Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Comic-Con: The Conclusion

It's a gloomy day out there today. When I left my house, it was pouring with rain. At work, it's grey and the skies look heavy but so far, it's not raining here. It makes it hard to get out of bed and drive to work, particularly when I slept horribly last night and would rather like to try sleeping again right now. Nevertheless, I am here and thus, I will conclude my Comic-Con blogging today with my third and final entry.

Yesterday, I talked about the panels I saw on Thursday and Friday. I also saw a few on Saturday, a couple of them in anticipation of the panel I most wanted to see: The True Blood panel.


Lost- This is the last Lost panel that will most likely be at Comic-Con for a while unless they do a reunion of some sort given that next year will air the final season of the show. Thus, the panel was going to be popular and we had to wait in line for a good two hours before they let us in. It was in the largest room in the Convention Centre: Hall H. This is the same room that hosted the Twilight panel, rumoured to be the most popular panel of the convention. It was huge, I don't know how many people it holds but my guess is at least 7,000 and that's probably conservative. The panel itself was excellent. It was supposed to just be the two creators of the show, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindloff. However, through the course of the panel, several 'special guests' made appearances: Jose Garcia ("Hurley"), Michael Emerson ("Ben"), Nestor Carbonell ("Richard Alpert") and Josh Holloway ("Sawyer"). The panel was probably the most entertaining one I saw with staged interruptions and videos. Naturally, it didn't answer any real questions on the show but given that the creators don't even tell the cast what's going to happen until they get their scripts, that's not a surprise.

V- I actually ended up going to the V panel and screening mostly because I saw the line for the room getting outrageously long and it was getting awfully close to the True Blood panel time. As I said before, they don't clear the rooms between panels so getting in can be tough. So, I lined up and go into the V panel. For the most part, the panel only got maybe 10 minutes at most to talk, the rest of the time was taken up with the screening. The show, obviously, is a remake of the mini-series that ran in the '80's. The episode we saw was the first one and while it was good, it wasn't...great. As I said, I will actually write a review of it on my TV blog but I haven't got around to it yet. The star of the show is Elizabeth Mitchell (from Lost) along with other actors such as Morris Chestnut and Scott Wolf. While the special effects are good and the creepy 'lizard people' makeup is a little...creepy, there are moments of pure cliche that I really hope are remedied as the show continues. While it's nice to have a tough woman as the lead, she also has a teenage son from the Zac Efron school of eyelash-acting who, naturally, does not get along well with his mother and blames her for his father leaving. It would be SO nice to have a show where the strong woman lead has a teenage son who actually admires her for working to support him and doesn't miss his good-for-nothing-dad instead of idolizing him but those are few and far between. Nevertheless, I'll probably watch the show when it airs because I remember the original mini-series from the days of my wee youth; the lizard baby and the skin ripping off to reveal lizard skin are images that sort of stick with you.

Fringe- I confess, I've never seen Fringe. I refused to watch it because it seemed to be such a clear X-Files rip-off, I couldn't bring myself to do it. However, after sitting through the panel, I confess, I actually do want to see it as I was grossly misled as to what it was about and the premise sounds intriguing. Also, the two male leads on the show, John Noble and Joshua Jackson were so entertaining, I have to see them work together on screen. Though I feel a little guilty for taking a seat for a panel that I wasn't terribly interested in when there were people outside who really wanted to get in, the panel served the purpose of most likely getting me to watch the show. I had no idea what was happening on the show and to be honest, the promos on FOX weren't exactly helpful in seperating the show from the shadow of the X-Files but after hearing about it, I'm definitely going to rent the first season on DVD and then DVR the new episodes.

True Blood- This was the panel I really wanted to see. Of course, the time slot and the waiting required to get into the panel did conflict with another panel I really wanted to see: Iron Man 2. Given that the Iron Man 2 panel would include Robert Downey Jr. of whom I've been a HUGE fan for many years, it really was a tough decision. However, that panel was in the infamous Hall H and to see it, I would have had to have stayed in the same seat all day that I obtained for the Lost panel and I just didn't want to do that. Besides, I love True Blood and decided that was the panel I'd rather see. I'm so glad I did. It was really, really entertaining. For one thing, the panel was lead by Alan Ball who first got onto my radar with American Beauty and stayed on it with Six Feet Under. Talk about a smart man. Also, Charlaine Harris (author of the "Sookie Stackhouse") novels was on the panel and as a writer, I had to hear her thoughts on the show since it's taken such a seperate path from the books. When asked how she felt now the books and show have strayed from one another, she gave the answer that I was hoping for, the same one that I've mentioned in my blog: She's happy about it because instead of one world of Sookie Stackhouse, readers get two and though they have similar qualities and are set in the same 'universe', they're different entities and that gives viewers/readers twice the entertainment. I think that's a great answer and one I completely agree with. It is lovely to see the TV show but also a treat to learn more about Sookie from the books.

The actors on the panel surprised me. My favourite character on the show is Eric, played by Alexander Skarsgard. On the show, he has a slight Scandanavian accent. In real life, it's quite a southern drawl that he has. Then there's Stephen Moyer who plays Bill on the show and he has a very, very British accent. And is, I might add, much more appealing in real life than on the show. I'm not a Bill fan: He's a bit drippy for me. However, the actor was not drippy at all. Anna Paquin, who plays Sookie, has a New Zealand accent. On the show, the entire cast has a Lousiana Southern accent. It's just fascinating to hear their real accents and realize how diverse the cast actually is. Ironically, Skarsgard is the only one with a real twang and the only one who doesn't get to use it. The newest cast member, Deborah Ann Moll who plays Jessica was very nervous and much sweeter than her TV alter-ego. All in all, the cast and Alan Ball just had a great dynamic and listenign to them was fun. The only part I was sad about was that Sam Trammell who plays Sam Merlotte on the show didn't get to say much and he's one of my favourite characters.
So, those were the panels I attended. I could go on for days and gush about how great they were but I think three days is gushing enough. Obviously, I have a fondness for the TV panels though there were panels by comic-book authors/book writers I would have liked to have gone to but time didn't permit. One of these was the Joe Hill session. However, Joe, the author of Heart Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts wasn't there to discuss his novels but, rather, his comic books which, for me, would have not been terribly useful as I haven't read them.

Overall, what I hope to give you from my blog-series here is a picture of Comic-Con in all it's fandom and madness. So many people think it's just comic books but it isn't. It's a chance of fans of all mediums to come together and indulge their passions. Some of the regular things there still baffle me though this is the third year I've gone. For example, I've never understood the plethora of "Free Hugs" signs. Is it to go along with the "Free Hug Day" or is it just that the people with the signs don't get many hugs so they figure Comic-Con is a chance to cash in? I've never figured that out.

It's a crazy, busy, exhausting adventure but Comic-Con is something that is worth all of it. I'm glad it's only once a year but it's one time a year when it's ok to talk constantly about TV shows, graphic novels, movies and video games. It's a time for geeks, nerds, and normal people who just like geeky stuff to get together and celebrate. It's a mass chaos of people milling, lining up, grabbing freebies and handing them out but the chaos does has a certain pattern. You just have to find it.

Happy Wednesday.

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