After a little more than a week of detoxing from the over-abundance of geek goodies, trailers, and clips ‘NO ONE ELSE HAS SEEN YET!’, not to mention all the free booze and food, I am now able to view this year’s Comic-Con International: San Diego with some perspective.One thing that really stood out this year was the rise in popularity of the television panels. Movie panels may get the bulk of attention from the mainstream media and the Twitterverse, but TV has really staked a claim to being the backbone of Comic-Con programming. And just as it does for movies, the buzz building for TV shows begins in San Diego. Just about any show with a toehold in the wonderfully inclusive world of Genre had a presence this year. New shows greased the wheels especially hard to get people’s attention. You needed a restraining order or a Stargate to avoid the promo team for AMC’s remake of The Prisoner with Jim Caviezel and Sir Ian McKellen. The STARZ sword-and-sandal series Spartacus with Lucy Lawless also turned heads. And unlike at past San Diego Cons, where some TV panels would have rows of empty seats, this year most small-screen programming was SRO. It wasn’t just the predictably popular shows such as Smallville, Eureka, Dr. Who, and 24 that were big draws. The Big Bang Theory fans filled most of Ballroom 20 for their presentation, as did - predictably - the Whedonites for Dollhouse. True Blood fans were EVERYWHERE. Everyone talks about the devotion of the Twilight fans who squatted outside since Memorial Day or whatever, in hopes of making it into the panel on the Con’s opening day. But Lost fans flexed their fanboy muscles by filling Hall H for a panel they knew wouldn’t have a single clip from its upcoming final season. Now that’s dedication. Impressive displays of fandemonium weren’t exclusive to the domain of the established shows, either. The line for the panel/screening of the upcoming reboot of V was so long it nearly wrapped around the convention center (can you imagine if they would have had Marc Singer and Michael Ironside show up?). If V has a strong first season, expect that panel to move to Hall H to accommodate demand. Not all shows received the same reaction. The Caprica/Battlestar Galactica: The Plan twofer not only was barely 2/3 full, but the energy seemed missing from a franchise with such a strong Comic-Con presence. While fans seemed excited about the Edward James Olmos-directed BSG TV movie, the same couldn’t be said for Caprica. And the number of times executive producers Ron Moore and David Eick encouraged fans to tell their friends to give the prequel show a try, didn’t really mask the sense of desperation. But overall, TV was Must-See programming at San Diego. Partly because there are so many show-related panels, and also because you simply get more bang for your wait with the TV folks. Showrunners often screen entire episodes and bring most of the starring cast to San Diego to meet the fans. Why waste your time sitting outside the Convention Center for six hours without any guarantee you’ll make it inside to see the Warner Bros. panel and its 30 minutes of footage, when you can wrangle a seat in much less time, to check out the pilot episode for say, The Human Target? And you don’t have to risk 3rd-degree sunburns in order to get a seat.
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