Thoughts on Torchwood: CoE

August 2, 2009

children+of+earthIt’s been a week since day five of Torchwood: Children of Earth aired here in North America, and although I did mention the Save Ianto Jones campaign, I haven’t actually written about my thoughts on the miniseries.  Although I generally have positive comments about ‘Children of Earth’, it is my firm belief that it works only as a series finale.  Unfortunately, all signs seem to indicate that there will be a fourth season of the show, with creator/writer Russell T. Davies in charge and stars John Barrowman and Eve Myles returning.  Wondering why I wish this was the swan song for the Torchwood team?  Keep reading.

Upping the Stakes

What ‘Children of Earth’ did well was up the stakes for Torchwood.  In previous seasons, the show mainly focused on an ‘alien-of-the-week’ formula, similar to the old ‘freak-of-the-week’ familiar to fans of Smallville during its earliest seasons.  The show mixed humour with drama, and even the possibility of the world ending was faced with deadpan humour by the Torchwood team.

Owen: What if they can’t stop it?
Tosh: They’ll stop it.
Owen: Yeah, but if they can’t?
Ianto: Then it’s… all over.
Owen: Let’s all have sex.
Ianto: And I thought the end of the world couldn’t get any worse.

‘Children of Earth’ featured one story arc unfolding over five episodes and dealt with a much greater threat than the Torchwood team had faced before.  The problem with this was that it didn’t allow for a continued build-up of evil.  If the show is going to return how can it top this latest series?  As far as villains go, how much worse can you get than an alien race who wants to use 10% of the Earth’s children in order to get high?

American science-fiction dramas, which creator Davies has said influenced Torchwood, have used escalating evil very successfully during their multi-season runs.  In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the title slayer begins by facing one ancient vampire, escalates to facing a pure demon, and dies facing a god, while the final season pits Buffy and her friends against the first evil itself.  Its spin-off Angel has a similar pattern of escalating evil.  During the first season the vampire with a soul takes on weekly cases, but by the series’ final year, Angel and his team face a powerful group of foes and must wrestle with the morality of working at an evil law firm that keeps demons and vampires as clients.

Torchwood: Children of Earth certainly built on the evils shown in its first two seasons but I believe it went too far too fast and did not follow a natural progression but jumped ahead to a future evolution, like in H.G. Wells’ ‘The Time Machine’.  Torchwood very quickly became a tense melodrama rather than a sometimes light-hearted drama.  This change in tone is not necessarily a bad thing, but it comes with the price of not being able to go back to simpler times.  The remaining members of the Torchwood team have been too affected by the events of ‘Children of Earth’ to go back to being who they were before, and the show has now lost the ability to play between the lighter comedic moments and serious drama.

This change particularly affects Captain Jack Harkness, a character who was so refreshing because he had elements of the common brooding heroic figure with a dark past, but was also capable of being a flirtatious rogue.  Having watched his lover die and sacrificed his grandson, it is safe to say that we will no longer see that half-brooding, half-flirting Jack Harkness who takes it on the chin, and if we do, what does that say about him?  Is he a character we want to know and who we can sympathize with, or is he a monster?

Kill ‘Em All

the original Torchwood team.

the original Torchwood team.

However, my main issue with ‘Children of Earth’ is that it has taken the ‘anyone can die’ theme to the extreme.  Certainly television characters who constantly face danger must occasionally die; if they didn’t then the viewer would never believe that their favourite characters were in any real danger, but Torchwood has gone to the opposite extreme and killed three of its main characters in the span of five episodes.  This is worsened by the fact that the show’s ensemble cast was not large, like the casts of Lost or Heroes, but only had five people to begin with.

The idea of creating a dramatic ending by killing off multiple characters has been used in many mediums, including the Harry Potter series where the final battle results in the loss of fan favourites Lupin, Tonks, and Fred Weasley.  The problem here is that it isn’t the end for Torchwood.  If ‘Children of Earth’ was not an extraordinary occurrence but a regular week in the life of the Torchwood team, do we really want to continue watching such a dark series on a weekly basis?

While I certainly appreciate the need to write-off characters and show the cost attached to working for an organization like Torchwood, I worry about a show that kills off characters so quickly and recklessly.  Doing so doesn’t give the remaining members of the Torchwood team a chance to realize their grief about Tosh and Owen, who were only briefly mentioned at the beginning of ‘Children of Earth’, before killing Ianto.  This is not drama but melodrama, a never-ending tragedy.

