Ballroom 20 Day 1 at San Diego Comic-Con
San Diego Comic-Con is truly unique in its massive draw of celebrities and attendees as well as its beautiful location. It’s easy to lose oneself in the plethora of panels, vendor booths and sea of cosplayers. But when you have to attend as many panels as you can but also write about them, you definitely need a plan of action.
Just a couple weeks done with physical therapy, I made the executive decision this year not to give my PT coaches more work by parking myself in Ballroom 20 rather than lug my camera and backpack all around the San Diego Convention Center. This meant lining up as early as possible to get in on the first panel of the day. If you don’t get the best seat, as the day goes on there are plenty of opportunities to move to closer seats when the ballroom clears out between panels. Or you could stay put as Ballroom 20 has plenty of overhead screens broadcasting closer looks at the panel participants.
On Thursday, CBS Studios had a full block for their series </scorpion>, American Gothic, CBS Fan Favorites and MacGyver. For those not familiar with </scorpion>, I encourage you to get familiar. Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel) is a genius who leads a group of brilliant but socially awkward minds who constitute Homeland Security’s new think tank, assembled to help defend against the high-tech threats. The team called “Scorpion” includes Toby Curtis (Eddie Kaye Thomas), Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong), and Sylvester Dodd (Ari Stidham). As smart and accomplished as they are, the team members aren’t exactly comfortable outside of their digital world, so when they need help understanding today’s societal norms, they call on Paige Dineen (Katharine McPhee), a woman with a gifted young son.
Show stars Elyes Gabel (Walter) and Robert Patrick (Cabe) weren’t in attendance, but sent a hilarious video greeting that had Gabel hollering acting directions at a harassed Patrick. There to hint about new developments with the rest of the cast was showrunner Nicholas Wootton.
The audience was curious for answers to last season’s finale that ended with Walter chasing after Paige to finally profess his love after two seasons, and Happy admitting she was already married when Toby proposed. Nick Wootton promises the fans will get resolution on a lot of things. The season picks up just a few hours from where the finale ended so we’ll find out in the 2 hour premier on Oct. 3 what happens when Walter gets to Paige and to whom Happy is married.
But they also wanted to know how long it took them to memorize the script, especially lines that contained long, scientific terms. Thomas said “About a baseball game and a half.” Stidham admitted he had no sports knowledge to provide the same kind of frame of reference so his best guess was, “Seventy innings. How many goalposts do you hit with…I don’t know. The Braves. It takes me the Braves to learn it. I don’t know, I’m sorry.”
Of the hints Wootton shared, the one that received some ooh’s was the possibility of Cabe having a love interest next season. Stidham lobbied for one for himself as well. When asked what the cast hopes for in the new season, Stidham also asked for more fire. McPhee felt the first three episodes were already exciting enough and can’t imagine what else could be in store for the cast. When it was pointed out that they were a very musical cast, McPhee tried to get the group to sing the scale with her but ended up singing all the parts when neither Stidham or Thomas could hit the right note and Wong didn’t even try.
We also learned why McPhee nicknamed Wong “Rabbit” (because Wong eats little snackpacks like a little rabbit.) Stidham said the hardest part about playing a genius was having to watch “A Beautiful Mind” 20 times and he still doesn’t get it. When asked about pre-taping rituals, McPhee admitted sometimes she has a donut on Fridays. Stidham said he and Thomas get sushi once a year. Thomas used to take a lunchtime nap until he realized it made him even more grumpy.
Wong was thanked for showing a strong Asian woman on television. When asked about the challenges of being an Asian actress, Wong gave a thoughtful reply that as actors, “there’s always something that might keep us from getting us into a room,” whether it be one’s ethnicity, height or the way one looks but she tries not to focus on that because she sees diversity and amazing progress and is grateful to be part of the </scorpion> cast.
Scorpion returns Monday, Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. with a 2 hour premiere.
