Just before we left for Los Angeles, Sage sent us the following gif. Caption? “Us by day three.” Accuracy? Astounding.
Con life is a commitment. If you don’t throw your body and soul into it, you’re not doing it right. This is as true for guests as it is for attendees, because while we were “Uptown Funk”-ing you up to the bitter end on Saturday night, John Barrowman was stuck in a bathtub. If he could wake up the next day and command an auditorium full of Whovians, we could certainly get out of bed to watch him. So we did. And when we turned on the television, Burn Gorman was there. You know you’re at Gally when real life is better than your dreams.
Every Christmas is “Last Christmas”
Our day began with “Last Christmas” playing in the big auditorium, which was a nice way to ease gradually into the morning with DEBILITATING FEELS OH HELP CLARA’S OLD BUT SHE’LL NEVER LOOK ANY DIFFERENT TO THE DOCTOR. IT’S TOO EARLY FOR THIS.
“Mummy on the Orient Express” live commentary
New honorary member of our club Jamie Mathieson took the mic first for a live commentary on his rollicking, Agatha Christie-inspired train adventure, also known as Sage’s entire bucket list. He was moderated by Who’s 50 author Robert Smith?, who stepped up and knocked it out of the park when writing partner (and, yes, one-time Head Over Feels guest contributor) Graeme Burk came down with a cold. (Feel better, Graeme!) Our sparkling kaffeeklatsch conversation with Jamie obviously helped him prepare to discuss the episode, because he hit on a lot of the same points, but with added shippiness.
- Jamie on the Doctor and Clara’s early conversation in the corridor (but really any scene): “They said there was gonna be no flirting, but you look at this, and it’s sizzling.”
- He didn’t specify in the script that Clara would wake up on that beach so far from the TARDIS, but obviously the Doctor carried her until he found the perfect spot.
- Clara’s “I love you” was also not scripted toward the Doctor, so we can thank the director for that glorious moment of tension, and we can thank Kim for asking about it at the kaffeeklatsch in the first place.
In conclusion, Jamie Mathieson is one of us, Jenna and Peter know exactly what they’re doing, the directors ship it, get on this literal space train.
An interview with John Barrowman
We were already girding our loins for Barrowman’s arrival when we saw his tweets.
The first thing he did when he took the stage was lead us in the wave, which came with a story. He did a benefit once—not naming names—that started with the wave, which John felt was an odd and slightly inappropriate way to commemorate the funds they’d raised for tsunami relief.
The whole interview was like that: thoughtful, shocking, rousing, and requiring plenty of audience participation. John Barrowman is living his dream. He’s a lifelong Whovian who knows what it means to love this show and wants to give people a safe space to share it. When con-goers lined up for questions, he generally asked their questions back to them, especially with kids: “Who’s your favorite villain?” “What do you love about the Doctor?” No YOU cried about it. By default, his position in the fandom has made him an advocate, and while that’s not why he got into the business, he’s honored to put his platform to good use. “I can be your voice,” he said to the first person who approached the mic, “and I am proud to be your voice, and I will speak up for you.” He held court for an hour and it felt like a revival.
- Relationship advice from John Barrowman: “Forgive each other, and don’t try to change each other.” Also role play.
- To that end, he said he only let his husband get his pilot’s license because of the uniform.
- Barrowman’s husband, Scott, once called him while flying a plane to inform him that he could see meth labs blowing up on the ground below and it was “BEAUTIFUL.” When Barrowman told him to please hang up and fly the plane, Scott replied, “Okay, I’ll take a picture!”
- John Barrowman, Elisabeth Sladen, and David Tennant all lived in the same building in Cardiff. They called it Who Towers.
- He first met Elisabeth Sladen in an elevator of that building; his episodes hadn’t aired yet, but she knew him. (“I know who you are, Jack Harkness.”) Then she offered up Sarah Jane to spank Captain Jack. We all miss her.
