Terrifying Television: Halloween Episodes

October 31, 2009

With Saturday the 31st upon us, this TV enthusiast will be gathering a collection of her favourite Halloween episodes and settling in to celebrate with some beloved fictional characters. If you’re planning a marathon of your own, or simply looking to kill an hour or two before trick or treating or a Halloween party, here are some of my favourite episodes of Halloween television for your consideration.

How I Met Your Mother, “The Slutty Pumpkin”

how i metBarney: Flight-suit up!

An instant classic from the first season, this episode sees Lily and Marshall attempting to win a costume contest at the bar and Robin having trouble “putting on the girlfriend costume” to please her date. However, the episode revolves around Ted’s annual tradition of attending the Halloween roof party at his building in hopes of meeting “the slutty pumpkin”, the one who got away four years earlier. This has all the heart and all the laughs you’d expect from How I Met Your Mother, and Barney is his usual awesome self. You’ll come away with a few fun new variations on “suit up!” as well as a fun mixed drink recipe!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Fear Itself”

gilesGiles: It’s a sombrero.
Buffy: And it’s on your head.
Giles: It seemed festive.

Buffy has a grand total of three Halloween episodes, but this one is my favourite. “Fear Itself” is full of memorable moments, from Anya’s choice for a scary costume to the now unemployed Giles getting into the Halloween spirit. As Willow, Oz, Xander, and Buffy attend a Halloween party in a frat house, the house comes alive and plays upon the fears of its inhabitants. What really makes the episode are the last five minutes though and the appearance of the fear demon itself.

Dexter, “Let’s Give the Boy a Hand”

dexter hallDexter: “I love Halloween, the one time of year when everyone wears a mask, not just me. People think its fun to pretend you’re a monster. Me, I spend my life pretending I’m not.”

I believe that Dexter is one of the most consistently good series on television, which means that it has few weak episodes and this is not one of them. A fan of the holiday because he’s no longer the only one hiding, Dexter celebrates Halloween with Rita and her kids, while also deciphering disturbing recreations of his past left by his fellow serial killer, who has been leaving severed body parts in the locations of childhood memories. The theme of masks and hiding is continued throughout the episode, as is the question of what makes a monster.

Supernatural, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester”/”Pilot”

super hallSam: “For us, every day is Halloween.”

I can’t decide which Halloween episode of Supernatural I enjoy more. The pilot has the distinction of being the episode that started it all and as far as pilots go it’s a great one. Twenty-two years after the mysterious death of his mother, college student Sam Winchester has a girlfriend, an interview to get into law school, and no desire to join the family business. Then brother Dean shows up, revealing that their father went missing while hunting demons and Sam rejoins Dean for a one-time deal and a show was born. The pilot manages to hook you in and sets up a season long hunt for John Winchester (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

Fourth season episode “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” is worth watching for entirely different reasons. In it, the angels tell Dean that he must find a witch and stop the raising of the demon Samhain or they will smite the town and all of its 1200 inhabitants. The opening of the episode uses the urban legend of razor blades in Halloween candy, but it’s the end, where the audience begins to see the humanity in the angel Castiel that makes this one a Halloween must for me.

Dead Like Me, “Haunted”

dead like me hallGeorge: “It’s not so bad, being dead like me.”

My favourite Halloween episode to date has to be the brilliant series finale of Dead Like Me. The grim reapers prepare for Halloween and George Lass, dead one year in her home town, learns about a reaper legend that says all reapers can be seen as themselves on Halloween. As Mason goes on a candy gathering mission, with George along for the ride, a serial killer is on the loose. Meanwhile George’s family gather in the graveyard to pay their respects on the Day of the Dead. There are few cancellations more upsetting than this one, which was never really explained and caught the writers and producers of the show off guard, meaning some loose ends were never tied up, but the show did go out on a high as George begins to accept her life as a reaper at last.

Happy Halloween Everyone!


Summer Casting

August 15, 2009
Evan Rachel Wood as Queen Sophie-Ann in True Blood.

Evan Rachel Wood as Queen Sophie-Ann in True Blood.

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, then you already know that I’m one of many fans eagerly awaiting HBO’s Game of Thrones. Although it hasn’t yet been given a full season order or, for that matter, filmed the pilot episode, I’ve been following the development of this series from the beginning, and each new casting announcement renews my excitement. However, HBO doesn’t share this enthusiasm for casting announcements, mostly because they are being leaked by an inside source and not officially announced by the network. They are currently hunting for the leak(s) and have threatened to fire and muddy this person’s reputation in the industry. As a result, the leaks seem to have stopped, despite the casting of at least six more roles for the pilot.

What hasn’t dried up is George R.R. Martin’s desire to tease. He can’t announce the casting directly until HBO gives their go ahead, but what he can do is provide clues for fans. Cue the riddles and, in turn, the wacky casting theories. We do know that Jaime and Theon have been cast, and that three of the other roles are female, two of them children (most likely Arya and Sansa), but this is where the riddles come in:

Martin: One player has something in common with Ned. One has something in common with Harry Potter. One is not a boney pop singer. Shows can get cancelled and so can characters, but two of them have been seen on American tv recently.

In a second post Martin clarified that the two child roles have been filled by unknown actresses who are not on IMDB, but added:

That still leaves four adults you can try to figure out, though. And among the hundreds of theories and guesses, I’ve seen a couple of you getting it right… or coming close, riding the right theory to the wrong conclusion. So keep at it.

