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Nov 13, 2006

Dimensions in Shame

Dimensions Convention Review (aka The Whole Sorry Story)

Saturday began with a text message from Damon:

"Colin Baker's Got One!"

Two thoughts immediately raced through my mind. Firstly, "what the hell is Colin Baker doing there?" and secondly, and more importantly, "who the hell gave him a copy of the fanzine???"

Despite my initial worries, Sean and I set off for the convention in good spirits. I even spent the first 25 minutes giving out copies to the early birds, which seemed to go down well given the sounds of guffawing that could be heard in the bar. So far, so good.

At 9am, John, Sean, Damon and I headed for the first panel which was billed as featuring "that woman who played Scooti in The Impossible Planet". So imagine our surprise when Colin Baker turned up instead. The first 20 minutes were comprised of Colin moaning about the press and reality TV shows (as usual) and then the interviewer asked him: "Have you ever had any bad experiences with fans? For example, in a fanzine?"

As soon as I heard the word "fanzine" I knew we were screwed. Colin asked if the person who gave him a copy of Tachyon TV in the bar that night was in the audience and John (being John) quickly stuck his hand in the air. I slipped quietly down into my seat and prepared myself for the worst.

The following is by no means a verbatim account - like someone who's been in a car crash, little bits of it keep coming back to me. However, it's a fair summary of what occurred:

For approximately five minutes (which felt like five hours) Colin essentially called us a bunch of idiots who were peddling the very worst kind of undergraduate humour. He criticised us for leeching off the backs of people who produced the show, and he even attempted to lump us in with some other fans who once made a bad taste comment about cot death. Which was a bit harsh. He said he would have wiped his arse on the fanzine but it was too shiny, and he took great delight in sticking the "nasty filth" in the bin. He summed it up as being unoriginal in that it said a) The Twin Dilemma was crap and b) he was a bit fat. He finished off by saying "if only these idiots would get together and spend time actually creating something worthwhile instead". This prompted the entire hall to spontaneously burst into applause; including John who cheered "Too right! The ****ing parasites!". One woman in front of us actually stood up to cheer.

At this point I thought, "Blimey, these nicotine patches are strong", hoping against hope that I was actually having another NRT induced nightmare, but no, it was all real. The colour had completely drained from Damon's face and Sean was shaking his head in disbelief. I only wished I'd recorded it for posterity but shock had taken hold of me and I was powerless to react.

We headed for the bar and I sunk my first gin and tonic of the day. Thanks to the wonders of wireless technology we managed to post our initial feelings to the blog (in fact John posted his response before Baker had even left the stage!), and as we stood there during the obligatory two minute silence (only punctuated by the tick-tock of a Clockwork Droid) it felt like a requiem for Tachyon TV itself.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur but after plenty of introspection I've come to the conclusion that Colin had every right to lambast us like that, although, to be fair, we didn't just write "he's shit and fat" as I like to believe that our satire is a little bit more sophisticated than that. If we'd known that Colin was there I never would have allowed The Twin Dilemma review to go in the fanzine in the first place, although, to be fair, that isn't much of an excuse either. So yes, we duly got what we deserved. If we dish it out, we have to take it back. It's just a shame that it happened so early on as we found ourselves with over 200 fanzines hidden shamefully in Damon's hotel room!

However, at 4pm things took a turn for the better. We bumped into Sir Andrew of Pixley (thanks to Sean), and we pressed a copy into his hands as we relayed the sorry events of the morning. As he turned to the 'Personal Pixley' song page I had this horrible feeling that he might attack us as well but instead he laughed his head off! Later on he came over to us to tell us how much he enjoyed it. What a tonic that was! We even took Damon off suicide watch. At the same time a convention goer came up to us and asked us to sign his copy!

And then, in a bizarre twist of fate, Gary Russell told John that he thought the fanzine was great, even if were very silly to have a pop at Colin like that. "Media naive" is a term that springs to mind. Clayton Hickman, on the other hand, spent the evening giving John dirty looks so I don't think we'll get a review in DWM anytime soon.

Sunday was much better - the TV Movie panel was the highlight (even McCoy had a go at Baker's weight!) as was the panel with Hinchcliffe, Saward and Harper. Almost worth the sixty quid in itself.

Throughout the two days we managed to conduct quite a few interviews that will feature in next week's podcast. Gary Russell kindly gave us a 15 minute interview and I also managed to get some words of wisdom from the infamous Lightsaber Man. You'll even get to hear our initial reactions to the critical mauling, which you might find interesting.

The only real negative thing I can say about the convention itself was that it over-sold itself. There were far too many people there (twice as many as last year) with autograph queues spreading all the way to Middlesbrough! Getting a seat in the bar area was almost impossible, too. I think 10th Planet got a bit greedy but at least they didn't kick us out onto the widest High Street in Europe for all the trouble we'd caused!

So, to conclude, an interesting convention which was very sobering (despite the 15 GnTs I managed to down in less than 8 hours). Just don't expect a second issue of a fanzine anytime soon!


"Hartnell was old and creaky when he started"

That's actually somewhat of a myth, propogated through the actor's poor behaviour and increasing infirmity throughout his tenure on Doctor Who. Hartnell was actuallly only in his mid-fifties (that's about the same age Davison is now!), he must have just had a hard life.

Parasites? Only to the extent every single other fanzine author is as well.

Immature? Yes, oh HELL yes. How else should a kids' TV show be mocked? Especially since there are chuckles there for the only somewhat grown-up.

Don't be discouraged. You poked fun, and got poked back. People still love you.

And some people are even intent on getting their grubby little paws on a copy. Any word on possible PayPal postage/payment developments?

Speaking as one of the shamed - and having had a full opportunity to digest the 'zine in full during my extended train journey home - I have actually spotted one or two other mentions of Mr Baker which may be construed as, how shall we say, non-complimentary.

But my original take on this still stands: given that Mr Baker had barely a scant few hours to check what comments had been made, what chance is there that he would just stumble across the few there were in such little time?

And if someone reads anything solely with the intent of finding offence, then aren't they ALWAYS going to be offended?

Chalk this one down to experience. And check with the convention organisers next time as to whose numbers they've got on speed-dial should they be running short on guests...

Errhh, let me correct. Being Hartnell *is* my 2nd favourite Doctor, I'd hate to have anyone get the wrong idea. I realized he wasn't THAT old when he started, but he gave the impression of being much older than he actually was, was what I meant. He came across old and creaky from the start, and was still old and creaky when he last appeared in T3D.

McCoy as Yoda, ha!! Man, that really fits...and I'm convinced Paul McGann has a really ugly old portrait of himself up in his attic...

Always liked McCoy's line about having to fit into Colin's outfit for the regeneration scene. "I had to put on his outfit...they lost me for 3 days."

The Bumper Book of Made Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about Sylv McCoy and Colin Baker: Contrary to what RTD has told us, the opening shots of the Time War were "I had to put on his outfit...they lost me for 3 days."

Then, in a blizzard of curly hair and pork-pie hats, the war began.

It was horrible. The higher species of Who fans could see it all happening, with rolling R's facing off against over-enunciated words, instantaneously disappearing from history and being recreated. The damage to the OG forums was sickening..

Your point about the attendance is worth remembering for other convention organisers - but then, surely the con is dead anyway?

Cattle-like fans milling from room to room collecting autographs like a large version of "memorabilia" is so 1980s. A new vision is needed for cons. They don't have to be massive and occasional, they could easily be small, semi-regular and intimate.

Dimensions isn't massive, it can be intimate and is definitely regular.

Especially after all that Guinness.

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