Big doings in the world of TV - and film, and comics, etc., etc. - start up on Thursday, with the 2011 Comic-Con International in sunny San Diego.
I'll be heading out there to join the rest of team HitFix, then staying in California for the TV critics press tour, which begins a couple of days after Comic-Con ends. It's a very long road trip, but one that should be filled with lots of interesting shows, panels, interviews and random incidents.
Hopefully one of those interesting panels will be for the Comic-Con one for FX's "Wilfred," which I'll be moderating on Thursday night at 6:15. (If you're going to be at the Convention Center, it'll be in Room 6A.) The full cast will be there, including Wilfred himself in Jason Gann, Elijah Wood, Fiona Gubelmann (aka Fienberg's favorite name in the whole world) and Dorian Brown, plus producer David Zuckerman and director Randall Einhorn. FX is going to screen an episode that will air later this season (and which I myself haven't seen yet), followed by a Q&A. I have some idea about questions to ask before turning it over(*) to the audience(**), but if anyone has something specific they want to know about the show, I'm open to suggestions.
(*) And I certainly learned my lesson on that after the "Chuck" mess last summer.
(**) Anyone want to set an over/under on the number of Frodo-related questions from the crowd?
As for the rest of the Con, we're going to attempt to cover as much of it as we can, and with a three-person TV team now, plus other HitFix staffers pitching in as needed, we should be able to have someone in the room for most of the TV panels. (Give or take a long line.) Our tentative plan is to have Fienberg parked in the big TV room (Ballroom 20 for the first 3 days, Hall H for Sunday), where he'll cover a lot of the most prominent shows ("Game of Thrones," "True Blood," "Glee," etc.) while Liane Bonin Starr and I circulate around to the other rooms and also conduct interviews. So you'll want to keep an eye not only on this blog, but The Fien Print and Starr Raving, with some other assorted stories just appearing on our main TV page. (Or simply follow me or Dan on Twitter, as we'll be sending out all the links as they come up.) The wifi in the Convention Center is unreliable, and power outlets are scarce, so posting and tweeting may be intermittent, but we'll get things up as quickly as possible.
Of course, covering an event like Comic-Con (and, later, press tour) becomes an all-consuming thing, so the review part of this blog is going to be a little light for a while. I pushed the next "Deadwood" Rewind back a week, and I'm mainly going to have to limit reviews to things I've both seen in advance and are special. So, for example, I'll keep writing up "Breaking Bad" each week, and I'll cover those "Curb Your Enthusiasm"s I've already received, but other things are going to be skipped for a bit.
But back to Comic-Con, here are a handful of the panels from each day that I'm especially looking forward to either covering or reading the coverage of (you can find the full schedule here):
"Burn Notice - Fall of Sam Axe" (10 a.m., Ballroom 20): The TV-movie wasn't great. Doesn't matter. Bruce Campbell works the Comic-Con crowd like few others, and it'll be a pleasure to see him whip that giant room into a frenzy.
"Game of Thrones" (3 p.m., Ballroom 20): The production schedule kept the show from appearing a year ago, and the acclaimed first season should have the fanboys and girls particularly excited to hang with Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke and company even more now - especially with George R.R. Martin himself as the moderator.
"Awake" (3:45 p.m., Room 6A): Like Fienberg (who's been offering his preliminary thoughts on the network pilots for next season), this show (about a cop whose life keeps shifting between two realities) was almost certainly the best of the pilots I've seen so far. They're screening the whole thing, and I'll be curious to see how people respond to it - and whether it's ultimately viewed as not-quite-"genre"-enough for the Comic-Con crowd, or if the sheer quality renders such criticism moot.
"Beavis & Butthead" (5 p.m., Room 6A): Mike Judge brings his most (in)famous creations back from the dead for a new series, in which the two teen metal-heads will be watching "Jersey Shore" and viral videos as well as that almost-mythical beast that is the music video. New footage from the new series, and Judge is always a good talker on this subject.
