Catch-Up Post – California in February

How did it get to be mid-August already?!? Or perhaps, more accurately, how have I managed to not blog about the LA trip I took months ago?? Time to fix that! Regular readers won’t be surprised to learn that I made another return trip to Los Angeles (my 16th consecutive trip!) for my favorite Doctor Who convention, Gallifrey One. I SO look forward to it every year, mostly for a long weekend in (usually) good weather with friends – the Doctor Who stuff is just the icing on the cake. ๐Ÿ™‚ This year, I was particularly excited for the fact that Lalla Ward, an actress from the Fourth Doctor’s era of the original run of the show, would be making her first appearance. There aren’t many people from the classic series (who are alive) that I haven’t met before, so it’s always fun when I’m able to meet a new-to-me guest. Sadly, the weather didn’t look like it was going to cooperate as nicely as it had the past several years, which was a bit of a bummer. There have certainly been years where the weather was in the 50s and rainy (we are always there in February, after all), but at least the last four years have been sunny, warm, and basically perfect, so any weather that broke the streak was always going to feel extra icky. Upon my arrival on Wednesday and through Thursday, we did have the gorgeous, sunny weather we’d gotten used to and the actual weekend weather, while rainy and cloudy at times and cooler overall, didn’t end up being too terrible. Of course, we always spend most of the weekend (Fri-Sun) in the hotel doing convention stuff, but my friends and I always get rooms with balconies overlooking the pool (we even managed to snag adjoining rooms for the second year in a row!), so it’s nice to be able to relax, drink, and talk on them throughout the weekend.

The convention itself was, as usual, tons of fun. Also as usual, I kept myself busy during the convention proper with lots of Doctor Who stuff, including working as a guest liaison, which I’ve done for years. This year, I worked with Danny Webb, who was in two Who episodes in 2006 (as well as some Big Finish audio) and is well-known for lots of other stuff, both in film (Henry V, Alien 3, Valkyrie) and on TV (Humans, Holby City, Poirot). He was a really nice guy, easy to talk to, and great with the fans (many of whom were more excited to see him for his non-Who stuff!). When not doing my convention job, I busied myself with more panels than usual as there were several I wanted to see this year. Having attended Who conventions for so many years, the panels aren’t always that interesting (not because they’re bad – I’ve just heard a lot of the same content over the years, so I’d rather hang out with my friends), but with guests like Lalla (amongst many others) this year, I was particularly interested in a number of them. On the Saturday night, I even got to participate in the live recording of an episode of Reality Bomb, a great Who podcast done by my friends Graeme and Alex. Give them a listen (especially episode 043 to hear all the live fun we had)! Before I knew it though, the convention ended and I immediately started thinking about when I would get to see all my friends again. Gally is the big convention that pretty much all my friends connected to Doctor Who go to, but there are others throughout the year where I get to see at least some of them. CONsole Room (that’s the local convention here in Minneapolis that I helped to run for three years) came and went in May, so I got to see some of them then, but that may be the last time I see most of them until next year’s Gally (which, admittedly, is less than six months away at this point). I’ve previously attended Long Island Who and Chicago TARDIS (both in November) in the past, but I’m not sure if I will this year, given other obligations around Thanksgiving. I’m definitely working on making at least Chicago happen, so watch this space!

For my Who-minded readers, enjoy the photos!

I definitely enjoyed the extra legroom on my flight to LA.

See?! I told you the weather was perfect when I arrived.

Provisions! Thanks to the local Ralph’s, my room was well-stocked for the weekend.

Oh fine – a selfie on my balcony in the sunny weather. Twist my arm!

Popping into the main programming room on the Thursday night to see a bit of karaoke.

The dealers room was bustling throughout the weekend.

Dick Fiddy (from the British Film Institute) interviewing actress/comedienne Hattie Hayridge. Hattie is a friend of my friend Ruth Ann and the three of us (plus another friend) once spent a nice afternoon together in London. I hadn’t seen her since, so it was nice to cross paths again.

A collection of guest actors from the modern era of Doctor Who, including my guest, Danny Webb (second from left).

