Our second Comic-Con preview focuses on TV, which is swiftly taking over the entire convention. Tomorrow's list will focus on the original raison d'etre - comics.
TV has something for everyone these days ... and so do the television panels at Comic-Con this year, which have grown to the point where they pretty much crush the movie-related ones. Pretty much every genre show you'd expect to find is on hand, but there are more specialized offerings too, from Trey Parker and Matt Stone talking about their new South Park videogame, to veteran weirdos Sid and Marty Krofft discussing their creations with a "surprise guest moderator" (H.R. Pufnstuf? Witchiepoo?), to a Pinky and the Brain 20th-anniversary reunion.
You can delve into the wacky world of "Legendary Animators of Classic '60s Cartoons" like The Pink Panther, Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones, or attend two panels crammed with cartoon voice actors. Spend an hour with equally legendary animator Bruce Timm of Batman: The Animated Series fame and many other DC cartoons, or with the famously extroverted actor John Barrowman. Listen to Tim Russ, Michael Dorn and other actors discuss black superheroes. Or sing your heart out once more, with feeling, at a screening of the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Listed below are just the highlights, really. One thing's for sure: You're never gonna be able to fit it all in. Hell, I could barely get it all into one article. For dates, times and locations, check the schedule.
1. HBO's Heavy Hits
Fans would probably cut through a host of wildlings to get into Hall H for Friday's Game of Thrones panel and Q&A session, with what promises to be a lively lineup featuring series stars including Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington (pictured above), Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Michelle Fairley, Richard Madden, John Bradley and Rose Leslie. Rehash the Red Wedding and hear tales from behind the scenes, but don't expect much to be said about Season 4 beyond "I can't tell you that." With filming for the new season slated to begin this summer, I'm guessing co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss won't be on hand. But George R.R. Martin will be discussing his work (and no doubt fending off calls for him to get back to writing the next A Song of Ice and Fire novel) in a separate panel on Sunday, so perhaps he'll put in an appearance.
Strangely enough, the schedule blurb for Saturday's True Blood panel and Q&A doesn't actually say who will be present or what we may learn about the venerable vampire drama, now in its sixth season and losing some of its non-sparkly luster. All we know for sure is that the 45-minute panel is moderated by Tim Stack of Entertainment Weekly. I guess that's one way to manage expectations.
2. It's AMC's World ... We Just Walk in It
Although I am totally with our own Mark Hill on the overripe zombie phenom, our shared disdain is hardly going to stop the teeming hordes of Walking Deadheads from swarming into Hall H for this one. Discuss Season 3 and get an official sneak peek at Season 4 with The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, David Morrissey, Scott Wilson and Chad Coleman plus comic-book co-creator Robert Kirkman and showrunner Scott Gimple.
As zombies rise, middle-aged drug dealers take their leave, so naturally the Breaking Bad panel focuses on the fifth and final season of Walt White's meth-fueled quest to provide for his family. Creator/exec producer Vince Gilligan plus stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, R.J. Mitte and Bob Odenkirk talk about what it was like to shoot the final episodes and how they're preparing for the end. But are those tears of sorrow or chemical irritation? Includes a preview of the final eight eps.
3. BBC America: You Know Who!
It's a shame that Hall H isn't bigger on the inside. BBC America's "Doctor Who 50th Anniversary" panel features outgoing 11th Doctor Matt Smith, current companion Jenna Coleman (who's apparently Jenna-Louise no more), showrunner Steven Moffat and writer Mark Gatiss. Not much detail on what to expect, but I'm guessing they'll rehash Season 7, at least tease the 50th-anniversary episode and perhaps show a glimpse of An Adventure in Space and Time, the BBC docudrama about the venerable British show's creation, in which David Bradley, also scheduled to appear here, plays William Hartnell, the first actor to play the Doctor.
4. Digging Dexter
Showtime has only one series at Comic-Con. And, since it's Dexter, Showtime only needs one. Wade through the blood and explore the twisted family ties of the serial killer with a heart of gold, in a final farewell panel featuring a discussion and Q&A with stars Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas and James Remar along with writer/producers and surprise guest stars "too big to mention."