Recently there have been comparisons between Davies and Buffy creator Joss Whedon, both of whom have no problem killing lead characters.  The difference for me is that Whedon doesn’t lightly kill a character for the sake of dramatic effect then seek to replace them.  Tara’s devastating death was not only the catapult for Willow turning to dark magic, but continued to be mentioned through Willow’s guilt over beginning a new relationship, her receiving messages, apparently from Tara, in the episode “Conversations with Dead People”, and a visit to her grave.   Although Willow did begin a new relationship, Tara was always remembered.  I worry that Tosh, Owen, and Ianto, will not be remembered in the same way and this takes away the meaning their deaths may have had.

Unfortunately Davies has made his attitude towards his characters clear.  In an interview with EW’s Michael Ausiello, Davies has this to say about continuing the show after killing half the cast:

I will just sit down and invent new stories and characters. That’s what I’ve spent my entire life doing. It’s not difficult at all. I could write the first 10 scenes in an episode right now.

The flippancy with which Davies claims he will just sit down and invent new characters is problematic.  To kill characters for a reason after a story arc is one thing, but to kill them for the sake of melodrama when their stories are unfinished is another.  Tosh, Owen, and Ianto were characters who the audience had come to care for over the course of two thirteen-episode seasons.  Since Davies has not introduced any new potential characters, except perhaps office assistant Lois Habiba, will he be killing off team members shortly after they are introduced?  Do viewers want to sit down and bother investing in the story and new characters if Davies is just going to kill them four episodes later?

Death of the Coffee Boy

The death of Ianto Jones

The death of Ianto Jones

Although I am a fan of the Ianto Jones character, it is not the fact that he died, rather than Gwen Cooper or Rhys, that bothers me but the way in which he died.  Although Ianto’s death was clearly conceived to be a great dramatic moment, all I kept thinking was how poorly plotted it was.  Senseless deaths happen in real life, so moments like Tara, shot by a stray bullet meant for Buffy, or even Kutner on House m.d., committing suicide seemingly out of the blue, I understand.  I also understand making a final stand against a great evil, which accounts for the deaths of Anya and many a potential slayer in the seventh season of Buffy, or the other Torchwood deaths of Tosh and Owen in “Exit Wounds”.  What irks me are deaths that the writers clearly mean to be purposeful but that the viewer sees as absolutely preventable.

I always found Charlie’s death on Lost to be a prime example of this, although some people have since explained that the hanger door he closed could only be locked from the inside and that was why he couldn’t save himself.  I do still think that since this obviously confused many people, and for me cheapened his heroic death, the writers should have articulated it better.

I find Ianto’s death to be problematic for much the same reason; it was entirely preventable if the characters had stopped to think at all.  This was death for the purpose of melodrama.  Why else would Jack, the man who tried to convince Gwen not to go along with Captain John Hart because it was dangerous and she might get hurt, take the all too mortal Ianto along with him to essentially peeve the aliens by telling them you’re not going to obey their commands?  There was no reason for Ianto to be there, except to die a horrible death in Jack’s arms.

Davies’ response, that someone had to die because “The threat to the world was just so great it simply would have been unlikely if everyone had survived,” indicates that there was no purpose to Ianto’s death except that he seemed to think someone should die.  What Davies doesn’t get is that someone did die, a child at that, not to mention the others involved in the 1965 deal with the 456.  Did their deaths mean less because they were not main characters?  Perhaps they haven’t provoked the fan response that Ianto’s demise did but I hardly think no one was sacrificed.  I doubt audiences were unaffected watching John Frobisher kill his wife and two daughters, and finally himself, because he couldn’t stand to watch them suffer the fate of the original eleven children.

The Ego Has Landed

Russell T. Davies

Russell T. Davies

Clearly I disagree with Davies’ decisions, particularly his idea that someone has to die in order to create drama or make danger believable.  There are other ways to create drama and killing characters does not make something good.  Certainly the 456 were fuel for nightmares, but despite all the insistence that Torchwood is “darker”, “sexier” and an “adult show”, episodes of Doctor Who have created better drama and been scarier, including “Blink”, which will ensure that, regardless of your age, you never look at a statue in the same way ever again.

What annoys me even more than the moments of sloppy writing towards the end of ‘Children of Earth’, is Davies himself.  I remember first being introduced to the man’s writing through a thought-provoking TV movie “The Second Coming”, and then of course through the new Doctor Who.  Certainly he’s a capable writer who has written some great episodes, such as “Turn Left” and “Midnight”.  Yet there are other great writers in the world.  Personally I love novelist George R.R. Martin, comic and television writer Brian K. Vaughan, Dead Like Me creator Bryan Fuller, Joss Whedon, and fellow Doctor Who scribes Paul Cornell and Stephen Moffat.  So I am a fan of Russell T. Davies’ writing, but not of his ego.  I am even impressed by the way he has been treating his fans.

