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06 August 2007 @ 08:57 pm
Comic-Con Part Two: Stargates, Babylon 5, Family Guy and Pushing Daisies  

Comic-Con Part Two: Stargates, Babylon 5, Family Guy and Pushing Daisies

Sorry it took me so long to write about the rest of Comic-Con. Clearly, my priority was (and remains!) Supernatural, but I really did mean to write about the rest sooner than this! I plead fatigue and the insanity of work … My focus was on Supernatural, but I found time for a few other things, including the panels on Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Babylon 5, and Family Guy, and the preview of the pilot of ABC’s new fall series Pushing Daisies.

 

Consider this a very mild spoiler alert on all of the above shows!

 

Words truly cannot capture the immensity of Comic-Con. For the major events, particularly those from the television and film industry, function rooms that hold thousands had hundreds to thousands more people lined up waiting for admission, sitting on the floors of the hallways. Fifty-three aisles of exhibit booths, from major film and television studios through game manufacturers, book and comic publishers, toy manufacturers, major distributors of all media, right on down to small businesses and independent artists and publishers, were thronged with literally tens of thousands of people. There was no place to escape the crowds. At seemingly random intervals, freebie promotional handouts of everything from posters to game DVDs to comic books to Pokemon cards to logo bags turned the exhibit booths into a mob feeding frenzy. Signings by celebrities saw booths vanish under waves of people trying desperately to find out where the lines for signing tickets not only began, but ended, given that they tended to curl around themselves like moebius strips.

 

It helped to have definite targets for a few things and a lot of flexibility for the rest. The only food available on site consisted of Starbucks, soft pretzels, and overpriced burgers, hot dogs, and refrigerated packaged sandwiches. And since there were no meal breaks in the programming, you carried your own, stood in long lines for the overpriced unhealthy stuff, fasted, or traded programming for a walk to a restaurant a few blocks away from the convention center. Carrying water and Kashi bars was my salvation, and my only sustenance between breakfast and dinner. By the end of each one of the two days I spent at the con, I had walked five miles inside the convention center alone.

 

And now, on to content!

 

The two Stargate panels were fun. The SG-1 panel consisted of emcee Gary Jones, director Martin Wood, Amanda Tapping, co-producer/creator/writer Robert Cooper, Chris Judge, and Ben Browder. The Atlantis panel swapped out Chris and Ben for Joe Flanigan, Jewel Stait, and David Hewlitt. SG-1 treated us to a very brief trailer for the upcoming DVD movie The Ark of Truth, which consisted mostly of spaceship shots and things blowing up.

 

Both panels went to questions and answers almost immediately, after a little Gary Jones “Walter the Master Sergeant” humor. Almost the first question tossed at Ben Browder concerned whether he would appear in the recently announced webisodes of Farscape, coming to the internet near you, and Ben very cagily dodged giving an answer, instead encouraging people to attend the Hensen company panel later on (I missed that one) for information on the Farscape front.

 

Questions about the two upcoming SG-1 movies revealed minor spoilers, including:

  • Ba’al is the villain in the second film, Continuum.
  • The explanation of the origin and fate of Ba’al’s clones will be revealed in an episode of Atlantis.
  • Part of Continuum was not only set in, but SHOT in, the Arctic. Martin pointed out that every time we see Amanda and Ben in the Arctic, whether in a tight shot or a distant one (including the aerial shots from the helicopter!), we’re seeing Amanda and Ben; they didn’t use any doubles to stand in on long shots. Amanda laughed that on the third shooting pass by the chopper, she and Ben – who both figured they couldn’t get any colder – lay down in the snow and made snow angels!
  • Another funny from Amanda on Continuum was how Stargate benefited from the long-standing rivalry between the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, all of whom support the show. She laughed that the Air Force was so helpful that they flew two F-15 fighters up to be used in the show, and that when the Navy heard about the F-15’s, they volunteered to provide a nuclear sub and have it flashily surface by crashing through the Arctic ice! One-upmanship at its very best …

 

Martin Wood, who is my favorite director on the Stargates not only for his technique, but for providing a virtual film school in his episode commentaries (I swear, he does the best and most consistently informative commentaries on the planet – try them!), shared a particularly fun story about the time he returned to Cheyenne Mountain, after the series had already been on for about six years, to finally shoot some fresh stock footage. (You mean you never noticed that the same two guys were guarding that massive door and watching the same trucks go by every episode for years? For shame! <grin>) He laughed that his base escort told him that every time a visitor shows up at Cheyenne Mountain, they always ask to see Stargate Command, so the Air Force finally obliged. His escort showed Martin the impressive-looking smoked glass door with the very official “Stargate Command” sign on it. What’s behind the door? A broom closet stocked with cleaning supplies! Who says the Air Force doesn’t have a sense of humor?

