Comic-Con 2009: Friday Roundup

While the WB panel was busy promoting their latest batch of films on Friday, two other sci-fi TV shows took snagged a lot of attention. Cult-favourite Dollhouse wowed fans with the airing of Epitaph One + Q&A, while ABC’s Flash Forward officially welcomed a new addition to their cast. dollhouse 1Dollhouse

Despite anemic numbers in the TV ratings, Dollhouse continues to make a big splash at Comic-Con (especially after seeing that silver dress Eliza Dushku was wearing). Fans were treated to the brilliant unaired episode Epitaph One, which will be available on the DVD set that will be released on Tuesday!

Joss Whedon starts off with a quick joke about people using torrents to get their hands on this special episode. What an observant man! He then goes on to plug his new film The Cabin in the Woods and mentioned the teaser posters (which I linked to in the Entertainment Link-Off).

To the joy of many fans, a major casting news is that Buffy/Angel alum Alexis Denisof, who will have a recurring role in the second season of the show. Many people are still looking forward to the appearance of Summer Glau now that TSCC is out of the way, but nothing has been confirmed yet… we’ll just have to wait til the “stars align”.

The airing of Epitaph One does change things up a little bit. Joss implied that the leap forward put a fork into their plans since Dollhouse was “accidentally forgot to be cancelled”, so they are going to be reeling some stuff back by making those memories fallible. Now that being said, season two will play out towards what was seen in Epitaph One, so to all the fans out there, check it out before starting the new season.

Midway through the Q&A, the panel was joined by fellow cast members Fran Kranz and Dichen Lachman (which added to the eye candy factor… and she sounds hot with that Australian accent).

Other fun things we’ve learned in the session

  • Joss has never watched Lost.
  • Joss took a jab at Heroes when he said “As long as we don’t send anyone to feudal Japan, we should be fine.” That actually led to a lot of cheers and applause.
  • Australia is a “bad country” because Dollhouse is not widely available to the people there.
  • Joss is a “great documentarian”. The show does dive deep into ethical questions involving power and manipulation. I wonder if I’ve been manipulated into liking this show…

Now onto Epitaph One…

So there were many people that complained about Dollhouse’s slow start, but we all know the network had a role in that. Anyway, once Joss Whedon gets into his groove, he goes on full throttle with the assistance of his writers (which he gave a shout-out to at the end of the panel). The unaired 13th episode Epitaph One completely changes everything we expect from the show in the course of 45 minutes.

Epitaph One does not feel like a typical Dollhouse episode. In fact, the regular cast members only show up through a series of memories. In a way it is a standalone episode, but at the same time it pushes the storyline even further by having it set in a post-apocalyptic future. It provides a fresh look into the Dollhouse world while driving up the sense of urgency. I found Epitaph One to be much more engaging than a typical Dollhouse episode despite the lack of screen time for Eliza Dushku. Since the show was accidentally not cancelled (thank you budget cuts and thank you FOX for doing something right for once), it will act as a precursor to season two as opposed to being some sort of bonus/finale for fans.

The episode takes place in 2019 where the world we know is in ruins. The episode starts off with a group of humans who, unlike the rest of society, have managed to avoid being wiped or imprinted with new personalities. Their attempts to avoid contact with technology leads them underground, where they discover the abandoned Dollhouse facility which houses a functioning “wiping” room and a large database of personalities and memories. Through the memories, we catch glimpses of events that lead to the unpleasant future, but these events haven’t happened yet and as Joss noted… they might not be all that reliable either. However there is one thing that is certain: the future ain’t looking good.

Epitaph One is thrilling from beginning to end. It’s dark, gloomy and carries a tense atmosphere throughout the episode. There were enough sharp sequences to keep the audience entertained throughout the entire episode. I also have to point out that Amy Acker did a fantastic job portraying Whiskey. You can feel the innocence of her character while feeling a little creeped out by her at the same time.

The entire episode was shot with digital video and a smaller budget than the previous 12 Dollhouse episodes. Despite knowing that fact, it was barely noticeable on screen. Since season two will be shot in the same fashion due to budget cuts many fans were worried about the quality of the show. If Epitaph One is any indication, then we have nothing to worry about.

The episode manages to give us a few puzzle pieces while at the same time it makes us realize that the puzzle is actually larger than we originally thought. In the end, we are left with more questions. While we all hope for some sort of conclusion or perhaps some answers, we didn’t really get any. Now we have at least another 13 episodes to carry us over to the future and I can’t wait to start tuning in on September 28th.

Flash ForwardFlash Forward

In another prime example of “worst kept secrets in TV land”, it is finally announced that Dominic Monaghan will be joining the cast of ABC’s Flash Forward at Comic Con. He will be playing a character named Simon, who is “a game-changer character who f–ks up a lot of things”. Oh David Goyer just stole the words right out of my mouth. What exactly does it mean for Dom’s character Charlie on Lost? In fact, what about Tyler Martin on Chuck? Ok, the latter question was stretching it since he was only a guest star… but he was such a great target for Agent Casey’s tranquilizers!

Produced and co-written by David S. Goyer and Marc Guggenheim, Flash Forward is a science fiction story about what happens when everyone in the world suddenly blacks out and has visions of events six months in their future. Like fellow ABC series Lost, it starts off with mass chaos before shifting the focus to the characters and their journey towards that flash of their future. The storyline is shrouded in mystery and we should expect many twists and turns along the way. No wonder everyone is comparing this to that other show on ABC that takes place on an island.

David S. Goyer explained that the series has a master plan – they knew how it will end and what will happen before they started writing. As the series progresses, it will lead closer to the day in the future that the world had visions of, while laying clues as to what caused the event. That’s definitely a good sign. At least they have some sort of end point set up so we don’t get “lost” in the middle of the series! But I spoke too soon as Goyer revealed that it will take as little as 3 seasons to complete the show, they can stretch it longer like an accordion.

Other notable information from the panel:

  • Since everyone in the world had a vision of the future, it means that there could be 6.8 million stories to be told! Great… does that mean the show will never end unless it somehow tanks in the ratings?
  • The first 3 episodes will take place in three different countries. Uh oh, I’m getting a Heroes vibe here.

The show does have an intriguing cast and it should appeal to the inner science fiction fanatics within all of us. It just might be the ideal Lost replacement show out there. Then again… do we really need another show that can potentially confuse the f—k out of us? Proceed with caution my friends.

Stay tuned tomorrow as I report on the happenings at Comic-Con on Saturday and Sunday!

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