My friend and I had planned on attending for over a week. We both took days off of work to make sure we could have a majority of the day to stand in line. And we planned on getting there at 11AM. Surely, THAT many people won’t be crazy and take off work the way we did and stand in line much earlier, we thought. Even if there are die-hards who do that, surely we’ll end up in the first hundred.
People started lining up for the Doctor Who premiere at the Village East Cinemas the night before. I was awakened at 7:30 AM the morning of the event by my friend’s panicked phone call as he said “Twitter says…” (I love that Twitter has one voice. It speaks to all of us.) “…that the line already goes to Third Avenue!” (The theater is on Second Avenue for the benefit of our non-NYC readers.) “If we’re going to have a chance at all we have to go now!” My adrenaline kicked in, and I raced to brush my teeth and put clothes on like a firefighter speeding out to a call.
I had a very important Doctor’s appointment!
I claimed my spot in line at about 8:30 AM. Throughout the day, fans attempted to count how many people were in line to try and make themselves feel more secure in their positions. At various points in the day, I was around 400-something in line, 200-something in line, 300-something in line. After a while, I stopped listening, because honestly? Where I was in line had stopped being important. It was a gorgeous day (the clouds and drizzle gave way to a beautiful, sunny sky and warm, spring weather), I didn’t have to go to work, and I was standing around with fellow Whovians, which was a treat in and of itself.
It had been dubbed #DWLineCon on Twitter, complete with its own hashtag, and it’s a testament to the growing popularity of Doctor Who in the States that this year’s line made last year’s line look downright dwarfish! It’s a testament to Doctor Who fans, however, that the line felt so much like a party. Aside from the genial geeky chatter, the Doctor Who t-shirts, and the rampant cosplay, what I loved most was the art. Several people brought chalk, and one of the best parts of wandering up and down the line was checking out the Who graffitti on the sidewalk and on the sides of buildings. Warnings of Bad Wolf abounded (in English AND in Welsh). Cracks in space-time were everywhere! I was encouraged to vote for a guy named Saxon and also told to count the shadows. And then there were the TARDISes and the Daleks and the warnings to Sally Sparrow telling her to duck! Non-Whovian passersby looked down at the ground in confusion as they walked. “What are you in line for?” a woman asked me. “A screening of the season premiere of a show called Doctor Who.” I replied. “Must be some show!” she said, looking at the long line behind me. Lady, you have no idea.
I was thrilled when BBC America employees came to my section of the line bearing doughnuts. I immediately professed my love for the channel as I bit into my Boston creme, swearing that this gift of early-morning baked splendor would not go unrewarded, and I would watch every show they ever aired.
That is, until a friend came back to my section in line saying that Matt Smith, Arthur Darvill, and Karen Gillan had given the doughnuts out to everyone in the front of the line and stopped to take pictures with people. Then I was all Curse you BBC America for not telling Matt Smith to get me a doughnut!! That friend was Barnaby Edwards of Doctor Who NY, a NYC-based Who fan group that’s pretty awesome. Well, Barnaby had gotten in line at 4:30 AM, so I guess I can’t be too upset that he got to have his picture taken with the cast and I didn’t. After all, I love the cast of Doctor Who, but I love sleep more.
My section of the line was on Third Avenue near an NYU dorm building, and there came a point during the day when The Man tried to hold us down! NYU security cordoned off the wall on which fans had written their love of Doctor Who in chalk, and there was mention of the staff possibly washing the wall. The fans begged them to leave it up, as it was the thing that encouraged the crowd during the long wait. Fandom prevailed, and the NYU staff agreed to leave the artwork up! They also left up the yellow tape so we wouldn’t add to the graffitti. But adding to it would’ve been unnecessary, as the fans had already made their point.
There were people in line I know (like Someone’s Mrs. Reynolds, Alan Kistler of Newsarama and Jill Pantozzi from, well, everywhere including her own popular blog, Has Boobs, Reads Comics; and of course, Barnaby), and there were people I met in line like the two college girls behind me, one of whom was dressed as Amy Pond because her Liz X costume “would’ve been too complicated,” as well as the trio of Asian Amy Ponds in front of me, one of whom drew an awesome sketch of Amy and The Doctor in her sketchbook that she was hoping for the cast to sign.
And then the wristbands came out! Blue meant that you were guaranteed a seat in the main screening room where the Q&A was happening. Yellow meant that you were guaranteed a seat in the secondary screening room where you’d get to watch the Q&A on screen. The people behind that? There was another screening room, but their positions were less secure, and after a while, a waitlist was started.
The girls behind me were the last people to get yellow wristbands. Whew! Had my friend not called me and told me to hustle, I would’ve missed out!
The cast (including Alex Kingston this time) and Steven Moffat, newly gussied up, arrived for the screening in a really cool vintage convertible, and stood for pictures in front of the theater. And then, we were inside, and we were all given Doctor Who baseball caps courtesy of BBC America (which certainly beats last year’s magnets!). The excitement for the episodes was palpable. There was a bit of a seating snafu in the secondary screening room as about 9 fans were left without seats, because BBC America had reserved two rows for their guests. However, that was quickly resolved, the fans were seated….
…and the episodes began!
I’ll be writing a full review the Monday after the first episode airs, but I will tell you right now that if you’ve heard amazing things about the first two episodes, that is not hype! It is FACT. I will tell you that the Weeping Angels are child’s play compared to the new alien that’s introduced. And I will tell you that if you don’t love River Song after watching these episodes, you have no soul.
DW Line Con was a helluva lot of fun! It was well-organized, well cared-for, and the two episodes they showed us were well worth the long day’s wait! Kudos to BBC America for a great event, and thank you to the cast and to Mr. Moffat for taking time out for some of your American fans!
And to Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill—you’re welcome to bring me doughnuts at any time.
Teresa Jusino is two years older than Buffy Summers. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, and PopMatters.com. Her fiction has appeared in the sci-fi literary magazine, Crossed Genres; she is the editor of Beginning of Line, the Caprica fan fiction site; and her essay “Why Joss is More Important Than His ‘Verse” is included in Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them, which is on sale now wherever books are sold! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.