July 21st, 2019

Dalek Doll

Comic Con Report, volume 3; (A) Doctor Who Edition



Here Pandora Boxx, dressed as the Thirteenth Doctor, looks a bit isolated as a surprise guest on the panel called "SuperheroIRL: Avengers of Bullying and Injustice". And she followed through sticking out like a sore thumb, her genuine chat about compulsively checking online comments stood in amusing contrast to the weird fervency of host Chase Masterson (Leeta from DS9). Coming off as very tightly wound, I could see Masterson's fury when Boxx dared suggest drag queens tease each other "out of love". Masterson seemed similarly unamused when Boxx declined to divulge more details of her suicide attempt, saying simply, "I don't know what else there is to say. I'm still here!"



The other panellists, including comedian Joe Gatto and two members of the anti-bullying organisation, Brandon Matsalia and Vanee Matsalia, seemed like nice folks. A psychiatrist named Janina Scarlet who wrote a book called Superhero Therapy; Therapy Quest seemed like she had teeth grinding competitions with Masterson, though.

I've seen several other cosplayers dressed as the Thirteenth Doctor this year but Doctor Who hasn't had a big presence at the 2019 Con. On Friday I went to see a "Classic vs. Current Doctor Who" fan panel.



This was simply a group of cosplayers, moderated by CNN's Sandro Monetti, who conducted the affair in an affable and professional manner I would have thought well above the requirements of a little, non-celebrity panel shunted off to one of the smaller Marriott ballrooms. He began by mentioning what he felt were the weaknesses of both eras--the bad special effects of Classic Who versus, he added somewhat sheepishly, the political correctness of the most recent season. No-one else mentioned political correctness for the rest of the panel but everyone was unanimous in not liking the latest season. Several said they loved Jodie Whittaker but thought Chris Chibnall did a terrible job. A few panellists praised Chibnall's work on Broadchurch and Torchwood, though. In fact, the guy in the middle, dressed as the Fourth Doctor, said Torchwood would be, in his opinion, the best entry point for any new potential fan of Doctor Who. He was a bit of an oddball, appropriately enough, I guess. He consistently misinterpreted questions--when asked for opinions on "the best and worst costume", his answer was "Adipose" because he thought the question was about monsters.

One woman mentioned Diana Rigg's costume in "The Crimson Horror" as best. Several people mentioned Adric's as worst. Two of the women on the panel said they didn't like Clara's outfits because they were too youthful for her. One of these same two women disliked Lalla Ward's costumes for the same reason.

Quite far from complaining about political correctness, these same two women--one dressed as River Song, the other as the Sixth Doctor--complained the newest season wasn't feminist enough. River Song said she wanted to see Whittaker take the lead more, use her "power", and not refer decisions to "the gang." Both women agreed Thirteen ought to behave more like Leela.

It was nice to see several panellists really love Twelve and everyone seemed to want Missy back. The panel was evenly divided between people who preferred Classic and Modern but all of the panellists were older--the youngest looked to be at least fifty and his favourite episode, bizarrely, was the Paul McGann TV movie. The panel was filled with idiosyncratic opinions but I was surprised when nearly all of them agreed that "Vincent and the Doctor" was one of the best episodes ever. Though "Blink" was strongly endorsed as an entry point episode.

A couple young people from the audience were invited to express opinions. One teenage girl complained Peri's outfit in Caves of Androzani was too revealing. When Monetti called for competing cheers to settle the question once and for all between Classic and Modern at the end of the panel, Modern seemed to win handily. Though, as one of the people who cheered for Classic, I will say my throat was very dry and I was tired and wonder if this wasn't the case for many other Classic fans in the audience.