Thursday July 24 – Day 1 of the San Diego Comic-Con International 2014 Endurance Test

Long time attendees of San Diego’s Comic-Con International have watched it change, grow and evolve over the years.  Rooms that once housed other conventions are now a part of the Comic-Con… rooms that once did not exist have been built as the convention center expanded in an attempt to keep pace with this phenomenal event.  The simple truth is the convention has grown to the point you simply can not do everything, see everything, take in everything.  You have to make choices, sometimes they feel easy, but more often than not, they feel incredibly difficult.

Tina Majorino

After a few hours on the exhibit hall floor today I went to room 6A and watched TNT shine.  My first panel of the convention was Legends.  The new Sean Bean television show.

For those who have been reading my articles for a long time, you will know I try to avoid spoilers, and giving away twists, turns and bits best left for you to discover and the story naturally unfolds, and yet I want to tempt you into seeing interesting and good entertainment.

Simply put, here is what TNT sent out that tempted me into the room:

Screen Actors Guild Award® winner Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings) stars in Legends, TNT’s new, suspense-filled drama based on the award-winning book by master spy novelist Robert Littell. Bean plays Martin Odum, an undercover agent working for the FBI’s Deep Cover Operations (DCO) division. Martin has the uncanny ability to transform himself into a completely different person for each job. But he begins to question his own identity when a mysterious stranger suggests that Martin isn’t the man he believes himself to be. Legends also stars Ali Larter (Heroes) as Crystal Quest, a fellow operative who has a history with Martin; Morris Chestnut (American Horror Story, Nurse Jackie) as Tony Cimarro, a smart, quick-witted and charming DCO agent; Tina Majorino (Grey’s Anatomy, True Blood) as Maggie Harris, the newest member of the DCO team; Steve Harris (The Practice, Awake) as Nelson Gates, the director of the DCO Task Force; and Amber Valletta (Revenge) as Sonya Odum, Martin’s ex-wife; and Mason Cook (The Lone Ranger) as Martin’s pre-teen son, Aiden.

Cast of Legends at San Diego's Comic-Con International 2014

Cast of Legends at San Diego’s Comic-Con International 2014

The first episode is a drama, a bit dark and moody, while I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I can not wait to see where it goes next, the tone was not quite what I expected… then again, that may be part of what has me so incredibly curious to see what happens next!

Ali Larter pointed out that this is a show where her character, Crystal, follows rules, and lives by them, but Sean Bean’s character, Martin, is purely instinct driven, a trait that often creates messes she has to come along behind him to clean up.  That conflict between order and chaos opens up countless interesting drama opportunities.

Tina Majorino, who passed an FBI Physical Training course when preparing for the role, because she wanted to see what they went through, though she admitted it was not easy, referred to Deep Cover work as “a calling, not a career choice.”  That was a trait in Martin that was very clear throughout the first episode, and another reason I want to tune in again and again.

One of the panelists referred to this as a character not case driven FBI show, where another referred to the Martin character as having a willful multiple personality disorder.

Now that is what I call unique and interesting programming.

The Last Ship

The Last Ship Cast Members sitting down for their panel at San Diego’s Comic Con International 2014

After the TNT Legends panel was the TNT The Last Ship panel.  The Last Ship is a show that has already aired 5 episodes, with another 5 set to air in this first season, and, as was mentioned on the panel, it has already been picked up for a second season on TNT, with 13 episodes.

Earlier this month I posted about The Last Ship, which is based on a novel by William Brinkley.  It is no surprise that attending this panel was high on my list of things I wanted to do while at Comic-Con International.  For those unfamiliar with the show, here’s the blurb from TNT:

TNT’s action-packed drama The Last Ship, cable’s #1 new series for the year-to-date, stars Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy) and is executive-produced by blockbuster filmmaker Michael Bay (Transformers). The Last Ship opens with a global catastrophe that nearly decimates the world’s population. Because of its positioning, the Navy destroyer U.S.S. Nathan James avoids falling victim to the devastating tragedy. But now, Captain Tom Chandler (Dane) and his crew must confront the reality of their new existence in a world where they may be among the few remaining survivors. Rhona Mitra (Strike Back) plays Rachel Scott, a strong-willed, intelligent and fearless paleomicrobiologist assigned to the ship. Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Chuck) is XO Mike Slattery, a former homicide detective and Chandler’s second-in-command. Also starring in The Last Ship are Travis Van Winkle (Heart of Dixie), Charles Parnell (Pariah),Christina Elmore (Fruitvale Station),Sam Spruell (Snow White and The Huntsman) and Marissa Neitling (Leverage). Based on William Brinkley’s popular novel, The Last Ship comes to TNT from Bay’s Platinum Dunes and its partners, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, whose credits include the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Bay, Fuller and Form serve as executive producers, along with showrunner Hank Steinberg (Without a Trace, The Nine), Steven Kane (The Closer) and director Jack Bender (Lost). Steinberg and Kane wrote the series pilot, which was directed by Jonathan Mostow (U-571).

The panel was a treat for a variety of reasons.  It was mentioned early on that the world would expand as the season continues and the audience will get to see what the world looks like in this new era.  The officers and sailors are on this ship, in some ways confined to it and unaware of what is going on beyond it, but they will make contact with land, meet others, and we will begin to learn more about the world around them.

Adam Baldwin

Adam Baldwin did an excellent job discussing the role of the XO on aboard a ship.  As one of the writers pointed out, in the natural course of events, he was on track to be Captain in a year or more, he is fully capable of Captaining the ship.  As Adam Baldwin put it, he and the Captain are peers among peers with a mutual respect for one another, but as XO it is his job not only to support his Captain, but also to play Devil’s Advocate.

Everyone on the panel spoke very highly of the Navy personnel they have worked with while making the show, of their time aboard a Navy ship to film some of the show, of working with some Officers and Seals, and generally of how much respect they had for our men and women in uniform.  It was clear this show, and their roles in it matter to them a great deal.

Cast of the Last Ship

Cast of the Last Ship

When asked if the actors had any military connections Eric Dane mentioned his Uncle and Father having served in Vietnam, and Travis Van Winkle said his parents met in the Air Force.

By the time the panel was over the entire audience was on an emotional high, combined with something akin to an adrenaline rush.  Scene promoting the next episode were shown, we had seen a recap of all the episodes to date, and the energy in the room was so enthusiastic it was easy to understand how The Last Ship had already been renewed for a second season.