EVENT COVERAGE: 2012 Chicago TARDIS Convention
Whovians Congregate To Celebrate All Things DOCTOR WHO...
Greetings fellow Whovians and Time Lords! Ken here, and I am back (still not from Gallifrey) with my second installment of all things Doctor Who. This time my Type 40 TARDIS has taken me to the 2012 Chicago TARDIS Convention at the Westin Hotel for a fun filled 3 day event. This Doctor Who convention was made possible by Gene Smith and his team from Alien Entertainment based in Lombard, Illinois. The Chicago TARDIS has been active since the year 2000.
Gene Smith, CEO & President of Alien Entertainment and wife Karen Smith
To recap, for those of you WHO are new fans and decided to come aboard, Doctor Who is a British science fiction television show that debuted in November 23, 1963. Yes, that is 49 years ago! The premise of the show is a time traveling alien called the Doctor, who travels through space and time in a 1960's British blue Police Box known as the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space). As of today, there has been 789 episodes. The show has gained popularity since its 2005 rebirth, especially here in the good old US of A. The Doctor has a gift of regeneration, meaning every time he comes near death he regenerates to another new person and the adventures continue. Each regeneration is played by a different male actor and thus far there has been 11 Doctors for the television show. A genius idea if one wants to keep a television show on forever, which Doctor Who can easily accomplish, after all he is a Time Lord.
Doctor Who is also in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running , successful science fiction television show in the world based on ratings. Primarily a British culture phenomenon but recently gaining a high fan base here in America as was evident here at the 2012 Chicago TARDIS. Now moving forward (or is it linear if one is caught in a time loop?) The 2012 Chicago TARDIS had everything a fan would want, whether you are new to the series or an old faithful to the classic series. The one question that both vintage and new had in common was WHO was your first Doctor? Personally speaking, I came aboard at the end of #3 and the beginning of the legend that is Tom Baker, Dr. #4... now on to the show!
Sylvester McCoy (left), the 7th Doctor
This year's Chicago TARDIS had none other than Sylvester McCoy (Dr.#7, pictured above with yours truly) and Sophie Aldred (his companion ACE). Along with many of the folks from Big Finish Productions. What is Big Finish Productions you may ask? Well, they are a British company (founded in 1998) that produces books and audio plays based on science fiction properties , Dr. Who being the largest. Tom Baker, Peter Davidson, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, and Paul McGann have voiced their Doctor characters as well as many of their original companions. There are well over 200 audio plays on CD's and many are available as a mp3 format as well. As you can tell the adventures may have ended on television for Sylvester and Sophie but their stories continue in the audio plays. This has kept them busy among other projects that they are involved in. In fact, the upcoming Hobbit movie (December 14th) will also feature Sylvester McCoy in the role of Radagast! There are also audio plays from actual television scripts that were never produced, especially with the sixth Doctor, Colin Baker!
Sophie Aldred, aka ACE
Other featured guest at Chicago TARDIS included:
* Mark Ayers who is a composer, arranger, producer, and performer and has done the audio restoration work for the VHS and DVD releases and missing soundtrack CD releases since 1999 as well as 3 scores on Dr. Who.
* Jonathan Blum a writer of Dr. Who novels.
* Dr. Arnold T. Blumber who contributed to the Dr. Who short trip CD series from Big Finish Productions.
* Nicholas Briggs who is an audio drama actor, writer, director, producer, script editor, sound designer, and composer. For Big Finish Productions he has directed Peter Davidson (Dr. #5), Colin Baker (Dr. #6), Sylvester McCoy (Dr. #7), and Paul McGann (Dr. #8). Nicholas is also the voice of the Dalek for Big Finish as well as the revised television episodes of Dr. Who. He is also the voice of other aliens and the Cyberman for the show.
* Graeme Burk co-editor of Mad Norwegian Press and writer of the short trips CD's as well as the upcoming episode guide named Who is the Doctor.
* Andrew Cartmel is a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter who was the scrip editor for three years on Doctor Who (Sylvester McCoy years). He also assisted introducing Ace played by Sophie Aldred whose character actually attacked a Dalek with a baseball bat!
* Paul Marc Davis who played Chieftain in 2007 episode of Doctor Who titled "Utopia"
* Richard Dinnick who contributes to Doctor Who DVD Files and Doctor Who Insider magazines.
* Simon Fisher Becker who played Dorium Maldovar in Doctor Who in recent years during series 5 and 6 of the relaunch.
* Burn Gorman who plays Owen Harper in Torchwood (Doctor Who spin off!).