In a previous entry I detailed the current campaign to save Ianto Jones.  I don’t have any hope whatsoever that it will be successful in reviving the character, and that’s a shame, but regardless it is a labour of love for fans who miss a character and should not be so easily dismissed.  More importantly, the fans of Ianto and actor Gareth David Lloyd have currently donated 4500 pounds to charity.  So when I read interviews with Davies where he tells fans who didn’t like ‘Children of Earth’ to “go watch Supernatural, because those boys are beautiful. And don’t tell me they’re brothers.  Not in my mind.” I get angry.  To put down the very fans who have kept you on the air for three years and to dismiss Ianto as nothing more than a pretty face, or his relationship with Jack as simply eye candy, is a low blow in my mind.

He has also said, regarding the backlash, “It’s not particularly a backlash. What’s actually happening is, well, nothing really to be honest. It’s a few people posting online and getting fans upset.”  Yet the 4500 pounds were hardly raised by a few people, and www.saveiantojones.com has received 59,165 hits.  Davies has also mocked those sending coffee to the BBC, claiming only 9 packets have been received although tallies indicate a number in the hundreds, and called upset fans “nine hysterical women.”

I agree that a writer can’t always pander to fan reaction.  Sometimes characters will be killed regardless of how much audience members enjoyed them, and they will stay dead.  What I have a problem with is the way that Davies has been treating a group of fans who have done nothing more than show their love for a character and raise money for a charity that will benefit children!  Surely there is a polite and respectful way to tell fans that although you appreciate their support over the years and understand their love for Ianto, he will unfortunately not be coming back, but you are touched by their efforts to raise money for charity in the character’s name.

Lessons Learned

New head writer Moffat.

New head writer Moffat.

I don’t have a great desire to watch another season of Torchwood, although I am confident that there will be one given the ratings ‘Children of Earth’ received.  To be honest, I am far more interested in seeing how new head writer Stephen Moffat handles Doctor Who with eleventh doctor Matt Smith and companion Amy Pond.  What I do hope is that he has learned from Davies both what to do and, more importantly, what not to do with the characters he has inherited.  Hopefully he has learned that an avoidable death is not heroic but melodramatic, no matter how much rising music plays in the background, and that characters can be written out and drama occur without killing the entire cast.  But the lesson I hope Moffat has learned from his predecessor most of all is how to talk respectfully to fans, because belittling them or forbidding them to disagree with you is clearly not the way.

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Save the Coffee Boy, Save the World!

July 25, 2009

Ianto bigThe old saying goes, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, but by now BBC Wales is probably thinking that a more appropriate comparison would be “Hell hath no fury like an angry fan”.  Over the past few weeks their mailboxes have been collecting letters, postcards, and most significantly, coffee packets, from fans around the world, and I expect that last night will increase those numbers.

So why exactly are the BBC enjoying free instant coffee?  For that they have creator and writer Russell T. Davies to blame or thank.  His five episode season of the sci-fi drama Torchwood wraps up tonight on North American television stations, but for many fans the season, and the show, effectively ended when the much-loved character Ianto Jones breathed his last breath of poison and died in his lover’s arms.

The death of a character is always a difficult blow for fans of a television show, but it has been a particularly difficult couple of years for Torchwood fans.  Perhaps drawing from its American science-fiction inspirations, including the Joss Whedon helmed Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Davies has been emulating the Whedon principle of “everyone could die” of late.  At the end of last year’s second season, audiences watched as Toshiko Sato and Owen Harper died to save the world.  With a cast as small as Torchwood‘s loosing two characters was nearly half the cast in one blow.  So when the series returned for a much awaited shortened season, fans were expecting to see the team grow and take on new members while still grieving the losses of their teammates.

The grief is certainly present, especially in one scene where Gwen Cooper says good morning to a photograph of her deceased co-workers, and there is even one potential new team member in Office aide Lois Habiba.  What audiences weren’t expecting was yet another death, this time fan favourite Ianto Jones.

Ianto Jones has perhaps come the furthest over the course of the series, beginning as an attractive, but not hugely significant, assistant to the Torchwood team.  During the second season, his deadpan sense of humour was showcased, he took on a more active role within the team, and he began a relationship with team leader Captain Jack Harkness.  The relationship was very much against the odds, as one of Jack Harkness’ defining qualities is his ability to flirt with both genders in any situation.  The third season brought up the problem of Jack’s immortality and the fact that he is doomed to watch everyone he loves die before him, as well as Ianto’s insecurities about his first homosexual relationship.  Still the relationship was a hit with fans, who began to ‘ship the pairing as “Janto”.

