One of the best things about going to conventions is all of the behind the scenes tidbits you get to hear about a particular show. At Gallifrey One yesterday, some of the writers and cast members were on hand to talk about the show and answer a few questions from the fans. For those of you unfamiliar with this convention, its primary focus is ‘Doctor Who’ and its spin offs such as ‘Torchwood’ and ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’. Gallifrey One is known as the “North American Doctor Who celebration”. There are many other genre shows, however, that are also included in the convention, which is held every February in Los Angeles, CA.
Present at the ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ panel discussion were actors John de Lancie (who played Allen Shapiro) and Daniele Favilli (who played Captain Jack’s lover, Angelo Colasanto) and writers Jane Espenson, Doris Egan and John Shiban. Here are some highlights from that panel.
Espenson really wasn’t a ‘Torchwood’ fan until the possibility that she would be writing for ‘Miracle Day’ was offered to her. She decided to check out the show and watched ‘Children of Earth’ and instantly became a fan. Shiban also admitted that he had not seen ‘Torchwood’ before and was previously working on another project with BBC Worldwide and Julie Gardner when he was offered a writing position for the series. He was already a fan of ‘Doctor Who’ and knew who Captain Jack Harkness was. Gardner sent him some DVDs of the show and “it changed (his) life” and he “had to be a part of (‘Torchwood’).” Favilli did watch the first couple seasons of the show but when he got cast in the role of Angelo, he stopped watching so that his character wouldn’t know too much about Jack and “be more virgin.” As for de Lancie, he was sent a script but before he made a decision to take the role, he decided to watch the previous series. He watched the first season and commented on how the first season and the script that he was sent was “perplexing because the material (he) was sent was top notch” and he didn’t quite “get” the show. He decided to go in and audition after talking to the producers about the tone of the show and eventually got the role.
One of the funniest questions during the Q&A session was when a fan asked Favilli in Italian “I know you’re straight, but how did you like kissing John Barrowman?” To which he replied, “He’s got great lips so you know, I was concentrating on that. It was fun. It’s Jack Harkness!”
Espenson also revealed that show runner Russell T. Davis sent her an e-mail while the show was airing that stated that if anyone asked what caused what happened to Rex at the end, here’s the answer: “It was not Jack’s immortality catching, it was the last gift of the rift…it had one last shot of juice in it and it gave it to Rex.” She did temper her answer by saying that “I believe this is the official explanation but if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I’m not Russell and Russell has the answers.” She did admit later that the ending that was filmed was not the original ending that was planned and while working on it, she got a summons from Davies to come to the office to discuss the change which would be done just in case a subsequent season would be made. A spin off of ‘Torchwood’ was never planned but what occurred to Rex was done so that the writers would have a jumping off point for future episodes if they wanted to.
De Lancie was asked about the f*bomb that his character dropped and jokingly said it was not much of a stretch for him to play a character who uses profanity. He did confess to a prank he pulled on the set of ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ when he found out his character would be blown up. On the day the bomb scene was to be filmed, de Lancie had written up a fake script of the scene on how he wanted to see his character’s demise:
“Just moments before we were to shoot that (part)…I wrote out a scene and I went to the director and the sound guy and the producer…whoever was on, and said, ‘I don’t know that you know but I just got these rewrites.” So I handed out the rewrites and they went, “oh, okay” and they read them. I took the words right out of the (original) script which said, “And there’s a huge blast” and then (added):
“When the smoke clears, in slow motion, Shapiro walks through the cloud of smoke. He has in his hands a pair of scissors, He holds them and says, “You’re not getting away, bitch!” and throws the thing like in a John Woo movie then he collapses and she runs out. He’s held by whoever is there and I go, “Did we get her?” (in his last dying breath) And then the music swells.”
Needless to say none of that made it in. Everyone had a good laugh.”
With the upcoming ‘Doctor Who’/’Star Trek: The Next Generation’ comic crossover, I asked de Lancie who he thought would win: Q or the Doctor? Unfortunately, and maybe wisely, he evaded the question.
Overall, the panel was very entertaining and all the guests were wonderful in taking the time to answer the fans’ questions. I really found Davies’ reasoning for Rex’s condition in the last episode interesting, but find it less satisfactory than saying it came from Jack. The subject of another season was not brought up but I was a bit thankful that there won’t be a spin-off of ‘Torchwood’ starring Rex. However, I do wish we could have seen de Lancie’s version of the bomb scene, don’t you?