On Day 2 of San Diego Comic-Con, I:
Attended a panel of writers and producers for one of my favorite television shows, “The Big Bang Theory,” moderated by Melissa Rauch, who plays Bernadette. The writers are genuine fanboys — and one fangirl — and spoke about how some of their own experiences and obsessions become a part of the show. And they revealed a new guest star, who came out on stage to greet us: “30 Rock’s” Jack McBrayer, who will play Penny’s brother. Katey Sagal will be returning as her mother.
Spoke to the very handsome and charming Jason Matthew Smith, who performed in three “Star Trek” movies but ended up on screen in just one,
Spoke to the lovely and warm-hearted Caroline Williams, who starred in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and got a part in “Sharknado 4” (airing July 31, 2016) via Facebook. Yes, she is Stretch again and has a chainsaw.
Attended a panel on diversity in animation with some of the greatest animators of all time, people who worked on everything from Disney classics to Hanna-Barbera, Bob Clampett, Charlie Brown specials and “The Simpsons,”
Heard a presentation about a new streaming service called Shudder, specializing in horror, with categories like demonic possession, child murderers, and zombies. In a very typical Comic-Con experience, it was held in one of the smaller rooms, without a line and some seats left over, and on the panel was the star of three of the biggest films of all time, Elijah Wood.
On the first full day of San Diego Comic-Con, I:
Ran into a “Sharknado 4” parade with Elvises on stilts,
Talked to CBS television series stars, including James Wolk of “Zoo,” Tyler James Williams of “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders,” Eddie Kaye Thomas and Jaydn Wong from “Scorpion,” Wilmer Valderrama of “NCIS,” and Megan Ketch of “American Gothic,”
Saw directors Oliver Stone and Luc Besson in their first-ever Comic-Con appearances, to talk about their upcoming films “Snowden” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,”
Heard a fascinating discussion about Mormon comic artists,
Visited an interactive experience inspired by the new television series, “Timeless,” that involved being swirled around in a Gravitron and exiting into a hallway showing that past historical events had been altered and being so dizzy it seemed like they might be true, and
Attended one of my favorite annual events, the Mad about MAD — MAD Magazine panel. There were jokes about the current political candidates, of course. When asked if they weren’t secretly hoping Trump would win because he provides such good material, they said that they were sure whoever got elected would give them plenty to make fun of. MAD has a free ebook on Donald Trump and some of its most popular artwork is now available on Zazzle. They have a forthcoming parody book called Goodnight Batcave. I was delighted to hear that “MADtv” is returning to television, Tuesday nights on the CW. In response to questions, John Ficarra said that yes, they’ve been sued (by Irving Berlin), and that the stories that produce the most hate mail are when they make fun of boy bands. And I love to hear the stories of the legendary trips the entire staff used to take together. On one cruise to Bermuda, they played a joke on MAD founder Wiliam Gaines by re-enacting the famous stateroom scene from “A Night at the Opera.” By the time the room was filled with MAD writers and artists, crew members, and random strangers, he was roaring with laughter. And so, as they told the story, was the audience, still MAD about MAD.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, who were marvelous together in “Crazy Stupid Love,” reunite in a musical called “Lala Land.”
Wednesday is always preview night at Comic-Con, a chance to explore the Exhibition Hall, where you can get glimpses of new television shows, movies, and games, and buy just about any household item or article of clothing with your favorite superhero or animated character on it. You can also get a sneak peek at full episodes of some upcoming television shows. I watched “Riverdale,” with the Archie Comics characters in a story that is more like “Twin Peaks” or “Pretty Little Liars.” “90210’s” Luke Perry even appears as Archie’s dad.
In this story, Veronica has just moved to town after her wealthy father has lost his money following a Madoff-like fraud scandal. Archie had a sexual encounter with a teacher. Betty’s sister has had a mental breakdown. And Moose is bi-curious.
It is disconcerting at first to see the characters we know from silly jokes in the malt shop and school dances dealing with anguish and possibly even murder. And the actors do not look like teenagers. But it might work.
Then there’s a comedy called “Powerless,” with a very different take on superheroes. Vanessa Hudgens plays an insurance claims officer who is responsible for paying for damages caused by superheroes. And Conan O’Brien is one of the producers of “People of Earth,” with Wyatt Cenac, Oscar Nunez, and Ana Gasteyer as “experiencers” who have had alien encounters. Both were pretty funny and I look forward to more.