The final day of New York Comic Con, I had only one planned panel. I took some time to walk around the show floor some more, now that the crush of Saturday was gone. Picked up a 2000AD book after their excellent panel the night before (though it ended up being none of the titles they had recommended). Got Summer Wars from Vertical, which I had missed the first time around. Discussed the one-week delay on Random House manga with Diamond Distributors – they’ll look into it. Quite productive.
Then, after lunch, I decided to go to Main Events. My panel wasn’t for 2 1/2 hours, but hey. Luckily, I was able to walk right in. No lines at all. Hooray for huge rooms! What I ended up seeing was the network FXX advertising its wares. They had a fantasy football sitcom called The League, which is in one of my least favorite genres (group of horrible people are all friends and are horrible every week – see It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as well), but I will admit made me laugh a few times. The cast were all quite personable, and it’s clear they love making the show.
I then saw the world premiere of a new animated cartoon called Chozen, which stars the odd combination of Bobby Moyhihan from Saturday Night Live and Method Man from the Wu-Tang Clan. It’s about rappers, and I liked the episode far less – it read like a rap version of Family Guy, which I despise. The Q&A was more interesting, particularly when folks were asking Method Man about a Wu-Tang reunion (their 20th anniversary was this week) rather than about the actual show. Again, not for me, but everyone involved looked really hyped about it – this doesn’t have the feel of bringing in folks to cash a paycheck.
Then came what I had been waiting for – the Big Finish Doctor Who panel, with Nicholas Briggs, Jason Haigh-Ellery, and Colin Baker. Honestly, a lot of people in the room (now filled to capacity – my choice to camp there early was a good one) weren’t really all that familiar with Big Finish, being New Who fan types, but this may change their minds. The panel started with a costume parade – there were a huge number of Who costumes at the con, and not just Smith/Tennant stuff either. Lots of kids, who looked adorable. They all walked around to the KLF hit “Doctorin’ The TARDIS”.
Then came the panel proper, livened up greatly by Colin Baker, who knows how to work a crowd. We heard a preview of Big Finish’s 50th anniversary story, which stars Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin, Sylvester McCoy, and Paul McGann, along with various companions. Called The Light At The End, it was written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, and will be in standard CD, deluxe CD, and super deluxe LP editions. Colin notes that on audio, he can look the same as he did in 1984 – the power of imagination!
Big Finish was discussed as a “proving ground” for many young writers, and of course two Big Finish dramas were rewritten into the TV series – the Sixth Doctor story “Jubilee” became “Dalek” from Christopher Eccleston’s season, and “Spare Parts” was made into the Cybermen 2-parter in Tennant’s first season. Indeed, pre-Doctor Who, David Tennant did loads of Big Finish audio dramas, particularly in the miniseries Dalek Empire.
The company only has the rights to the “Classic” series, so can’t use the Silence or the Weeping Angels – which aren’t really fitting for audio in any case. Colin, discussing the episode Blink, wondered why winking wasn’t an option! He also noted that we never saw him regenerate (due to the nasty way the BBC let him go), therefore all the Doctors after him are imposters!
Colin dislikes using the word “favourite”, as it implies a ranking system, which he avoids. That said, the audio drama Arrangements for War was noted as being a highlight of his series with Big Finish. He did feel the new series had a leg up on the classic one as it can avoid the bad special effects that plagued the series – Colin describes being unable to walk off as he was holding up the wall at one point. And he wanted to not only be able to do the “Everybody lives!” scene from The Doctor Dances, but wanted Eccleston’s costume – his original idea had been for the 6th Doctor to wear a leather jacket.
There was some amusing bashing of other Doctors – Colin quickly noted this is a tradition amongst them, and not to read too much into it. He hasn’t seen Sylvester’s episodes (everyone tends to avoid the one that comes after them), but feels that if you are a good actor, anyone can be the Doctor. Nicholas Briggs also discussed how his Big Finish work got him the role of “Dalek voice” in the TV series, and how he was once cast as the Cyber voice without actually being booked – he was simply asked “Why aren’t you on set?”.
There was an amusing anecdote about an actress who shall not be named (though it’s obvious in context) who had trouble being scared by the Dalek in its titular episode, as she thought it looked ridiculous. The director sighed and shouted at her “It’s been killing people!” They all discussed their great love of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, and are excited to see what Peter Capaldi brings to the role – Capaldi is a Doctor Who fanatic, with toys and everything. Colin was also quick to note Nicola Bryant was his favorite companion in her role as Peri.
Lastly, as a reader of the BBC Doctor Who novels, my favorite anecdote of the night was when they were casting Fitz, one of the 8th Doctors book companions, for an audio project, they almost cast Matt Smith! He was thought to be too young for the role. Little did they know…
And then I tapped out for the last time and left Comic Con to go stand in an even longer line at the hotel to collect my suitcase. But it was a lot of fun. Yes, the lines were abysmal, and I think some of the room choices showed an astonishing lack of foresight, but this is one of the dangers of having a con with over 100,000 people. Overall, it’s a great unifying experience of fandom.