Written by Shawn Bourdo
Saturday is a make or break day. I usually end up with a weird potluck selection of unplanned panels, planned events, and lots of people watching. This day looked to be pretty much a typical Saturday. Things were popping in San Diego very early. I felt more energy and excitement than usual this morning mostly because of the way the day was starting.
LAND OF THE LOST SERIES REUNION
What better morning than a Saturday morning to see the cast of a show that ruled my Saturday mornings for three years. The room was filled with fellow fans – most all of them my age – of the Sid & Marty Krofft show. The panel brought together Wesley Eure (Will Marshall), Kathy Coleman (Holly Marshall), Phil Paley (Cha-Ka) and story editor and writer David Gerrold.
Were there amazing revelations? No. Were there stories about crazy, behind-the-scenes events? No. This panel did two things – it celebrated the fun of the show and it let the crowd in on the fun. There were some fun old videos. It was interesting to hear how some of the special effects were accomplished. But essentially the show was done on a shoestring budget (I know it shows) but it was never about the effects. It was a show about kids and dinosaurs and Pakuni and Sleestaks. I didn’t take many notes because all I remember is a huge smile on my face the whole panel. And how could that be a bad thing?
SID & MARTY KROFFT: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE, PRESENT AND THE PAST
I try to see the brothers Sid & Marty Krofft every year that they are able to show up here. They have produced some of the happiest TV memories of my childhood. And they are just plain entertaining. This year I was curious to see that Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer) was appearing on the panel. It turns out that his son is starring in a show produced by Sid & Marty on Nickelodeon. Calvin Millan is sixteen and stars in a show Mutt and Stuff. The kid is cute but my kids are so old that it’s just not a show that will ever be on my radar.
I was more curious about the new adaptations upcoming. Each year we here some updates but it always feel like they are handcuffed by the utter failure of the Land of the Lost film. Currently there is an Amazon Studios production of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Legendary Pictures is working on an Electra Woman and Dyna Girl film and the stars are off YouTube if that gives you any clue to the scope of the project. I think the crowd was more impressed by a Bugaloos remake with Cyndi Lauper as Benita Bizarre.
It’s like a short lunch with old friends. I stop in and pay my tribute and get the yearly update. I love these guys and the year that they can’t make it will be a sad day.
ANYTHING GOES WITH JOHN BARROWMAN
I ended the Con with two free form panels. Nothing to promote. Just stories to tell and questions to answer. I started with John Barrowman of Doctor Who and Torchwood fame. Captain Jack has been doing his panel for three years now. The past two years it has been the panel that has given me the most laughs.
John has gained a new audience since the start of his panels with his role in Arrow. Whereas the questions were 90% about his Captain Jack character in the past, the crowd was probably now almost 50% fans of Malcolm Merlyn. I love that he came out with a Demon’s Head Ring on his finger. It led to his first highly energetic story that captivated the audience. His style is partially frantic but appealing. His laughter is contagious and he knows how to balance sexual innuendo (well, maybe not, it’s pretty over the top!) and still telling a story.
I can’t repeat most of the stories and neither would they have the impact in print that they have in that room. His banter with the crowd makes you feel like you are hanging out at a dinner party. His stories of the grocery store, the set of Torchwood (“they have wings”), his impromptu duet of the Doctor Who theme and banter with a Felicity lookalike are the reason I tell people that it’s an experience you can’t duplicate on paper or even streaming. Like watching a movie with a crowd in a theater – the Con is about the group experience. I walked away giving this another Best Of Con award.
AN HOUR WITH ADAM SAVAGE
Part of me wished that John Barrowman had been the end of my Convention. Drop the mic and walk away on such a high. I took a break for a bite to eat and wandered back to the Center not really certain I was going to see another panel. I missed the days when Saturday night meant the boys from Mythbusters appearing. This year it was just Adam Savage. I didn’t know how I would like him solo. The give and take between Adam and Jamie is what always sold it for me. I sat down and it was one the best decisions I made.
The panel wasn’t just a long ad for the upcoming season for Mythbusters. We did get a short commercial for the season that included a Star Wars episode and a Breaking Bad episode. But the rest of the panel consisted of three other guest panelists. First up was Andy Weir, author of The Martian. The book is heavily science based. The two of them are very simpatico. Second out was Alton Brown, famous chef and host of Good Eats among others. Alton has a wonderfully dry sense of humor that blends right in with the type of humor up on stage. Last to the all-star group was Chris Hadfield, the Canadian Space Station Commander. He has appeared on Mythbusters and seems to be as fascinated with Adam as Adam is with him.
Adam has a bit where he dresses up and goes around the Con incognito. This year he and Commander Hadfield made perfect replicas of the space suits from 2001: A Space Odyssey, including the white suitcases. The shots of them walking the Convention floor were priceless. These are smart people who don’t talk down to an audience. They talk about smart issues and it’s up to the crowd to keep up. I appreciate that.
There was a question that came up towards the end of the panel. A young woman talked about changing her major thanks to Alton Brown and her vision of her future. She asked about advice from the men onstage. Andy Weir talked about everyone congratulating him on his “great first novel”. It is actually his third novel. He failed twice before hitting with The Martian. It was years of hard work to get to this one success.
When it got around to Commander Hadfield, he addressed the crowd with a quote – “You don’t find your car keys with binoculars.” I just had to let that settle in my brain a bit. Commander Hadfield told her that he didn’t get where he was because he had this certain long-term vision. He told everyone – always just make the next best decision. If your life is a series of best decisions, you will end up where you are supposed to be. Life shouldn’t be led looking past what is right in front of you. The quote is also a reminder to stay in the moment. Look around. Consider your options. Make the smart decisions. Comic-Con is full of people at different stages of their lives but the advice is just as important for all. The Con has variety enough for everyone. So you make the best decision for you at that moment. Sometimes it will take you into Adam Savage and give you something that will inspire you for another year.
The Con is growing a little out of control. There are probably three to four days worth of things to do outside the Convention Center. There is no way to even do 10% of everything happening. It becomes almost impossible to get a hotel room close by and finding a spot to get a beer at night is like winning a lottery. The streets are so crowded that most of the Gaslamp Quarter are shut down. How much bigger can it possibly get? There had to be as many non-ticketed folks hanging outside as there were inside the convention. I fear a negative backlash but it hasn’t happened yet.
I fly back to Texas with so many things on my mind. I love my Con experience. It’s a perfect combination of old friends, new friends, beer, fried foods, promotional panels, reunions, and just plain intelligent discussion. I could be the Old Man and say how I miss being able to walk right into a restaurant after a day of walking the floor or entering Hall H on any day at any time. The Comic-Con is something different to everyone. But what I love are the smiles. One thing you don’t see much at Comic-Con? Frowns. I have written how comfortable I feel at the Con. I have a feeling there of acceptance in a way that you only have amongst friends. Maybe I was tired. Maybe there were crowds. But I’m already reading books to be ready for panels next year.
Thanks for reading my three-part review. I hope to meet y’all here next year.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B001SGN1JM,B00T5D4OSW]