Saturday, July 11, 2015

Comic-Con 2015: Childhood's End

It's Saturday already! It's hard to believe how fast this Con is going by! I also thought about the math while in line earlier today, and I've spent three weeks of my life at San Diego Comics Conventions over the past five years! Anyway, fun facts aside, let's get into the first panel of the day: Childhood's End.

SyFy's miniseries, which will be broadcast across three nights for a total of six hours in December, is based on a 1953 novel by Arthur C. Clarke (yep, the 2001: A Space Odyssey guy!). The premise is that an alien invasion of Earth went from peaceful and prosperous for all to suspicion to concern, and you can imagine where it might be going from there. I mean, once kids begin to develop telekinetic powers, all bets are off. The novel is written in third-person with no protagonist, and is divided into three parts, which is a challenge to fully illustrate in a short screen time, which is why a feature film is not ideal.

On the panel we had cast members Julian McMahon, Daisy Betts, and Yael Stone, plus director Nick Hurran and screenwriter Matthew Graham. The highly anticipated Mike Vogel, who was at SDCC on Thursday for CBS's Under the Dome, was mysteriously absent, as was Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister of Game of Thrones).

Shot in Australia earlier this year, the miniseries is remarkably difficult to discuss on the panel, other than saying "it's loyal to the book," as there are major spoilers possible. Fans seemed pleased with what they heard, however, so be sure to look forward to this holiday time treat! And, looking ahead, be excited about the 2016 series The Magicians - SyFy ended this panel with a trailer of that, and it was pretty neat!
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Comic-Con 2015: Farewell, Falling Skies!

At my first Comic-Con back in 2011, Falling Skies was a new show, and they wanted fans badly... they gave out zippered hoodies for attending the panel, which was in 6BCF back in those days. Now, with the show on its way out, there isn't much left with which to tease an audience, but the panel wormed its way into Ballroom 20 just the same! Unfortunately, listening to the dull roar of applause compared to years past, the timing of the panel (it had always been in the afternoon previously) meant that many people in the room were actually there for something later in the day.

Present on the panel moderated by Darren Franich were Moon Bloodgood, Noah Wyle, Drew Roy, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Doug Jones, Connor Jessup, Colin Cunningham, and Sarah Carter. Five winters in Vancouver are behind them now, and Jones will no longer have to endure four hours of makeup just to say a few lines. 
The panel description boasted of discussions of favorite moments, the most gruesome deaths, and the most memorable alien battles, and we definitely got some of that. Jessup shared that his character wasn't even in the original pilot, so he thought that he wouldn't last long. The most disturbing scene for Roy will pop up in episode five, where there's blood and cold humanity at its worst. Roy's most memorable moment is shooting the pilot, as the set was about a quarter-mile of running around, and there was a big explosion that almost went awry due to a domino-like fall. Amusingly, Wyle also talks about that scene being his least-favorite, as the footage was lost and they had to do the entire thing again the following night, despite the fact that Wyle was already sore from the first round of antics.

The folks asking questions seemed a bit planted, as both Wyle's son and Bloodgood's best friend's niece made it to the microphone. The best question asked, however, was what everyone's first impression was of the person to their right. We got some fun stories, and learned that Wyle and Bloodgood met in a Santa Monica coffeeshop, Bloodgood and Roy met on a plane to Vancouver to shoot the pilot, and Cunningham met Jessup as they were reading for fun (Cunningham flipping through MAD Magazine and Jessup studying Tolstoy).

One thing that Falling Skies has not done great in the past is exclusive looks ahead, as they often only show you a clip of something that will air a couple of days later, and that's what Comic-Con attendees got yet again. Also, no swag this year... it's not like promotion matters at this point, but still, it's a bit of a bummer not to leave with a parting gift of sorts!

Watch Falling Skies wrap up Sunday nights on TNT at 10pm (ET/PT).
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Comic-Con 2015: Inside the Big Bang Theory Writers' Room

Friday morning at San Diego Comic-Con 2015 began back in our old friend, Ballroom 20. The popularity of The Big Bang Theory's panel has waned in recent years, likely due to the fact that they stopped parading out the cast. However, leaving the actors in Los Angeles is the best thing to happen to this panel, as the actors are not a good match for this crowd... it was a hot mess when geeks asked them questions about the show!

The writers, on the other hand, fare better with this group, and they brought 13 folks to sit on the panel, alongside Kunal Nayyar as the guest moderator. Dr. David Saltzberg (science consultant), Jeremy Howe, Steve Molaro, Steve Holland, Maria Ferrari, Jim Reynolds, Tara Hernandez, Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady (engineer), Eric Kaplan, Dave Goetsch, Anthony Del Broccolo, Saladin Patterson (engineer).

