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Comic-Con 2011 Day 1 Recap: TV Drama Series & Fan Faves

Amy K. Bredemeyer - July 22, 2011


With so many different TV series panels at Comic-Con, it's hard to plan where to get the most exclusive news, the best spoilers, and the coolest celebrity sightings. On Thursday, the first full day of the conference, Ballroom 20 had a steady stream of exciting panels, so it was a good place to be for the bulk of the day. BURN NOTICE: THE FALL OF SAM AXE, COVERT AFFAIRS, PSYCH, RINGER, GAME OF THRONES PANEL AND Q&A SESSION, and TV GUIDE MAGAZINE: FAN FAVORITES all took place in that room, making for a fun start to the Con.

Shortly after Bruce Campbell started talking about his series, BURN NOTICE, and his TV movie, THE FALL OF SAM AXE, he confirmed that there will be a sixth season of BURN NOTICE. Plus, the DVD release of THE FALL OF SAM AXE became available exclusively at Comic-Con, a full five days before the official release on Tuesday, July 26th. Among the extra features on the DVD is a spoof about series star Jeffrey Donovan going crazy and becoming a “mountain man” due to the effects of filming at an altitude of 11,000 feet. A clip of this feature was shown during the session, and the crowd laughed and applauded at its hilarity.

Campbell then took questions from the lucky folks who made it to the front of the line, and they asked about anything and everything -- from whether BURN NOTICE is based on Bruce Campbell's life story (deflected by giving the inquisitive mind a free DVD) to if there will be a future backstory for Fiona (only the studio can answer that, but the series will unveil more background information in upcoming episodes). Series creator Matt Nix said that he developed the idea for BURN NOTICE because he is interested in looking at spies as people, which helps explain the interest in the characters' earlier lives. Really, Nix is very happy with how things are going –- he proclaims that he walks onto the set everyday saying, “This is awesome!”


Bruce Campbell in BURN NOTICE.

The COVERT AFFAIRS panel began by showing some of their characters spoofing Comic-Con, with jokes best appreciated by attendees who have been to the Con multiple times. Then, after announcing the panelists, series guest star and panel moderator Oded Fehr asked a series of prepared questions. When asked why Auggie is blind, series co-creator Matt Corman explained that the character is based on a buddy of his who wasn't blinded but was injured after college…and became a much more interesting person afterward! Kari Matchett was asked if she's as tough a cookie in real life as her character Joan Campbell is, to which she quipped “No!” eliciting laughter from the crowd. And, just before fan questions, it was announced that a spy had been planted in the audience, and an image of the person was displayed on the big screens with the attendees to the left and right of the “spy” winning iPads!

Many of the audience members directed their questions to star Piper Perabo, who had the opportunity to tell the room about how Paris was her favorite place to shoot (because it's “pretty magical to shoot in, like being in a movie”), how she and co-star Anne Dudek like to make things up about their characters' backgrounds, and why her character doesn't carry a firearm (on domestic soil, the CIA doesn't carry weapons OR badges!). Star Christopher Gorham mentioned that he gets a lot of help playing a blind man from the Canadian Institute for the Blind and that the laser cane isn't real; it's two real things put into one. Series co-creator Chris Ord was asked whether there were intentions to “fix” Auggie's disability, to which he responded, “no” and “that would be cheesy.” The panel ended with a blooper reel, including plenty of bleeped-out expletives.


Christopher Gorham and Piper Perabo in COVERT AFFAIRS.

PSYCH's panel opened the same way as COVERT AFFAIRS' -- with a previously taped spoof on the big screens. What was more memorable, however, was the LIVE performance of the full theme song, where two audience members even got to join on-stage to sing the final chorus. Then, some clips of Season 6, including many of the guest stars who will appear: Joey McIntyre, Danny Glover, Jason Priestly, Jaleel White, Kenan Thompson, and William Shatner.

