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.

Photos from November 2004

Continuing my series of old photos from ten years ago

Southern Cross Station under construction. The bridge with yellow on the right is the Collins Street extension, so this must have been snapped from close to where Etihad Stadium is. Note the “Park and Ride” sign, a misguided attempt to get people to drive most of the way into the city, then catch a tram to work. This might become prevalent again when CBD and Docklands trams become free.
Southern Cross Station under construction (November 2004)

Port of Melbourne. I must have looked a bit suspicious taking photos, but the sight of containers stacked up (always empty when stacked like this, I’m told) must have caught my eye. You can see the Melbourne Central tower in the distance.
Port of Melbourne (November 2004)

Lee Lin Chin from SBS News on my old Loewe CRT television. Original X-Box in the cabinet, along with VCR and other old equipment. It’s only a few months ago that I got rid of the brown speakers… they went on Freecycle to a lady whose housemate uses hi-fi odds and ends to build “new” (retro!) systems for his friends. This photo was snapped for my here is my series of photos back then.
Ye olde CRT TV (November 2004)

Street art in Prahran. Authorised? Not sure. Naturally it was the trains (Hitachi and Harris) that caught my eye. The Nylex sign also features.
Street art, Prahran  (November 2004)

Even in the “dark years” between 1996 and 2005, there was Doctor Who merchandise around the place. I’m betting this wasn’t authorised. It was also in Prahran somewhere.
Toy Dalek (November 2004)

Doctor Who breaks new ground for television

It would seem Doctor Who is breaking new ground in some interesting ways.

They’ve engineered a “world tour” which involves the show’s stars jetting around the world for live appearances in 6 cities around the globe over about a week. It’s just about finished now… I’d imagine they’d be suffering horribly from jetlag by the time they get back to the UK. It was a set of public screenings for fans, but given limited capacity at each venue, I suspect was mostly set up as a media event.

Doctor Who: Deep Breath cinema ad, The Age, 15/8/2014

Next week “Deep Breath”, the new series opening episode will be simulcast on the ABC at the same time as it airs in Britain — 7:50pm Saturday in the UK, 4:50am Sunday in eastern Australia. It’ll then be available on iView straight afterwards, with a prime time repeat at 7:30pm. The same occurred with the 50th anniversary episode “Day Of The Doctor” last November.

It’ll also be shown in the cinemas on the Sunday: from the looks of listings on yourmovies.com.au, almost 100 cinemas in Victoria alone will show it.

Cinemas do seem to be moving into this kind of special event area. Perhaps they are looking to diversify from traditional movies, and also sensing that people will willingly pay a higher “event” price: Village is charging $25 for tickets, about $6 more than the normal price, and $40 for Gold Class, which is about the usual price. So they’ve recently taken on screenings such as showing the Monty Python live concert from London, a similar Stephen Fry event, classical music concerts and operas — and Doctor Who episodes — “Deep Breath” follows “Day Of The Doctor” in this regard, and recently some cinemas have also shown episodes in the past (though well after the TV broadcast).

I guess the production of TV programmes in 1080p HD now allows projection onto the big screen, and digital media allows distributors to rush it to cinemas worldwide without messing about trying to get physical film out there. But still, in the world of television, this and the simulcast appear to be almost unique to Doctor Who.

Of course there’s long been a relationship between TV and cinema. In the 60s in particular it was common for TV series (particularly in the UK) to be remade as films, sometimes with the same cast and writers, and considered part of the TV series; sometimes independent (as with the 1960s Doctor Who movies).

Many of our family is going to see “Deep Breath” in the cinema. The kids are going to screenings with their friends — M and myself have splurged on Gold Class, and will most likely avoid the early TV broadcast and try and avoid spoilers until we see it on the big screen. (I avoided seeing “Day Of The Doctor” because it was only shown in 3D, which doesn’t work on me.)

Notably, booking on the Village Cinemas web site, we found that on top of the ticket price there was a $2 booking fee for standard tickets… but a whopping $10 for Gold Class. Using the identical web site of course, and you have to print the ticket or show it on your mobile phone. The cheek of it.

Oh well, cost aside, it should be great — but it makes me wonder: Doctor Who is probably helped into this situation by being a cult show that’s also very popular, and being targeted at all ages… but is any other TV show getting this kind of treatment?

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.

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.