Perhaps the most remarkable comment throughout the entire hour was about how every Tuesday night feels like Christmas, as that's when they get the next week's script (Nayyar). The whole thing wasn't that saccharin, however, as they opened with talking about how the time travel conversation began, complete with a discussion on the verb tense jokes, which Kaplan really handled. 

The back story on some of the other recent storylines include Chuck Lorre getting a drone for Christmas and not being able to get it to work (the instructions really did say to turn it on and off at least ten times), and reading TBBT fanfic online. Speaking of which, Mayim Bialik was brought out to join the panel and read some Raj-Amy fan fiction (Koothrappamy), which included such phrases as "I'm going to introduce you to Fifty Shades of Brown" and "semantic is the wrong word, you sexy beast from the third world." 

Another hot topic was working with guest stars like Billy Bob Thorton, Nathan Fillion, Stephen Hawking (Saltzberg was nervous when Hawking was going to get to read some lines about the Cooper-Hofstadter paper he designed), and Kevin Smith (Bialik freaked out and tweeted when Smith brought Jason Mewes to the set, resulting in being reprimanded by Warner Bros. for spoilers).

Other questions from the audience led to such fun facts as learning that the most difficult thing to write are the big moments (like Sheldon telling Amy that he loves her), and that the ending of the Skywalker Ranch episode had to be rewritten, as the original had Sheldon stealing a lightsaber, but Lorre didn't think the character would have committed a felony. Bialik also spoke a bit about how she and Jim prepare for scenes - they talk a lot about their characters' relationship so that they're in the mindset to have the conversations that they have.

The Big Bang Theory
returns to CBS for a ninth season this fall - look for it on Monday nights at 8pm (ET/PT) beginning September 21st, before moving to Thursdays on November 5th. Make sure to tune into that first episode, as viewers will learn the background to when Sheldon bought the ring and when he was planning to give it to Amy. If you're not caught up on the series, the eighth season will be available on DVD/Blu-ray on September 15th.
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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Comic-Con 2015: CBS's Zoo

With a title like Zoo, I was expecting an animal to make an appearance, but I guess that stems from the excitement of TCA panels. 

"The wild shall inherit the Earth" sounds a bit biblical, but Zoo is an event series, so I guess anything goes. I'm unfamiliar with James Patterson's body of work, but apparently the book is a #1 bestseller about animals waging war with humans. To bring the series to life, there are real animals (like lions and tigers), and it is hinted that, eventually, they will begin working together to achieve more domination over the human race.

Joining the panel we had James Wolk, Kristen Connolly, Billy Burke, Nora Arnezeder, Jeff Pinkner, and Josh Appelbaum.

It was a little extra exciting in that audience members who asked questions got asked a question in return, then got a zoo t-shirt! The best question (by far) was directed toward the actors: which animal would you want to kill your character? Connolly said a dolphin, Arnezeder said a skunk, Wolk said whale, and Burke said he doesn't know, but would want to be reincarnated as a dolphin (while insinuating it would be the one killing Connolly).

When asked why make this show now, Pinkner responded that animals are scary and real. A great point, in the age of zombies and vampires!

Watch Zoo at 9pm Tuesdays on CBS! 
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Comic-Con 2015: CBS's Under the Dome

I remember the announcements about Steven Spielberg and Stephen King coming together for Under the Dome, and for a while I had an appreciation for the sci-fi series. However, that show really jumped the shark at the start of Season 3 when everyone wound up back under the dome after spending two seasons getting out. Plus, only three weeks have gone by on the show, so the pace is unreal... are they trying to be 24 here??

Mike Vogel, Colin Ford, Marg Helgenberger are the only three actors who were present, but rounding out the panel were EPs Neal Baer and Tim Schlattmann. [I'm totally wondering why Dean Norris, Rachelle LeFevre, and Alexander Koch weren't there...] 

Vogel talked about his bond with Rachelle LeFevre (Julia on the show), hinting that she's his favorite actress to work with on the drama. [I've gotta say... hearing Vogel use "all y'all" threw me... he's from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, guys!] Helgenberger preferred to talk about how grateful she is that people come from all over the world to attend Comic-Con. Ford has learned a lot about playing a villain from the other actors on the show... but the fate of humanity may soon rest on his character, Joe, so being evil won't help a whole lot.

We were treated to bits of future episodes (tonight's as well as the two following it), so look forward to seeing things like a tent city near the school, Christine talking about how everyone could soon suffocate if amethysts dying calcifies the Dome, a lot of injuries, and Christine joining Big Jim (and dog) in jail!

Under the Dome is on CBS Thursdays at 10pm (ET/PT).

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