The Doctor may love London with both his hearts, but that doesn’t stop USA Whovians from uniting to celebrate our favorite Lord of Time. During the last weekend in March, fans from the East Coast packed their sonic screwdrivers, fezzes, and Converse and headed to (Re)Generation Who in Hunt Valley, Maryland. The Doctor Who convention (ran by Oni Hartstein and James Harknell) may be a newbie, but the guest list, panels, vendors, and entertainment packed a veteran punch – and is billed as “The Doctor Who Convention for Every Generation.”
From the moment the convention began, there was an excited buzz in the air as fans began to arrive at the venue. As a Whovian, I wanted to mingle with my fellow fans, but press duty called! I was granted the incredible opportunity to participate in an intimate interview with a couple of (Re)Generation Who’s special guests. My personal favorite was Nicola Bryant, who portrayed Sixth Doctor companion, Peri Brown.
Nearly 29 years after her exit from the television series, Bryant still exhibited the bright spirit of Peri and candidly spoke about her time in the TARDIS. She reminisced on how she thought her agent was joking with her about landing the role on Doctor Who. Nicola also revealed that she modeled Peri after her best friend from boarding school and her husband’s Richmond, VA family. According to the star, Doctor Who fans feel like her family and doing audio plays give her the same rush as being on set. I asked her which Doctor she would like to travel with and she gave me the following answer:
(Re)Generation Who offered a constant rotation of interesting panels, podcasts, and movies that took place simultaneously in three different conference rooms. Like the Doctor, I love to have companions, but I sometimes find myself traveling alone, so I planned a mix of panels so I could see nearly every panelist at least once.
Here are just a few of the panels I attended:
“Jumping the Shark”
Are there times when Doctor Who has taken it TOO far?
This panel session included Doctor Who writers Eric Hayward and Matthew Dow Smith as they looked back at the many moments when the series supposedly jumped the shark. The audience joined in for a spirited debate about whether John Nathan-Turner killed the Classic series and if the 1996 movie was a proper representation of the series. Of course, current showrunner Steven Moffat quickly became a topic of discussion. While Smith thought he brought a fresh perspective, some audience members felt like his changes to the series were too abrupt. In the end, everyone agreed that Doctor Who is the kind of show that can shift its perspective and make ANY kind of change.
“The Fourth Doctor: Tom Baker”
The indisputable highlight of (Re)Generation Who was the Skype session with Tom Baker. The Fourth Doctor answered a list of fan questions and captured the audience’s heart with his candor, wit, and pure energy. Baker didn’t hold back as he discussed his infamous wardrobe, funniest experience on the Doctor Who set, and how playing the Doctor made him feel complete. Check out the exclusive below about how much he loved (and still loves) Doctor Who:
“TARDIS TEAM: Sixth Doctor and Peri”
(Re)Generation Who was not only able to get Tom Baker to the conference via Skype, but they also nabbed two Classic Who Doctors to make grand appearances in person. Colin Baker (Sixth Doctor) and Sylvester McCoy (Seventh Doctor) made their way out to Maryland to mingle with fans. Colin Baker did a “TARDIS Team” panel with Nicola Bryant and both stars discussed everything from their wardrobe disappointments, to how their children/grandchildren perceive them on the show.
As attendees lined up to ask questions, a couple of fans decided to share heartfelt stories about the impact of the show on their lives. One man shared his memory of Colin Baker at a Doctor Who convention 30 years ago. He thanked Colin Baker for being the Doctor and coming to conventions despite Baker’s unfair treatment while on the series. Here is a small snippet of how Colin Baker’s children saw him on the show:
“TARDIS TEAM: Seventh Doctor and Ace”
The Seventh Doctor and his companion Ace (portrayed by Sophie Aldred) also took to the large panel room to discuss their time in the TARDIS. Fans grilled the duo about what episodes they liked from the current series and how they felt about the controversial 1996 movie.
McCoy revealed he is a fan of Rose Tyler and Capaldi but hates when the Doctor kisses companions. Sophie Aldred loved Blink and Mummy on the Orient Express. One brave fan asked Seven if he still played the spoons and this happened:
“Expanded Worlds of Who”
Easily one of the most insightful panels at the convention, the team of four (listed above) discussed what it was like to work on Doctor Who material as fans themselves and reflected on the funny and frustrating moments of writing books, audio plays, comics, and even game instructions for the show. “Expanded Worlds of Who” attendees enjoyed talking about the differences in Doctor Who media and shared tips on how to find coveted merchandise.
“Talking ‘bout Regeneration”
With the name (Re)Generation Who, it’s no surprise that there was a panel about one of the key components to success of the show: regeneration! Panelists Stephen Webb, Alice Bryson, Clay Dockery, and Justin Whitmore talked about each of the Doctor’s regenerations, discussed if there is a spectrum of control over the process, and provided a few interesting insights on the topic. Some of the most interesting quotes include:
“I think the Doctor goes through regenerations faster than the average Time Lord.” – Justin Whitmore
“Moffat writes to the strength of the actor playing the role.” –Steven Webb (not a Moffat fan, by the way)
In addition to the panels, there were extra activities and special events for fans to engage in including a TARDIS photo booth, a board gaming room, a full-on Gallifrey Dance Party, autograph sessions, cosplay meet-ups and even a belly dancing geek performance. Here a few photos of the fun below:
(Re)Generation Who has positioned itself to be the next premiere Doctor Who convention in the United States. A well-organized and carefully constructed production, the burgeoning event will continue to bring DMV fans a brilliant mixture of discussion topics, eclectic attractions, and enchanting guests to properly cover 52+ years of the best television show of all time.