Howdy, folks. I'm now hunkered down in my hotel room for the next two weeks of the Television Critics Association summer press tour, which starts tomorrow with a day of set visits, then does its more traditional thing at the hotel starting on Wednesday.

I have a lot of screeners to catch up on, plus some reviews to write in advance, but before I dive fully into the world of press tour (and in case you don't know how press tour works, my tour primer still sits on, I wanted to offer a very quick recap of the "Sons of Anarchy" panel I moderated in the final hours of Comic-Con, right after the jump...

I was on stage moderating, and Fienberg was having computer problems in the audience, so we don't have enough info to offer a panel blow-by-blow, but here's what I can tell you from memory and from the little Dan was able to tweet:

First, I was very pleased (and relieved) that the ballroom was still pretty packed, since A)the previous panel was a "Glee" full house, and those two shows don't have a ton of audience overlap, and B)as I've said previously, "Sons" doesn't instantly seem like a Comic-Con type show, even though Ron Perlman was Hellboy and Katey Sagal also plays Leela. The room was about 3/4 full, and the season two highlight reel got a huge ovation, as did Ron, Charlie Hunnam, Katey and Kurt Sutter as they entered(*).

(*) Great moments in showmanship: just as I was being introduced, a stagehand told me that Katey and Kurt had gone to the bathroom (there was a miscommunication about how long the clip reel was going to last), so I looked at Ron, he looked at me and nodded towards the stage, I went up and introduced him and he milked that damn crowd (who, again, love him for being Hellboy) for as long as he possibly could before I had to introduce Charlie, and by the time Charlie was seated, I saw Kurt and Katey running back in. Thank you, thank you, Ron Perlman.

(Some mild season three spoilers follow.)

Kurt said the new season picks up a few days after Half-Sack was killed, Abel was abducted and Gemma went on the lam, and he and Charlie talked about how poorly (but unsurprisingly) Jax is handling his son's kidnapping. Charlie said that Jax and Clay will have to put their animosities aside, because the Abel thing is bigger than the feud they had about the direction of the club.

Four episodes will take place in Belfast, though none of the actors actually went there to film. ("Sons" director Billy Gierhart went over and spent two weeks shooting second-unit footage - i.e., establishing shots - to place the characters there.)

In talking about Jax and Clay's relationship, Charlie brought up the prison fight, and I asked how long that took to film. He said 90 minutes, because "We don't have the luxury of time" on the show.

I asked Katey for her reaction to Kurt (her husband and her boss) coming home with the news that her character would be raped. She said she was excited by the possibilities of that storyline, and that, "I'm never really shocked by what my husband has to fill me in about."

I in turn asked Charlie how he feels about getting extreme material to play, like the corpse-adjacent sex scene in season one.

"It all makes perfect sense to me," he said. "I don't know if that makes me a lunatic." When I asked him if he had a harder time shedding this character's skin at the end of the day than, say, when he played Lloyd on "Undeclared," he said that Jax is actually easier.

I asked Kurt about whether Half-Sack will be replaced by another prospect, and he said there will actually be three new prospects, introduced midway through the season. He said one of the issues he had with writing for Half-Sack was that Johnny Lewis was a regular castmember, so he had to give him things to do, but a prospect would be out of the loop for most of the things the club was up to on the show. So it will be easier with three non-regulars whom he can only use when needed, and he'll use them to give a stronger sense of how someone becomes a prospect and what the initiation is like.

Having learned my lesson from the debacle at the end of the "Chuck" panel, I made sure that the stage manager gave me adequate warning to start audience Q&A, and the fan questions generated some good laughs, notably when a woman from Wales asked if anyone had ever crashed their bike on the show and, if so, was the bike okay? Charlie explained that Tommy Flanagan is the big crash test dummy of the cast, and Kurt promised a season three DVD gag reel that's nothing but Flanagan falling down.

Someone asked Katey if Gemma would become even more bad-ass this year, perhaps using a surfboard instead of a skateboard as a weapon, and she said that Gemma gets "very familiar with a gun" and goes to an even angrier place. (I have no idea how that's possible, but we shall see.)

It was a pretty brief panel (FX had a shared "Sons"/"Always Sunny" timeslot, the latter half devoted largely to screening an upcoming episode), but it went smoothly, and I've since watched the season three premiere and think every SAMCRO fan will be very pleased.

Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "TV (The Book)" about the 100 greatest shows of all time, is available now. He can be reached at