The anticipation that surrounds the lead-up to the San Diego Comic-Con is always intriguing, because there’s a legitimate potential for things to fall apart. You can’t always anticipate how fans will react to big reveals or changes, not to mention new properties that are hoping to gain traction with the convention’s geek-inclined audience.
In this week’s Very Good Television Podcast, Liz and Ben are joined by IndieWire executive editor Michael Schneider, as the three of them spent the last several days running around San Diego (literally) to check out all of the excitement to be had at Comic-Con.
While there was so much to experience — in the podcast above, the trio mentions a ton of things they enjoyed over the course of the convention — there were even more notable winners and losers. Just a few of favorites (and not-so-favorites) can be found below, along with IndieWire’s accompanying coverage.
WINNER: “Broad City”
Considering that “Broad City’s” opening titles feature animation — as does a trippy new episode in Season 4 — and how long ago Comic-Con moved beyond the realm of direct connections to comic books, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s time in San Diego must be considered an outright success. Its fandom isn’t tied to superheroes or zombies, but they packed the Indigo Ballroom for a panel discussion with the two creators and a surprise screening of Episode 6. Throw in an inventive activation in the heart of downtown and it’s likely “Broad City” left SDCC with more fans (and more awareness) than when it arrived. Based off the screams and cheers during the panel, pre-existing fans were pretty pleased, as well.
WINNER: Talking to Archer from “Archer”
After hosting a rip-roaring good time in 2016, “Archer” returned to Comic-Con with a simpler plan of action: Rather than a live-read on the deck of a yacht, as well as a panel with an exclusive trailer for Season 8, the FXX comedy kept it simple — by “Archer” standards. While they didn’t show off any new footage from Season 9, the panelists did reveal details, artwork, and a synopsis exclusive to those in the room. Not even the press got all the information from within the Indigo Ballroom, as the ensuing release highlighted the basics — ”Archer” Season 9 will be called “Archer: Danger Island” — and not the new identities of each character (among other things). Throw in the opportunity for fans to talk to “Archer” himself, via live-animation projected on two giant screens with H. Jon Benjamin answering audience questions as the title character, and it was one memorable hour made to make the fans feel special. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
WINNER: The “Blade Runner 2049” Experience
A number of interesting activations tried something new this year, but “Blade Runner” was easily one of the most buzzy of the con. By blending virtual reality with real actors and an immersive environment, the folks at Alcon Entertainment brought a new level of imagination to this sort of experience.
LOSER: Netflix’s “Death Note” panel
Terry Crews is a wonderful human being that’s always fun to watch on screen. As a moderator, though, he didn’t excel at guiding the conversation surrounding the upcoming Netflix original film “Death Note.” Likely asked to moderate because “Death Note” was sharing a slot with the “Bright” panel (where Crews did far better, thanks to pre-established relationships with both David Ayer and Will Smith), Crews barely pushed beyond basic bland fan questions, proving that the only reason celebrity moderators work is if they have a true personal connection to the material. Otherwise, you’re better off bringing in a professional.
WINNER: History’s “Vikings” Funeral
We went to the San Diego harbor on Friday night for one reason and one reason alone — to see a Viking funeral. And while we may have been hoping for flame arrows or more theatrics, the fact remains that we did totally get to see a boat catch on fire right in front of our eyes.
Also, we discovered that you should never underestimate the fanbase of a show like “Vikings” — the shoreline was packed with fans. Like so many shows which represent at Comic-Con, this series enjoys no shortage of adoration.
WINNER: Going to “Westworld”
The biggest problem with the “Westworld” activation was that it was too exclusive — we spoke to more people than anticipated who sadly reported that they tried but weren’t able to get an appointment. But that’s what happens when you create one of the most smart, high-end, and intimate activations we’ve ever encountered. Perhaps shorter than expected, there was still a lot to glean from the time spent at Delos Headquarters, especially if you were able to get a host talking.
LOSER: Anyone Who Didn’t Sign Up for E-Coin
Look at all the deals you missed out on!
Also, the app was your gateway into one of the more fun activations at the con — provided you were up to solving “Mr. Robot’s” complicated riddles.
WINNER: “The Tick’s” Griffin Newman
IndieWire gave the “Tick” star our Instagram account on Saturday, and he tore it up.
WINNER: Halle Berry and the Bourbon
— Collider (@Collider) July 20, 2017
Whether or not the Oscar winner really did chug a pint of bourbon at the “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” panel on Thursday, she did definitely sell the idea that she did. Turns out, they don’t hand Oscars out like they’re candy or selfie opportunities. Sometimes, someone is a helluva actress.
LOSER: The Selfie Enabling
Far too many activations incorporated photo opportunities into the experiences, which — if you don’t have the time to be ruthlessly primping between events — was perhaps a bit humbling. Perhaps the worst offender here was “Game of Thrones,” which offered fans an experience that included at least five different opportunities to get your picture taken in various Westeros environments and circumstances. One or two of these opportunities were definitely unique, but the relentless need to pose didn’t exactly transport us into the world of the show.
If you’re able to be photo-ready in the San Diego humidity, especially after running around the Gaslamp district for more than 30 minutes, please share your secret. In the meantime, we’ll be craving the opportunity to not know what Comic-Con has done to our appearance.
What else did you enjoy (or not) during Comic-Con? Let us know in the comments. Also, Don’t forget to subscribe via Soundcloud or iTunes, and follow IndieWire on Twitter and Facebook for all your pertinent TV news. Check out Liz and Ben’s Twitter feeds for more, more, more. Plus, don’t forget to listen to IndieWire’s other podcasts: Screen Talk with Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson, as well as Michael Schneider’s new podcast, Turn It On, which spotlights the most important TV of each week.