Peering down to the convention level from outside the hotel lobby at some point during the weekend (no rain!).

One of the many talented cosplayers seen throughout the weekend (playing Davros, creator of the malevolent daleks).

Where there’s Davros, there are almost always daleks!

A panel in the second-biggest programming room.

A great group of companions from the original series being interviewed on the main stage.

Lots of people crammed into main programming to see those Who legends.

The always-fabulous Louise Jameson being interviewed by Steven Schapansky.

My friend Jeff with Louise during one of her photo sessions. He was showing her a photo the two of them had taken together 30 years earlier and was even wearing the same shirt in this photo as he was in that one. Louise loved it!

Lego 12th Doctor!

One of the two professional photos I had taken this year. I had to get one with Lalla!

And the other professional photo, this time with John Leeson, the voice of K9 (that’s the metal dog between us).

A shot from the recording of Reality Bomb in which Bill wears a trench coat (which he bought specifically for this AUDIO-ONLY recording) and co-hosts Graeme and Shannon aren’t even trying to keep it together anymore.

Recording the 3rd Annual New Series News Hype Quiz for Reality Bomb.

Convention guests Richard Dinnick, Naoko Mori, and Gareth David-Lloyd helping to bring the convention auction to a close on the Sunday afternoon.

Although Who fans know Naoko from Torchwood, Jeff really wanted to get a picture of her as Sarah (AKA Titicaca), her character from AbFab.

Peeking backstage during the closing ceremony.

Lalla thanking all the attendees, not only for a great weekend, but also for helping to raise over $18k for her chosen charity, the Denville Hall Trust, in the convention auction.

A final picture with friends Kathleen, Joy, Felicity, and Barsky.

If you’re still with me, don’t forget to check out the official convention recap to read about how much fun we had. Maybe you’ll be planning your own trip to Gallifrey One soon? Unfortunately tickets are sold out (they always sell out VERY quickly once they go on sale), but don’t fear as there are always people who end up not being able to go who sell their tickets through the convention’s ticket trading page on Facebook. If, by some random chance, you’re in attendance and recognize me from this blog, say hi!

Now, for those readers who may not be Doctor Who fans, your time is now! In addition to enjoying a long weekend of Doctor Who-related goodness, I also spent a few hours doing the Warner Bros. Hollywood Studio Tour with my friend Felicity. Because I’m usually in LA Wed-Tue and the convention only runs from Thursday night-Sunday night, I always try to do at least one big thing outside of the convention hotel and this year, this tour hit the spot. I’ve never done a real studio tour before (I’ve just visited the MGM Studios and Universal Studios theme parks), so Felicity and I decided we would do this one. I’m really glad we did! While I honestly am not familiar with some of the stuff we saw (we toured the set for a show called The Fosters and saw a few locations for Pretty Little Liars, neither of which I’ve ever seen), the overall experience was a lot of fun and our tour guide was really good. And of course, we did also see plenty of cool stuff and the weather was so great (a good chunk of the tour is outside) that it was tons of fun. At $65 (when we went), it’s not the cheapest activity and it took a bit of time to reach it in our Lyft from the LAX Marriott, but it was a great way to spend a day and we both had fun, so I would still recommend it.

There isn’t a ton of stuff to say about a studio tour except to show it off, so check out the pictures below!

Heading in to start the tour.

What’s up, Felicity?

Not wanting to be left out, Daffy also has his own statue outside the studio.

This is the “jungle set” which was used extensively in Jurassic Park.

You may also recognize this tree from Jurassic Park.

This may not look like much, but when filled with (heated) water, it becomes the location of a couple of famous on-screen moments, including Kermit singing The Rainbow Connection in The Muppet Movie and Doug Ross saving a drowning boy in a famous episode of ER (season 2’s “Hell or High Water”).

A panorama of the town square set, which has been used in many productions over the years.

I believe this exterior is a house in Pretty Little Liars. The house has two other sides that are totally different though!

This is the exterior of both the Seaver home (Growing Pains) and Mrs. Deagle’s house (Gremlins). Now we’re getting to stuff I’ve seen!

The only piece of set still standing from the movie Casablanca.

