San Diego Comic-Con got into full swing on Thursday with lots of surprises. Doctor Who actor Peter Capaldi delighted fans who spent the night camping out in the Hall H line for Thursday’s panel. Probably the biggest surprise though, was the completely unexpected appearance of actress Maisie Williams at the end of the season preview trailer. She’s expected to appear in a two-part storyline called “The Girl Who Died” and “The Woman Who Lived.”
The following evening, actor Liam Cunningham, who plays Davos Seaworth in Game of Thrones, greeted those fans in the Hall H line as well. The Game of Thrones panel is on Friday. Of course, cast member Kit Harington won’t be present, as Jon Snow is (supposedly) dead.
Actors Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion are together once again, this time in a Indiegogo-funded comedy called Con Man. 46,000 fans contributed to the production. It’s a tongue-in-cheek satire based very much on Tudyk and Fillion’s run on prematurely canceled series, Firefly, which started turning into a cult hit before the final episode had even aired.
(Spoiler: In the subsequent feature film, Serenity, Tudyk’s character was killed off, ensuring that even if the series was rebooted that he would not be able to return, except in flashbacks or a prequel.)
Tudyk plays Wray Nerely, an out-of-work actor who was best known for his role in a prematurely canceled series called Spectrum. He’s desperately trying to avoid being relegated to professionally working the convention autograph circuit. Con Man features more nerd Illuminati cameos than you can shake a stick at, including Tudyk’s fellow Firefly alumni Sean Maher, Jewel Stait, Gina Torres; former Star Trek: The Next Generation actors Wil Wheaton and Michael Dorn; former Black Flag singer and now radio show host/actor/scribe/spoken word performer Henry Rollins; Lord of the Rings' Sean Astin; and many, many more.
Con Man is available for pre-order now on Vimeo and will be released on September 30.
Speaking of Wil Wheaton, W00tstock 7.0 was last night. W00tstock is a nerd-themed Vaudeville show that is known for bringing diverse talent together for innovative skits that range from hilarious to poignant—sometimes both. The founding members are Wheaton, Mythbuster Adam Savage, and musical duo Paul & Storm, who specialize in songs about pop culture themes. One of their most popular songs is, “Write Like The Wind,” a plea to George R.R. Martin to please hurry up and finish the Game of Thrones books.
One of the most brilliant and hilarious moments in last night’s show was their debut of another Game of Thrones-themed song. Set to the tune of Don McLean’s "American Pie" (and, according to them, literally finished that morning), it was a recap of many of the character deaths and ways they died from the point-of-view of a still-living character (“Wonder which will be the way that I die?”).
Also brilliant was astronomer Phil Plait’s fun yet enlightening talk on Pluto. As the New Horizons probe gets closer and closer, we’re getting better photos and more information about it than ever before. Plait literally expanded our universe last night and that’s a good thing.
On the other hand, performers seemed barely prepared at times. Songs were flubbed more than once. Wheaton said he hadn’t been able to prepare anything and instead regaled the audience with a poop story. On its own, it was hilarious but then Adam Savage said he was so “inspired” by Wheaton’s poop story that he told one of his own. (Preceding the poop story, Wheaton talked about his anxiety issues and work with UROK, which was indeed poignant, relatable and inspirational. Wheaton comes up with his best content when he takes a dive into his own soul.)
Then, one of the songs guest Alton Brown played (which he also performed on his recent Edible Inevitable tour) also had to do with gastrointestinal distress. Were there no conversations ahead of time to maybe mix it up a little so the show wasn't pressure-loaded with explosive diarrhea stories?
The hosts thought it was hilarious to subject the audience to Taylor Swift’s "Shake It Off" on eternal repeat pre-show, intermission and post-show. To add insult to injury, they ditched the traditional rendition of The Pirate’s Wife’s Lament in favor of an all-star performance of—you got it—"Shake It Off." At the end of the show, when the song started playing on the overhead speakers again, people literally got up and fled the auditorium. If the goal was to make people leave quickly, mission accomplished.
In other news, yesterday also marked Nerd HQ returning for its fifth year. As is traditional, actor and Nerd HQ Zachary Levi hosted the first panel. Levi is a very busy guy again, so there was much to discuss. He talked about his new role on Heroes: Reborn as Luke, a much darker character than the lovable guy he played on Chuck. Luke and his wife, having suffered the loss of their child in what’s described as a terrorist attack are on a mission of vengeance. Levi said that the plot of Heroes: Reborn starts a year after the child’s death.
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Levi is also reprising his voice acting role as Flynn Rider on Disney’s new Tangled animated series. In addition, he’s the host for the new SyFy game show, “Geeks Who Drink,” a TV version of the popular bar trivia game.
Probably the most emotional part of Levi’s panel was when he talked about being demonized last year for partially crowdfunding last year’s Nerd HQ. He suffered through accusations of asking for money to fund celebrity parties.
Anyone who has ever attended Nerd HQ or knows anything at all about Levi knows that the traditional Friday party for VIPs is the tiniest part of what Nerd HQ is. The event raises thousands of dollars for Operation Smile every year, gives fans an opportunity to attend intimate Q&A panels of only 200 people with celebrities and hosts dance parties open on two different evenings anyone who attends. Levi confessed that he was so hurt by the venom after the crowdfunding that he almost discontinued the Nerd HQ events.
The rest of San Diego Comic-Con is sure to bring more information and surprises as the whirlwind of events continue.