At Comic Con 2011 in San Diego, the cast and crew of AMC’s The Walking Dead took the stage to talk about the fantastic new series and reveal season 2. Here are the highlights:
- The panel consisted of actors Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Norman Reedus, Steven Yuen and Jeffrey DeMunn; makeup artist Greg Nicotero; executive producers Gale Anne Hurd and Robert Kirkman; and showrunner/writer/director/producer Frank Darabont.
- Hurd confirmed that The Walking Dead will return Sunday, October 16 at 9PM on AMC. One phenomenal (and lengthy) season 2 trailer was screen twice during the panel; watch it in full after the break.
- Holden said, “If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead graphic novel, I think you’re going to be really happy this season.”
- Kirkman admitted, “There’s a bit of pressure. There’s an expectation now. It’s just made everyone work harder. It’s empowered us to try harder. To cross more lines, to tell bigger stories, knowing that there is a rabid fanbase out there.” He later joked that he’d hire Modern Family‘s Ed O’Neill to play a new character next season if casting were up to him. “My second go-to is John Stamos,” he chuckled.
- Wayne Callies said, “The scripts this season are unprecedented…the best TV scripts I’ve ever seen. This season really shows that the most dangerous things out there are the monsters inside.” Holden added, “Every character is pushed to the max this year. People are going to be so thrilled. The writing is so superb and every script is gold.”
- Little Carl Grimes (played by Chandler Riggs) is going to kick things up a notch, according to Wayne Callies. “I was brought to tears by how proud I am of him,” she said. “He did a scene the other day that I can’t tell you anything about, but it will take your breath away. He is going to blow your mind this year.”
- And where will season 2 pick up? Exactly where you want it to. The October premiere “picks up about five seconds, in an overlap, with the end of the first season,” Kirkman revealed. So there’s none of this bulls–t six months later stuff!” He added, “The plan is not to rush [Rick Grimes' story], just like I did in the comic book series.”
- *Shortly after Comic Con ended, AMC announced that Frank Darabont has stepped away from his showrunner duties for reasons unknown at this time. Walking Dead executive producer and writer Glen Mazzara (The Shield) has assumed Darabont’s duties as #1. An official statement read like this: “AMC is grateful to executive producer, writer and pilot director Frank Darabont whose contributions to the success of The Walking Dead are innumerable. We continue to discuss his ongoing role with the series.”
Check out the gallery below to view pictures from The Walking Dead panel at Comic Con. Note that security did not allow attendees to take pictures of anything shown on screen.
The Fringe panel at Comic Con contained the greatest amount of energy of all the panels I attended. Even though the panelists kept season 4 secrets closely guarded, the attendees made it known how much they love and respect one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever produced. Onto the highlights:
- The panel started with a sizzle reel highlighting major events that happened throughout the series so far. Peter Bishop (played by Joshua Jackson) was not present in the clip.
- When the clip ended the stage filled up with actors Anna Torv, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Jasika Nicole, and new series regular Seth Gabel (he plays Lincoln Lee); and executive producers and showrunners J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner. Again, Josh Jackson is no where to be found.
- Immediately the panel turned to the audience for a Q&A session. Pinkner confirmed, “It’s not that Peter’s consciousness is anywhere. There is no Peter. Peter doesn’t exist. But we’ll let you know when he shows up.” An astute fan asked how a lovechild between Bolivia and Peter could exist if Peter never existed. “The question is, is there a child?” replied a cryptic Anna Torv. Interesting…
- Cue another clip. This time it’s Peter Bishop audition tapes! The video features famous actors ranging from Lost‘s Michael Emerson to Community‘s Dani Pudi wearing a fake mustache. It ends with a shot of Joshua Jackson dressed in an Observer suit with pale skin asking, “What do you want me to do?” Watch it after the break.
