If you happened to have been lucky enough to attend the extremely crowded (Not) Inspector Spacetime panel at the recent Gallifrey One convention, you witnessed a good example of the power of fandom. Here’s something that had a very short (we’re talking seconds) appearance on NBC’s Community that is now filling panel rooms at a rather large Doctor Who convention. But how did this happen? How did (Not) Inspector Spacetime go from being a fake television series set within another television series to a hit web series that’s getting ready to film its second season?
For the record, the title of the web series is actually (taking a breath) Untitled Web Series About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time. Thanks to NBC basically being sort of tool-ish about the rights of the Inspector Spacetime brand, the un-affiliated web series couldn’t technically be called Inspector Spacetime (their loss). But to save myself a lot of typing, I’m going to refer to it as (Not) Inspector Spacetime.
If you’ll recall, I interviewed the Inspector himself, Travis Richey, along with prop guy Brian Uiga when the web series first premiered.
The Gallifrey One panel began with the web series trailer and a screening of all of the web episodes back-to-back. Much hilarity ensued, because let’s face it – (Not) Inspector Spacetime is funny! And then Richey asked everyone who donated to the Kickstarter project that funded the series to stand up. After a round of applause, Richey said, “I cannot thank you guys enough. It was so thrilling that people just wanted to make this piece of entertainment and wanted to help us make it.”
Meet The Cast of (Not) Inspector Spacetime
Richey was not alone in his endeavor to bring life to this web series. He also brought along his time and space traveling companions to the panel: co-writer Eric Loya (who also portrays Boyish, The Extraordinary) and Carrie Keranen, who plays Piper Tate. But how did Richey get these two on board the project?
Loya and Richey have a long working history. Not only did they work together on (Not) Inspector Spacetime, but they have done a few other web series together, along with a few sketches. “And then he [Richey] got booked on Community,” Loya stated. “He kind of anticipated that there would be a lot of cross-over. There are a lot of Community nerds, there are a lot of Doctor Who fans. Because he anticipated that, he contacted me after he shot the episode and said ‘we should have something ready.'” And the idea of the web series was born: Loya started writing right away, even before discussing story and plot with Richey.
“I wrote a character that was intended for me – I also didn’t tell Travis about that until I sent him the script,” Loya joked. That character, of course, is Boyish, The Extraordinary.
Keranen, however, got involved later in the process. Richey had seen her in a comedy piece. “He thought I was hysterical,” she said. But it wasn’t until almost a year later that Richey sent her an email about the (Not) Inspector Spacetime project. Only six women were brought in to read for Piper. “I showed up and auditioned and met Eric,” Keranen stated. “I didn’t realize that he was actually playing Boyish when I was reading with him. I thought ‘Hey, you’re pretty good in this role!'”
Loya remarked upon Keranen’s reading. “She genuinely made us laugh,” he said, “And she found nuances that we didn’t intend when we wrote it that nobody else had brought to it and she was just wonderful.” And obviously, she got the part.
How Fandom Affected the (Not) Inspector Spacetime Universe
As previously mentioned, once the first Community episode with Inspector Spacetime aired, fans began to crawl out of the woodwork. “This whole thing exists because of you,” Richey stated to the crowded room. “The Inspector Spacetime thing was a 15-second clip on Community. I had no idea that fans would pick up on this and run with it the way they have. There was such an explosion of untapped creativity on the internet around Inspector Spacetime. You guys created an entire history of the show.”
Richey then showed a slideshow that showed fan casting of the previous Inspectors (all 11 of them), including the 5th Inspector who is female and a 10th Inspector, who is black. Attention Doctor Who writers: take note. Richey also showed off some fan art, along with mash-ups and an Inspector Spacetime action figure.
When one popular blog reported on Inspector Spacetime, something odd happened: they misspelled Richey’s first name. Travis became Tarvis. Fans took that and ran with it and before too long, TARVIS had become a new fan-created character on the series as “The Autonomous Robotic Versatile Intelligent Squirrel.”
“Within two weeks of this popping up,” Richey said, “we were due for another draft of season two. We wrote TARVIS into season 2.” The applause following that statement was nearly deafening.
Stay tuned! Part Two of (Not) Inspector Spacetime in the Doctor Who Spotlight is coming soon! We’ll learn a little bit more about the Inspector’s props, along with some information about costuming and more. You’ll also get to see the very first Femme Inspector Spacetime cosplay.
Also, be sure to head over to Kickstarter and donate to get the Season Two prequel for Untitled Web Series…