The abrupt end to Ianto’s life, near the end of the fourth episode, immediately angered fans and sparked a response.  Just moments after the death occurred fans began a movement to save Ianto Jones, aided by social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, and Livejournal.  As I mentioned in my article on Torchwood: Children of Earth I was actually spoiled by way of twitter.  I was aware that Torchwood was airing in the UK and when “Ianto” popped up as a trending topic I just knew.

Save the Coffee Boy LJ

Save the Coffee Boy LJ

Although Ianto’s death is a fresh wound for unspoiled North American viewers, UK fans saw the episodes just over two weeks ago.  In that short span of time a campaign has mobilized, with fans setting up the website www.saveiantojones.com, which had already received 38 783 hits as of late Friday night.  The website includes suggestions on how to politely express discontent with the plot twist through social networking sites, sending letters, and making donations.

At the forefront of this campaign is “The Great Coffee Protest”.   The idea follows in the footsteps of Save Our Show campaigns waged successfully by fans of shows like Roswell, Jericho, and Chuck.  Roswell fans sent mini tabasco bottles (the favourite condiment of the show’s alien characters) to the WB en masse in order to get the show renewed for a second season, while Jericho fans sent nuts to CBS “in reference to the shows final episode, in which the main character referenced the Battle of the Bulge when he answered “NUTS” to a request to surrender.”  The network reportedly received over 8 million nuts, leading to the CBS president Nina Tassler ordering seven more episodes of the show.  Although the show was once again cancelled at the end of these seven episodes, a continuation of the show’s storylines in a comic form has already been announced for later this year.  Fans of NBC’s spy dramedy Chuck may well haved saved the show with a “Save Chuck” campaign that utilized social networking sites like Twitter to spread the word.  Fans also purchased footlong submarine sandwiches from the series’ sponsor Subway on the air date of the second season finale in the “Finale and Footlong” campaign, and donated money to the American Heart Association in NBC’s name through their “Have a Heart, Renew Chuck” campaign.

Art for the Save Ianto Jones campaign created by LJ user scarper493

Art for the Save Ianto Jones campaign created by LJ user scarper493

Fans of Ianto Jones are seeking similarly positive results by encouraging other fans to send packets of coffee to BBC Wales as a protest against the character’s death. SaveIantoJones also encourages fans to send a complaint via the BBC Website, has a list of petitions to sign protesting the death, and has suggested that fans should send postcards from their hometowns with “Wish you were here coffee boy.” on them.  This speaks to the impact that this character has had and also to his international appeal.  The Livejournal community for the campaign has set up a thread where posters record what letters or coffee packets they have sent and their location.  Replies have indicated that fan responses are coming from not only the UK, but also Canada, Germany, Italy, Romania, Australia, America, Poland, Ireland, Finland, Greece, Switzerland, Belgium, and Sweden.

Even if their campaign does not produce the desired results, Save Ianto Jones is making a difference.  One fan has begun a justgiving page where fans can donate to the wonderful UK charity Children in Need in honour of Ianto Jones.  Fans from any country can donate and paypal accounts are accepted.  Fan efforts made the BBC news on Friday, and fans have currently donated over 2700 pounds in Ianto’s name.

Organizers of the campaign have encouraged fans to be respectful and polite in their complaints and to avoid dragging actors John Barrowman (who played Ianto’s lover Captain Jack Harkness), and Gareth David-Lloyd himself, into the middle of it.  With the Doctor Who and Torchwood panels at Comic-Con set to occur this weekend, with Russell T. Davies himself on the panel, those behind the campaign are emphasizing respect and asking that anyone attending the panels wear an armband or T-shirt with the website address as a show of support.

Unfortunately creator Russell T. Davies has been nothing but patronizing towards fans (more on that in a future post), calling the campaign “nothing really to be honest” and saying “it’s a few people posting online and getting fans upset.”  He’s also ruled out chances of Ianto coming back, telling EW columnist Michael Ausiello that “it would devalue the entire plot if we brought him back.”  Still, fans are hoping that money and ratings talk, at least to the network who have power over Davies and Torchwood.

Actor Gareth David-Lloyd

Actor Gareth David-Lloyd

As for the man behind Ianto, actor Gareth David-Lloyd had this to say: “First of all I’d say thank you for watching and supporting the show. It’s partly due to you that Ianto’s been able to grow into the character that he became in the end. Also, trust the writers. I know there have been some negative reactions to the writers and producers but they created Ianto in the first place. You should keep watching, you never know!”


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.