- As he left the elevator, Barrowman got flustered and called out, “Say hi to K-9 for me!”
- He and Elisabeth held hands when Davros came back.
- “And those are cherished moments.”—John Barrowman on going pants-less on set
- He put a lot of props in a lot of inappropriate places, and he did not wash them.
- He’d like to be on Game of Thrones. “Jon Snow… Barrowman is coming.”
- He’ll do anything but sing on command. “Download it. iTunes. 99 cents. Part of that goes to me, love yaaaaaaaa.”
- At the start of the hour, he warned parents that if they let their kids stick around, they knew what they were getting themselves into. Still, it didn’t take long for a crowd of children to gather at the front of the room. “Whose kids are these down in front?” Barrowman yelled at one point. “NOBODY’S? How’d you like to live with Uncle John?” Yes please.
- Like the rest of us, he’d love to see Captain Jack meet the Twelfth Doctor. He’s already got the perfect opening line: “So that’s what you look like now… daddy.”
- Barrowman has told both Burn Gorman and David Tennant that they too can get groped in con photos if they pretend to be gay, which Sage submits is “wholly unnecessary.”
- Sage also fueled my need to relate everything to The X-Files when we speculated on how often Barrowman and Tennant email each other, quoting this classic David Duchovny/ Gillian Anderson exchange: “Five times a year.” “That’s what you tell people.”
- John Barrowman doesn’t act like this on the set of Arrow. Something about getting fired? Excuses.
An interview with Burn Gorman and Eve Myles
Barrowman’s Torchwood costars are probably the only people who could follow him onstage, not only because they know him, but because they’re quietly unhinged in their own right. Did John rub off on them, or are they just like this? What does prolonged Barrowman exposure do to people? For that matter, what did this to Barrowman? Naoko says he didn’t used to be like this. “Something happened to him.” Was it Tennant? Who triggered this entire cast’s descent into madness? What I’m saying is that if someone structured a psychology class around the extended family of Doctor Who, I’d be all over it.
- Eve has publicly discussed John Barrowman’s anatomy so much that she doesn’t know what’s real anymore. “Honestly, sometimes I think I’m in a dream.”
- She met Burn when she chased him down the street after an audition to tell him that she liked his work in Bleak House (which also stars Queen Gillian Anderson, so Eve and Gillian should probably work together next).
- Eve auditioned for her role in season one of Doctor Who in “her favorite shirt,” which features “naked sexy ladies making out,” so of course she got the part.
- Working with Chris Eccleston was “a dream.” NINE, WE MISS YOU.
- If Captain Jack ever showed up at Eve’s door, she would not turn him away. “Come in and have a piece of cake.”
- After so many years playing hard-to-love characters, Burn has developed a complex, and Eve will not have it. She even got the audience involved: “So guys, Burn is gorgeous, right?” When we answered with catcalls, she told him to shut his face.
- Burn left the stage to hug an Owen cosplayer. He must be stopped.
- At one point, Eve and Burn giggled so much at the thought of a prank that I thought we’d never learn what it was. (It was stuffing Barrowman’s boots with sausages.)
- Eve and Burn made up a song about her audition t-shirt. The lyrics are “naked sexy ladies/ naked sexy ladies/ naked sexy ladies/ makin’ out,” and I never, ever want to stop singing it.
- “Just let me get the rocket launcher. I don’t care that you’re seven months old. Grow up.”—Eve on filming as a mother
- Her five year old wanted to name their dog Jesus. (Burn: “That’s a catchy name.”)
- No but really, Eve and Burn showered each other with praise.
- American craft services were such a revelation to her that she could not stop eating on set, to the point where a production assistant had to come into her dressing room and gently ask, “Have you met our friend Spanx?” Eve wasn’t even mad, because she hadn’t met Spanx, and now she could eat more food.
- It’s also possible that she told that entire story in the hopes that Spanx would send her free merch.