An enthusiastic Michael Yo moderated the American Gothic panel, CBS’s new summer series centered on a prominent Boston family reeling after a chilling discovery links someone in their midst to an infamous string of murders. As shocking secrets from the past and present are revealed, the mounting suspicion and paranoia threaten to tear the family apart. The panel included the series Executive Producer Corinne Brinkerhoff; Antony Starr who plays the mysterious son Garrett Hawthorne; Megan Ketch¸everyone’s favorite sister and ray of sunshine Tessa Ross; Justin Chatwin, who plays Cam Hawthorne, the troubled brother we all want to root for; and Gabriel Bateman who plays Cam’s son, Jake.
According to Brinkerhoff, she and the writers knew before they even shot the first frame who the killer was. If you’ve started watching this series, you’ll probably want to go back and look for the Easter eggs she says are in the first episode that will only make sense in the end. A classic whodunit – the cast even cautions to not count Jack out even though it’s mathematically impossible for him to be the culprit. However none of the cast knew until they started shooting the finale, by design according to Brinkerhoff. “It’s part of a layer of the show – that sort of uneasiness and growing paranoia. I felt like if you know unequivocally that somebody is or isn’t the killer, it would be very difficult to not subconsciously telegraph something, even just a little bit.” But to the one, the cast calls the finale super satisfying.
To view the panel, visit CBS’ Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVw7K4YVSzY.
The CBS’ Fan Favorites – Throwback Thursday at Comic-Con was introduced by Wilmer Valderamma from the set of his new home on the set of NCIS as Nick Torres. Tyler James Williams and Kirsten Vangsness represented Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders and Criminal Minds respectively, while James Wolk was there to talk about Zoo. Eric Christian Olsen and Daniela Ruah talked about shooting Season 8 of NCIS: Los Angeles, teasing changes to their characters’ storyline to hide Ruah’s pregnancy. Even though they represented different shows, the friendliness and camaraderie was heart-warming with Vangsness consistently being the comic of the bunch. Olsen was especially effusive about his appreciation of the fans. One of the funnier moments was when Valderamma discovered Williams had been on The Walking Dead. “I’m a few seasons behind,” he explained. Guessing Williams didn’t make it since he was now on Criminal Minds:Beyond BOrders, Williams confirmed with the classic understatement of his untimely demise, “Yeah, they went all out.”
The final CBS panel re-introduced Macgyver! The classic action-adventure drama is coming back to CBS this fall with a younger MacGyver played by Lucas Till (X-Men) MacGyver creates a clandestine organization within the U.S. government where he uses his extraordinary talent for unconventional problem solving and vast scientific knowledge to save lives. MacGyver and his team take on the responsibility of saving the world, armed to the teeth with resourcefulness and little more than bubble gum and a paper clip. Joining Till onstage were George Eads (CSI) who plays Jack Dalton, and producer/writer and director of the first episode, Peter Lenkov (Hawaii 5-0) and James Wan (Saw). When asked what drew him to direct the first episode, Wan explained that directing in itself was MacGyver-ish, especially when creating scenes for small-budget, independent movies that were his trademark. He likened his first villain Jigsaw as the MacGyver of horror movies. If the comical chemistry between Eads and Till are any indication, MacGyver will be a fun watch. Catch it this Fall on Fridays on CBS.
The Strain finale left us wondering what Eph would do now that his son decided to walk off to The Master with his mom and what Setrakian wil do with the Occido Lumen. Well, we’ll know on August 28 when The Strain, FX’s action-packed vampire thriller based on the bestselling books from Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, returns. The Strain panel gave us an exclusive sneak peek of the upcoming third season, but not before the debut of a Comic-Con exclusive original video that’s sure to go viral. Showrunner/executive producer/director/writer Carlton Cuse, co-creator/executive producer/writer Chuck Hogan, and stars Kevin Durand (Vasiliy Fet), Ruta Gedmintas (Dutch Velders), Richard Sammel (Thomas Eichhorst), and Miguel Gomez (Augustin “Gus” Elizalde) were on hand to talk about the challenges of bringing this chilling world to life.
In case you were wondering, Kevin Durand was given credit for coming up for the Comic-Con video featuring a rapping David Bradley (Abraham Setrakian).
