Last night, at The Way Station (a steampunk-themed bar in Brooklyn, NY featuring a TARDIS bathroom) the latest installment of Doctor Who was screened to a room jam-packed with squeeing fans. The bar screened the Tom Baker classic “City of Death” as a warm-up to showing “The Doctor’s Wife” getting everyone in a solid Doctor-y mood prior to the new episode.
I managed to squeeze into the bar among some leathery steampunk-clad fans, Romana and Eleventh Doctor cosplayers, as well as several people in Doctor Who themed t-shirts. The master of ceremonies and burlesque luminary (and Tor.com contributor!), Nasty Canatsa, did a brief survey of the crowd to see who had NOT seen the new Gaiman-penned episode prior to the screening and nearly every hand shot up. After the screening I chatted with some fans to get their first reactions to this latest episode
Spoilers for the episode below.
Prior to the screening, I chatted with a few fans to get a feel for the general mood. At the bar, I talked to Rachel who said The Graveyard Book was her favorite Neil Gaiman story yet and was looking forward to the episode as both a Who fan and a Gaiman fan. Another attendee, Esther, told me she wasn’t totally caught up on the Tenth Doctor’s adventures, but had seen enough to know that her favorite episodes were previously penned by Stephen Moffat. “I feel like because Stephen Moffat is now the showrunner, we need other writers to give us the special treat episodes, and maybe that’s Neil Gaiman.”
I also talked to Max who was not previously a Doctor Who fan, but was drawn to the event by his interest in Gaiman. Afterwards, Max told me he thought the episode was “…perfect as a Gaiman story because it was so eloquent.” Max also indicated he was now totally onboard for more Who after this screening.
Steampunk cosplayer Stephaney agreed about Gaiman’s eloquence saying the writing was “beautiful,” citing she particularly liked the idea of a TARDIS graveyard. Fellow Steampunker Vesper chimed in saying she loved the idea of calling the TARDIS “sexy.” Another fan, Du, pointed out that the episode seemed “very low-tech, and almost had a haunted house feeling to it.” Du also liked the humor in this one, saying there were so many jokes in the episode that “you almost couldn’t catch them all.” He and I agreed, saying we probably liked the bunk-bed joke near the end the best.
Another newcomer to Doctor Who was Gloria, who told me prior to the screening that she was a huge Star Trek: The Next Generation fan. Afterwards, Gloria indicated that she loved the dynamic between the Doctor being “the captain of his ship, and sort of having a romance with her.” We then both mused that if Star Trek had ever done a story like this it would have been neat to see the Enterprise personified as an actual woman. Gloria’s friends Jack and Casey were both fans of the show and had actually skipped over Matt Smith’s first season because they missed David Tennant, but were now on board for more Eleventh Doctor action saying the episode was “solid fun.”
I talked to a full on Eleventh Doctor cosplayer named Sean who claimed, “we’d always known the TARDIS was sexy.” His friend Sarah (dressed as Romana) said this episode “…sort of made up for the pirate episode…” but that she loved it because of “…all the references to not only Gaiman himself but Douglas Adams...” Junkyard at the end of the universe indeed!
Finally, Sadie, who was wearing Sean’s fez, gave us a tantalizing fan-theory. Talking about yet another death from Rory, Sadie thinks “the universe is trying to correct itself because Rory was supposed to have died [in “The Big Bang”]. Further, both Sarah and Sadie implied that maybe we shouldn’t trust Amy all that much because the TARDIS’ cryptic clue about “the only water in the forest is the River.” These two fans asserted that maybe this means “River” NOT the “Pond.” Interesting thoughts!
All in all, it was a great experience, and the environment could not have been more respectful and enthusiastic. Not one person talked during the episode and the return to the old Ninth Doctor/Tenth Doctor control room easily got the biggest cheer from the audience!
The Way Station will be screening new Eleventh Doctor episodes every Sunday, and will be have it’s next Who-extravaganza with classic episodes in two weeks on the 29th of May at 4 PM.
Ryan Britt is a staff writer for Tor.com. His work has appeared with Nerve.com, Clarkesworld Magazine, Opium Magazine and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn.