Inside San Diego Comic-Con 2016’s Ballroom 20 – Day 2
Day 2 of my San Diego Comic-Con 2016 experience started earlier on Friday but the line to my destination snaked all the way down one side of the upper level of the convention center when I arrived before the doors even opened. It didn’t look like a long line until you were in the maze of twists and turns but it moved quickly and I was soon back in Ballroom 20. I learned in Day 1 your first seat won’t be your last but your choices will always depend on whether you want to be locked into the middle of the row or at the end where you’re always be making way for people to get by you. The rows of chairs are sectioned off to create walkways, so I always eyed the front row of each section. You also have to make quick friends with the people next to you so you have someone to watch your stuff when you have to take a break. Once you’re in the ballroom, you can get return tickets that are good for a 45-minute block. As long as you return in that time frame, you don’t have to line up again. Just remember to put your ticket in your badge holder so you don’t lose it. Otherwise you’ll have to plead your case to the head of security. Thankfully, she was an understanding woman and I was able to give good description of the person who gave me the return ticket. Yes, I did manage to lose my ticket in the 10 minute trip it took for me to grab a cookie and a drink.
The first panel was Inside the Big Bang Theory Writers’ Room where The Big Bang Theory executive producers and writers Steve Molaro, Bill Prady, Dave Goetsch, Eric Kaplan, Jim Reynolds, Steve Holland, Saladin Patterson, Anthony Del Braccolo, Tara Hernandez, Jeremy Howe and David Saltzberg (science consultant) shared some insight on how they keep things fresh after more than 200 episodes. Listening to the back and forth between the writers whose previous professions ranged from were graphic artists, computer programmers and student of philosophy, it’s apparent where our favorite geeks get their unique quirks and personalities.
The panel was moderated by the series’ own Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) who the panelists stated is a remarkable writer in her own right. I loved how she good-naturedly accepted a stool to see over the podium. When asked if she developed her high-pitched, nasally Bernadette voice before or after getting cast on the show she admitted she channeled her own mom and ran with it at her audition. One of the more interesting stories from the panelists was Prady’s explanation of how they were able to change some of the lyrics to Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. Queen does not allow parodies so the producers didn’t know how they could make this happen. But Prady, like Sheldo Cooper, knows some odd facts that makes him socially awkward. Apparently Brian May, the lead guitarist for Queen, is an astrophysicist who consulted on NASA’s New Horizon probe. Prady had been in touch with one of the New Horizon scientists for a previous episode so he was able to get May’s email address and emailed him for permission to change some of the lyrics. May responded in 2 hours and asked to see the script pages and eventually made the lyric changes possible. But if you ask him why Queen no longer tours, he won’t respond.
One of the things we can look forward to in the new season is Sheldon and Amy’s attendance at an actual flag convention. We also get to meet Katie Sagal as Penny’s mom. The panel also announced that Penny’s brother, a drug dealer recently released from prison, was also cast and called to the stage Jack McBrayer (30 Rock). This casting choice is intriguing to say the least. Should we expect to meet a happy, wholesome, ex-felon? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
The Big Bang Theory returns for season 10 this fall airing Mondays at 8/7c on CBS. The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Ninth Season will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 13.
The sizzle reel for Bones was a sentimental look back at its 11 seasons with a teaser of one of the next season’s unexpected villains. Fan-favorites Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, TJ Thyne, Michaela Conlin, Tamara Taylor, and John Boyd, as well as executive producers Jonathan Collier and Michael Peterson appeared for the final Bones Q&A panel. Preparing for the start of production on the 12th and last season of FOX’s long-running comedic procedural, the cast was in parts subdued and animated. Most of the animation came from Boreanaz and Deschanel who serenaded every fan with a question with a singsong, “Fan questions! Fan fan questions!” Boreanaz also liked to randomly shout, “We’re back!”
Actor Dave Thomas, moderated the panel and immediately had Deschanel confirm that she directed the premiere episode. Deschanel also confirmed the first episode will be a continuation of the finale that Boreanaz directed. Thyne assured the fans that his character Jack and Conlin’s Angela will always make it. Collier teased another undercover episode for the stars and promised it would be the best one ever. And it would involve great shirts and suspenders. Boreanaz and Deschanel appeared excited to possibly play lumberjacks. When asked if any of the recurring characters may die, Collier replied, “A little bit, maybe…but in a really good way.” Peterson added, “But no one at this table.” much to the crowd (and panel’s) relief. With 12 episodes ordered, fans will have to wait til episode 11 to find out what “4-4-7” means. He also confirmed that Zack Addy (Eric Millegan) will be back for the final season.
The 100 Special Video Presentation and Q&A
Following the climatic events of the season finale, critically acclaimed series The 100 00returned to Comic-Con. ALIE has been defeated, and The City of Light destroyed, but The 100’s victory is bittersweet as a new threat comes into focus. With the clock ticking and Earth’s radiation levels rising, our heroes must put aside their differences to save what remains of humanity. Will the 100 go quietly into that good night, or will they find hope and faith in each other, as they face their darkest chapter yet?