In the absence of an announcement, I’ll give you a few more clues. One cast member was played by a puppet. Another has been seen wandering a castle exclaiming about roses. A third is too good to be true. The fourth is the fifth. Esquire thinks one of them is hot.

Other possible clues come from the title of his posts “Dutch Treats and Casting Calls”, prompting some fans to wonder if one of the actors or actresses is Dutch, and his music selections “Too Good to be True” and “Alright, Still”.  Naturally the riddles without resolution, and the fact that we have no idea of when HBO will announce its casting decisions, is enough to drive a TV enthusiast/huge ASOIAF fan mad.  So taking a break from reading through the various fan theories, here is a collection of this summer’s other casting choices.  Don’t worry – there are no riddles to be found here, but there may be minor spoilers so if you really don’t want to know anything and even stay away from the TV guide descriptions of new episodes, turn back now.

Robert Knepper

Robert Knepper

Earlier this summer, Heroes announced a number of new additions for its fourth season.  Heroes is once again beginning the season with our heroes trying to live normal lives.  Somehow I doubt that will work out for them.  The season will introduce a group of carnies with abilities who have chosen to hide in plain sight by encorporating their talents into a carnival show, and if you’re getting images of HBO’s fantastical Carnivale right now, then you are not alone.

Among the new carnival folk are Ray Park, best known for playing Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode One, who will play knife-wielding Edgar, Dawn Olivieri, who has been cast as tattooed empath Lydia, and Robert Knepper, who played the always creepy T-bag on Prison Break, as Samuel, the show’s ringleader.

Outside the carnival, Deanne Bray (Sue Thomas F B Eye) has been cast as Peter’s deaf co-worker Emma and Ernie Hudson (Oz) has a recurring role as a Baltimore cop.  Tessa Thompson, who played Jackie on Veronica Mars,  has been cast as Becky, a fellow student who will clash with Claire, and Madeline Zima (Californication) will play Claire’s college roommate Gretchen who she – wait for it – ends up kissing!  I have a really bad feeling about this one.

Meanwhile, another Star Wars villain will be guest staring in House m.d. this season.  Darth Vader himself James Earl Jones is set to appear in the fourth episode as an African dictator who becomes a patient at Princeton Plainsboro.  House’s roommate in the institution will be played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote and starred in the Tony award winning musical In the Heights.  I’ve linked his rapped acceptance speech for best original score at the Tony Awards below.

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse returns for its unexpected second season with guest star Jamie Bamber, who was in Battlestar Galactica with series star Tahmoh Penikett.  Fellow Battlestar alum Katee Sackhoff will join the cast of 24 this year as Dana Walsh, a CTU analyst. Her character will be in a relationship with new cast member Freddy Prinze Jr., also known as Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar, and in keeping with 24’s tendency to cast Canadian actors, Callum Keith Rennie will play a Russian mobster.

Canadian actress Sarah Carter

Canadian actress Sarah Carter

Another Canadian is the newest series regular on CSI: New York. Actress Sarah Carter (Shark), who grew up in Winnipeg, will play a tech who aspires to work in the crime lab and who is hiding a secret.  Speaking of keeping secrets, there’s John Lithgow, cast as a serial killer who kills in threes in the fourth season of Dexter.

The Mentalist will make progress on the Red John case by bringing in Oz’s Terry Kinney as a CBI agent who heads up the division overseeing the Red John murders.  He also happens to be Lisbon’s ex, and the one person immune to the considerable charms of Patrick Jane.

With stars Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay signing new contracts to remain on Law and Order:SVU, the series has been continuing its usual parade of name guest stars.  In the season premiere, Prison Break star Wentworth Miller will appear as a cop who helps a rape victim, while Eric McCormack, whose show Trust Me was recently axed, has been cast as a sugar daddy in the second episode.  McCormack has also handed a recurring gig on The New Adventures of Old Christine as a potential love interest for Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character.  Back on SVU, Christine Lahti will play the new ADA in the first four episodes before Stephanie March reprises her role as Alexandra Cabot.

Tyra Banks will appear on Gossip Girl.

Tyra Banks will appear on Gossip Girl.

Gossip Girl has also cast some high profile names, with Hilary Duff added in a recurring role this season.  Duff will play Olivia, a movie star who enrols at NYU in order to have the traditional college experience.  Tyra Banks will also guest star, playing an actress who co-stars with Duff’s character in a film.  Finally, Privileged star Joanna Garcia will play Nate’s new girlfriend Bree, who is from a conservative Southern family. Ugly Betty is re-casting the role of Wilhelmina’s willful daughter, which was previously played by Jowharch Jones. America’s Next Top Model runner-up Yaya Dacosta will be stepping into the part.

Smallville has cast British actor Callum Blue (Dead Like Me) as the villainous General Zod in its ninth season, while Mark Pellegrino, who played Rita’s abusive ex-husband Paul on Dexter and was more recently seen as the mysterious Jacob in Lost, is set to play Lucifer himself in CW series Supernatural.  He will appear in the fifth season premiere on September 10th.

Chris Vance will guest star on Burn Notice.

Chris Vance will guest star on Burn Notice.

I admit that I’ve never watched USA spy series Burn Notice, even though it looks like a lot of fun.  The news that Chris Vance (Mental) will guest-star in four episodes as a former MI-6 agent overseeing black ops is enough to make me give it a try though.   I also don’t watch The Daily Show, but I hear that Lewis Black is a great choice for a guest starring role on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Black will play a Professor of entomology (which any good CSI: Las Vegas fan knows means the study of bugs), whose life is in ruins.