- And the crowd goes wild! Josh Jackson emerges from stage right and sits down next to his TV father on the panel. He’s looking rather dapper donning an Observer-esque hat. Are all of these hints of what’s to come in season 4? One can speculate…
- When asked if Jackson will ever get to encounter an alt-universe version of himself he replied, “I don’t think Peter will ever have an alternate, but however he gets folded back into this season, it will be a very different version than what we’ve seen before. He’s in a different place now.”
- It was also brought up that viewers haven’t seen an alt-version of Nina Sharp. “I’m not sure that [she] isn’t an inanimate object like a lightbulb or a toaster,” Brown hinted. She mentioned that since we still don’t know which side Nina lies on (good or bad), perhaps she will reveal herself as something destructive on the other side if it turns out she’s working against our heroes.
- And what about Astrid? Nicole shared, ”[We'll see] a different kind of Astrid then we’ve seen before.” Then she belted out a rendition of Aerosmith’s classic tune with the words “Astrid’s got a gun.”
- When a viewer asked whether or not Olivia will learn to control her Cortexifan-intensified powers this season Pinker dropped this: “I’m not sure we’ve seen all of her powers yet.” He cushioned this with, “What’s going to happen is really hard to answer because we think it would spoil letting the show unfold.” And this was the theme of the panel; not much could be revealed and so we’ll have to wait until September to be fed answers.
- I cannot end this panel highlight post without mentioning Noble’s kind words that opened the panel. “Seriously, without your efforts, your rabid support, we wouldn’t be here right now. You are the best fans that ever existed.” He proclaimed that Comic Con “is our Emmys” and every single fan in attendance showered the panel with love.
Scrub through the gallery below to see pictures from the lovefest that was the Fringe panel.
The biggest idiots to hit the airwaves after the cast of The Jersey Shore are back. After being offered to make a sequel to Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, creator Mike Judge (King of the Hill) ultimately decided it’d be best to bring back the characters in their true form–made for TV. Here’s the highlights from the panel that was moderated by beer-sippin’ Jackass star Johnny Knoxville:
- On why he quit the show in 1997 and then decided to bring it back Judge said, “I quit because I was getting a little burnt out. I kept writing ideas down and kept thinking about doing a movie. King of the Hill was done and they came to me. And I thought this would be pretty fun to do. I guess the answer is: I like doing it. Also, I like to feel like they’re kinda timeless.” Man, was he right. After screening never-before-scene clips from the upcoming season, fans in attendance didn’t hold back their affection for the show; the cheers were deafening, and I was part of it.
- Rather than screen an entire episode, Judge previewed scenes from the upcoming season. In a clip titled “Werewolves of Highland” Beavis and Butt-Head are on the hunt for girls; Judge says that the boys still haven’t scored with the ladies yet. After gaining inspiration from watching Twilight they decide they want to become vampires to help them score. They encounter a “werewolf” on the street (a hairy homeless man) and make him bite them. After the “transformation is complete” the idiots proclaim, “let’s go get some girls.” Moments later they are diagnosed with Hepatitis C.
- Next the boys were back on the couch watching TV, ready to satirize (what else?) reality TV. Jersey Shore, 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, and Teen Cribs were all featured here. All of these shows are ripe for B&B satirizing, and Judge nails it. The crowd loved it. Judge promises that the show will also poke fun at UFC fights, YouTube videos, and of course, music videos.
- In another extended scene screened, Judge resurrects Beavis’ alter-ego Cornholio. In “Holy Cornholio” Beavis screws a plastic doll into his hand and has to go to the hospital. A series of events leads the entire town worshiping him as the Messiah. Watch the clip after the break.
- When asked if a new B&B video game will release following the TV revival, Judge said that one might be coming soon. I remember playing the B&B game for Sega Game Gear and it was a ton of fun. Glad to hear a new one’s being conceptualized. And here’s a fun fact: a B&B ride was once in the works; it involved Butt-Head driving a cab and running things over, but unfortunately it never came into existence.