"The Walking Dead" (11:15 a.m., Ballroom 20): Last year, "Walking Dead" played to a standing room-only crowd in one of the mid-sized ballrooms. Now that it's the biggest hit in AMC history, it gets promoted up to Ballroom 20 (and could probably fill Hall H if it were being held on Sunday). I had mixed feelings about the brief first season, but I'll be curious to hear what Frank Darabont has to say about his vision going forward.
"The River" (2:15 p.m., Room 6A): This is one of the few pilots I have yet to watch yet, and one of the reasons is that ABC's terrible, pint-sized streaming video player seems a poor way to experience what sounds like one of the creepiest, most distinct new shows of the season. (Also because ABC's terrible streaming video player constantly superimposes a copyright warning, and this is a pilot with tons of subtitles that become illegible under that circumstance.) So instead I'm going to watch it for the first time on a big screen at Comic-Con.
"Bob's Burgers" (3 p.m., Room 23ABC): This FOX animated comedy grew on me to become one of my favorite shows of this past spring, and based on how I've seen the voice cast interact in the past, I'm looking forward to this even more than the panel for H. Jon Benjamin's other show, "Archer," on Thursday.
"The Hub: Batman: 45th Anniversary of the Original Series" (6 p.m., Room 23ABC): My schedule may keep me from seeing this one, but I sure wish I could go to see Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar talking about the iconic, ultra-campy '60s "Batman" TV show.
"Chuck" (10 a.m., Ballroom 20): Barring some kind of insane ratings miracle, this will be the farewell appearance for Levi, Strahovski, Baldwin and company, and I suspect the new moderator will be wise to throw it to the audience in a hurry for Q&A.
"Terra Nova" (11 a.m., Ballroom 20): "Terra Nova" was a late scratch from last year's Con schedule, which was probably for the best, as scheduling delays pushed the premiere from mid-season, to end of season, to this fall. So the Comic-Con crowd won't be quite as burned out on hype for this show as some members of the press.
"Community" (1 p.m., the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton Bayfront): The raucous panel for the NBC comedy was one of last summer's Con highlights, with the large cast and talkative creator Dan Harmon keeping things lively while constantly threatening to spin out of control. (Particularly whenever Chevy Chase was talking.) We get virtually the full cast again, minus Alison Brie (who's shooting a movie), but plus Jim Rash (who wasn't there last year).
"Fringe" (4:30 p.m.., Ballroom 20): Though Joshua Jackson is still supposed to be part of "Fringe," it's perhaps a fortuitous bit of timing/scheduling that he's not at the moment supposed to be part of this panel (the rest of the cast will, plus Pinker and Wyman), so we can get a sense of what the "Fringe" universe will look like (even temporarily) without Peter Bishop.
"Glee," "Supernatural," "Doctor Who," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "Sons of Anarchy" (10 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:45 p.m. & 3:30 p.m., Hall H): The movie studios dominate Hall H every year, but they also usually are done by Saturday night, leaving the Con's biggest space usually vacant on Sunday. Con organizers finally realized that perhaps it might make sense to devote that space to some of the bigger TV panels, where in years past only very special cases like "Lost" got to move into that space. It's an eclectic mix of shows in Hall H, and while I expect "Glee," "Supernatural" and "Doctor Who" to pack the room, I wonder how full and/or attentive it'll be for the FX shows (or even "The Cleveland Show" at 1:45). One of the things I've noticed in my few forays into Hall H is that the big space is a blessing and a curse: the panelists are very far away from most of the audience, and it's easy to become disconnected from them. (The final "Lost" panel, for instance, had much lower energy to it than several of that year's TV panels in Ballroom 20.)
For those going to the Con, what are you most looking forward to attending in person? And for those of you who'll be following our coverage from the comfort of your computers/phones/etc., what panels do you most want to hear about?