In the fourth and final season of The Tudors, Henry VIII marries his sixth wife.  Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck) has been cast in the role of Catherine Parr, who outlived the English King.

Most of these guest stars won’t appear until September or October, but Evan Rachel Wood will make her debut on True Blood at the end of August.  She will be playing Queen Sophie-Ann, the Vampire Queen of Louisiana, and will recur next year, since True Blood was officially renewed for a third season.

There’s some exciting casting news for fellow TV enthusiasts but I’m still waiting for HBO’s official announcement on Game of Thrones. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long.


When Good Shows Go Bad

August 11, 2009

Television Without Pity recently published an item on the “worst of the best”, choosing the worst episodes of great shows including Veronica Mars, House m.d., The Sopranos, and The West Wing.  Even the most consistently good shows have their missteps, those episodes that fail to live up to expectations or, Tv gods forbid, ones so bad you wonder how the episodes ever made it past the writers room.  We console ourselves with those truly great hours of television that we can watch over and over again, including such classics as How I Met Your Mother’s “Slap Bet”, or Doctor Who‘s “Blink”, but what about those entirely forgettable, or worse, memorable for all the wrong reasons, episodes?

Television Without Pity’s comprehensive list covers many of the obvious television missteps, from the “Jack’s tats” episode of Lost (titled “Strangers in a Strange Land”) with guest star Bai Ling, to the preachy Veronica Mars episode “Un-American Graffiti” with its messages about bigotry and underage drinking.  I don’t actually think any Dexter episode has been bad enough to land on one of these lists, but I can see the reasoning behind sticking second season finale “The British Invasion” there, and I was glad to know that I wasn’t the only one disappointed by the Doctor Who Easter special “Planet of the Dead”.  I do, however, have a few additions to their list.  Here are some of my picks for worst of the best:

Show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Episodes: “The Zeppo” and “Beer Bad”

Buffy steps down he evolutionary chain in "Beer Bad"

Buffy steps down he evolutionary chain in "Beer Bad"

TWoP included Buffy in its list, but chose the poltergeist-inspired sex episode “Where the Wild Things Are” instead.  It’s certainly a worthy choice, as I really can’t remember anything happening in this episode beyond crawling vines, Buffy and Riley having a lot of sex, and a girl hacking off her hair in a closet, but here are a few other possibilities.

“The Zeppo” is, in my opinion, the black mark on my favourite season of the show.  I have some bias here as this is a Xander-centric episode and I’ve never been a fan of the character, but I found the third-season episode, which sees Xander getting a car and spending a harrowing night away from the scoobies, very dull.  This is one of those episodes I rarely re-watch and could wipe from my DVD set without a second thought.

However, the Buffy episode that is truly the worst of the best is the universally loathed “Beer Bad”.  I’d love to know how this was pitched in the writers room and the response it received.  Did it really seem like a good idea on paper?  The episode features Buffy, still hurting from Parker’s rejection after they slept together,  getting drunk with four college boys and waking up the next morning to more than a hangover.  The beer turns them all into Neanderthals and the boys begin a fire that Buffy saves Parker from.  In the episode’s only good moment, Neanderthal Buffy beats him with a club when he apologizes for his actions.

Show: Lost
Episode: The Kate-centric episodes (including “Eggtown” and “Whatever the Case May Be”)

Evangeline Lily plays ex-con Kate Austen in Lost.

Evangeline Lily plays ex-con Kate Austen in Lost.

Since the beginning I’ve had a few issues with Lost.  Plotlines and monsters were introduced only to be forgotten about or never explained and more new characters than should ever be on a supposedly deserted island kept coming out of the woodwork.  The main problem though was consistency and much of this depended on the character who was featured in the episode.  So I came to dread the Kate episodes, preparing for what was bound to be a dreary hour.  As an ex-convict, Kate should really be more interesting than she is.  Instead I find her to be the dullest character on the island, and her episodes about retrieving toy planes, miraculously not being convicted of murder, and being unable to choose between Sawyer and Jack do nothing for me.

Show: How I Met Your Mother
Episode: “The Best Burger in New York”

Regis Philbin guest stars on How I Met Your Mother

Regis Philbin guest stars on How I Met Your Mother

Many shows rely on, or become famous for, their stunt-casting.  Some of them genuinely aren’t that funny without that “special guest star”, but How I Met Your Mother is a genuinely funny sitcom with great characters and some wonderful writing.  It really doesn’t need cameos by Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias and, in this episode, Regis Philbin, to be hilarious.  The episode revolves around the quest to find a burger place Marshall ate in eight years earlier that served “the best burger in New York” but it just doesn’t have the same sparkle or the heart of other episodes.  The repeating joke of Robin’s burger being the last to arrive isn’t all that amusing, and descriptions of just how good the various burgers taste are only funny for so long.  That said, this is my no means a terrible half hour of television, it just doesn’t live up to the comedy and heart of other episodes.

Lily: This burger is so good, its like Christmas in my mouth. Meat Christmas.
Ted: Its like an angel from heaven landed in
the kitchen of McClaren’s… where the chef killed it and ran it through the meat grinder.
Barney: I love this burger so much I want to sew my ass shut.

