Sunday, July 26, 2009

San Diego 2009 Day 4

So I went to bed, mildly drunk, at about 3:00 AM the night before. Panel for Chuck, which I desperately wanted to get into, was at 10 AM, so I had set my wake-up call for the demonic early hour of 7:15. I woke up at 6:30, decided there was no point in sleeping in for maybe another 15 minutes if I could get back to sleep at all, and got up to get showered, dressed and on my way before the wake-up call came. A quick danish and tea downstairs and I walked over to the Con.

I got in line for Ballroom 20, and it was not a small line. I figured getting there a little over two hours before the panel would get me in, but you never know when it comes to Comicon. After an hour or so in line reading Toupydoops: The Early Years and Least I Could Do Volume One, my friend Tess came to join me in line. She knows a bunch of the Chuck guys since the show she works on (Ellen) is across the lot, and she had promised to try and introduce me to Zach Levi, Adam Baldwin, etc.

After some nerve-wracking moments where we weren't sure if they'd opened the hall or not, at 9:30 they finally opened the doors and not only did we get in, we got seats about six rows back from the front. Tess was looking around for a show PA or anyone she knew, but she couldn't find them, so we resolved to see if we could rush up after the panel or maybe find the cast at their autograph session later.

The panel was fantastic. Jeffster opened with a live set of "Fat Bottomed Girls," there was a great clip reel to open and a fun skit with Chris Fedak, Josh Schwartz and Zachary Levi, and the whole panel was just a lot of fun. You can get a pretty good sense of it from looking at the tweets of TV critic Daniel Fienberg (@hitfixdaniel) or Mo Ryan (@moryan) or by checking out their recaps of the panel.

After the panel, we rushed up, Tess managed to catch Zach's eye and he seemed very happy to see her, but we were down and they were up and there was no crossing the security. So she headed for the black curtains at the back where friends, family, etc. were going back to see the cast. I followed, figuring security would stop us. They didn't. Act like you know what you're doing, apparently, and you're golden.

So I'm backstage, waiting for the cast and some of the writers of Chuck to pass through. First thing that happens is that Sarah Lancaster and Ryan McPartlin (Ellie and Awesome) come off the stage, and as he comes down, Ryan gives me a big grin and a pat on the shoulder with a "How's it going?" or something similar that was just so perfectly Captain Awesome. Then Chris Fedak came down, and Tess introduced me, and she also introduced me to Zach Levi. I believe all I could manage was "Big fan." She also introduced me to Adam Baldwin, who I already have a huge amount of love for thanks to Firefly. He was as gracious and nice (and tall!) as could be, and even extended a friendly invite to come out and visit the set. It was mostly a conversational thing, and I doubt he'd remember or that I'll be able to take him up on it, but it was definitely appreciated.

After the panel, I grabbed my re-entry pass for Ballroom 20, and Tess and I went down to The Guild signing at the California Browncoats so she could give Felicia Day her card and offer web/post-production assistance. We were waiting in line, and someone came up to tell us about buying prints to get signed, and I asked her if we could just step in and meet Felicia, as Tess was on the Ellen show and wanted to offer help. Turns out the person talking to us was Kim Evey, producer on The Guild, and she pulled us aside so Tess could meet Felicia afterward. Both Felicia and Kim seemed very interested in Tess's offer, and it was pretty much a great morning for both of us.

I knew there was no way I was getting into Hall H for Iron Man 2, so it was back to Ballroom 20 to sit through Futurama and Simpsons so I could catch the screening of the new V. The Futurama panel, made up of Matt Groening, David X. Cohen and several writers, and it was pretty clear this was a last-minute change from the planned "cast and writers" panel. It was a little stilted and awkward, and for a casual Futarama fan like myself, kind of a waste, actually.

