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WonderCon Sneaks: A new 'Fringe,' the 'Human Target' finale and 'Ghostfacers'
Warner Brothers TV filled a big WonderCon room on Friday
Due to low cloud cover in San Francisco -- or some similar weather excuse relating to the City by the Bay -- my arrival for the start of WonderCon was delayed by several hours. That left me a bit concerned about catching the start of Warner Brothers TV's dedicated afternoon of screenings.
Of course, even sitting in LAX or riding a Virgin America flight, the TV work never really stops. I transcribed this week's "Survivor" exit interview (posting later). I watched the next "30 For 30" sports documentary from ESPN and wrote a review. And I eavesdropped on Virgin America air hostesses making fun of The CW's "Fly Girls."
My concern at the late landing in San Francisco was missing a screening of next week's "V." However, although that new episode was on original Wonder-Con schedules, it was quietly pulled earlier this week, meaning that I rushed to the Moscone Center and ended up watching last week's episode for a second time. [It wasn't improved. This slightly revamped "V" no longer has the subtext to reward repeat viewings.]
Fortunately, WBTV had a new "Fringe," a rough cut of the "Human Target" finale and the first screening of "Ghostfacers" to present to an increasingly full (Kevin Smith was up next) WonderCon Hall.
There will be more coverage from WonderCon tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, but I thought I'd kick things off with a few words on the new episodes screened for the Con faithful.
Click through... I'm gonna keep the spoilers to an absolute minimum... Promise...
Titled "Olivia. In the Lab. With a Revolver," next week's "Fringe" is a second consecutive mythology-heavy episode, following up on this week's "Peter." It is, in fact, following up very directly, which Olivia still dealing with whether or not she can keep Walter Bishop's secret and whether Peter needs to know the truth about himself. There was a period early in the first season when fans knew to steer clear of Olivia-centric episodes, but Anna Torv is so greatly improved that even though there's an inevitable decline from an episode built around John Noble, you can still get a good episode of TV out of it.
"Olivia. In the Lab. With a Revolver" delves deeper into the cortexiphan trials, but it's also got a heavy icky-case-of-the-week dimension, plus the welcome returns of Joshua Jackson and Jasika Nicole, absent last week, a second straight episode with a meaty scene for Blair Brown, plus another guest appearance by the ever-welcome Kevin Corrigan (playing Clue, hence the episode title). The episode also begins with a cameo from a movie star with a connection to the show.
That's all of the spoilers you're getting out of me.
"Olivia. In the Lab. With a Revolver" doesn't have the multi-dimensional trippiness of "Peter," but it's a solid and satisfying episode that includes Walter Bishop making hand-pulled taffy. What more do you need?
FOX and WB TV haven't really cared about airing "Human Target" episodes in sequence this season and why would they? Other than the occasional cryptic references to the past shared by Christopher Chance, Winston and Guerrero, "Human Target" has delivered one resolutely stand-alone episode after another this season, with almost nothing cumulative or serialized about the plots or characters.
For the first season finale, though, "Human Target" delves into its own mythology a little, with an episode that flashes back six years to the first meeting between Chance and Winston. In the process, we learn about Chance's former employer, we discover Winston's first name and we get to see Jackie Earle Haley kick a little butt. Even shown at WonderCon in a rough cut, it's clearly one of the show's best episodes, which will be meaningful if you've enjoyed the series' escapist thrills and not-so-meaningful if you struggled to find any kind of investment and tuned out.
The finale is loaded with great guest stars -- I'll tease Amy Acker's presence as the week's hot damsel-in-distress, but leave the other bigger names to get ruined when they pop up in the opening credits -- and it really gives a little insight into Chance. There are some good fights and couple good stunts and I'm always happy to watch those excellent opening credits.
If I were a betting man, I'd assume that FOX will bring "Human Target" back next season in some capacity, despite lackluster ratings. In my book, any show that can deliver Grace Park, Tricia Helfer, Moon Bloodgood and Amy Acker (among many others) deserves a second season. The finale makes an effort to force FOX's hand a little with a cliffhanger that ought to set up a slightly more serialized second season. It's not the kind of cliffhanger that would cause an uprising if FOX cancels that show and I don't know if "Human Target" has the kind of fanbase to rise up, but it's a change of pace.
I enjoyed the episode. Heck, I've enjoyed the show. It's old-fashioned and fun.
The WonderCon audience was interested (but not vocally excited) about "Fringe," while "Human Target" got immature giggles from a crowd unaccustomed to temp-track dialogue. There were louder and more engaged reactions for the first three episodes of the "Supernatural" web series spinoff "Ghostfacers."
I'm an on-again-off-again "Supernatural" viewer and I managed to miss both of the episodes that introduced AJ Buckley's Ed Zeddmore and Travis Wester's Harry Spengler, but the nine minutes of screened "Ghostfacers" episodes were funny and amiable. Buckley and Wester both have good comic timing, as does Brittany Ishibashi. Mircea Monroe is both eye candy and another comic foil.
Does "Ghostfacers" have much substance? No. The concentration is more on character relationships, double-entendres and punchlines than anything related to ghost-hunting or whatever it is that their doing. But that's OK. The crowd, which probably would have also appreciated some actual "Supernatural" paneling, seemed to be laughing at all of the right moments.
OK. Up next on my plate? A little write-up of highlights from Kevin Smith's WonderCon panel...