Show: Torchwood
Episode: “Cyberwoman”

Ianto's girlfriend Lisa in Cyberwoman

Ianto's girlfriend Lisa in Cyberwoman

Let’s face it, Torchwood didn’t exactly start out as high art.  During the first season the show was campy, tried a little too hard to convince us that it was the darker adult cousin of Doctor Who, and went out of its way to show the fluidity of human sexuality.  It also routinely borrowed and twisted plots from Angel, including having the female lead wake up nine months pregnant by a demon/alien and using an alien/demon who stays alive through sexual intercourse that destroys their partner.

Still, the first season had some good episodes, it’s just that “Cyberwoman” was not one of them.  The first episode focused on mysterious tea boy Ianto Jones revealed that he had been keeping his girlfriend Lisa, partially converted during the Cyberman Invasion (which occurred during the Doctor Who episodes “Army of Ghosts” and “Doomsday”), in the Torchwood Hub basement in hopes of curing her.  Her Cyberman programming soon takes over though and Captain Jack tries to feed her to the resident pterodactyl.  Really the fact that Jack sprays Lisa with special barbeque sauce to help the pterodactyl identify its prey speaks for itself.

Show: Star Trek Voyager
Episode: “Threshold”

Janeway and Paris go through some... changes in "Threshold"

Janeway and Paris go through some... changes in "Threshold"

Not even the writers defend this episode of Star Trek Voyager, which co-executive producer Brannon Braga called a “royal, steaming stinker”.  It has even been unofficially erased from canon by fans and the production staff.

In “Threshold”, Tom Paris takes on a mission to break the Warp 10 barrier in a shuttlecraft.  However he begins experiencing symptoms upon his return and rapidly mutates into a new form of life.  Paris escapes his planned treatment, kidnaps Captain Janeway, and steals the shuttlecraft.  Here’s where we get to the bad part because the cast of Voyager track the shuttle only to find two amphibious creatures and their three offspring(!)  Luckily there is enough human DNA remaining for the ships’ Doctor to reverse the mutation and restore them to normal.  Lizard mating?  This is another one that speaks for itself.

Show: Dead Like Me
Episode: Dead Like Me: Life After Death movie

George faces off against new leader Cameron.

George faces off against new leader Cameron.

I absolutely love Dead Like Me and it is certainly at the top of my “gone but not forgotten” list of shows cancelled before their time.  The show, which followed the unlife of Georgia Lass after she is hit by a flying toilet seat and becomes a grim reaper, was full of colour, thoughtful, and found the humour in death to great success.  Its cancellation after just two seasons, and for no apparent reason, was disappointing but fans found hope in the news that there would be a direct-to-DVD movie.

I’m glad I read the reviews about the film before watching it or I would have been sorely disappointed.  It isn’t that the movie is bad, so much as it just isn’t the Dead Like Me we knew and loved.  The role of Daisy Adair was recast, as Laura Harris was committed to another project, and replacement Sarah Wynter always felt “off” to me.  At that time Mandy Patinkin was starring in Criminal Minds and his lead reaper Rube Sofer was replaced with a new character, played by Lost star Henry Ian Cusick.  I enjoyed the subplot with George’s sister Reggie, which answered the question left open in the show’s series finale about whether or not Reggie had recognized her sister in the graveyard, but the movie just didn’t have the same feel as the series.  The real pity is that Harris’ show Woman’s Murder Club was cancelled that year and Patinkin famously departed Criminal Minds.  If the movie had been delayed, the whole cast could have reunited.

And one for the road…

Although I’ve seen most of Star Trek: The Next Generation, DS9, and Voyager, I haven’t seen more than one episode of the original series and don’t have a strong desire to do so.  I haven’t included episodes generally regarded to be poor unless I have seen them myself but this is my one exception to the rule.  “Spock’s Brain” seems to have the same universal loathing in fans of the original series that “Beer Bad” inspires in Buffy fans.  The synopsis seems to be that aliens steal Spock’s brain and that the episode is, according to this site, “the most sexist hour of television that I’ve ever seen.”

But wait – there’s more!  It’s featured on a website called the agony booth under the “Worst of Trek” title, and a website featuring fan created Star Trek motivational posters has one just for the episode which says the following:

Spock’s Brain

Look, not every episode can be “City on the Edge of Forever,” okay?

I’m sure my list will continue to grow as I discover new shows and as my favourites misstep but these are my “worst of the best” so far.  I’d love to hear other ideas though, feel free to let me know some of your “worst of the best” television episodes!


Quotes from Comic-Con

July 27, 2009
Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco in The Big Bang Theory

Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco in The Big Bang Theory

As I’ve said before, San Diego Comic-Con is on my list of things to do before I die. Hopefully in a few years I’ll get the chance to experience all the madness and the joys of being there firsthand, but until then, this TV enthusiast is making do by reading everyone else’s tweets and blogs, and by enjoying the youtube videos of panels that inevitably emerge. For anyone else who didn’t get a chance to attend the event, or for those who don’t spend quite so much time gathering information and quotations from various television resources, here’s a look at some of the great quotes of Comic-Con this year.

One of the best comedies on television has to be The Big Bang Theory, so it comes as little surprise that their cast offered a number of memorable quotes.  Although this year the show will be moving towards Leonard and Penny in a relationship, a portion of the Internet community prefers the idea of Sheldon and Penny as a couple.  Personally I agree with the writers’ stance that Sheldon’s mistress is science and I can’t picture him in a romantic relationship, but one fan who felt differently asked if he would ever get a girlfriend.  Jim Parsons (Sheldon) replied, “Do you want me to sit here and prognosticate? Because you’ve got the writers.”  After co-stars Kaley Cuoco (Penny) and Johnny Galecki (Leonard) commented on his great word choice, Jim said, “Thank you.  I said I’m not dumb, I just don’t get the science.”