5. How Do You Spell ABC? S.H.I.E.L.D.!
Series co-creator Joss Whedon, Marvel's head of TV Jeph Loeb and "surprise guests" will share "top-secret new information" about Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the comics company's eagerly anticipated first live-action TV show chronicling the adventures of a team from the superhuman-policing agency, headed by Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). Who died in The Avengers. I hear there's an explanation for how he un-snuffed it. Maybe they'll share that too.
ABC also offers a double shot of Once Upon a Time, with co-creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz presenting a world premiere screening of the exceedingly Gothic and cool-looking new spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (pictured at the top of this article is the show's Knave of Hearts, played by Michael Socha), with a Q&A and more of those surprise guests. Don't give up yer seat, 'cause it's immediately followed by "Once Upon a Time: Off to Neverland!," with a look at what's coming on the parent series with stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin and more.
6. CBS: How I Met Your Big Bang Theory
Color me surprised to learn that this is the first visit to Comic-Con for How I Met Your Mother, whose ninth (!) and final season starts in September. We've seen the Mother, so what happens now? Get some hints from a panel with stars Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan.
And in another first, some (unnamed) writers and executive producers take us "Inside the Big Bang Theory Writers' Room." Just how nerdy are these people? The writers' room has a dungeon master. 'Nuff said. Learn more about how these lucky geeks come up with their ideas.
CBS also presents the first episode of new series Intelligence, in which Lost's Josh Holloway plays the world's most valuable piece of human tech, a spy with a supercomputer chip in his brain who can access any data network at will. Sort of like a blend of Chuck, Gary from Alphas and Kiera from Continuum? Holloway and co-stars Marg Helgenberger and Meghan Ory discuss the show along with some executive producers.
Finally, an Under the Dome discussion panel about the mid-summer Stephen King-based hit features stars Dean Norris ("Big Jim"), Mike Vogel (Dale Barbara) and Rachelle Lefevre (Julia Shumway), plus exec producers Brian K. Vaughan and others.
7. The CW: (Eternally) Young People Rule the World
The CW has its (legions of) fans, but I am not one of them. Nothing personal, it's just a demographic thing. Anyway, so I really don't know what's hottest: The Supernatural panel/Q&A with stars Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and Mark A. Sheppard, featuring series highlights and hints about Season 9? The Vampire Diaries video screening and Q&A with stars Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Candice Accola and Kat Graham? Maybe a look at what's in store for Beauty and the Beast Season 2 with Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan? Or perhaps a glimpse at Season 2 of Arrow with Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey and more cast members?
The Vampire Diaries universe expands with new spin-off The Originals (pictured above), following the misadventures of the Original Family and the extremely dangerous vampire/werewolf hybrid Klaus (Joseph Morgan), who returns to New Orleans to stir up some shit. Get a look at the show and stars Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt, Phoebe Tonkin and Charles Michael Davis.
The CW will also preview Star-Crossed, a human/alien Romeo-and-Juliet saga, with discussion by stars Matt Lanter, Aimee Teegarden and Grey Damon. Along with the first American iteration of The Tomorrow People, a vintage 1970s British show about the next stage in fresh-faced and psychic-powered human evolution. The pilot screening and Q&A feature stars Robbie Amell, Peyton List and Mark Pelligrino. And The 100 explores what happens when survivors of an Earth nuclear war send 100 juvenile delinquents down to see if the planet is finally inhabitable again. Talk about a win-win! A screening of the pilot is followed by a Q&A featuring stars Henry Ian Cusick, Eliza Taylor, Thomas McDonell and more.
8. NBC: Community, Criminals and Creepiness
"Community: Celebrating the Fans" is the hit sitcom's Hall H debut, featuring a panel and Q&A offering hints at what's coming in Season 5, with cast members Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Jim Rash and Ken Jeong plus executive producers Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna.