“The Pen is Mightier” panel
With that song planted firmly in our heads, we stretched our legs in the dealers’ room before Sage’s panel. I bought this.
And I cradled it with respect as Sage dropped the mic.
Sage and fellow panelists Erik Stadnik, Willow Polson, and Nicole Carlson were tasked with leading a discussion on the importance of female voices in Doctor Who‘s creative universe. The pool of writers has so far been dominated by men; next season will be the first time a woman has written for the show since 2008. We need to talk about this.
- The debate over shipping is one of the most frustratingly sexist rifts in the Doctor Who fandom, so let’s clear this up: Wanting the Doctor and his companion to get together does not make you less of a fan. David Tennant loves this show more than any of us (fine, maybe he and Capaldi are tied), and he called Rose the Doctor’s girlfriend this weekend. And we need to do away with the idea that fans either always or never want sexual tension in the TARDIS. It’s possible to embrace the romance when it makes sense for the characters without forcing it on every companion. As Sage put it, “If Capaldi takes me away, I’m going to fall in love with him, but I also love the Doctor and Donna BFF-ing in space.”
- Erik succinctly pointed out that “that idea that men will go away from something women find appealing is just bollocks.” (Feminism helps everyone, you guys. Common sense.)
- At one point, the whole room turned on a guy who said Martha Jones wasn’t a strong character.
- The question shifted from, “How would Doctor Who look different with more female writers?” to the much more difficult, “How do we get more female writers on Doctor Who?” We all know that fan involvement makes a difference. The Veronica Mars movie is basically the new Remember the Alamo. But it’s also important to remember that the project only started because cast and creator were free and willing. Change requires work behind the scenes, it moves slowly, and there are a lot of extenuating circumstances to consider. As Kim explained, Rachel Talalay’s directorial gig would never have been possible without a British passport.
- So when the conversation inevitably turned toward Moffat’s responsibility as a showrunner, Sage kept everyone on topic: “This is where the argument derails: We’re putting the entire history of institutional misogyny on Steven Moffat.” Moffat doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to writing fully realized female characters (though Clara gives me hope that he’s learning), and he’s made comments about his female characters and actresses that I’m not on board with. But if we try to pin the show’s lack of female creatives entirely on Moffat, we’re doing it because we want someone to blame, and because we’d like to pretend that there’s an easy solution to what’s actually a complicated, industry-wide problem.
- There’s no perfect way to fix it. Sage acknowledged that any initiative to hire female writers will bring up accusations of tokenism, but that’s not enough of a reason not to hire.
- In short, as she pointed out (can you tell she killed it up there?), “Doctor Who should be about the entire human experience, not just a part of it.”
Please imagine having this whole discussion with “naked sexy ladies makin’ out” in the background of your subconscious.
Sage’s birthday hit just after Gally, so Michelle treated her to the best surprise present of all: a photo with Burn Gorman.
While they shared a moment, the rest of us settled back into the main room for the final festivities. We caught most of “Previously on Doctor Who,” a conversation with the series’ more recent cast and crew. Ellis George stole the show, cementing her place in our pantheon of personal heroes when she said that if she had a TARDIS, she’d go back and audition for season one of Sherlock. “I can be Watson. It’s okay.” Get it, Ellis.
The discussion was followed by “The Year in Review,” which I suppose is a more official way of saying, “We made you a 55-minute fan video because we love you.” And I love YOU, Gally. This isn’t even just a montage of moments from the show—it’s also a compilation of the past year of Doctor Who media coverage, because remember that time when a young Peter Capaldi sort of leaned on a stool?
Closing ceremonies gave the con’s organizers and guests a chance to gush about each other, which just made leaving even harder. Fortunately, we still had one more night to eat Thai food, trade ribbons, and talk about the show. Also a BAFTA-winning member of the Doctor Who production team was stopped for riding a scooter in the lobby.
Thanks for the memories, Gallifrey One. We touched John Barrowman, so by the transitive property, we touched the world.