November has become a month that I eagerly anticipate and this is because the weekend after Thanksgiving (November 23-25 this year) is Chicago TARDIS. Last year I was only able to attend for a day, but it was great to see Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, and Matthew Waterhouse (poor Adric). This year focused on the seventh Doctor’s era, so the most celebrated guests were, of course, Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, but there were many other guests in attendance as well.
Friday, I was able to attend two panels to start the day. One was devoted to the Ponds, the second to the best and worst companion exits (which I think may eventually become a blog post for me, so I won’t try to get into it here). I know one of the main reasons that I like to go is to see all the guests, but I have to admit that I love being a part of the discussions with other fans. Where else, for example, can you gather 30 or so people in a room who all know who Dodo Chaplet is and how she left the show?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the panel devoted to cosplaying classic who (I would love to put together a third Doctor outfit for Gallifrey One or even next years Chicago TARDIS), since I went to see Simon Fisher-Becker (Dorium Maldovar), Ian McNiece (Winston Churchill), and Colin Spaull (Mr. Crane). Fisher-Becker (who was hard to recognize without him being blue (and without his shaved head)) and McNiece were asked more questions and generally were more talkative that Spaull (I think his appearance wasn’t as fresh in the fan’s minds). The most interesting this that I learned was that the script actually stated that Dorium was supposed to have a Sidney Greenstreet feel to him, which I’ve always thought he had.
Next on stage was Sylvester McCoy for his solo panel. He was very entertaining and quite lively. He said that he enjoys doing conventions and talking to the fans and this came through on the stage. He talked quite a bit about his upcoming appearance as Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit, as well as his early days in show business. I really didn’t know that much about Sylvester McCoy previously, so I learned a lot. After his panel, I went and got an autograph, so I can now say that I have met the Doctor.
The final panel that I saw was Burn Gorman’s. I have to admit that I am not a huge Torchwood fan. I’ve been about halfway through the second season for about 6 months now. I don’t dislike it, but there are just so many other shows that I’d rather watch. He did a solo panel on Friday and Saturday and was quite entertaining. He was nothing like his Torchwood character, Owen Harper, who he described as “an ass.” He was also full of stories from the set that he couldn’t tell because of the children present. It did seem however, that the cast and crew got to see John Barrowman’s “boys” quite often. He also talked about his upcoming part in Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim (it seems his scenes are with Charlie Day and he actually does not play a bad guy!), as well as Spies of Warsaw and The Dark Knight Rises. I wish he could’ve spoken a bit more about The Hour, but, obviously the audience was more interested in his sci-fi work.
On Saturday, I saw many of the same people, but this time, there was a seventh Doctor era panel featuring Sylester McCoy (of course), Sophie Aldred (who had her solo panel on Sunday, the one day I wasn’t there), Mark Ayers (who has composed some music for Doctor Who and was involved in some of the DVD restorations), and Andrew Cartmel (script editor during McCoy’s era). I learned a lot about the final era of the classic show, like the fact that the cast thought they would be returning for another year, only to be told that the show had been “put on hiatus.” I guess it was never officially canceled. Sylvester McCoy took great pleasure, however, in the fact that the show that replaced Doctor who failed miserably and it’s producer was sacked.
One of my favorite parts of Chicago TARDIS is seeing the cosplayers. I did dress up for both days this year, both days as Amy Pond (Asylum of the Daleks Amy on Friday and Vincent and the Doctor Amy on Saturday), but my costume was simple (really just clothes out of my closet and a red wig) compared to the elaborate costumes for the masquerade. There were Silurians, clockwork men, cybermen, Davros, Idris… My friends had to leave early so I wasn’t able to see the masquerade, but I did get to see quite a few of the costumes before I left. If you want to see a collection of photos, you can visit the site for the Red Eye (and see a picture of me in my Vincent and the Doctor outfit in the gallery too!).