I ducked out of the Simpsons panel after getting my re-entry ticket again. Sorry, Simpsons fans, but that show has been on way too long. Grabbed a pretzel dog (not as tasty as I'd hoped, basically just a second-rate version of Einstein's yummy bagel dogs) for lunch, then headed back in for the last twenty minutes or so before the V panel started.

By this point, my three and a half hours of sleep was catching up to me, and when V started out and was disappointing, I decided about 30 minutes in that it was time to bail on the original plan. V is co-executive produced by a writer/producer from Angel and the creator of The 4400, and I'm sad to say it's much more like The 4400. In that it's watchable (especially if you have had more than three hours of sleep), but the dialogue and moment-to-moment writing is bland and predictable. Morena Baccarin, Elizabeth Mitchell and Alan Tudyk are fantastic, but what they were being given to do was... not.

And so, I headed back to the hotel to grab a quick nap. Managed to run into my roommate, Bob Greenberger, and chat with him a bit, which was fortuitous, as our schedules had been keeping us pretty much separate except for when one or both of us was sleeping. Had a quick dinner at Anthony's Fishette of fried shrimp and headed back to the Con, planning to catch the Myth Busters and Watchmen panel.

As a side note, the first part of the day was a great success, but in retrospect, I should have bailed out right after talking with Felicia and Kim and headed back to the hotel. That way I could have seen the "Comics with a sense of history" panel that I *really* wanted to go to, and I probably would have gotten into the Myth Busters line early and actually gotten in.

Yep, when I got back to the convention center, the line for Myth Busters and then Watchmen (same room) had been capped, which was a first for me at Comicon. I've waited in lines and not gotten in, but never been told that I couldn't get into the line. Quite honestly, I prefer finding out before I line up, so this was ideal, except that it meant not getting to see the live Watchmen commentary. (By the way? 2 hours early for the Watchmen panel, which was not enough time to get in. Crowds at San Diego are out of control.)

So I went to my backup plan, the Weeds panel over at the Hilton Bayfront. The Bayfront is a beautiful hotel, and I love their bar and their Indigo ballrooms. If Comicon is smart (and every indication is the folks running it are very smart), they'll do more programming over there next year. Anyway, prior to the Weeds panel was, apparently, the Troma Roast of Lloyd Kaufman. It was surprisingly funny, even though I've never seen a Troma film.

The Weeds panel was fairly low-key, just creator Jenji Kohan and actors Hunter Parrish and Justin Kirk, but it was fun anyway. The moderator was kind of terrible, but once they opened it up to questions, the thing got more lively, and I was surprised and pleased to learn about the existence of "Andy University" shorts on the Showtime website. (Sorry there aren't any links in here, I'm trying to knock this out and get to the Sunday part of the show.)

After that, headed out to the Marriott bar to go to the party, which was a lot of fun. Talked TV, comics and the show with a variety of people, including my friend Geoff Sebesta, who I'm staying with tonight, and who had a very cool meeting with author David Gerrold that could turn into something really exciting for him.

From there, it was over to the Hyatt to meet up with Tess, and I spent the rest of the night chatting with her and other folks. I stumbled back home, a little too drunk, about 2:30 AM and went right to bed. Miraculously, there was no hangover in the morning.

Final day of the Con beckons... have to go!


Chris Hunter said...

Dude, Brandon Jerwa's wife was there with her son, Orion! Jerwa is writing the new Stargate comic (SG-1, I think).

Here's the video of Orion asking the question -

And here's the panel intro with Jeffster -

Hilarious stuff!! God! Makes me wish I could have been there!

Kevin Cafferty said...

A question - I haven't been to the San Diego con since 2007 - what is a "Room 20 re-entry pass" and how does it function? Is this something new?

Randy said...

I don't know if the passes are new this year or not, but basically in the big halls, they give out a pass when you leave that lets you skip the line and get back into the hall if you come back before that panel ends.

You can grab a pass at the beginning of a panel, mostly skip it, and then head back in before it ends if you just want to see the panel that comes after it.