (5oth anniversary special)
- The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
Let me know if you are already a Whovian or if you plan on giving it a shot. I know that this is a baseball blog, but now that it’s the offseason you have plenty of time! (OK, maybe not to get through ALL of Doctor Who, but you can make a big dent!)