- Overall the panel was one helleva nostalgic ride. It really feels like the idiot duo never left us. The crude animation style is virtually the same, and the boys’ attitude towards all the crap out there today carries over from the their past life. The material screen at the panel was genuinely funny, and I am genuinely excited for the long-awaited return Beavis and Butt-Head.
See shots from the Beavis and Butt-Head panel below.(Click here for more…)
Here are Comic Con panel highlights from a couple of Seth Macfarlane cartoons and that one from Matt Groening.
- The panel kicked off with a revealing clip that shared a bunch of upcoming story lines involving the Griffins and their friends. Ready, set…
- Meg turns 18 and Quagmire hits on her; Brian takes shrooms and goes on a crazy trip; Stewie and Brian travel back in time to the pilot episode (the original crappy animation is still in tact; “It’s very “All Good Things” for you Star Trek fans,” Macfarlane says); a new Viewer Mail episode is in the pipeline; somebody tries to kill Chris; Stewie runs away from home and lives with the housekeeper Consuela; Stewie drives; Lois kidnaps a kid; Peter gets in a tussle with the Amish; Peter embarks on a road trip with Joe, Quagmire, and Cleveland; Peter and Quagmire get arrested by Joe.
- So many guest voices next season and they include: Ricky Gervais (he’ll voice a dolphin), Cate Blanchett, Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick, and Mark Harmon.
- Macfarlane confirmed that a Family Guy movie is happening. It’s just a matter of when. “We’ve actually had meetings about it, which makes it real,” he said. The team is trying to figure out how to keep spitting out quality episodes and work on the feature film at the same time. The Simpsons managed to do it, so I have full faith Macfarlane and co. will get it done.
- Macfarlane and the Family Guy voice actors spotted the American Sign Language interpreter during the panel and took advantage of him by forcing him to sign all kinds of curse words and foul situations. Funny stuff, but the joke was stretched out far too long (as FG jokes tend to do, also).
- The Simpsons kicks off its 23rd season this September, can you believe it?! The 500th episode (!) falls on February 19.
- A bit from this year’s “Treehouse of Horror” was shown; it features Ned Flanders in a wonderful parody of the Dexter opening credits.
- The other clip shown was from an episode in NMA-style animation (that’s the Taiwanese company that produces CGI reenactments of popular news stories).
- In last season’s finale Marge urged viewers to vote on whether or not Ned Flanders and Mrs. Krabappel should be together. The producers promise that the issue will be laid to rest in the premiere. If they end up together (and they likely will), Groening promises that their relationship will stay consistent in all future episodes. Groening himself admitted that he’s pro-Nedna since Ned deserves love and “Bart deserves his teacher living next door.”
- The Simpsons family is traveling to the one continent they haven’t been to yet: Antarctica.
- In the end, Lisa will end up with Milhouse. “I don’t know how the show will end or when, but in my heart, I think they’re going to be together,” shared producer Al Jean.
- Check out this list of guest stars: Kiefer Sutherland, Andy Garcia, John Rivers, Jane Lynch, Jonah Hill, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of Tim & Eric, Neil Gaiman, Gordon Ramsay, Armie Hammer, Michael Cera, and Jeremy Irons (he’ll voice Mo’s bar rag). Also, they’ll be using audio from a 1918 President Theodore Roosevelt speech in an episode where we find out Superintendent Chalmers’ hero is Teddy. Said Jean, “I thought, ‘Finally! We can put a president in the show. And a good one too. We’re going to give him a little credit at the end.”
- When asked if we’ll ever see the Simpsons age, Groening replied “we may do it when we run out of ideas. That may be the last sad season of The Simpsons. Bart will turn 11.”