The 100 panel included Jason Rothenberg, Eliza Taylor, Henry Ian Cusick, Marie Avgeropoulos, Lindsay Morgan, Christopher Larkin and Richard Harmon. Even with a lively moderator, Eric Goldman, a discussion focused on The 100’s dark plot, makes it hard to keep the mood light, although the actors tried. They know their characters very well and all tried to inject optimism for the next season, but it was quite a challenge when talking about post-apocalyptic world on the verge of another pending apocalypse. Harmon did ask to take a moment to soak in the fact that he was on stage and had the Comic-Con logo behind him before he shared his hopeful views on his character, John Murphy’s possible romance. Rothenberg wouldn’t confirm it, so Harmon sat back resignedly and figured he spoke too soon. Rothenberg did confirm Indra (Adina Porter) and Roan (Zach McGowan) were both still alive and McGowan would now be a series regular, which got cheers from both the fans and cast. Luna (Nadia HIlker) will also return; in a world that is on the brink of environmental collapse, her crew are the canaries of the coal mine.
Fan questions as always brought more smiles and animation from the panel that showed how well the cast gets along. One fan asked the cast to pretend to be Rothenberg and say what they would like their character to do in the next season. Taylor, who plays Clarke, immediately said she’d like a scene where her character smiled and laughed. Cusick donned Rothenberg’s glasses and actually resembled his boss a bit. Cusick, playing Rothenberg, suggested, “We should get Ian to direct an episode.” The real Rothenberg agreed. Avgeropoulos suggested more flashbacks, while Morgan just wanted a motorcycle. Rothenberg promised Raven would have something better. Larkin said he’s never shared lines with Harmon and would love to have a scene with him. Harmon enthusiastically seconded the motion.
The 100 returns midseason in early 2017 with all-new episodes on The CW. The 100: The Complete Third Season is now available on DVD.
Entertainment Weekly: Brave New Warriors
When programming described this panel as a “laugh-filled discussion among several of today’s male heroes” they weren’t kidding. The heroes in question included Josh Holloway (Colony), Dominic Cooper (Preacher), Theo Rossi (Luke Cage), Clive Standen(Taken, Vikings), Eric Dane (The Last Ship), and Corey Hawkins (24: Legacy), and Dominic Purcell (Legends of Tomorrow), who discussed the thrill of playing iconic TV characters, their sometimes awkward encounters with fans, and highs (and lows!) of a career in Hollywood.
Entertainment weekly moderator is not my favorite moderator Lynette Rice. She asked some awkward questions at the Outlander 2014 panel that told me she didn’t know much about the show. I was so glad she was replaced by Kristin Dos Santos as moderator for Outlander’s 2015 SDCC panel. And yes, I was disappointed there was no Outlander presence this year. So disappointed. Graham MacTavish’s presence for The Preacher made me feel a little better, but not that much. Anyway, Rice’s first set of questions had her asking the men to raise their hands if they ever had to depict any of the following clichéd scenes in the usual hero tropes.
1. Appear shirtless: All the men but Corey Hawkins raised their hands, so Corey offered to take his off to a few squeals from the audience. (He didn’t go through with it.)
2. Wear a “wife-beater”. First, who still uses it that ugly term? Only Dominic Purcell, Josh Holloway and Dominic Cooper raised their hands. Corey Hawkins raised his with some hesitation. Theo Rossi (thank you!) did say that probably wasn’t the correct term to use. Rice actually demurred and said she thought that was still the correct term.Eric Dane who did not raise his hand, corrected her in his authoritative captain voice said, “We call the tank tops.” I love that man.
3. Sporting stubble and always looking sweaty: All raised their hand, although Dane had to prompted, and again Hawkins didn’t look to sure.
4. Having a traumatic backstory, like a dead wife or a child: Purell, Holloway & Dane raised their hands without hesitation.
5. Walked away from a fiery wreckage: Purcell, Holloway, Cooper and Dane all at the same time. Dane sighed, “Every week.” Hawkins admitted he was just trying to catch up.
6. Made a smartass quip right at the moment you kill someone: All but Cooper & Standen
7. Had to kill someone again after you thought they were dead: All but Dane, Standen & Rossi. Standen appeared to suddently remember he had and belatedly raised his hand.
8. I heard so many groans in the audience when Rice explained this question. “Have you ever been coached or given tips to improve your running. Like, I run like a girl. Has anyone been coached so you don’t run like Napoleon Dynamite.” Running like a girl is not a bad thing. Ask any female rack and field star in the Olympics, Lynette. Dane says he never does any of his own running while Rossi said nobody on the panel would probably admit that. Cooper observed “We sound really pathetic, like life is difficult. Yeah, we really have a hard time running. It’s a very hard part of our jobs.”