The idea of Sheldon and Penny as a couple did get an enthusiastic response from some of the attendees at Comic-Con, leading to this exchange:

Writers: Ten minutes and she’d shoot him.  She’s from Nebraska, they have guns.
Jim Parsons: I don’t know that Sheldon’s man enough for Penny.
Kaley Cuoco: She would eat you alive.
Jim Parsons: Uh huh.

Yet the most memorable moment came when one fan asked Jim Parsons, referring to the show’s Christmas episode “The Bath Gift Item Hypothesis”,  if he would use a napkin so that he could “grow his own Jim” for his little sister.  Kaley wiped Jim’s brow before handing the napkin back to the fan.

Although I don’t watch the show, I’ve heard a great deal of praise for Battlestar Galactica, which was recently snubbed at the Emmy nomination ceremony.  Executive producer Ron Moore had this to say on the subject, using the BG substitute expletive ‘frak’ while shouting to enthusiastic applause:

“It was a fraking crime that the entire cast of ‘Battlestar’ was never recognized for the performances they gave week in and week out.”

Tru Blood the drink will be available soon.

Tru Blood the drink will be available soon.

At the True Blood panel, series creator Alan Ball announced that the popular synthetic blood drink from the show would now be a reality.  The beverage will be available on HBO’s website as of September 10th, just in time for the second season finale.  But just what will the drink consist of?

Ball: We put together a nice little mixture of a kind of delightful Chateau, cabernet, with some actual blood of hemophiliac European royalty, a little vodka, a little vicodin, a little viagra, and ecstasy. Unfortunately it’s completely illegal.”

The label is an exact replica of those used on the show and the drink will actually be a blood orange soda.  The panel also announced that Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels that the show is based on, has signed a deal to write three more books.

Other big announcements at Comic-Con included the fact that Supernatural might get a sixth season.  Creator Eric Kripke has had what so many writers inexplicably don’t – a plan.  His five year plan for the show would have made this year the last hurrah for the Winchester brothers, but Kripke says that he is open to doing another year of the show and that stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki are signed for a possible sixth season.

Finally, Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse panel offered some insight on which Whedonverse stars would be appearing in the Dollhouse this season.  ‘If the stars aligned’ Summer Glau, of the recently cancelled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, would guest star.  Felicia Day, who appeared in the unaired episode thirteen, titled “Epitaph One”, will also be appearing in the first episode of season two, while Alexis Denisof, known to Angel fans as Wesley, will put in an appearance this season as well.

Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon and star Eliza Dushku.

Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon and star Eliza Dushku.

Between offering hints of what’s to come, Whedon found time to quip, getting in some great quotes as follows:

When asked how he knew that Alan Tudyk was the right one to play Alpha:
“I met him.”

On what’s next for Dollhouse:
“We talked about a lot of ideas for going forward after we accidentally forgot to get cancelled.”

On his obsession with big corporations:
“Have you been in America?”

And finally, getting in a dig at Heroes:
“As long as we don’t send anyone back to feudal Japan we’re pretty much okay.”

With Lost entering its sixth and final season, the actors speculated on how they would like to see things turn out for the island’s characters.  Nestor Carbonell (Richard), Michael Emerson (Ben), and Jorge Garcia (Hurley) commented on the Sawyer/Kate/Jack love triangle in an interview with Michael Ausiello:

Michael: I think that Kate should find another man altogether.  I really do, there’s just so much baggage now.  It’s not a healthy triangle I don’t think.  It would be better if someone had the nerve to bust out.  It’s a large role, there are a lot of nice people out there.”
Jorge: Have Kate go ruin someone else’s life.
Nestor: I’d be happy if Kate ruined Richard’s life.

Josh Holloway, who plays Sawyer, had his own theory about season six:
“Me and Hurley will hook up and live happily ever after.”

Only executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse hold the answers and they presented a locked box at the beginning of the panel which they said contained the last page of the final episode’s script. They claimed that they would open the page on Jimmy Kimmel after the series finale aired. However, near the end of the panel Josh Holloway took to the stage with a taser and forced Cuse to open the box so the final scene would be revealed to Comic-Con.

Paul Wesley from the new CW series The Vampire Diaries commented on being compared to heartthrob Robert Pattinson of Twilight, “It makes me so uncomfortable.  9  of 10 girls in this room would throw me under a bus to get to Edward Cullen.”

While Freddy Prinze Jr., who is joining the cast of 24 this year, recieved a response for mentioning watching television with his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar who starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  As the audience screamed, he snorted, “I forgot she’s big here.”

John Barrowman and David Tennant in Doctor Who

John Barrowman and David Tennant in Doctor Who

Some of the most eagerly anticipated panels were those for Torchwood and Doctor Who.  Introducing the Easter special Planet of the Dead to American audiences, star David Tennant said “Tonight you’re going to see the American premiere – the legal American premiere of Planet of the Dead.”

He also joked about American pronunciations telling the audience “I love America, you say premieres and awesome.  I’m taking awesome back to London with me.”

But the highlight for some was John Barrowman, there to introduce the screening of Torchwood: Children of Earth, reacting to David Tennant kissing him.  After Tennant planted one on him, he pretended to faint and let out a fangirl scream.  Recovering, he said “I’ve slightly gone all flustered, I really have.  I’ve been waiting for that for years, thanks David.”