The faรงade of the Fuller House house (based on an actual house in San Francisco, also obviously used in the original show, Full House).

This is the soundstage we toured, which houses the sets for The Fosters.

Fans of ER will recognize this as the stairway to the el train tracks located just outside the ambulance bay.

Speaking of the ambulance bay, this is it (though now redressed).

The famous Warner Bros. water tower. Any Animaniacs fans out there? We never did find out if Yakko, Wakko, and Dot were home!

The first issue of the Wonder Woman comic, on display in the Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice exhibit (now replaced with a dedicated Wonder Woman exhibit).

The first issue of Batman was also on display, albeit without its cover.



Wonder Woman!

Costumes from Suicide Squad.

There was also a Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them exhibit in the same building.

The house-elf Dobby.

BIG SPIDER! Also, Aragog from Harry Potter. Apparently.

Brownstone faรงades, often used for NYC settings.

This is the start of our walk through the prop house. This is (unsurprisingly) the Oval Office set from The West Wing. Apparently the designers from that show were the first group allowed inside the actual Oval Office to take exact measurements to create as accurate a set as possible.

Yo ho ho! Pirates of the Caribbean stuff.

We were told this is the Annabelle doll, but they must put a blonde wig on it when it’s used in the Annabelle/Conjuring movies.

Although basically everything in the prop house can be used for any production, this light fixture (and its twin) aren’t allowed out as they came from Casablanca and the studio doesn’t want them to get damaged.

Loved this deep-sea diving helmet!

There was a whole separate exhibit about Batmobiles, too. This is the version used in the 1989 Tim Burton movie.

This one was HUGE! But it really does drive, apparently.

Bat signal!

This is Stage 16, which was built in 1935 and then raised by 30 feet for the film Cain and Mabel (Marion Davies, who starred in the film, asked her sugar daddy William Hearst to pay the $100k to complete the work).

Mars Attacks! This was the start of the last building on the tour, which had all kinds of goodies from many WB productions.

Figures from the Tim Burton movie Corpse Bride.

I never watched Friends, but even I recognized this as Central Perk.

The capsule used in the Sandra Bullock movie Gravity.

They had this cool forced-perspective photo op that made the person closer to the camera look HUGE (useful for movies like The Hobbit).

You can see the effect better here, since I’m bigger than Felicity to begin with. ๐Ÿ™‚

Given how popular ER was, I thought I would see more stuff from the show, but this collection of hospital staff ID badges was about it.

The original cape used by Christopher Reeves in the Superman movies.

The crucifix from The Exorcist movie.

After the tour, we had a delicious late lunch at the Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank (how’s that for alliteration?).

Thanks for the grub, big boy!

If you’ve stuck with me through this recap and the many pictures, bravo! You may think you get some sort of prize for that, but the prize was the journey, right?

Stay tuned for two more catch-up posts before I bring things back to the present for my upcoming trip to London!

6 thoughts on “Catch-Up Post – California in February

  1. It was great meeting you and your friends at Gally this year! I really wish I had started going 16 years ago — I feel like I’ve missed out on so many Gally memories that could’ve been made.
    Also, I hope you have a wonderful trip to GB again — I look forward to a full recap upon your return.

    1. Likewise! ๐Ÿ™‚ Will I be seeing you there again in February?? All journeys have to start somewhere, so this year may have been the beginning of 16 years (or more) of going to Gally for you. ๐Ÿ˜€

      I’ll definitely be documenting my UK trip along the way! It just kills me a little inside to start posting about a new trip when I know I haven’t blogged about ones I’ve already taken. Hence today’s catch-up! This Gally one was definitely the longest of the three catch-up posts though. So I’ll get the other two knocked out and then I’ll be ready to go for London!

      1. Yes, I will definitely be attending next year’s Gally as well! It’s the start of an annual tradition for me, I hope. I’m very grateful to Jason for convincing me to go, and introducing me to the joys of Doctor Who cons. In the last year and a half, I think I’ve been to 6 cons in 4 states now. Whew!

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About thejeffelston

Based in St. Paul, MN and love to blog about travel. Comment, follow, and join me on my journey!