We interrupt our regularly scheduled review of Sherlock Holmes for a Thanksgiving Day special convention report…
On Saturday, November 19th, I again set off on that 100 mile drive to Holtsville, NY where Ken Deep was hosting another Doctor Who convention. This was one of the better conventions I’ve spent time at in recent years but that’s not to say it was flawless. I’ve been to this venue before and I don’t think it’s really cut out for the crowd. Arriving just ahead of the 10am start, I was amazed that I had to park all the way around the back of the hotel. Walking in was a chilly affair since I didn’t want to have a jacket on the whole time I was in the building, but at least it was sunny; a fickle time of year and November is not known for being predictable. Then I was again bummed that the dealers room did not open until 11 and I think it’s important to understand why that matters. I go to these cons for a few things: the celebrities are a big part but that varies. Get me a member of the cast of Doctor Who, and I’m in but I also go looking for new stuff for myself as well as potential gifts for other Whovian friends. I am sure I’m not alone with this sort of thinking. So the tables with celebrities signing photos for $30 seems reasonable and I might want to get an autograph or two, but I also don’t want to spend my annual salary while here and I can’t really assess until after walking into the dealers room. By opening the dealers room late, the convention goer doesn’t get a fair shake at what’s available by which point some of the celebs have moved on. (They come back, but it’s an unfair wait when the solution is simple: have everything open at the same time.)
The other big letdown was the photo ops. That’s the one area I like to splurge a bit having started a wall in my computer room of me with various Doctor Who actors. This becomes a costly venture especially if you sign up for multiple photos but I usually feel it’s worth it… except in this instance, we had to sit down. I hadn’t known this at the time of purchasing and never had it happen before. And look, I fully acknowledge that Covid is still a concern and I equally realize that as magical as Doctor Who is, the cast is not immune to getting sick. But that should have been made clear before selling the tickets. My first photo came out with me looking a bit, shall we say, plumper than I wanted to look. For the second photo, I asked the photographer, John Sheehan, if I could hold my breath just to be able to stand with them, he moodily told me to please just sit down. John is there every year and is often full of anecdotes and fun stories, but it was clear that when they misjudged how many people would be on the line for the 5th Doctor in costume, he became less jovial and more like an angry teacher. The same was true of one of the line moderators who claimed to have been up for 36 hours. Maybe this was in keeping with the Meglos title given to this convention: the staff were allowed to be a bit more prickly than usual. So now I have a wall of photos and two new pictures that are in portrait orientation that just don’t fit the wall. If nothing more, that will require a revamp if I want to hang the new ones.
So what made this such an enjoyable convention for me? When I reported on this convention in 2019, I mentioned that I failed to share contact info with a fellow Whovian. As I got into the place this time, before I even got my badge, there he was! We ended up hanging out most of the day, even grabbing a bite together before we left. (Although somehow we never did discuss the old time radio shows that we had enjoyed talking about at the last con.) It’s one of the amazing things about Doctor Who fandom – friends can be made very easily. I also had the opportunity to catch up with Chris DeLuca who presented on the Doctor Who USA tour from 1986/1987. Having been there, and still having original photos of that exhibit, Chris and I enjoyed discussing that event. And I made another new friend with someone from Traken… or perhaps that was Brooklyn? She made her costume and it was an incredible recreation of Nyssa’s outfit from her debut story.
Like most cons, there are a tremendous array of cosplayers. There were many, many Doctors and some really nailed it. Mostly 5th Doctor costumes, since Peter was at this convention but there were a number of 4th Doctors as well, both in red coat and my preferred earlier version. Largely because I was engaged in conversation so frequently, I failed to get more pictures, but one of the Doctors that I spoke to at the end of the show looked particularly good in his 5th Doctor costume. Then a female version of the 11th joined us so I “time crashed” by getting a picture of them together. There was also a damned good Capaldi walking around the place but I lost him before I could get a photo. K-9 again roamed the halls, along with a Cyberman and a Sontaran, but the best of this year was an Ice Lord (see pic, above). I want to know how that was made because it was stunning. I also heard I missed a particularly attractive Leela. And although I didn’t get a chance to catch up with him, the Master was back from the Unearthly con and still looking sharp. And rereading my own comments from 3 years ago, I had to give a shout out to the little girl dressed as Ace who at the time couldn’t have been more than 5, now back and still sporting the look in time to meet Sophie Aldred. Sadly, I did not spot last year’s Sarah Jane Smith.
The guest list this year was incredible. This is where Ken Deep really does put together an excellent show. I’ve been to numerous conventions over the years and only his give us the opportunity to actually talk to the celebrities. Comicon costs a kidney and a pact with the devil and what you get is being jostled about like cattle! Then when it is time to be with the celebrity, you’re moved along like a production line. There’s no time to even shake their hands! Not so with Long Island Who! Ken’s conventions give you a chance to actually spend time with the guests and let me tell you: they are consistently fantastic. This year we had such a selection that I missed some opportunities to talk to Peter Davison, Fraser Hines and Wendy Padbury, and that was a bummer as I’ve had some really nice chats with Fraser the handful of times I’ve met him. Luckily I did talk to Sarah Sutton, who was again the epitome of wonderful. Janet Fielding was looking great and shared some thoughts on her recent reprisal of Tegan in Jodie Whittaker’s finale. I had to tell her just how emotional her scene was even though I’m sure I was one of many to say that. I did the same with Sophie Aldred. Sophie is still a class act and somehow still manages to be Ace even after all these years. Then I had a long chat about the writing of the series with Bhavnisha Parmar who played Yaz’s sister Sonya during Jodie’s era. I also met with David Howe, author of The Who Adventures: The Art and History of Virgin Publishing’s Doctor Who Fiction, which I picked up because I loved the previous book on the Target novels.
As I’ve said before, Doctor Who never ceases to amaze me and these conventions are lots of fun. I do hope we see some updates next year, like knowing in advance what we’re getting when we pay for photos, but I am sure I’ll still go back regardless. So minor quibbles aside, I still have to repeat the same comments from a few years ago. Thanks Ken and crew for giving us such a fantastic experience! And a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you at home too! ML