At the Fringe panel, actor Joshua Jackson (who plays Peter in the series), talked about the revelation that his character was from an alternate universe, saying, “As an actor, you never want to read the line ‘And he looks at Peter’s grave’.”

Alexander Skarsgård of True Blood

Alexander Skarsgård of True Blood

True Blood‘s thousand year-old vampire Eric Northman, played by Alexander Skarsgård, received cheers at the HBO panel, and in an interview afterwards Skarsgård and co-star Deborah Ann Woll, who plays fledgling vampire Jessica, talked about what they would like to see for their characters.  Deborah hoped her character would get a little loving in the future, prompting the interviewer to ask if she was saying that she wanted Skarsgård to play her love interest.  Deborah replied, “Who wouldn’t?”

Fan favourite Johnny Depp even made a Comic-Con cameo, appearing to support Tim Burton at the Disney 3D panel, where he was previewing his live action ‘Alice in Wonderland’ adaptation.  Depp reportedly walked onstage to cheers, said “Hey. Happy to be here.” into the mic, and departed.  Burton quipped, “He was in the neighbourhood visiting Sea World.”

Dexter stars Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, and Jennifer Carpenter were joined by guest star John Lithgow, who will play a murderer known as the “Trinity Killer” on the show, on the Showtime panel.  Referring to his popular 3rd Rock from the Sun character, Lithgow said, “On ‘Dexter’ I play a serial killer and his first victim is High Commander Dick Soloman.”

But it was Comic-Con favourite Robert Downey Jr., there to promote Iron Man 2 who arguably had the best quote of the event as he said had this to say about co-star Mickey Rourke, “And I thought I was eccentric.”


And the Nominees are:

July 16, 2009

It’s ten to nine this Thursday morning, which means that the nominations for this year’s Primetime Emmys have just been announced live.  Fortunately, I’m on the east coast so I didn’t have to worry about dragging myself out of bed at five-thirty a.m like presenters Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy) and Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory). The list of nominations offered many of the same programs that have been recognized before but there were a few surprises as well.  Overall I’m extremely happy with the nominations and hope that the ceremony will prove as interesting. Here are my thoughts on the nomination ceremony and a complete list of the nominees:

Drama Series

Big Love
Breaking Bad
Damages
Dexter
House m.d.
Lost
Mad Men

The only surprise in this category is perhaps the inclusion of Big Love.  House m.d. and Lost are the only network dramas in the bunch.

Actress, Drama Series

Sally Field, Brothers and Sisters
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace

Another predictable category where the only surprise might be Elizabeth Moss over her Mad Men co-star January Jones.

Actors, Drama Series

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Simon Baker, The Mentalist

The big surprise here is, of course, a nomination for Simon Baker. Some have also noticed the absence of Kiefer Sutherland, who has been nominated every year that he has been eligible for his work in 24.

Supporting Actress, Drama Series

Rose Byrne, Damages
Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy
Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment
Hope Davis, In Treatment
Cherry Jones, 24

I’m certainly pleased to see both Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh here for Grey’s instead of the expected Katherine Heigl. It was especially nice to see a spokesperson for CBS tell Wilson that she had received a nomination in this category as well as the one announced live for her work in a miniseries. I don’t think anyone had even considered Cherry Jones in 24 so this nomination is certainly a surprise. I’m just sorry there isn’t a nomination for the fabulous Elizabeth Mitchell’s work as Juliet in Lost.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series

William Shatner, Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
William Hurt, Damages
Michael Emerson, Lost
John Slattery, Mad Men

Although reporters did think that the departing Boston Legal would probably snag a few nominations, I think they expected Best Drama Series or Actor for James Spader. I’m a little disappointed to see Shatner here, but I have to admit that I’m glad Christian Clemenson gets a nomination. He was nominated for Guest Actor in 2007 but has never been recognized in the Supporting category. I’m also glad to see two-time nominee Michael Emerson here again.

Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Sharon Lawrence, Grey’s Anatomy
Ellen Burstyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Brenda Blethyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Carol Burnett, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
CCH Pounder, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Edward Asner, CSI: NY
Ted Danson, Damages
Jimmy Smits, Dexter
Ernest Borgnine, ER
Michael J. Fox, Rescue Me

Comedy Series

Entourage
Family Guy
Flight of the Conchords
How I Met Your Mother
The Office
30 Rock
Weeds

This is the big news category with four of the seven nominees new to the category. Family Guy‘s nomination makes it the first animated series to be nominated since The Flinestones in 1961! Weeds, Flight of the Conchords, and How I Met Your Mother are also first-time nominees. I’m just happy How I Met Your Mother received some much deserved attention. Unfortunately there just wasn’t room forThe Big Bang Theory among those newcomers. Still, no nomination for Two and a Half Men and that’s something.

Actress, Comedy Series

Julia Louis Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Mary Louise Parker, Weeds

Actor, Comedy Series

Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

While returning nominees Charlie Sheen and Tony Shalhoub surprise no one, a nomination for Flight of the Conchords star Jemaine Clement is less predictable. The best news of this category is a well-deserved nomination for Jim Parsons though. As Chandra read the nominations for this category aloud, Parsons was visibly surprised, saying “that wasn’t there”, presumably because another name had been substituted in order to surprise him when the presenters received the list ahead of time.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series

Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Kristin Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds

I’m extremely happy to see Kristin Chenoweth included in this category, especially since the cancellation of Pushing Daisies means that she won’t be eligible next year for playing Olive Snook.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series

Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Jon Cryer, Two And A Half Men

With How I Met Your Mother breaking into the comedy category this year and a deserved nomination for Neil Patrick Harris could it be his year?  A snub for Entourage actor Jeremy Piven, who Harris even thanked for not being nominated during his acceptance speech for ‘A-List Actor’ in Bravo’s A-List Awards, clears the way.