Want to know how to make thousands of excited, screaming fans sad and despondent? First let one of your stars come out and soak himself in a short Flashdance performance, then announce that this would be their last San Diego Comic-Con appearance. Executive producer Jeff Davis confirmed the sad news that their 100th episode will be their last. Joining Davis on stage were Khylin Rhambo (Mason Hewitt), Dylan Sprayberry (Liam), Tyler Posey (Scott McCall), Holland Roden (Lydia Martin) and Cody Christian (Theo Raeken). Tyler gave a heartfelt thank you to the fans. The star of the show, Dylan O’Brien (Stiles Stilinski), who was still recovering from injuries from the set of MazeRunner: The Death Cure, was not in attendance but knows of the series’ end. Davis also had Roden share her experience being one of the originals. Davis said she probably wouldn’t be acting if it weren’t for Teen Wolf and talked about having one of the producers proctor for a college exam she couldn’t miss while filming the first season. J. R. Bourne (Chris Argent) and Ian Bohen (Peter Hale) were the surprise guests who came on stage as Ghostriders. Davis said Bourne and Bohen were returned to bring some gravitas to the teen show but also give their characters resolution in the final season, including scenes between O’Brien and Bohen. One of the best questions from the audience, who asked a lot of great ones, was what the actors thought their character’s theme songs would be. Posey started singing Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero” but mashed it up with Duran Durans “Hungry Like a Wolf.” Sprayberry asked, “What’s that song about the plastic bag in the wind?” which turned out to be Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” song. Rhambo like Hungry Like a Wolf but went with Rihanna’s “Work”. Roden wanted “Good Vibrations” but Marky Mark’s version, not the Beach Boys. Christian won some laughs by saying he’s always pictured Theo walking to the Pretty Littlle Liars’ theme song. Bourne couldn’t stop laughing when he offered, “Hit Me Baby One More Time” and Bohen went to Davis for help and Davis said he listened to a lot of heavy metal and thought “Dirty Deeds” would be perfect.
The last 20 episodes of Teen Wolf start on November 15.
If nothing else, Marvel knows how to tease its fans. First with a countdown that set off a sizzle reel that highlighted not just Luke Cage but also included Jessica Jones, Daredevil and the Punisher much to the audience’s excitement. John Bernthal who plays Punisher actually appeared on stage to prompt moderater Jeph Loeb (executive producer and Marvel’s Head of Television) to play the trailer again. Loeb was eventually joined onstage by Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Alfre Woodard (Miriah Dillard); Mahershala Ali (Cornell Stokes); Simone Missick (Misty Knight); Theo Rossi (Shades Alvarez); Frank Whaley (Detective Scarfe) and Cheo Coker, executive producer.
Alfre Woodard agreed to join the cast because she follows the script and when she picked up the Luke Cage script she found one of the smartest pieces of writing she had ever come across.
Mike Colter was introduced as Luke Cage in the Jessica Jones series but seen through Jessica’s point of view, viewers didn’t learn much about the character who wasn’t fazed by bullets. Coker explained that as a comic book fan, he felt a personal connection to Luke Cage, not because he was an African-American superhero but because he was strong and funny and interesting. Even though Luke Cage came out in 1972, Coker felt Cage’s introduction is timely in light of current events. “The world is ready for a bullet proof Black man.” Colter explains that Luke Cage the series will reveal so much more about the character with lots of action, drama and a little romance.
Cheo Coker called the musicality of the show the “Wutangification of the Marvel Universe” meaning it’s got attitude, flavor, grit but elegant at the same time. Every episode is named after a different gangster or song. Mahershala Ali’s character was highlighted in a trailer that framed him in an iconic way that paid homage to one of those gangsters.He wanted the 13 episodes to feel like an album much like when artists released new records back in the day, “You’d shut things down and listen to the entire record.” He observed the only time we do that nowadays, thanks to streaming, is when you binge-watch.
Theo Rossi who plays a character who wears sunglasses laughingly admitted that he used Daredevil was his research to play someone without showing his eyes. Coker likened his calculating character to the Littlefinger of Luke Cage. Frank Whaley plays the recurring character Detective Scarfe who interacts with Cage but doesn’t let on whether or not he’s a friend or foe. Simone Missick wasn’t as cagey in describing Misty Knight and the trailer that highlighted her role clearly showed with whom Cage would have the “little romance” Colter hinted at.
Block out some time on September 30 to binge-watch 13 episodes of Luke Cage, available only on Netflix.