Geek central, Melbourne

They say geek is the cool, right?

Geek central in Melbourne must be the corner of Elizabeth and Little Collins Streets.

Why? Because within a few metres are no less than three pop culture shops:

Firstly, there’s the Doctor Who “popup” (eg temporary, until January) shop. Actually it has Sherlock merchandise too, which probably makes it more of a Steven Moffat shop.
Doctor Who Popup Shop, Melbourne, Summer 2014-15

Secondly, a little further up Little Collins Street is this shop, which as far as I can tell, has no actual name. At least, none prominently on display. (Professor Google says it’s called “Critical Hit“.)
Collins Gate pop culture shop

Thirdly, that old favourite, Minotaur. I used to shop there in the 80s when it was in Swanston Street. Then it moved to Bourke Street, and more recently(ish, well, probably 10+ years ago now) to Elizabeth Street — the former Melbourne Sports Depot, I think.
Minotaur

Also nearby:

EBGames in Swanston Street (also a former Melbourne Sports Depot?) has opened a geek section in their basement.

The ABC Shop has moved to Emporium.

A day at OzComicCon

We went to OzComicCon for the first time on Sunday. Here are some photos.

It was at the Exhibition Buildings, and pretty much filled the space, both upstairs and downstairs, plus a couple of big tents outside, one of which included the main stage. Parts of it got quite crowded, and it was kind of amusing to see people dressed up as the most hideous and frightening monsters in the many universes portrayed, slowly carefully moving around, and saying “excuse me” and “sorry” if they bumped into anybody.
OzComicon 2014

Unfortunately we couldn’t look inside this thing to see if it is actually bigger on the inside. It was very realistic though — we got chatting with the bloke who ran the company that makes them, who has had inside access to the Doctor Who production facilities to help make the replicas as accurate as possible.
Daniel with a Police Box, at OzComicon 2014

A minor disagreement.
Disagreement with a Dalek at OzComicon 2014

A lot of OzComicon people went next door into the Museum to use the cafe when the in-venue food vendors got overwhelmed. I wonder what the museum vendors thought of some of the costumes. As you can see, it appears Prince Oberyn is alive and well.
Prince Oberyn, at OzComicon 2014

Don’t blink! This lady had one little kid nervous. He hid, and kept asking his mum “Is it gone?” — he’d obviously forgotten the cardinal rule to keep watching the statue, and not blink. His mum would reply that the statue wasn’t an It, but a She.
Weeping Angel, at OzComicon 2014

High on the cuteness factor: With his dad was this mini-Matt Smith.
Mini Matt Smith at OzComicon 2014

Arthur Darvill (Rory from Doctor Who) seemed to enjoy himself during his Q+A session, and told a few good anecdotes. He’s also quite a good singer, and got a guitar out and sung Kylie’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”. We had queued for about half an hour to get good seats — the queue rapidly grew. The only complaint I’d have is the audio quality where we were sitting meant we really had to concentrate to understand what he was saying.
Arthur Darvill (Rory from Doctor Who) at OzComicon 2014

Hey, who turned out the lights?
Vashta Nerada, from Doctor Who, at OzComicon 2014

In amongst all these people, we found Wally.
Where's Wally at OzComicon 2014

All in all, we had a good time. We didn’t go for the autograph and photo sessions, but enjoyed looking around at the stalls and costumes. Amongst the various characters from many, many different franchises, Jeremy counted 41 Matt Smith Doctors, but my surprise was we also spotted a William Hartnell Doctor — sorry, no pic.

Before home video

In the days before home video, we had to resort to other means to re-live movies and TV shows.

Novelisations of productions were common. I knew people who had hundreds of Doctor Who novelisations — virtually every story had a book published. I had perhaps a dozen.

WarGames book coverOther books made it into publication — scripts, programme guides, and spin-off material. Of course these are still common, but perhaps only for specific “cult” titles that the makers think will sell really well.

I used to have the script for The Singing Detective. At home I still have two books from The Goodies, which have a wealth of quite amusing material. I didn’t bought them, but acquired them both from the primary school library during clear-outs.

Some people would record TV shows onto audio tape. About a hundred 1960s Doctor Who stories are still lost — but audio recordings exist for every single one. (It’s perhaps a sign of the priorities of big bureaucracies like the BBC that paperwork exists for all the stories, despite the actual stories having been thrown out.)

In the 80s before I had saved up for a VCR, I recorded some stuff onto audio… from memory by just putting a tape recorder close to the TV, though I may have later rigged up a cord connecting the two directly. The Young Ones was an example — I had most episodes on cassette, and listened to them regularly for a while.

One of the movies I bought the novelisation of back in the day was WarGames, which as I’ve written about before, was very influential on me. As I recall it follows the movie script closely, but has a few extra titbits: such as that after the movie ends, David gets a summer job doing computer work at NORAD, and his school is convinced to buy some computers to teach computer studies to the students.

I don’t know what happened to my copy of the book. Presumably I got rid of it during a house move at some point. So in the best traditions of nostalgia, when I got curious and looked on eBay the other week, I found a copy for under $10, and bought it again.

I still love the movie. I bought the 25th anniversary Blu-ray release recently as well — it looks great in high-definition. I’ll probably re-read the book at some stage. It’s only 220 pages — it’ll be a pretty quick read I’m sure.

Nowadays, people can record anything off TV easily using cheap technology, and perhaps every major TV show and movie is released on DVD and/or Blu-ray, and (eventually) repeated ad infinitum on one of the many TV channels. No wonder novelisations have mostly disappeared, and few people record audio off the TV anymore.

