Monday, November 18, 2013

When two worlds collide: SBL & the Day of the Doctor

There will be lots of doctors walking around in tweedy jackets this weekend in Baltimore but sadly, most of them will be obsessing about their papers at the Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting this weekend and not about the matter of real interest to the rest of the world, the fiftieth anniversary of the longest running science fiction show of all time, Doctor Who, the first episode of which aired on 23 November 1963.

I've long realized that the two things would collide, Doctor Who's fiftieth birthday and this year's SBL Annual Meeting, and for many of us it has been an source of great anxiety.  Doctor Who is, of course, used to sharing the limelight with other momentous events.  That first episode, "An Unearthly Child", went out the day after JFK's assassination, also the day of C. S. Lewis's death.

I must admit that for a long time I was worried that I might just have to find some quiet corner somewhere and stream the anniversary episode, "The Day of the Doctor", on my laptop wearing my headphones.  In fact, I couldn't be sure if fate would dictate that I might have to give a paper or chair a session at the moment the fiftieth was airing.  Luckily, that did not come to pass.

So what are the options for those who are at the SBL for watching "The Day of the Doctor"?  As I see it, here are the options:

(1) Hardcore fans who are lucky enough not to be on the SBL programme will want to watch the live simulcast of "The Day of the Doctor".  The ideal way of doing this will be to go to one of the screenings in the cinemas.  Sadly, there are not many of these, and they are all sold out.  And the nearest one to Baltimore is Fairfax, VA, a good hour's drive from Baltimore.

(2) Another possibility would be to watch the live simulcast on BBC America.  However, posh American hotels are not known for their good access to cable, and BBC America is typically a "second tier" channel and so you are unlikely to get it in your hotel room.

(3) I'm grateful to Heather McMurray at SBL headquarters for the good news of another option for watching the fiftieth live -- the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel, Oriel Grill bar, has BBC America. Monica Floyd, the concierge, is putting them on notice for possible SBL watchers on Saturday, Nov 23 at 2:50pm.

(4) For those who simply can't do the simulcast because of other commitments, there is still some hope.  BBC America shows the episode again in the evening of Saturday 23rd, so if you can find a TV with BBC America, you'll be OK.  Or, I suppose, you could find a way of downloading and viewing it the same evening.  It will go on iTunes at some point, perhaps as early as Saturday evening.

(5) And then there are the Monday night cinema showings.  The good news here is that whereas there are only eleven cities showing the simulcast on Saturday, there are hundreds showing the episode on Monday evening.  The nearest to Baltimore is Owings Mills, which is about a 25 minute drive.

Luckily, I was able to go for option 1, and was at my computer the second the tickets went on sale, and it was a matter of great relief.  I have also gone for option 5 for my second and more relaxed viewing with friends too, for good measure.

Good luck finding the best way of watching the fiftieth!


Douglas Mangum said...

I was hoping I'd get BBC America in my hotel. If not, I guess I'll be attempting Option 3.

Meg said...

I love this post, Mark. At least it's possible to stream things at SBL. It's pretty much impossible to do that here in Malawi. I hope you're enjoying SBL AND were able to catch the Doctor. Best wishes, meg