Austin’s Wizard World Comic-Con brought three days of sci-fi, fantasy, cosplay, and generally uninhibited nerdiness to the Austin Convention Center, November 8-10. What did I geek out about? Two things. I went looking for Gotham co-star Sean Pertwee, who played Alfred, the Wayne family butler. Then a bunch of laughing and cheering people attracted me to a nearby stage where I learned about another iconic character, Greg Brady of The Brady Bunch and the gentleman who portrayed him, Barry Williams.
Gotham was one of only two shows from the last decade that I watched religiously (the other: Game of Thrones). I was a Batman fan from when I was a little kid buying comic books for fifteen cents. When I saw the pilot for Gotham, I was amazed at how well it was written and wrote about it here. The quality kept me coming back for all 100 episodes and I was never disappointed.
At Wizard World, I spoke with Sean Pertwee. Besides playing Alfred, Pertwee has had a long career in film and TV, reaching back to the 1980s. His formal training came from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and his career began with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Part of a famous theatrical family. his career has intersected with some iconic characters. He appeared on an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and was in the film Tale of the Mummy.
He was also part of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebration, The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, as his father, Jon Pertwee, was the third Doctor.
I asked him what he remembered as a highlight about his time as mysterious butler for the Wayne family.
He said that it wasn’t just one thing. “As a British actor,” he said, “it was satisfying to bring out this British character in such detail in a superhero universe, where he has generally been in the background.”
He went on, “I also found it satisfying that we were able to explore in such detail Alfred’s past, his talents, and his motivations.”
I believe Pertwee has succeeded in creating the most memorable Alfred Pennyworth of any of his small or large screen manifestations. Pertwee will probably continue to be popular at Comic-Cons as his next big starring role will be in Neil Marshall’s The Reckoning, currently in post-production, about witch hunts in 17th century England.
The Brady Bunch
In the back of my brain I have been aware of The Brady Bunch since its inception. But since that inception took place during my college years when I didn’t even own a TV, I managed to never see any of the original show’s 117 episodes or the various spin-offs that have gone on till today.
After I spoke with Sean Pertwee, I saw a crowd of people having a great time. Wandering over to the stage where this was happening, I saw a gentleman humorously dancing. After a few minutes of listening to the audience Q&A, I realized that this was the actor, Barry Williams, who played another legendary character, Greg Brady.
Besides the original series, there was a spin-off cartoon version, a variety hour, TV movies, sequel series, and most recently, an HGTV reality series where the cast returns to restore the set, their TV home, A Very Brady Renovation.
It was during a discussion of this show that I joined the crowd. Williams was gesturing with a pretend hammer in response to an audience question. “Yeah,” he said, “I’d pound a nail with a hammer and say, ‘This ought to fix it’, and then they’d cut and bring in a crew of real builders to do the actual work.” That’s reality TV for you.
A fan asked about the episode “Getting Davy Jones.” Jones was the lead singer of the created-for-TV singing group the Monkees. “When Davy appeared on the show,” Williams said, “the script had us saying his name over and over. ‘Davy Jones is here? Davy Jones? Really Davy Jones. It’s Davy Jones!’ I’m sure we hold the record for the most mentions of a guest star’s name on one episode.”
Another audience member brought up the episode “Adios, Johnny Bravo” in which Williams’ character is recruited to become an overnight rock star. The fan asked, “Is it true that you intentionally kept messing up your lines in the scene where you are mobbed by a bunch of teenage girls so they would have to keep doing more takes?”
Williams responded, “You mean, that scene where I’m surrounded by all those girls? That scene where they keep wanting to touch me? That scene where they are tearing off my clothes? That scene made when I was only 16 years old?” Williams smiled and went on to the next question.
Enter the Fonz
Besides Pertwee and Williams there were more than a score of other personalities at Wizard World including Henry “The Fonz” Winkler (currently in Barry), Cary Elwes from The Princess Bride, cast members from Smallville, Supergirl, and Charmed, professional wrestlers, comic book artists and cosplay stars. Its exhibitors included artists, souvenir vendors, and you could even get a tattoo. Events included classes in comic-oriented money making and cosplay competitions.
If Wizard World sounds like fun to you, you can find out more about its future events in Austin and other cities on its website.