Comic-Con HQ held their Winter Series Showcase last week, which included previews of three shows and the requisite Q&A with the stars, with a reception following. They have two scripted series set in and around comic conventions, Kings of Con and Con Man, along with Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest, which we previously reviewed. The evening at the Paley Media Center in Beverly Hills included the obligatory “red carpet” stream of interviews (which I got there too late to participate in; stupid day job), screenings and discussion for each of the three shows, and a reception afterward with a decent bar and some really good hors d’oeuvres. Nathan Fillion was on the floor long enough to pose with Santa and the Joker, then disappeared into a back room before he got mobbed by the crowd. I never saw Mark Hamill at the party, but he was quite entertaining in his panel.
Kings of Con is a new series created by and starring Supernatural’s Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict, in which the two play fictionalized versions of themselves in much the same style as Curb Your Enthusiasm or Louis CK; they’re a pair of mid-level actors who are “super-famous for 13 weekends a year,” which is how often they show up at conventions around the world; each episode takes place in a different city. Benedict, who plays God on Supernatural, plays Rob, an actor who played God on a TV series some years ago but who now primarily ekes out a living by appearing at conventions around the country, where he bemoans his ongoing divorce, clashes with other celebrity guests, has awkward encounters with fans, and questions the choices that led him to where he is. Speight, known on Supernatural as The Trickster/Gabriel, plays Rich, a thrice-divorced actor who eagerly chases whatever opportunities his convention fame will provide, primarily in the form of fangirls. The pilot was very funny, and I look forward to seeing more. Speicht and Benedict were in the thick of the party all evening, posing for photos and chatting with people, answering questions and seemingly enjoying this interval of fame as if it were a segment of their show.
Returning for a second season is Alan Tudyk’s Con Man, and the new partnership with Comic-Con HQ means a larger budget and expanded scope. In the series, Tudyk plays “Wray Nerely”, an actor who previously played a starship pilot on a sci-fi TV show called Spectrum, who now spends most of his time appearing at comic cons and trying to revive his career. His co-star on Spectrum, Jack Moore (Nathan Fillion), has gone on to much bigger roles; the Firefly parallels are plentiful and highly amusing, with Fillion in particular taking great pleasure in mocking his image. This season, the Spectrum film gets closer to reality; meanwhile Jack is offered the lead role on a new series called Doctor Cop Lawyer; it’s about a surgeon who is also simultaneously a cop and a lawyer. Wray continues his secret romantic relationship with Jack’s assistant Faith (Alison Haislip). Nolan North returns as motion-capture actor Jerry Lansing, along with guest stars including Laura Vandervoort (Smallville’s Supergirl), Felicia Day, Casper Van Dien, Lou Ferrigno, Jon Huertas, Stan Lee, Stephen Root, Mindy Sterling and Eliza Dushku.
The Con Man panel had a small contingent of cast members, with Nathan Fillion, Laura Vandervoort, Nolan North, Alison Haislip and series co-creator P. J. Haarsma fielding questions and telling stories about absurd incidents on the set and at conventions.
I wrote about Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest a couple of weeks ago. It’s a fun show, as much about the personalities of the collectors profiled as about the things they collect. Kings of Con and Con Man are both entertaining enough to lure me into subscribing to Comic-Con HQ, or at least doing the free trial for now. (Sorry, I’m a tightwad.) The site lists a lot of movies and cult-favorite TV shows as well as the original programming; if they have The Middleman, it’s a for sure sale for me.