Panel moderator Kurt Fuller, who has a recurring role on the series as Woody the Coroner, asked a few questions before the audience barraged the panel with queries. When asked “What about Shawn annoys Gus the most?", series star Dulé Hill remarked “that he keeps stealing his credit card!” Hill was tweeting during the hour and once wasn't really paying attention so he had to ask someone to repeat a question about whether he and his co-star James Roday are friends in real life. (Yes, they're “best buddies”). Creator Steve Franks was asked whether viewers could expect another serial killer, to which he mysteriously responded, “You'll be shocked.” The panel ended with a pre-recorded scene of Shawn & Gus messing around to the song “Don't You (Forget About Me).”


Dule Hill and James Roday in PSYCH.

The RINGER session delighted the audience when it opened with an exclusive clip.  Since the series only completely filmed one episode -- the pilot was filmed on St. Patrick's Day -- and because so little is known about the program, many of the questions referenced the talent's past work, especially Sarah Michelle Gellar's BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. In RINGER Gellar plays two roles -- twins Bridget and Siobhan. She was asked which she prefers to play, and she said “I don't. It'd be like picking children.” Gellar also mentioned that playing both girls is “okay so far,” but encouraged the audience to ask her again in six months, after she's filmed more episodes. Although she did her own stunts in BUFFY, RINGER is using a double for some of her stunts. Lastly, for those wondering: “There will be no vampires, no demons, no supernatural” in RINGER.


Sarah Michelle Gellar playing twins Bridget and Siobhan in RINGER.

For anyone unfamiliar with the HBO hit GAME OF THRONES, it was easy to get up to speed in the first few minutes of the panel. A wonderful collage of video clips was put together to tell “the story so far,” which writer and co-executive producer George R. R. Martin said “covered in ten minutes what took me 1200 pages.” Martin also moderated the panel, which began by asking the executive producers and writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss how they were introduced to the books. Benioff mentioned that he got them in 2006 and got hooked, noting “It's like crack on paper, you can't stop.” Several other questions about the books were asked by audience members, and several members of the cast shared their experiences in reading them. Notably, Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, told the room that she is trying to keep up with her character, so she's only just started the second book. One fan asked Martin why he kills off people's favorite characters. His response was intriguing, as he said he “wants people emotionally involved, almost afraid to turn the page and see who's going to live and who's going to die.”


Emilia Clarke in GAME OF THRONES.

Responding to a question about plans for the future, Benioff said that the readers should know what to expect. But, if Season 3 happens, they will need to start deviating from the books since there's just so much in there. He also announced that the DVD release of Season 1 will include the first auditions of the cast members, among other goodies.


Memorably, one of the final comments of the GAME OF THRONES panel came from Kit Harington, who portrays the bastard son of the House of Stark. When asked what drew him to his character, he replied, “He's a bad-ass with a sword… I loved him the minute I saw him on paper.”


For fans of some of the most popular shows on television, the TV GUIDE MAGAZINE: FAN FAVORITES panel was a hit. Clips were shown from VAMPIRE DIARIES, RINGER, ALCATRAZ, CHUCK (although an audio glitch prevented the audience from hearing the dialogue), THE BIG BANG THEORY, DOCTOR WHO, THE RIVER, and TRUE BLOOD. Very few spoilers, as the majority of the clips were from past episodes.

As might be expected, the opening question posed to each panelist was “When did you realize you were a fan favorite?” Kevin Williamson said that Twitter showed him, Zachary Levi responded that it was at the pilot screening of CHUCK at Comic-Con, and THE BIG BANG's Johnny Galecki agreed that it was at Comic-Con he first realized there was love for his show. Galecki, who recently received an Emmy nomination, told the crowd that he didn't realize when the nominations were going to be announced and was sleeping at his girlfriend's apartment with an uncharged phone when the news broke --it took an hour for anyone to tell him!


Johnny Galecki in THE BIG BANG THEORY.


The pre-planned questions, combined with the clips, took up the majority of the time, but fans were still able to ask several questions. The best response? When asked where he would go if he could time travel, DOCTOR WHO's Matt Smith exclaimed, “to Atlantis, to see what's going down. And to see the dinosaurs, but I would pick up Frank Sinatra on the way.”

Comic-Con continues through Sunday, with various panels and previews throughout the conference in several locations.

Amy K. Bredemeyer is the founder and editor of the television blog TheTalkingBox. She has an MA in Theatre from Florida State University, and is a freelance dramaturg in the San Francisco Bay Area.