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory
Gena Rowlands, Monk
Betty White, My Name Is Earl
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Jennifer Aniston, 30 Rock
Elaine Stritch, 30 Rock

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Beau Bridges, Desperate Housewives
Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live
Steve Martin, 30 Rock
Jon Hamm, 30 Rock
Alan Alda, 30 Rock

Variety, Music, or Comedy Special

The Colbert Report
The Daily Show
The Late Show with David Letterman
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live

Best Reality Competition

The Amazing Race
American Idol
Dancing With the Stars
Project Runway
Top Chef

Best Reality Show Host

Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Jeff Probst, Survivor
Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, Top Chef

After last’s disastrous Emmys, hosted by the five nominees from this category, it’s perhaps surprising that four of the five are nominated again. The only snub is Howie Mandel, who has been replaced by the far more deserving ‘Amazing Phil’ Keoghan, and Padma and Tom of Top Chef. I’m sorry to see that sweetheart Cat Deeley isn’t here but maybe next year, with So You Think You Can Dance currently having its strongest season to date, both the show and the host will be recognized.

Best Miniseries

Generation Kill
Little Dorritt

Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Chandra Wilson, Accidental Friendship
Shirley MacLaine, Coco Chanel
Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens
Sigourney Weaver, Prayers For Bobby

Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Kevin Kline, Cyrano de Bergerac
Brendan Gleeson, Into The Storm
Sir Ian McKellen, King Lear
Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance
Kiefer Sutherland, 24: Redemption
Kenneth Branagh, Wallander: One Step Behind

I’m not going to go through all the behind the scenes categories but here are a few more nominations that interested me and that I hope might interest fellow TV enthusiasts:

Outstanding Choreography

81st Annual Academy Awards – “Musicals Are Back” – by Rob Ashford
Dancing With the Stars – “Jive/Great Balls of Fire” – by Derek and Julianne Hough
So You Think You Can Dance – “Bleeding Love” – by Tabitha and Napoleon D’Umo
So You Think You Can Dance – “Mercy” by Mia Michaels
So You Think You Can Dance – “Adam and Eve” by Tyce Diorio
So You Think You Can Dance – “A Los Amigos” by Dmitry Chaplin

Outstanding Special Class – Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs

Battlestar Galactica: The Face Of The Enemy
The Daily Show: The Daily Show Correspondents On Jon Stewart
Bruce Springsteen Super Bowl Halftime Show
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
30 Rock’s Kenneth the Web Page

I just had to include that one because I’m so excited that Dr. Horrible is up for an Emmy!

For a complete list of all the nominations click here

The 61st Annual Emmy Awards airs September 20th on CBS.


San Diego Comic-Con for the TV enthusiast (Sunday)

July 16, 2009

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.

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.


San Diego Comic-Con for the TV enthusiast

July 11, 2009

In response to an article on the ever-expanding Comic-Con, one fan wrote, “If anything needs to be changed about the San Diego Comic-Con, it’s the name.  The way it’s been and the way it is now, it should really be called the San Diego Pop-Culture-Con.”  It’s an accurate assessment, as Comic-Con International has expanded in both size and content from its modest origins.  The first convention, held in 1970 at the U.S. Grant Hotel, drew only 300 people.  Last year’s Comic-Con boasted a record 126,000 attendees.

This increase is not without resentment, with some comic book fans unhappy about what the convention has become, and the over-crowded San Diego Convention Center resulting in a wait of two or more hours to secure a place at some of the more popular panels.  Yet despite the lines and the crowds, genre fans are eager to flock to Southern California between July 23rd and 26th for glimpses at exclusive television or movie clips, a chance to see their acting, writing, or comic book idols, and to soak up the atmosphere of thousands of equally excited fans.

Although I don’t read a large number of comic book titles, I do enjoy and respect the comics world.  I regularly read Runaways and I’ve enjoyed titles like Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, and the classic Watchmen.  Still, I have to admit that my main interest in Comic-Con is television.  A number of recent articles have discussed the increasing presence of television at Comic-Con.  Warner Brothers is bringing a studio-record 11 shows to the convention and while some premiering shows, like the alien invasion remake V, or the CW’s teen drama The Vampire Diaries, have a clear connection to genre, the link to science-fiction and/or fantasy in other shows is increasingly tenuous.

Comic-Con is now used as a test ground for new pilots, a marketing experiment to see how a television product will be received.  Networks air exclusive clips of returning shows and choose to debut pilots at the event to create buzz.  After-all, what better promotion could there be than a pop-culture phenomenon which has already sold out all 4-day and single-day membership passes for this year’s event?

Marking its 40th convention this year, San Diego Comic-Con is expanding its content.  Last year CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory made its Comic-Con debut.  With its inclusion of comic book references and discussions of science fiction and fantasy, the show fit nicely into the event.  However, this year the door has opened for panels on shows with considerably less genre appeal.  USA’s spy comedy-drama Burn Notice will be a presence this year along with Fox’s procedural Bones and, perhaps the oddest pick of all, new sitcom The Middle, staring Patrica Heaton as a middle class mother of three.  If this sounds like a stretch it’s because it is.