- Though the voice cast (including Seth Macfarlane) came out for the panel, the bulk of it was taken up by the screening of the season 7 premiere episode “Hot Water.” Cee-Lo Green guest stars as a singing maniacal hot tub and Asa Taccone (brother of SNL’s Jorma) wrote the music. Michael Peña (Crash) guest stars as the hot tub salesman. So that they could screen in the episode in its entirety, the first half of the episode was screened in black and white storyboard format as per FOX’s request. Watching this was pretty neat, actually. Character movements are not fluid, but you can really see all the hard work that the animators put into making an episode. Eventually a refreshing splash of color was introduced and the episode played out like we’re used to. Overall, the premiere is a solid episode. Cee-Lo croons over catchy Asa-produced beats throughout, and the story involving a hot tub with a mind of its own getting in-between Stan and Francine’s relationship works well.
- During the season there’ll be an episode where a ship from outer space comes to get Roger; in it Shannon Sharpe will voice an alien bounty hunter.
- Other guest voices include Dr. Dawg and Charles Barkley.
- There will be plenty of musical numbers sprinkled throughout the season, too.
At Comic Con I was afforded the opportunity to watch the Alcatraz pilot not once but twice. Warner Bros. held a screening on preview night, and then during Comic Con proper I sat through the screening plus panel featuring the show’s stars Sarah Jones and Jorge Garcia, showrunner/writer Liz Sarnoff, and director Jack Bender. Here are my initial thoughts:
Alcatraz is from J.J. Abrams; the ending credits begin with the Bad Robot squeal. It takes place on an Island. It’s overtly mysterious. It makes use of flashbacks and a loud sound like closing prison doors clanks before and after each time jump. It stars Jorge Garcia, known to most heavy TV viewers as Hurley Reyes. It is extremely hard not to compare this show with Lost. The plot elements and even the behind-the-scenes pedigree (Sarnoff and Bender wrote and directed pivotal Lost episodes, respectively) radiate elements from the arguably the greatest mystery piece of our generation. At the panel, Sarnoff admitted that they’re “embracing Lost similarities” but at the same time “we’re our own show, we want to do our own thing.”
So how did their “own thing” work in the pilot? Pretty well, actually. By no means is this pilot grander than what Abrams directed for Lost back in 2004. That said, it still managed to pique my interest enough to have me recommend others to tune in when it premieres midseason (Sarnoff confirmed it’ll begin its run in January). I am not going to recap the entire episode; I think it’s best for you to watch the mystery unfold when the episode airs. However, I will reveal that the pilot generates a ton of mythology from the get-go and hopes that bits of it (if not all of it) sticks and pulls you in so that you’ll tune in again the following week. The pilot introduces a story where Alcatraz inmates disappear from their cells in 1963 and mysteriously reappear in modern day society. Sam Neill (Twin Peaks) plays Emerson Hauser, a man who heads a secret task force with Parminder Nagra (ER) aiming to figure out exactly why the inmates are coming back and who’s pulling the strings to make it happen. Strong female lead (J.J. knows how to find them) Sarah Jones is Rebecca Madsen; she teams with Jorge Garcia’s Dr. Diego Soto (an Alcatraz expert) to investigate the disappearances and reappearances. Eventually they get caught up in the middle of Neill’s long on-going investigation and they agree to help Neill and Nagra forge onward. That’s essentially what’s set up in the pilot. Sarnoff explained that the show will act like a procedural (there’ll be an “inmate of the week” that wrecks havoc in present day) with serialized elements (flashbacks will explore Alcatraz history and slowly reveal the mystery behind the reappearance of the inmates). My hope is that the inmates, especially the one featured in the pilot (Jack Sylvane played by the suave and sophisticated Jeffrey Pierce), are factored into the story more than I think they will be. Without spoiling the pilot’s conclusion, I will say that it seems like we won’t be seeing Sylvane in the present all that often (and no, he doesn’t get killed).
I can’t reiterate this enough: comparisons to Lost will be made when Alcatraz premieres early next year. Thing is, the core audience that’ll give Alcatraz a try are coming from Lost and they want a show that can compete with that great achievement in TV history. Like almost all genre shows, if Alcatraz wants to succeed and step out of the shadow of Lost it’ll have to balance plot mythology with deep character exploration. Sarnoff need only look at another Abrams show Fringe for an idea on how to do that. If the promising and intriguing Alcatraz manages not to get lost in confusing mythos (no pun intended) and puts character development and relationships first, I have high hopes that it’ll shine as the next great genre story that network TV has been desperately trying to tell once more.