* Lisa Greenwood who has done four audio plays at Big Finish with Colin Baker (Dr. # 6).
* Toby Hadoke actor, writer, and comedian with a one man show called Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf and My stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver.
* Jason Haigh Ellery who has directed and produced over 300 audio plays as well as acted alongside many of the Doctor Who actors that are alive today.
* Tony Lee is a #1 New York Times best selling writer, who has written the ongoing Tenth and Eleventh Doctor Who series comics from IDW.
* Ian McNeice who is an actor in many films and television shows played Winston Churchill in recent years of the Doctor Who television show.
* Anjii Mohindra who played Rani Chandra in The Sarah Jane Adventures for television (a Doctor Who spin off!)
* LM Myles who is a writer and co-editor of the book Chicks Unravel Time.
* Philip Oliver has performed in several audio plays as the companion to the Seventh Doctor . His character name is Hex.
* Kate Orman who has written over 12 Doctor Who novels
* Lars Pearson the editor and chief of Mad Norwegian Press who supervises the company's essays books pertaining to women and fandom.
* Amy Pemberton who is an actress and does voice work for the Dr. Who audio plays where she has played a companion named Private Sally Morgan.
One-On-One with Gary
* Gary Russell is an actor and editor of Doctor Who Magazine during the 90's and was the producer at Big Finish Productions for the Dr. Who audio plays from the beginning in 1998 until 2006. He is also a writer of several Dr. Who spin off novels. Gary is back with Big Finish Production to work on the audio play Gallifrey.
* Colin Spaul is an actor and was in Doctor Who episodes titled "Revelation of the Daleks", "Rise of the Cybermen", and the "Age of Steel"
* Paul Spragg of Big Finish Productions, producer.
* Deborah Stanish is a writer whose works include Outside in: 160 New Perspectives on 160 Classic Doctor Who's Stories by 2160 writers.
* Lynn M. Thomas is the curator of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. She also co-edited the Hugo Award winning Chicks Dig Time Lords.
Many of the guests were scheduled either at speaking panels, one on one panels, book signing areas, photo op room, or the autograph room. I personally enjoyed Gary Russell's one on one panel as he was very informative about the Doctor Who franchise. Also very down to earth as he was sporting a yellow checkered shirt.
Comparing the procedures for photo ops and autographs between Chicago Wizard World and Chicago TARDIS was significant. At the Chicago Wizard World there were very long lines that one had to wait in for 30 minutes or hours even. You were basically stuck sitting on the floor. The Chicago TARDIS integrated a "virtual line" where one was given a ticket with a letter and number. At a approximate time of your choosing you would enter a room, I called the Tardis room because... well, there was a TARDIS in there, no really!, and wait for your group letter and number to be called.
In other words you did not have to wait in the TARDIS room but if wanted could had gone to visit places like the Dealers Room, with hundreds of Doctor Who merchandise from coffee cups, T-shirts, Posters, Photos, CD's, books, action figures, comic books, trash cans, plush toys, and yes Fezz's (which are cool - the Doctor says so!). If you felt like sitting and just catching up with the current series of Doctor Who or watching the classics, well you were in luck! There were not one but two rooms featuring Doctor Who episodes from 10am well into the evening hours of 11pm! One room specialized in the current series while the other room was broadcasting episodes from the classic series featuring the first Doctor (William Hartnell) through the seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy). Who could forget the classic episode from the fourth Doctor series (Tom Baker), "Genesis of the Dalek" featuring the first Davros and his creation the almighty Daleks! To hear those classic words again, "Exterminate!, Exterminate!" was music to ones ears.
Everyone Loves A Masquerade
There were many different forums throughout the weekend that would pique any fans interest. Contests, Open Mic on Friday nights, Masquerade contests for all of those cosplay players (even a turtle got in on the cosplay!) Cyberkaraoke Britrock Party on Saturday night, role playing game demo, Big Finish speaking panels, fans discussion groups, and countless other activities.
Alien Entertainment did a great job at organizing such a spectacular event. It was a great environment for any Doctor Who fan and if you missed out, then set your calendars for next year as the Chicago TARDIS 2013 will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who! It should be exciting as the series continues to gain momentum here in the states. Well it's time for this Time Lord to travel back from whence I came or is it whence I am going? (I get confused sometimes with all of this traveling). So until then, keep your sonic screwdriver near and remember Fez's are cool. Just think of me as the mad man in the blue box... G-E-R-O-M-I-N-O-!
Story and Photos by Ken Rodriguez
Last edited by JeffSaylor; 12-06-2012 at 10:59 AM.