Certainly there’s enough genre-related content out there to wet the palettes of the TV enthusiasts at Comic-Con even without the inclusion of these odd picks, but I can think of a number of people who aren’t about to argue with a chance to see David Boreanaz on a panel and yes, even though one of these things is not like the others, I’m interested in hearing about the panel for Fox’s eagerly anticipated Glee.

This TV enthusiast hasn’t yet made it to Comic-Con, although it does have a high place on my as yet unwritten list of things to experience before I die, but I’ll be hoping for youtube footage or some illuminating tweets on the more interesting panels.  Bound to be popular this year are the Doctor Who panel, with departing creator and head writer Russell T. Davies and David Tennant, in his first appearance at Comic-Con, and the Dollhouse panel, with Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku presenting the unaired episode “Epitaph One” for the first time.

If you don’t fancy waiting in line or have some time between panels, Comic-Con also offers a floorspace for exhibitors, an autograph area, and the convention staple Artist’s Alley, where comics artists sign autographs and sell sketches.

If you’re a TV enthusiast lucky enough to attend, or just want to know what you’ll be missing, here’s a look at some of the Television events announced for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at Comic-Con 2009:

Wednesday, July 22nd

Between 6:00 and 9:00 PM, Comic-Con offers a special preview night for attendees who have purchased 4-day passes.  Warner Bros.  will present the pilots of three new series for the 2009-10 Television season – Human Target, V, and The Vampire Diaries.

Human Target is a midseason replacement show based on a DC comics title. It stars Mark Valley (Fringe), as a private contractor who takes on cover identities in order to protect his clients,  Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies), and Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen).

V, staring Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) and Morena Baccarin (Serenity) is a remake of the 1983 miniseries about alien contact.

The Vampire Diaries, based on the book series by L.J. Smith, is a drama about two vampire brothers, one good and one evil, at war over a human girl.  Paul Wesley (Everwood) and Ian Somerhalder (Lost) play the brothers while Nina Dobrev (Degrassi: The Next Generation) plays the girl, named Elena.

Thursday, July 23rd

Fans of the short-lived ABC Family series The Middleman won’t want to miss it’s cast reunion and lost episode table read (11:15-12:15, Room 6A), featuring creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach, and the complete cast.  In the same room ,actor/author Richard Hatch joins special guests for a “review,  discussion, and Q&A” of Battlestar Galactica‘s past four seasons including its controversial ending (12:30-1:30, Room 6A).

If you prefer your television a little lighter, there’s USA network’s Psych panel featuring stars James Roday (Shawn) and Dule Hill (Gus) along with other cast and creative team members.  The panel will feature new outtakes, a season four preview, and a video diary segment (1:15-2:15, Ballroom 20).  If you’re also a fan of Burn Notice, remain in the room for a panel with stories from the writers’ room, an exclusive look at upcoming season three episodes, and tips on surviving Comic-Con from Michael Westen.

If you’d prefer to take a look at the technical side of things, head over to the Costume Designers: Designing for Television Production panel with costume designers from Dollhouse, Lost, True Blood, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2:00-3:00, Room 32AB), before bringing your questions to ask J. Michael Straczynski about professional writing in movies, television, comics and print (3:30-4:30, Room 7AB).

Perhaps the most interesting panel promises to be Entertainment Weekly’s Wonder Women: Female Power Icons in Pop Culture.  The description says, “EW will moderate a conversation with Sigourney Weaver (Avatar), Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost), Kristin Bell (Veronica Mars) and other stars about the actresses who have redefined the rules and the female characters that have shattered the glass ceiling for all women. Basically: a discussion with women who kick ass” (3:45-4:45, Ballroom 20).

If you’re interested in the industry, there’s The Pitching Hour, demonstrating the process of taking an idea from conception to production. This includes creating a pitch document, obtaining an agent, and getting a pitch meeting. There will also be a Q&A for the audience to ask any questions about obstacles they may encounter (5:00-6:00, Room 2). To learn more about the science behind the great sci-fi head to Mad Science: The Science Behind Science Fiction for an exploration of science as a product of who wields it. Included are writers from Eureka, Dollhouse, and Fringe to discuss science used for good and evil (6:00-7:00, Room 6DE).

Meanwhile, if you’d prefer more television, Comic-Con offers a panel on the action-adventure series Legend of the Seeker , which is based on Terry Goodkind’s fantasy series The Sword of Truth., in the form of a Q&A with a few executive producers and cast members (4:45-5:45, Room 6DE).  Or head over to Ballroom 20, where Showtime presents a Dexter panel with Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Julie Benz (Rita), Jennifer Carpenter (Deb) and series executive producers, featuring clips from the upcoming fourth season (5:00-6:00 ).

For a more academic panel there’s The Anthropology of Star Trek, with students discussing the anthropological themes in Star Trek (6:30-7:30, Room 30AB), or spend the evening singing along to the California Browncoats’ screening of Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, followed by Commentary! The Musical (8:00-10:00, Room 6A).  Finally, finish your day with an animation fix, courtesy of the Green Lantern: First Flight world premiere.  The voice cast includes such television talents as Victor Garber (Eli Stone), and Christopher Meloni (Law and Order:SVU) (8:00-9:30, Ballroom 20).

Coming up: Comic-Con for the TV enthusiast schedules for Friday and Saturday.

Comic-Con International takes place at the San Diego Convention Center July 23rd-26th.