Stills from the panel hang below.
Like the Alcatraz panel, The River‘s consisted of a pilot screening and an extremely brief session with the cast and crew. Producer Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) led the panel discussion, but before I get into that, I want to give my initial impressions surrounding the spooky premiere episode. In my humble opinion, the pilot is a raging success. Why? One simple reason: it is extremely engaging. It manages to not only introduce viewers to the heap of main characters, but it also get them emotionally invested in their actions and purpose. And all the while the situation that these people are placed in is horrifying, mysterious, and intriguing all at once.
In a nutshell, The River is about a man who goes missing (Emmett Cole played by Bruce Greenwood) and the rescue mission led by his wife (24‘s Leslie Hope) and son (Joe Anderson) to find him. Peli borrows immensely from his Paranormal Activity style of shooting; lots of shaky-cam footage is used here. You see, before Emmett Cole went missing he was a well-know TV personality who hosted a nature show called The Undiscovered Country for nearly 20 years; a camera crew led by another 24 alum Paul Blackthorne is documenting and paying for the rescue mission. Another page ripped out of Paranormal: this show is set up to be a supernatural, genuinely scary series. In the first episode alone the Cole family has to deal with a ghostly demon of sorts that’ll make you jump off your couch more than once. I won’t say more beyond that, but you get the idea.
In the pilot, Peli has masterfully transferred his ability to spook viewers from the big screen to network TV. ABC assured Peli that he can “go as scary as [he] wants to go.” Peli said that he wants viewers to “experience real fear” while watching his new show. But don’t expect The River to be a gory bloodbath. Peli described the show as “less Saw and more Poltergeist” and you definitely get that sense after watching the pilot.
It seems obvious that this show will be highly serialized, and viewers will have to tune in each week to discover the mystery behind Cole’s disappearance. I won’t spoil anything, but there’s something that the crew finds shortly after they embark on the rescue mission that’ll likely pull you in for the ride. Shaky-cam, spooks and all, The River is primed to be a must-see TV event this midseason.
I admit, I am still a SpongeBob fan. After all these years, there’s nothing like tuning into Nick and watching the flamboyant yellow sponge do his thing. And so I sat through the SpongeBob Squarepants panel at Comic Con (which took place immediately before the panel for The River in the same room) with a wide-eyed smile from ear to ear. Highlights comin’ right atcha:
- On the panel were creative director Vincent Waller (he comes from Ren & Stimpy) and writers Paul Tibbett and Mr. Lawrence (he gives Plankton a voice).
- During the panel they previewed upcoming SpongeBob episodes and specials using clips and rough storyboard images.
- In “Mermaid Man Begins” we will learn the origin story of the underwater superhero and his sidekick Barnacle Boy; In “Bubble Buddy Returns” SpongeBob’s Leif Erikson Day friend comes back to Bikini Bottom and Sponge offers to babysit his kids; Plankton and Man Ray will join forces (and Man Ray will get fat from eating too many Krabby Patties); Plankton will steal SB’s DNA so that he grows a second eye; in “InSpongeiac” Mr. Crabs has a nightmare and turns into a mustard dispenser; SB and Patrick will house sit for Sandy; in “Ghoul Fools” the Flying Dutchman returns and funnyman Chris Elliot will voice the First Mate ghoul; the “Runaway Roadtrip” special is an anthology episode airing this fall that will follow each of the main characters going on vacation; in the clip titled “Patrick’s Staycation” SpongeBob encourages his best friend to stay home for vacation and he caters to his every whim.
- In the Christmas 2012 special “Tis the Season to be Jerky” the Bikini Bottom gang are reimagined as puppets. They played a clip from the special and the live action puppets matched with the animation works really well. The puppets were sculpted and painted specifically for this episode.