Another cute segment was when childhood crushes were revealed. Alyssa Milano was the first to come to Rossi’s mid and Cheetarah for Standen, who also admitted his wife has an unhealthy crush on Dane & Holloway and he was torn between challenging them both to a fight or inviting them for a threesome. Hawkins had two Pamela loves, Anderson and Pam Greer. Dane won some “awwws” when he said he married his crush (Rebecca Gayheart) and they’ve been married 12 years now. But as a little kid he loved how Tabitha wiggled her nose. Cooper said his crush was Ferris Beuller’s girlfriend (Mia Sara) and had always wanted to be Cameron (Alan Ruck) the friend who got CPR from her. Holloway said the dancing girls on Fantasy Island influenced his type. “Island girls are for me” and he ended up marrying a woman from Jakarta. “Thanks, Mr. Rourke!” Purcell said he didn’t really have a childhood crush but noticed Pamela Anderson as well when he started paying attention.
Marvel Television: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Marvel knows how to put on a panel, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. executive producer and head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb definitely knows how to moderate one. I appreciated how he loves to pump up the crowds and include a little theater from the stars, like having an anxious Clark Gregg come out and ask, “Can we do the thing?” only to disappoint him (and the crowd) and promise they can do the thing later. He then introduced stars Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Henry Simmons, Elizabeth Henstridge, and Iain De Caestecker, co-creators and executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, and executive producer Jeff Bell and had them stand in FRONT of the dais first so fans could take proper pictures. It always helps to have a moderator who knows a lot about the show and can prompt the cast and crew for insights and behind the scene stories of which there were many. The popular favorite episode amongst the cast was Episode 13 “The Parting Shot” otherwise known as the Spies’ Goodbye and Episode 8 “Many Heads, One Tale” that had the FitzSimmons kiss heard around the wolrd. On top of some great reminiscing of the last season, Marvel brought a lot of teasers, sizzle reels and even audition tapes! Henstridge and De Caestecker did an excellent audition scene together that only solidified how right they were for their parts while Bennet’s audition scene with Brett Dalton showed how she captured the plucky and bold Daisy ‘Skye’ Johnson to score the role.
I loved the cast camaraderie and their quick wit and it’s apparent the co-creators love telling the characters’ stories. Whedon and Tancharoen’s back and forth lead De Caestecker and Henstridge to ask the audience, “Want to meet the real FitzSimmons?” Later in the panel when a fan asked, given Ward and Lincoln were no longer in the picture, would there be a new love interest for Daisy, Gregg answered for the producers with, “We’ve been trying to cast that but nobody seems to want that job.” After Whedon hinted it was possible, Bennet went on to implore that Daisy needed to get laid. Gregg immediately reminded them about kids in the audience, Wen came to the rescue and explained that Bennet meant, “She needs to lay down, like take a nap.”
And yes, Loeb finally granted Gregg’s request to do that thing, which was to roll the teaser that showed the S.H.I.E.L.D shield heating up to iron red hot before exploding to reveal a burning skull. Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduces Ghost Rider to the franchise.
The action-packed series from Marvel Television returns this fall, only on ABC.
TV Guide Magazine’s Fan Favorites
My last panel of Day 2 was moderated by senior writer Damian Holbrook. TV Guide Magazine’s Fan Favorites featured stars from TV’s hottest shows for a lively discussion filled with behind-the-scenes scoop. The panelists include Marie Avgeropoulos (The 100), Bruce Campbell(Ash vs. Evil Dead), Tom Ellis (Lucifer), Rebecca Mader (Once Upon a Time), Jason Ralph(The Magicians), David Ramsey (Arrow), Brandon Routh (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) and Tamara Taylor (Bones). I was most interested in the panelists whose show panels I had not seen yet or would not get to see this year. Campbell let loose with his acerbic wit while Ellis and Ralph made me particularly curious about Lucifer and The Magicians.
We learned what the actors themselves geek out over. Mader loves Game of Thrones but also Stranger Things, which only made her cooler in my book. Apparently Campbell is currently into TJ Hooker, which he explained. “You watch shows for different reasons. This was the hair show. Adrien Zmeds hairline starts at his brow. Heather Locklear’s hair is taking off on all sides and Shatner…we’re starting fresh with that. And it’s about tight police uniforms and skid marks on the road. You could tell which take they printed, based on how many sets of skidmarks they had.” The story was also a great lesson on how to have a plan when you meet a celebrity. When he met Shatner, he had an icebreaker ready. “There was no way I was going to tell Bill, ‘Hey, I watched all the Start Treks when I was a kid.’ You’re gonna get no where with that.” Campbell went with TJ Hooker and, according to Campbell, Shatner’s eyes lit up. “Because nobody talks about TJ Hooker!”
Taylor was a big Fringe fan and Ellis was a Battlestar Galactica fan and he was extremely excited to learn that Tricia Helfer would be playing his mother in Lucifer. Ralph is a big fan of The Walking Dead, as are Ramsey and Routh. Ramsey is also a big fan of The Flash. Avgeropoulos was just excited to be at SDCC for a couple of days so she could walk around and look at costumes. Routh also added he is a fan of Silicon Valley and Orphan Black.
Its panels like these where you get to learn a little bit more about the actors you admire that I really enjoy about SDCC. Roundtables and press lines are great to get up close and personal with the actors, but it’s a quick few minutes of them answering many of the same questions. The actors themselves also appreciate the fan interaction and take advantage of the opportunity to thank their fans because in the grand scheme of things, it’s the fans that really keep these shows alive.