 

Another great question came from someone who asked if there were any decisions people had made on the show that they subsequently regretted. Cooper joked that he was beginning to regret having come to Comic-Con, but Martin got an even bigger laugh when he deadpanned, “What happens when you pull the trigger on a zat gun three times?” He rolled his eyes and shook his head in mock-sorrowful disbelief at a bad inspiration, and the whole house howled.

 

Cooper’s parting shot for the panel was to report that he and co-creator Brad Wright were actively working to pitch a third Stargate series. While there were waggish suggestions from his co-panelists about doing Stargate: CSI or Stargate: Hawaii, he said that they were going to see how the movies do, and hopefully have more coming afterward.

 

The Atlantis panel saw quite a bit of Sam/Rodney teasing between Amanda and David. Amanda also plugged her web series, online at www.sanctuaryforall.com, in which quite a few of her Stargate alums also appear. Jewel, asked how it felt to be joining this established series and how it was different from Firefly and Serenity, leaned forward and said sweetly, “I feel very new. And this ship is a lot fancier, so I’m glad I don’t have to fix it!”

 

Amanda and Joe were particularly funny in responding to questions about how it felt to be reproduced in action figures. Both of them had good laughs about the way their children have reacted to being able to play with doll versions of mommy or daddy; Amanda observed that her daughter could always have Mom around even when Mom had to work, while Joe wryly observed that his son is as likely to twist off his doll’s arms as any other!

 

Martin didn’t provide any spoilers, but did indicate that episode 4-18 of Atlantis, coming near the end of the upcoming season, may be the hardest episode of any show that he’s ever had to shoot. Now that’s something that I both want to see, and hear about – he’d better provide commentary on that one!

 

The Babylon 5 panel focused discussion on the upcoming The Lost Tales, an anthology of stories designed to go direct to DVD, but with some potential of being aired. The first collection of two stories, under the umbrella title Voices in the Dark, was just released on July 31, 2007. The panel included actors Bruce Boxleitner, Tracy Scoggins, and Peter Woodward (Galen), and creator/writer J. Michael Straczynski and producers Douglas Netter and Samm Barnes. What we learned about The Lost Tales is that, as currently envisioned, they will both fill in some holes during the five-year arc of the main series, and also extend into the future. Joe and Doug both mentioned that they’d thought it might not have been possible to do the show and preserve the same essence with two of the original actors who had contributed so much – Andreas Katsoulas (G’Kar) and Peter Jurasik (Londo Mollari) – now deceased, but they all felt that the product they’ve produced carries on in the spirit and does honor to the past. The first two stories, set on the tenth anniversary of the formation of the Interstellar Alliance, apparently tell the tale of the same 72 hours, but from different perspectives – Bruce’s John Sheridan and Tracy’s Elizabeth Lochley. The actors all agreed that they slipped back into character as if they’d been gone only for days or weeks, not years, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The clips they showed held all the flavor and visual character of the original Babylon 5, including the self-indulgent but lush dialogue, with techno-mage Galen being as cryptic and obscure as ever, much to the customary irritation of Sheridan.

 

About Family Guy – understand that I am not a fan. I’ve never watched an episode, and probably won’t, with one exception:  the pilot of the upcoming season is a masterful take-off of the original Star Wars, with the blessing and connivance of George Lucas. I AM an original Star Wars fan: I fondly remember that May 1977 phenomenon as helping to salvage my sanity after my first year in law school. I’m not going to spoil the jokes they shared on the spoiler reel they aired at Comic-Con, except to say that they manage to recreate scenes right down to camera angles – and then flip them emotionally sideways. A lot of what I saw was positively brilliant for Star Wars fans, although my only warning would be that political conservatives probably won’t appreciate some of the jokes.

 

Last but far from least, I saw the pilot episode of Pushing Daisies, and I was utterly enchanted. I don’t know whether they’ll be able to follow through on the pilot and maintain their balance during a weekly series, but the pilot was sweet, beautifully shot, delightfully witty, and wonderfully acted. Pushing Daisies is the emotional and visual opposite of Supernatural. In Pushing Daisies, the color palette is primary, rich, and bright, and even heavy ethics questions resolve in laughter and hope. It's charming, in the best sense of the word. It promises to be extremely enjoyable, so much so that I don’t want to spoil anything about it for anyone. It won’t own my heart and soul the way that Supernatural does – I have a serious weakness for emotional weight and psychological complexity – but I think the sweetness and light of Pushing Daisies will brighten up my week on a day when Supernatural isn’t there.

 


And that’s it for my report from Comic-Con 2007. Next time, I’ll return to my regularly scheduled Supernatural University class – this time focusing on Ellen Harvelle.


 
 
Current Mood: lethargiclethargic
Current Music: "Movin' On" by Boston
 
 
 
whimsywinxwhimsywinx on August 8th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this, Professor! I'm really looking forward to Pushing Daisies and I've always enjoyed the Stargates.
bardicvoice: Formybrotherbardicvoice on August 9th, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)
Welcome to my LJ, whimsy! I think you're going to love Pushing Daisies - even remembering it makes me smile!