Moderating a big panel at Comic-Con International is a bit like big-wave surfing — flashes of stomach-wrenching terror and moments of go-with-it thrill. A few hours ago, in front of a few thousand fans in Ballroom 20, I moderated the panel on SyFy’s “Caprica.” The lineup featured four cast members and the show’s co-creator, Ronald D. Moore, and executive producer, David Eick.
I don’t how it played in the audience, but from the stage it was an absolute blast – brisk, insightful, funny and candid.
Eick brought a bottle of tequila onstage and he and Moore did a few shots at the start of the 11 a.m. panel. The two longtime collaborators were candid and charismatic as they talked about the show’s future (they are optimistic about a second season but it’s not a done deal yet) and analyzed the religious, ethical and social underpinnings of the family drama that plays out like a off-world “Dallas” meets “Blade Runner.” Alessandra Torresani, who plays Zoe Greystone on the show, is a firecracker and the crowd couldn’t get enough. James Marsters, meanwhile, is a superstar at Comic-Con after his work in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Smallville,” “Angel” and “Torchwood,” and he talked about the shadings he’s given to his ‘Caprica” character — the morally outraged Barnabas — which was informed in some ways by the mind set of his own father, a Methodist minister.
Sasha Roiz, who plays Sam Adama, had some insightful things to say about the ongoing discovery of a character. And Magda Apanowicz, who plays Lacy Rand, was a surprise addition to the panel and added even more energy. I taped the panel (I was a bit too busy to take notes, obviously) and I’ll fish out some of the interesting tidbits when the Comic-Con torrent lets up for a moment.
“Caprica” was all good adrenaline and, wow, what a difference a day makes. I moderated the Showtime panel Thursday in the same room, Ballroom 20, and the sound was so horrible — there was a vicious echo and fuzz to the sound system – that the speakers on one end of the eight-member panel couldn’t hear the people sitting on the far end of the dais and none of us could clearly hear the audience questions.
The “antiheroes” concept for the panel was a stroke of genius, I thought — a great way to pull shows like “Nurse Jackie” and “Californication” into Comic-Con despite their lack of any real fanboy foundation.
Still, it was a bumpy ride; the panel was perhaps just too big and had too many different shows to weave into a smooth conversation. Or maybe I just needed to do a better job. Michael C. Hall from “Dexter” and the witty David Duchovny from “Californication” were the clear crowd favorites. Hall especially came in with a eagerness to connect with fans and make the panel an upbeat experience.
Afterward I stood in the wings talking to Victoria Morrow, the executive producer of the always-fantastic “Weeds,” and apologized for the not-so-smooth event. She looked confused; she thought it was great. We chatted a bit about the show’s title and how it refers not just to the marijuana commerce that is at the core of the plot but also to the ever-resilient Botwin family — you step on them and they just keep coming back. “This was great,” she said as we shook hands. “Let’s do it again sometime.” Just goes to show you, every bit of Comic-Con is different depending on where you sit, what you expect and what you find along the way.
– Geoff Boucher
RECENT AND RELATED
PHOTO GALLERY: Scenes from Comic-Con 2010
PHOTOS: Top, David Eick and Alessandra Torresani after the “Caprica” panel. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images. Second, Michael C. Hall at Comic-Con. Credit: Denis Poroy / Associated Press