NBC also previews its new thriller The Blacklist. James Spader plays a most-wanted fugitive criminal who turns himself in and gives up his little black book of fellow felons, aka the "Blacklist." But why does he insist on working only with fresh-faced FBI agent Liz Keen (Megan Boone)? Both stars are on hand for a preview of the first episode and a Q&A session.
As for Grimm ... Nick became a zombie?! Not sure if that makes me wish I'd kept watching it - or not. Anyway, the entire main cast does a Q&A: David Giuntoli, Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Reggie Lee, Sasha Roiz, Bree Turner and Claire Coffee. That's followed by a trailer for new drama Dracula, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a sexy-scientist version of Bram Stoker's deathless count.
9. FOX: Phantasmagoria and Funny Stuff
Get a look at the pilot of FOX's Sleepy Hollow, in which Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and the Headless Horseman (pictured above) are locked in immortal combat in 21st-century Sleepy Hollow, where Ichabod teams up with a young police detective (Nicole Beharie) to battle the oncoming apocalypse. It sounds kind of stupid, but the previews look cool, and it's not like executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Len Wiseman have never made silly ideas work before. Quiz them and the stars after the screening.
Also see the pilot of Almost Human, a new series from executive producer J.J. Abrams and creator J.H. Wyman. It's 2048, and human police officers must fight futuristic crime with human-looking android partners called replicants - I mean, "synthetics." But detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) is more android than most humans, and his partner Dorian (Michael Ealy) is more human than most synthetics. Can they make it in this brave new world? Unnamed stars and producers will be on hand for a Q&A afterward.
The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening is in the Springfield house for a celebration of the show's 25th year on the air. Highlights include never-before-seen footage from guest director Guillermo del Toro and musical guests (perhaps members of Groening's supposedly defunct band the Rock Bottom Remainders?) performing "We Put the Spring in Springfield!"
Get a sneak peek at Season 12 of Family Guy with Seth Green, Alex Borstein and surprise guests, followed immediately by a look at the new season of American Dad that includes the "world premiere" of a song from the never-before-seen Christmas episode and a Q&A with Wendy Schaal, Rachael MacFarlane, Scott Grimes, Dee Bradley Baker and more.
If inept but lovable city detectives are your thing, check out the new Murder Police cartoon, co-created by nerd fave David A. Goodman. Fox will also preview two new cartoons that are part of the Saturday late-night block Animation Domination High-Def, Axe Cop and High School USA!
Finally, talk about the blood-soaked first season of The Following and see a special video presentation with stars Kevin Bacon, Shawn Ashmore and Valorie Curry and creator/exec producer Kevin Williamson. Or join Bones star David Boreanaz, creator/exec producer Hart Hanson and others for a look at what's in store for Booth and Brennan, plus new footage from the upcoming season and a Q&A.
10. Syfy's Slate
Syfy will preview one new series, executive producer Ronald. D. Moore's Helix, about a team investigating a mysterious plague outbreak in the Arctic. Details about that panel are slim, but the cable network is turning on the star power for most of its other panels.
Warehouse 13's Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly, Saul Rubinek and Allison Scagliotti look back at four seasons, including the heart-stopping Season 4 finale, and give hints of what's in store for the fifth and final season.
Defiance's Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Jaime Murray and other cast members talk about the show and its accompanying videogame, and give up details from Season 2 of a series I found sketchy at first but have come to enjoy.
Being Human's Sam Witwer, Meaghan Rath, Sam Huntington and Kristen Hager tell us what's coming next on the supernatural-roommates series with a British pedigree that has managed to come into its own.
The first-ever Comic-Con panel for Haven features stars Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, Eric Balfour and Adam Copeland, plus new cast member Colin Ferguson -- with a scavenger hunt to follow! Unfortunately for them, it's up against the super-star-studded Game of Thrones panel.
And check it out, Lauren lovers! The "Lost Girl: Season 3 and Beyond" panel features actress Zoie Palmer (pictured above) joining fellow succubus sidekicks Kris Holden-Ried and Ksenia Solo for a Q&A session. Maybe she'll give us some insight into what that crazy blonde is up to now? Also, get a sneak peek at Season 4.