- When a fan asked how the creative team manages to cater to the younger demographic and yet still keep hold of an older audience the scribes said that “[they] don’t write [the show] for any one demo, [they] write for everyone.” They admit, like I did, that they are simply “grown up kids.”
- And here’s a neat little fun fact: when he was creating the character SpongeBob SquarePants, Stephen Hillenburg turned to Jerry Lewis and Pee-wee Herman for inspiration!
At Comic Con, Lost showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse crashed EW’s Totally Lost: One Year Later panel and brought with them a never-before-seen clip, an alternate ending to the pivotal season one finale. Lindelof and Cuse ultimately decided against keeping this scene in the finale “for fear that it revealed too much about how the series would eventually end.” Watch it, and decide for yourself whether or not it was wise to remove it.
Psht, and people thought they were making it all up as they were going along!
Here it is, our first glimpse into season 2 of AMC’s The Walking Dead. The scene follows Rick Grimes as he confronts not one but two zombies. His weapon of choice? A rock.
Watch it again, and then again, and anticipate the premiere coming this October.
Update: Hop after the break to see the new Walking Dead Comic Con poster; it features Rick and the gang of survivors atop the winnebago fending off a horde of zombies. (Click here for more…)
Considering myself a rabid follower of the FOX sci-fi show Fringe, it didn’t take much deliberation for me to clobber together this brief post. Next week Comic Con comes to San Diego, and within the convention walls Warner Bros. will be handing out these Fringe themed bags-that-convert-into-backpacks. What’s more, TVLine reports, is that an extremely limited number of alternate universe themed swag bags will also be in circulation. I’ve got to get my hands on one of those…
I’ve got some good news for those of you following the saga that is the TV adaptation of Joe Hill’s comic book Locke & Key. When FOX’s upfront presentation came and went without a pickup for the spooky pilot, whispers surfaced saying that backing studio 20th Century Fox TV was tempted to pitch it to other networks and cable stations like The CW and Syfy. Unfortunately these networks passed on the pilot, too. After all this rejection typically this would mark the end of a TV project. But Locke & Key is special, you see. Instead of being shelved in the attic, 20th Century Fox TV granted the comic book’s publisher IDW Publishing permission to screen the pilot at Comic Con.
What makes Locke & Key worthy of coming back from the dead. In a word: pedigree. The following people are involved in the making of this show: Josh Friedman (showrunner/executive producer/writer), Steven Spielberg (executive producer), Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman (executive producers), and Mark Romanek (director). Miranda Otto and Nick Stahl star. The high-profile pilot was all the buzz during pilot pickup season, but due to production costs and other financial reasons FOX (and the other networks that considered taking it on) ultimately decided to pass on it.
Kudos to IDW for having the guts to ask 20th to screen the pilot in its entirety at Comic Con. And not only that–a panel consisting of Hill and collaborator Gabriel Rodriguez, Friedman, Orci, and Kurtzman will be on hand to discuss the making of the pilot. If there’s any place to resurrect a high-profile comic book adaptation with spooky and mysterious elements attached, it’s Comic Con. If the pilot is well-received by the crowd, there is a chance that network execs might hear their cheers and decided to pick up the series for midseason or fall 2012. I will be attending the screening next month and will report back my impressions. I have a gut feeling Locke & Key is going to be a crowd-pleaser.
Joe Hill shared his reaction to the pilot on his blog. “Mark Romanek and Josh Friedman turned in a hell of a good pilot (says a dude who is, of course, completely unbiased). The finished episode is scary, and lean, and emotionally authentic, and has a similar feel to Super 8; it very much has a kind of early 80s scary-Spielberg vibe. It’s also very faithful to the source material. I’m so, so proud of everyone who worked on it and of what was accomplished. Locke & Key doesn’t have a TV home at the moment, but there’s quite a bit of good will out there for the pilot among those who have seen it. So I can’t say what will happen after SDCC. We’ll just have to – ah – stay tuned.”