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Highlights of Comic Con Lite

6 May, 2011 By: John Latchem

The Anaheim Comic Con Power Rangers Panel

I had occasion to check out the 2011 Anaheim Comic Con this past weekend (April 29-May 1), put on by Wizard World at the Anaheim Convention Center. It's still the sort of low-key affair the event in San Diego used to be 20 or 30 years ago before the big studios turned it into marketing central.

The Anaheim Con, like a lot of pop-culture fests not based in San Diego, offers decent but not overwhelming crowds and an inviting show floor, where you can just walk up to the celebrity guests, shake their hands and chat. (Of course, they still charge up the nose for an autograph, and $10 just to take a picture with them with your own camera, but still …)

And then there are the panels, which for the most part you could just wander in and out of without waiting in line. The flip side to this is that they aren’t as high-profile as what you'd get in San Diego. These aren't ‘A’-listers promoting the next big 3D action blockbuster. For the past two years, the big attraction in Anaheim has been a reunion of the cast from the 1960s “Batman” TV show.

It's the kind of event where the “Smallville” panel consists of an actor whose character was killed off five years ago and an actress who has guest starred in six episodes. And a so-called “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” panel was just Nicholas Brendan, the guy who played Xander, and it followed a “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” all-star reunion.

Nicholas Brendan discusses "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and other projects.

“Smallville” in San Diego would bring out nearly the whole cast, and fill a room with 4,000 people. In Anaheim the room fit maybe a couple of hundred. And still there was plenty of entertainment to go around.

John Schneider, the former “Dukes of Hazzard” star who played Jonathan Kent (Superman’s adopted father) on “Smallville,” expressed to the crowd how enthusiastic he was about the May 13 series finale of the show that depicts how young Clark Kent eventually became Superman.

“‘Lost’ was good; ‘24’ was good. But ‘Smallville’ is exceptional,” Schneider said. “These are the best two episodes I think they’ve done in their 10 years. It doesn’t end the way you want, and not the way you think it should, but it’s better than both those things.”

(L-R): Alaina Huffman and John Schneider at the "Smallville" panel.

Coincidentally, Warner Home Video announced that Smallville: The Complete Series would head to DVD this fall as a 62-disc set at $339.98. The set will include all 218 episodes, plus a never-before-seen “Superboy” pilot from 1961, a 90-minute series retrospective, the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con panel and more. The box will come with a reproduction of a Daily Planet newspaper highlighting key stories from the show’s run.

I also had the opportunity to speak separately with the other “Smallville” panelist, actress Alaina Huffman, about her other show, “Stargate Universe,” which airs its last episode Monday, May 9, on Syfy.

She said the show does end in a cliffhanger, which is no surprise since producers previously indicated they envisioned the show as a five-year arc. “Stargate Universe” depicts a team of explorers who find themselves trapped on an ancient starship billions of light years from Earth, with no way to get home.

She said producers had hoped to make a TV movie wrapping up the “SGU” storyline, but that all new “Stargate” projects have been put on hold by MGM. If so, it’s kind of a sad end to what was a dominant sci-fi franchise for the past decade.

In the meantime MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment are wasting no time with a home video release of the second of “SGU,” slating Stargate Universe: The Complete Final Season as a five-DVD set for May 31.

The set comes with a slew of extras, such as commentary on all 20 episodes and a ton of behind-the-scenes featurettes:

• Robert Carlyle Directs
• Andy Mikita Directs
• Eli’s Mom Comes on Board
• Brian J. Smith’s First Fight
• Crashing a Shuttle
• The Seed Ship with Joe Mallozzi
• Saying Goodbye to Sgt. Riley
• Lou Diamond Phillips on Guest Stars
• Lt. Scott Gets Hit By A Car
• Inside Cloverdale with Brad Wright
• How to Get Sucked Into Space
• “SGU” Welcomes You to New Mexico’s Bisti Badlands
• Deconstructing Destiny
• A Day in the Life of Jamil Walker Smith
• Transplant Day
• Sitting Down with Mike Dopud
• Bringing the Bridge to Life
• Louis Ferreira vs. Colonel Young
• Pitches: A Journey of Friendship and Discovery
• Behind the Season 2 Finale – “Gauntlet”

There’s no word on a Blu-ray release of the season.


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