Monday, March 19, 2012

Recap - WonderCon 2012

Thanks to renovations happening up north in its usual San Francisco home, this year's WonderCon was held in Anaheim, Calif. and thanks to a good friend's birthday present, I was able to attend Saturday and Sunday, partaking in all the geeky and mainstream goodness offered to us humble fans.

Saturday was all about the big screen, offering sneak peeks and trailer premieres for a wide range of - for the most part - great looking, entertaining films: Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Looper, Lockout, Snow White and the Huntsman, Resident Evil: Retribution, Sound of My Voice and Battleship.  The panels were fun and the guests - including Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Michael Fastbender, Peter Berg, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Maggie Grace and Sir Ridley Scott - shared stories from the sets, little teases, etc.

But this is a bog about the small screen so Sunday was really my day. On the menu:  ALCATRAZ, FRINGE and ONCE UPON A TIME.


Stopping by for the Alcatraz panel were stars Sarah Jones (Det. Rebecca Madsen), Jorge Garcia (Dr. Diego Soto), Parminder Nagra (Dr. Lucy Banerjee), Jonny Coyne (Warden Edwin James) and Robert Forster (Ray Archer); co-creators Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt; and executive producers Jennifer Johnson and Daniel Pyne.

They opened with an exclusive sneak peak of the season finale (Monday, March 26 at 8 p.m. on FOX), which looks to be action-packed and promises to both answer season-long questions and pose more for the next season to (hopefully) come.  Questions/information included:
  • Why Alcatraz was chosen as the setting for the show - Say the word and it immediately evokes mystery and danger, plus rumblings of conspiracy ... after all, the order to close the prison on March 21, 1963 was signed by a Kennedy (Robert) - a name synonymous with conspiracy
  •  Will we find out what's behind "The Door"? - Yes. Pyne said everyone had goosebumps when they shot the reveal.  Forster got a hearty laugh from the audience when he boasted that he already knows what's behind it.
  •  Past inmates/escapees will be returning for the finale, which will end with a tremendous cliffhanger.
  • Apparently Sam Neill (Emerson Hauser) enjoys the scenes where he gets to shoot people.  In fact, he would rather have fewer lines and more gunplay!
  • Should viewers expect more deaths of the characters?  - Be prepared.  "This is Alcatraz ... things can always get worse," Wynbrandt warned.
  • How do the characters get from the Rock to the mainland so friggin quickly? - While the panel insists the actual boat ride takes about 10 minutes, next season they may try out the Alcatraz jet ski... or Rebecca's dolphin.
  • Most exciting of all - the finale features an exact recreation of the famous San Francisco car chase from the 1968 film Bullitt - one of the most thrilling auto chase scenes in cinema history.  But while the original film took 9 days to film, the Alcatraz crew did it in three.  Many locals who saw the original scene film came out to watch the remake.
Ultimately, the panel said the show really ramps up for the final three episodes and have much planned should they receive a second season.


This was the panel I was most looking forward to.  I've been a fan of this show from day one and have waited white-knuckled every spring for renewal.  It's always been a bubbled show but has lived on, and hopefully, if FOX is to abandon it, they'll at least grant it a chance to wrap up the story.

The future of the show was actually posed to the panel, which included executive producer/showrunner Jeff Pinker, executive producer Joel Wyman and stars Joshua Jackson (Peter Bishop), John Noble (Walter Bishop), Blair Brown (Nina Sharp) and Seth Gabel (Lincoln Lee).  Wyman said with great confidence "We don't even think about those thinhs," to which the cast let out hearty guffaws and Noble quietly stated "Bulls**t."

Noble himself was a riot.  The panel first screened a collection of "Walterisms" - a montage of the character's many often inappropriate but always hysterical sayings, comments, etc.  All at the table insisted that Noble in fact IS Walter, which is why he plays him so well.  Regarding whether the cast ever gets used to the weirdness of the events in the episodes, while Gabel said it would be really wrong if they got used to it, Jackson said they don't have to get used to the weirdness on the set because Noble is the weirdness.

Jackson had a blast and himself was hilariously entertaining.  For example:
  • Question: "Do you think Lincoln will end up with either of the Olivias in the various universes?"  Gabel:  "I hope I end up with at least one of them."  Jackson:  "If he ends up with both, we'd have to move to cable."
  • Late in the panel, an audience member wanted to know if the cast knows what's coming plot-wise ahead of time.  Jackson:  "I've learned more in the last ten minutes than I have all season!"
  • Regarding character deaths on the show and how many return, Jackson had this to say:  "Is anyone ever really dead on Fringe? Actually, the best way to be brought back is to die a noble death."  He added that a good phone call for a cast member to receive is "Congratulations!  We're killing you off!"
  • When asked if there are any comparisons between Peter and Jackson's character Pacey on Dawson's Creek, he said that they're both human.  Then later, when it came up that Peter can't seem to make up his mind about his relationship with Olivia, a lightbulb went off - "That's it! [Pacey] couldn't make up his f**king mind either!"  Seems the guys he plays sure can waffle!
The hilarity, honoring the theme of Fringe, went a little wonky when the question was posed about what Walter did when he was younger, maybe 20.  Noble offered that he was a student, he did a lot of drugs and dated Diana Ross.  The other panelists jumped on that tangent, suggesting that Astrid is actually Walter's love child with Ross and therefore Peter's half-sister.  Jackson admitted that he thought Astrid and Peter might have been a couple at one point, but with this new biological wrinkle thrown into the mix, he admitted "Even on Fringe, that's going too far."

Ultimately, the panel said that while they do battle the network at times, their priority of storytelling is for us, the fans, and they stick with that till the end, whenever that may be.  Here's hoping for season five and a chance to end the show on their terms.

Catch Fringe Friday nights at 9 p.m. on FOX.


We were first treated to a screening of the episode "Heart of Darkness," which would air later that night on ABC.  Watching on the big screen in a room filled with dedicated fans was awesome.  Cheers and whoops arose every time Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold/Rumplestilskin) appeared on screen, everyone laughed in unison and thoroughly enjoyed the showing.

After, co-creators and executive producers Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis came out to express their gratitude for all the love and support for the show and answer questions.  I wasn't aware of it but apparently there are quite a few LOST "easter eggs" strewn throughout the show (both were executive producers on the hit series), so now I'll be paying attention.

They said they received great support for the show from ABC right from the start - after all, what better network to host a show about fairy tales than the one owned by Disney?  Both men said the net lets them pretty much do anything they want, and that gives them great story-telling freedom.

Fairy tales/stories/characters they hope to visit in the future include Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Peter Pan, Rapunzel and Mulan.  They said there are still lots of people to visit both in Storybrooke and Fairy Tale Land and they don't want to close off any doors to who could appear.


The finale, being filmed this week, will feature the return of a beloved character - the Huntsman, who was killed off earlier in the season.  "We gotta warn you," joked Kitsis, " He's gotten more handsome."  We will also learn more about the mysterious August, they have a plan for the town's doctor and the theme of love and how it's possibly the way for the trapped citizens to escape the curse will be explored further in this and future seasons.

There's no doubt ABC is bringing this gem of a show back for a second season.  Be sure to catch it every Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Keep your fingers crossed that I make it to Comic-Con this July!

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