jason stives jumps in his tardis for doctor who’s series 7 premiere…
Attending a screening for a film or television show is a rather straight and narrow gig. You meet at the appropriate venue at the appropriate time, run the press line asking the same mundane questions, and snapping what will generally be the same pictures that will be published by media outlets across the country. There is no room for fan fare and it’s probably frowned upon. That is, unless, you’re a much touted science fiction institution. This past Saturday, the Ziegfeld Theater in Midtown Manhattan was greeted by a plethora of fezzes, Stetsons and bowties for the U.S. screening of the season premiere of Doctor Who.
Those fans lucky enough to attend at the mere price of $1.11 (11 cent tickets plus a surcharge) waited in anticipation for the arrival of Matt Smith and Karen Gillian, the stars of the cult science fiction series which sees the premiere of its seventh series on BBC America this Saturday night. Fandom as strange it seems to outsiders, and as obnoxious as it can be to continuity freaks, can be a beautiful thing to watch as devoted fans came far and wide to breathe in the same air of their favorite TV stars for a few hours. Shows like Doctor Who that run for years on end develop a special place in the viewers’ hearts that connects them greater than most people can imagine.
Standing in the photographers pit right outside the theater I felt this same feeling. As many Pop-Break readers know I am a devout Whovian and Doctor Who greatly shaped who I am as a writer and a dreamer. Many look at it as a serious obsession while others see it as a pleasant spot in day to day life that allows the escapist to run rampant after work. Having spent years of dedication in watching every episode that exists of the show being able to meet the stars of my favorite show in person was like meeting a sitting President. I did have the opportunity along with many other journalists to interview Smith, Gillian, and executive producer Caroline Skinner earlier in the day but you will have to wait to hear about that.
In the mean time we waited with baited breath for the stars to show up and when they did it was in glorious and totally iconic geek glory. At 5:25pm, two Deloreans pulled up to the front of the theater as the noise from the crowds waiting erupted in total nerd glory. Matt Smith exited the car first, flashing a piece sign and a broad grin behind his long matted hair and aviator sunglasses. Karen Gillian was next, decked out in a flowing black dress and was as a beautiful as the day was bright. The two co-stars stood in front of the vehicle along with [series producer] Caroline Skinner and Q&A moderator Chris Hardwick [of the Nerdist] for a photo session, smiling and profiling to us devoted fans and professional journalists. As they parted company the fans were allowed into the venue and before you knew it all 800 seats inside were packed with glowing sonic screwdrivers whizzing and whirling in the air. Not even an army of fake light sabers could seem as enchanting as that.
The fans were treated at 6pm sharp to a viewing of the season premiere which only two prior screening audiences in the UK have been fortunate enough to see up to this point. “Asylum of the Daleks” won the eager crowd over with tons of gasps, cheers, and tears to go around. After it was over Chris Hardwick hosted the audience Q&A which was kept to a precise number of fans as to not run over the allotted time requested. While many fans seemed deathly nervous they came with loaded questions that were both fun and insightful. What did we learn from all this? Matt Smith thinks Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston would make an excellent American Doctor….or even a great Master? Hmmmm. If Smith and Gillan could do Shakespeare together it would be Macbeth. Karen Gillan is a huge fan of Community, especially Inspector Space Time. Not much could be revealed about the 50th Anniversary but needless to say it will be the biggest year for Doctor Who fans yet. All these answers were greeted with much enthusiasm by Smith, Gillan, and Skinner and needless to say everyone left the screening with grins and memories that they will no doubt treasure for years to come. For this fan it was the opportunity of a lifetime that I’m not sure can be topped unless I can sell a script to Steven Moffat himself. Damn, I should’ve slipped Caroline Skinner a copy of “Cult of the Dalek.” Shucks.
All Photos Credit: BBC America