As I write the last of four articles on the panels related to television at this year’s Comic-Con, I can’t help but consider just how long it has taken me. Scrolling through the list of Comic-Con programming nearly a week ago, I decided that, given the increased number of shows represented in San Diego this year, I would dedicate a few articles to summing up the events targeted to people more interested in television than comic books. Yet summing up the event has resulted in three posts, this will be the fourth, all of which are over 1000 words. This is a testament to the sheer size of San Diego Comic-Con 2009, and to the amount of television programming featured this year.
Writing these articles has certainly made me consider what I would like to see if I attended Comic-Con. Even though I haven’t seen the third season yet (it will be released on DVD in mid-August) I would like to attend the Dexter panel. Additionally, I wouldn’t want to miss the Big Bang Theory panel. I’m hoping it will get some of the recognition it deserves during tomorrow’s Emmy nominations, although I wouldn’t put money on it. I would even join the crowds to see TV Guide’s Sci-Fi Hot List and the Entertainment Weekly panel “Female Power Icons in Pop Culture”. But the panel I would most like to see is Sunday’s panel on Doctor Who.
The big draw here is the combination of writer/executive producer Russell T. Davies and departing Doctor David Tennant. Davies, the man behind such projects as Queer as Folk and The Second Coming, as well as new Who spin-offs The Sarah Jane Chronicles and Torchwood, has announced that he will be leaving when David Tennant regenerates, in the last of five specials set to air before season five. Davies will be replaced by Steven Moffat, the writer responsible for some of the new series’ best episodes, which include Blink and The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.
As for David Tennant, his boyhood fantasy fulfilling tenure as the Doctor will come to an end in 2010, when he will regenerate into his eleventh incarnation, played by relative newcomer Matt Smith. Although Christopher Eccleston was the first Doctor for a new generation of fans, David Tennant has earned a place in the hearts of most as “their” doctor. In 2006 Tennant even beat out favourite Tom Baker to be voted “Best Doctor” by readers of Doctor Who Magazine.
The Comic-Con panel, featuring Davies and Tennant, will also include director Euros Lyn and executive producer Julie Gardner. BBC America reports that “David will travel to Comic-Con, fresh from the Doctor Who set, having shot his final scenes as the tenth Time Lord. He and fellow panelists will discuss the latest incarnation of television’s longest running science fiction series and take questions from the floor. There will also be exclusive sneak peeks from the upcoming specials”. (10:00-11:00, Ballroom 20).
If you’re not a big fan of Doctor Who, there are other panel choices, including a Q&A session on animated series The Spectacular Spider-Man. Fitting in nicely with the kid friendly theme to much of Sunday’s programming, the show follows Peter Parker as a 16-year-old struggling to conceal his secret identity and survive high school. Cast and crew attending include supervising producers and character designers, as well as voice actors Josh Keaton, Kelly Hu, and Robert Englund (10:00-11:00, Room 6A). Also kid friendly is the panel on Disney Channel’s #1 animated series Phineas & Ferb. Creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff Marsh, plus Vincent Martella, who voices Phineas, will talk about what happens behind the scenes of the show (10:00-11:00, Room 6DE).
Although I used to watch Smallville, and I mean the first three or four seasons, I’ve abandoned it for better content. It was a great concept, but the writers have long since broken their original “no flights, no tights” rule and even without watching the show I’m aware of how last season’s finale disappointed many a fan with the death of Jimmy Olsen, and subsequent reveal that he was not the Jimmy Olsen of Superman mythology, his younger brother was. But with the show going into its ninth season, it’s clear it still has fans. If you’re one of those still watching, this year’s panel includes cast members Alison Mack (Chloe), Erica Durance (Lois), Cassidy Freeman (Tess Mercer), Justin Hartley (Oliver Queen), and new series star Callum Blue (Zod), as well as the current showrunners. The session will be moderated by Jeph Loeb, formerly of Heroes (10:30-11:30, Room 6BCF).
Back on the animated side of things are the panels Cartoon Voices II, featuring a gathering of the top cartoon voice actors (11:15-12:30, Room 6A), and “Nickelodeon Presents”, which will screen new episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants, Fairly OddParents, and The Penguins of Madagascar (11:15-12:15). Additionally, American Dad showrunners Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman will join stars Seth MacFarlane, Wendy Schall, and Dee Bradley Baker for an inside look at how the show is made (11:15-12:15, Ballroom 20). If you want to be one of those stars, be sure to attend the Business of Cartoon Voices panel, which gives you “a serious “how to” look at the business telling you what it takes to get in and how to avoid getting ripped-off.” (1:00-2:00, Room 2).
Ready for more science-fiction? Start with the Supernatural panel featuring creator/executive producer Eric Kripke and stars Misha Collins and Jim Beaver. With the show now entering its fifth, and possibly last, season, fans of the CW drama will be excited about the exclusive clips from upcoming episodes and the airing of special features that will appear on the soon to be released fourth season DVD set… even without the presence of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as the demon-hunting Winchester brothers (11:45-12:45, Room 6BCF).
Continue the supernatural theme by attending the Ghost Whisperer panel, where the cast and crew will present a first look at clips from the upcoming season. Series stars Jennifer Love Hewitt and David Conrad will be present. (1:00-2:00, Room 6BCF). Then attend BBC America’s back-to-back panels on Being Human and Torchwood. Being Human, about the lives of three twentysomethings, a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost, will present a panel which features creator Toby Whithouse and stars Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow, and Aidan Turner. The more interesting of the two, in my opinion, is the Torchwood panel though. As I stated in my last article I may not have seen Torchwood: Children of Earth yet, but I have been spoiled enough to wonder how fans will react to the five episode series. With the panel including the same people present at the morning’s Doctor Who gathering, but with the substitution of star John Barrowman for David Tennant, it’s certainly one to watch. My only regret is that it doesn’t include more cast members. Barrowman seems to enjoy innuendo more when it’s with his fellow actors. Just check out the abundant Youtube footage of last year’s San Diego Comic-Con with Barrowman, Naoko Mori, and Gareth David-Lloyd (2:15-3:45, Ballroom 20).
If you’re a Whedon fan, spend the afternoon with some Browncoats, fans of Joss Whedon’s short-lived series Firefly who actively participate in the show’s fandom, for the Browncoats Fan Group Meeting. According to Comic-Con, “Fans of Firefly and Serenity are welcome to join the California Browncoats. Get the scoop on upcoming ‘verse-related and ‘verse-friendly events and products that you’ll really love, learn about Waterkeeper Alliance, the charity the group is supporting this year. Drop by any time to join the fun and find out what the Browncoats are up to, but those arriving by 12:20 can enter to play Serenity Spin—put your ‘verse-related trivia to the test to win shiny (12:00-2:00, Room 24A).
Finally, finish Comic-Con with a screening of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode “Once More With Feeling”. Fans are encouraged to participate by “singing and shouting and dancing in the aisles, with or without your dry cleaning!” As a Buffy fan, I can’t imagine a better way to top off Comic-Con International. I only wish I could be there to sing along (4:00-5:00, Ballroom 20).
Comic-Con International takes place at the San Diego Convention Center July 23rd-26th.
Full schedules of events and panel descriptions can be found here.