  • Ever wondered about the term “Wardriving“, meaning to look for open Wifi networks while driving? It’s derived from “War dialling“, meaning to ring lots of phone numbers looking for computers answering… the word came from the movie.)
  • Speaking of scripts, there are over 80 made freely (and legally) available for download here: Go Into The Story

Day of the Doctor

Well, here we are. Some more thoughts on the Doctor Who anniversary… Warning — below are spoilers for those who have not seen the special episode yet

November 23rd

Anniversary day finally arrived.

November 23rd

The Doctor Who 50th anniversary special episode “Day Of The Doctor” aired in the UK at 7:50pm GMT Saturday night which is 6:50am AEDT on Sunday morning. Thankfully the technology for the simulcast is a little more sophisticated than streaming video — otherwise we might have seen this!

Doctor Who special simulcast - streaming? Let's hope not!

It made me wonder… the ABC self-regulates its programme ratings, and rated the episode as PG, which is a safe bet.

But with the same episode showing at numerous Australian cinemas today, and them advertising it also as PG, does this mean it had already seen by people at the Classification Board?

The answer seems to be yes — there is a listing on their web site showing it was rated PG for mild impact themes and violence on 7th November… which I suppose means copies have gone to all the broadcasters as well.

Repeats

Full points to ABC2. The geniuses in their programming department managed to get their weekday Doctor Who repeats to conclude on Friday with the episode before the special. Well done!

The Popup Shop

BBC Worldwide (their marketing arm) are running Popup Shops around the country too. We went along to the Richmond one the other week (it may have finished up already), and it was very busy.

Doctor Who Popup Shop

The episode — Spoilers!

And the special episode itself? Well I got up to watch it, and will watch it again tonight.

Fantastic. A great balance between nostalgia/tribute and a fresh story that wouldn’t put off the Newvians (as Isaac has called new Whovians).

Nostalgia is a powerful force. The episode managed to tug at the collective memories of decades of episodes via millions of viewers.

At the start it referenced the very first episode (which I’m too young to have seen on original transmission, but first saw in the mid-80s on a very fuzzy copy of a copy of a VHS tape), but there were also many more recent memories — including some from the 70s and 80s — I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who found myself delighted but also a little emotional while watching.

The Zygons — happily little changed since their 70s appearance.

The Curator — what a surprise.

From the mini-episode Night Of The Doctor we now know 8th Doctor Paul McGann regenerates into John Hurt. It’s implied in this episode that he becomes Christopher Eccleston. But what happens to the numbering now? Is Matt Smith actually 12 instead of 11? If so, is Peter Capaldi (glimpsed briefly today) set to be the 13? If so, what happened to The Valeyard, who was supposedly going to be between the 12th and 13th?

Or did McGann to Hurt institute a reboot, given he was actually brought back to life by the Sisters of Karn? That would make Hurt the 1st, and so on. It seems not, if the credits were anything to judge.

The 13th is meant to be the last Doctor. Not that it really matters — if the makers of the programme want to bend Timelord lore and go beyond the 13th, they’ll find a way — it’s science fiction, after all. (They did it years ago with The Master.)

A loose end was tied up — in The Shakespeare Code, we saw the Tennant Doctor being chased by Queen Elizabeth the First. Now it seems we know why.

Though we never saw what happened to the negotiations between the two Kate Lethbridge-Stewarts. And why is Clara now a school teacher? (Or did we already know that?)

This episode turns around the result of the Time War. But would the Daleks really have destroyed themselves when Gallifrey disappeared? Seems a tad unlikely, though maybe that’s why the Eccleston Doctor is so surprised any of them survived.

Maybe some of these things will be explained later. But I for one thoroughly enjoyed this episode.

And like all good stories, it ended with a cup of tea.

Here’s to the next fifty years!

PS: Ratings

Doctor Who “Day Of The Doctor” Australian ratings: 424,000 at 6:50am (!) and 922,000 at 7:30pm plus it was apparently ranked number 2 for Sunday cinema box office takings ($1.5 million). (Source)

In Britain it was second-highest programme of the night, watched by 10.6 million. (Source)

PS: The Google Doodle

Surely everyone’s seen this, but just in case not, here’s a link to its permanent home: the Doctor Who Google Doodle, including a multi-level game inside it. Over a few tries, I eventually managed to complete it in 3 minutes 28 seconds.

This tram is bigger on the inside #SaveTheDay

This tram is bigger on the inside:

The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is fast approaching, and fans are getting into a fervour.

Normally it’s only sports fans who wake up early to watch live TV. Sci-fi fans? Not so much.

All that will change next Sunday morning, when the special anniversary episode Day Of The Doctor will simulcast in Australia and in 70+ other countries around the world. On the east coast it’s 6:50am AEDT, which is pretty civilised (matching the UK time of 7:50pm on Saturday).

It’ll air again on Sunday night at 7:30pm on ABC1 for those who don’t want to get up early, followed by a dramatisation of the creation of the TV series, airing straight after it (trailer). Then it’ll be shown again on ABC2 on Monday, at 7:30pm and 11:20pm.

The special episode will also be shown in 3D at many cinemas next Sunday, including most Hoyts and Village outlets.

There’s been an early teaser/trailer:

…an actual trailer:

…and I can’t embed it in this page, but there’s also a mini-episode which brought a huge surprise for regular viewers of the show.

Will I be getting up early next Sunday to watch? Oh yes!