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SDCC 2013 Wrapup- Part 2: Small Panel Thursday focuses on production and philosophy

Anatomy of Superhero Music panel
The Anatomy of Superhero Film Music panel

Thursday was a big day for television, with a full day of programming in Ballroom 20 (including Sherlock and the X-Files 20th anniversary panel). Given the craziness of Ballroom 20, I opted for the smaller rooms, starting the day off at a panel called The Anatomy of Superhero Film Music. A group of composers for various superhero projects made up the panel and we went down the line, taking a look at clips from each project, both with and without the music, exploring this contrast, along with the inspiration for the music. The one television project was an excerpt of Bear McCreary’s score for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We listened to what appears to be a main theme for the upcoming series. Unsurprisingly, given McCreary’s prior work and the superhero focus of the show, it features a mostly orchestral sound, with some electric guitar (or other electric instrumentation) underneath, and a focus on horns. The brass section, and the french horns in particular, have long been the backbone of action-adventure scoring. There’s a bit of Bond-esque flavor from the relentlessly repeating (ostinato) eighth notes beneath the main melody, referencing the spy-like “Agents” element of the series, but thankfully this remains a more subtle aspect of the excerpt, though it’ll undoubtedly come to the forefront when appropriate, particularly in action scenes.

After this, I headed to the Indigo Ballroom to check out a panel about an upcoming web series, Ghost Ghirls. It was too early for that, though, so I saw the TVLand Heroes of Comedy panel. This was a complete mess. Not only is the logic of a TVLand panel of any sort at ComicCon difficult to follow, centering it on the channel’s recent acquisition of Roseanne is even more bizarre. First William Shatner came out. His connection to TVLand is one of all of five minutes- he popped up for a brief guest role in a recent episode of Hot in Cleveland. The second guest was Roseanne Barr, whose titular sitcom airs on the channel. After each of these two was introduced, came out, and felt the need to address the audience and each other for several minutes, the moderator was able to invite out the third guest, Wayne Knight, who currently stars in the TVLand original series The Exes (and played Newman on Seinfeld, his connection to the panel’s name).

Jason Ritter in ghost makeup for the Ghost Ghirls panel
Jason Ritter in ghost makeup at the Ghost Ghirls panel

It’s no surprise that Shatner and Roseanne took over the panel; the moderator tried her best, but I would not have wished that job on anyone. When Knight was able to get a few words in edgewise, he acquitted himself well, with interesting and entertaining anecdotes, but this whole panel was a misstep. The discussion ranged far and wide and there was an interesting panel to be had with these elements, but rather than a panelist, Shatner should have been the interviewer. When the topic stayed more intellectual or philosophical, discussing the history of comedy on television (Shatner never liked The Honeymooners while the others love it) and the priorities of network TV (discuss race? Of course not!), the conversation was enlightening and engaging. When Shatner or Roseanne tried to open up into humor, it was almost painfully awkward. Plus there was the seemingly obligatory mutual appreciation society parade of timewasting. Shatner is a fascinating interviewer, as viewers of his talk show or documentary The Captains are aware. I would absolutely make time for a yearly Shatner interview panel at SDCC, but this mish-mash of rambling and eventual audience Q&A? No thanks, even with the free tote bag.

Immediately following Legends of Comedy was Ghost Ghirls: A Behind-the-Scenes Paranormal Experience with Jack Black. Co-creators of Ghost Ghirls Amanda Lund and Maria Blasucci came out and did a little impromptu standup, addressing the crowd and most of our unfamiliarity with them or their project. Cue the lights and a spectral visage appeared on the large screens, rippling and taking over the proceedings. Thankfully, Jack Black appeared next, determined to banish this demon hell spawn back to whence he came. His various attempts failed, though, and the ladies insisted this wasn’t a demon, but a ghost- they know this stuff. After talking to him, they found out he was actually trying to haunt the Game of Thrones or Pretty Little Liars panel, and he took off peacefully. This was a very cute way to introduce the audience, who mostly seemed to be there as Jack Black fans, to the comedic voices of the Ghost Ghirls creators and to have a bit of fun. Jason Ritter popped up as the ghost and later came out, still in his ghost makeup, to join the panel. The webseries, of which one episode was screened, looks entertaining, if not must-see, and the trailer for the entire season showed a ridiculous number of celebrity cameos who comedy fans will probably get a kick out of seeing. The Q&A was dominated by Black fans, but the titular ghirls handled it well and all in all, it was a pleasant panel.

EW's Visionaries panel
Alfonso Cuarón, Marc Webb, and Edgar Wright at the EW’s the Visionaries panel

Thanks to the power of Twitter (don’t know how I’d do the Con without it), I found out there was no line at Hall H, so I made the jump from the Indigo Ballroom to go check out EW’s Visionaries panel, featuring Marc Webb (Amazing Spiderman 2), Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), and Edgar Wright (The World’s End). This was a mostly film-centric panel, with each of the directors discussing the specific technical difficulties in their most recent projects that they had to overcome to bring their original concepts and vision to the screen. Perhaps the most interesting was Cuarón’s discussion of the realities of filming a movie set entirely in zero gravity, in space (unlike, say, Apollo 13). There was also a particularly entertaining discussion of 3D and the future of cinema, considering some of the directors have discussed not liking 3D and yet have films coming out in 3D in the near future. All in all, it was a good panel and it was great to get somewhat of the Hall H experience without spending half of the day in line.

Next up was a pressroom for the Behind the Music with CW3PR panel. Myself and two others had the opportunity to talk with a handful of composers for film and television about their process, their inspiration, and their experiences working in the industry. You can read more about those interviews here. After hearing that the line for the Hannibal panel was being closed off hours ahead of time, I went to my backup plan and checked out the Science of Science Fiction panel. Last year this was one of the highlights of the Con, but this year’s panel was quite a bit drier, with the audience questions significantly more interesting than the moderators’. There was a significant Eureka bent to the panel, given the number of panelists with some Eureka experience and the clearly strong affinity of the crowd for the show.

Thursday ended with Dial M for Meetup, the Battleship Pretension, Warner Archive, and CriterionCast party. Thanks for such a great time, guys! Next up, Friday and the Adult Swim panels.

Kate Kulzick


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