When BBC America announced that they were again hosting a preview screening of the Doctor Who season premiere in New York, I along with many of my fellow Whovians did a dance of joy. I was unable to attend the screening last year, as I had just started a temp job and had no days off, so I missed the epic epicness of stars Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill handing out donuts to the intrepid fans who had been camping out since the night before to get into the theater. This year, however, was going to be different; they were actually selling advance tickets.
The debacle that followed as thousands of Doctor Who fans scrambled to purchase one or two tickets out of the approximate 700 available led to a great deal of frustration, as the MovieTickets.com website was inadequately prepared to deal with the onslaught of purchases, crashing multiple times and just plain malfunctioning. I was sent back to the "select tickets" screen at least three times before the site crashed on me all together, and though I was eventually able to enter in my payment information, I did not get through to actually purchase tickets. Many people had problems similar to mine; a friend of mine was able to get through fairly early but her order was stuck on "processing" for the better part of an hour, and some people even reportedly were given other people's payment information on their confirmation screen. All the while, BBC America remained silent on the issue of tickets. Though it apparently sold out in twenty minutes, it was an over an hour until this was officially announced. BBC America's radio silence on the matter continued for almost eight hours, until they finally made a statement, which consisted of them asserting that they'd booked the largest venue possible, and they were overwhelmed by the response.
Let me state for the record that I was not upset that there weren't enough tickets for everyone. Obviously not everybody who wanted in would be able to attend. The issues I had were with the malfunctioning website and BBC America's complete lack of acknowledgement of any problems. Although I much preferred this to having to camp out for admittance -- I had to work and would not have been able to line up. At least this way, I had a chance of getting in.
Also, I refused to believe that they continue to be surprised at the strength of the fanbase in this country. This is the third time they have done something like this -- last year they had overflow seating, a second screening, and they still turned people away. People started lining up for tickets at seven o'clock the night before. Hall H was filled to capacity for this year's panel at San Diego Comic-Con. There is no way they can't know that Doctor Who fans will come out en masse for something like this.
Regardless, a friend and I headed over to the Ziegfeld on Saturday afternoon to see if we could catch a glimpse of Matt and Karen as they arrived. When we got to the theater, we discovered there was a standby tickets line, which surprisingly was not that long, so we attached ourselves to the end of it. We made quick friends with the people standing around us, as often happens in situations such as this, and eagerly waited for the screening to start to see how many, if any, of us would be allowed to enter.
Unfortunately, being unwilling to lose our spots in line meant that we did not have good views of Matt and Karen arriving at the Ziegfeld -- in DeLoreans.
Six o'clock ticked ever closer with no idea of how many available seats there were in the 1100+ venue, but then finally the line started to move. We inched ahead as the line slowly dwindled, and the security guard announced that there only three ticket left...five people away from me. But then he went, "Oh, no, wait, there's more than three tickets left," and we skipped gleefully inside, clutching our hard-won standby tickets.
Thank you, all of you people who purchased tickets in advance but were unable to make it, because your inability to attend resulted in at least fifty people getting in via standby.
My friend and I had seats in the second to last row, but we didn't care, because we were about to see an advance preview of the Doctor Who season 7 premiere, complete with Q&A from Matt and Karen, moderated by Nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick. As someone who not only missed the screening last year but wasn't able to attend the panel at SDCC because she was in line for a different panel room, I was practically vibrating with excitement.
I am bound by Whovian code of honor not to reveal anything about the episode, "Asylum of the Daleks". Matt Smith himself begged us all not to spoil the many, many Whovians throughout the world who have to wait until this Saturday to see the new episode. Not that I would spoil it, but when the Doctor tells you to do something, you don't ask questions.
I will say this: Matt Smith said, both before and after the screening, that he thinks it's one of the best episodes they've ever shot. At the Q&A, he admitted that it was also one of his favorites.
It certainly was an amazing episode, and I am fairly certain the legion of fans will not be disappointed. It does what Doctor Who manages to do so well -- it keeps you on the edge of your seat, gripping the armrests, because it's filled with action-packed sequences that will have you cheering. One Rory moment in particular was greeted by raucous applause (which Karen was very nice to relay to Arthur, who was unable to attend the screening, via Twitter). But it also hits you right in the emotions, particularly the scenes between Amy and Rory, because if their relationship doesn't get you in the feels, you don't have any feels to be felt.
It's also a great setup for the rest of the half-season, as we count down to the Ponds' final episode. (Matt and Karen warned us that it's going to be very emotional, as though any of us were expecting different.)
The Q&A afterwards felt brief but was certainly entertaining, as Matt speculated who might be a good candidate to play the twelfth Doctor. He tossed out names like Bill Nighy and Johnny Depp before he stopped because he was "talking himself out of a job". Karen fangirled over Community and "Inspector Spacetime" and expressed her admiration for the various .gifs and graphics that grace Tumblr on a regular basis. (Especially after Matt mentioned having seen a great album cover for Karen and the Babes.) They both said that the Silence and the Weeping Angels were their favorite (and the scariest) Who villains, and that "The Eleventh Hour" was the most challenging episode to film.
All in all, it was a truly momentous evening, and I am unbelievably glad that I thought to head down to the Ziegfeld even without tickets, because it honestly never occurred to me that there would be tickets left. So this is a lesson to everyone: always consider that there might be a standby line!