Unfortunately Austin and surrounding areas were under a flash flood and Tornado warning the first day of this 2 day convention, which prevented many from being able to attend, it did not however dampen the enthusiasm of those who were present Saturday. (CNN and other national news outlets covered the flooding in Austin and the region.)
Not only did the weather mean some attendees found attending an obstacle, but Brent Spiner (Data of Star Trek the Next Generation among other credits) was unable to get to the convention to attend, and Jason David Frank (Tommy of Power Rangers) left early since his flight was cancelled but he had figured out how to drive home if he left immediately after his final panel.
The official rain totals reported Saturday by Jared Plushnick (@JaredP_KVUE) of the local ABC Affiliate for that flash flood period were:
Among other things, while at the convention John and Kay attended several panels including:
12:30 – 1:15PM CREATING WORLDS AND STORYTELLING (BALLROOM E)
Creators, Novelists, and Narrative Designers discuss the ins and outs of creating worlds and storytelling including the realities and opportunities when seeking a creative career. Genese Davis (The Holder’s Dominion), Hall Hood (Studio Lead Writer at BioWare Austin), Jack Conner (The Atomic Sea) and Eric Kieron Davis (Senior Producer) will divulge their experiences and their secrets for developing and selling creative projects in this one-of-a-kind panel.
3:30 – 4:15PM THE ART OF SATURDAY MORNING CARTOON PRODUCTION WITH ANIMATOR/DIRECTOR TOM COOK (BALLROOM E)
Wizard World is proud to present world-renown animator Tom Cook (Tarzan; Flash Gordon; He-Man and the Masters of the Universe; She-Ra Princess of Power). This panel will be a demonstration of the steps taken to bring an idea from script to screen. Cook will begin with a short story of how he became an animator back in the late 1970s and then describe the different departments in an animation studio and what they do to move the development of the cartoon forward. Tom will have a few scenes he has worked on over the years on video and then will open the floor for questions about either the process or any other question you may have. So come out and see first-hand how your favorite cartoons were made!
4:30 – 5:15PM FROM CAP’S SHIELD TO AGENTS OF SHIELD TO ANT-MAN! MARVEL COMICS AT 76 with SPIDER-MAN’S DANNY FINGEROTH & THE HULK’S PAUL BENJAMIN (BALLROOM E)
In 1939, Marvel Comics #1 debuted, unleashing The Sub-Mariner and The Human Torch on the world, and launching what would come to be known as the Marvel Universe. Danny Fingeroth (Deadly Foes of Spider-Man; The Stan Lee Universe) and Paul Benjamin (Amazing Spider-Man; Marvel Heroes MMO) present an illustrated tour through the seven decades of comics, movies and TV series that make up the phenomenon that is Marvel.
5:30 – 6:15PM 1940: WORLD WAR II AND COMICS: THE JOKER, ROBIN, THE FLASH, CAPTAIN AMERICA, CAPTAIN MARVEL, AND THE SPIRIT! With SEDELMAIER, LANGLEY, BENJAMIN, ROYAL & FINGEROTH (BALLROOM E)
75 years ago, in 1940, as the Nazi conquest of Europe continued and the Battle of Britain raged, the United States watched from the sidelines while instituting the first peacetime draft. At the same time, the world of comics was experiencing an incredible sustained period of invention, as The Joker, Robin, Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman, the Spirit, Catwoman, and Captains America and Marvel all debuted! (Not to mention the debuts of pop culture icons Bugs Bunny, and Brenda Starr, and classic movies Fantasia and The Great Dictator!) Showing and discussing historical and cultural factors that made that year so important is a panel including moderator Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero) as well as an array of history and pop culture experts, including J.J. Sedelmaier (Tek Jansen), Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight), Paul Benjamin (Amazing Spider-Man), and Derek Royal (University of Texas, Dallas).
The tenth episode of the first season of Wayward Pines aired not only as a season finale, but as a series finale, at that may be just as well when you consider the 10 episodes manage to (as best someone who has not yet had a chance to read the books can tell) cover the plot of not 1 but 3 of Blake Crouch‘s novels, Pines, Wayward and The Last Town. (If you are a Kindle Unlimited reader, or an Amazon Prime Member, all three books are currently enrolled in those programs, and can be “Read for Free” as part of your monthly subscription to the service.)
When Wayward Pines was first pitched and promoted to audiences I was beyond unsure about the show, in part because the commercials I was seeing were emphasizing the thriller aspect, the intensity, the almost twilight zone nature and feel of the plot, but I simply did not feel like I was being given enough information to make a solid informed decision about whether or not I, as a viewer, would enjoy this show. (Let me note, Thrillers are not my first choice genre, I do not enjoy horror or shows with a high gore factor at all, and twilight zone is a show I rarely tuned in to no matter how enticing the guest star might be.)
So why did I sit down and invest roughly ten hours of my time watching this show? The cast. As I pointed out to someone recently, when one actor I have enjoyed in a multitude of works is on a project, that catches my eye. When there are two? I begin to wonder just how they will play together. At what point however have so many actors you know you like the work of signed on to something that you begin to wonder “what was in the script or pitch for this project that it gather 6 or 10 people I know from other works to it?” People who rarely pick projects I regret having sat down to watch? (Yes, this last part is something I also consider.)
Terrence Howard, Carla Gugino, Shannyn Sossamon, Teryl Rothery, Reed Diamond, Juliette Lewis and Melissa Leo all found their way to this project, and seeing them in the commercials, seeing hints of… something, made me curious enough to tune in and find out what drew all of them to Wayward Pines.
There was a definite strange factor to the Wayward Pines episodes. An awareness by almost all the characters that their every movement was being monitored by unknown people for unknown reasons, and that the best way to survive life in this strange community was to play along. A seemingly impossible task for those with children they knew were out there, somewhere, waiting for their return, but a task that it seemed might have become easier for our lead character when his wife and son are mysteriously allowed to join him within Wayward Pines, making him one of the very few lucky ones.
Some appeared to be making the best of the situation they found themselves in, while others were carefully part of an underground movement to escape. To destroy an electrified fence that held them within the confines of Wayward Pines with no idea why they were trapped within these walls.
Very early on their was a strange sense of time within the show… Carla Gugino’s Kate Hewson said she had lived there for 12 years, but Matt Dillon’s Ethan Burke knew her to have been missing a much shorter time (a few months?) The questions about this strange place that did not seem to truly exist began to add up, and while there were a LOT of questions for me that went unanswered, right up to the very end, and I do hope are addressed in some manner in the books, there was also a lot of fascinating twists and developments within the show that unfolded.
I do not want to spoil the show, but I will say it turned out to be worth watching, and far more interesting and entertaining than I ever dared imagine. In episode 5, with the introduction of “the abbies” a gore factor also comes into the show, which I could have done without, but that is where the audience also starts getting a much better handle on what is really going on. Finding out that Wayward Pines is not as isolated as we might think, beginning to understand who is watching the residents, and what those phone calls are about.
As the pieces start to fall into place I could not help but wonder how different a place Wayward Pines might have been… if only a different person had been there at a different time. And perhaps that was a part of the point of the show.
I will note that I wish the final two scenes had been held back for a potential second season. I understand where they were going, and what they had in mind… but I liked where it was just before that, with so many doors open, so many possibilities at hand, and honestly, that was, in some ways, still implied if you paid attention to where characters were during the final episode at the climactic moments. Leaving us to wonder which way the wind blew would have been far more interesting to me, but I can understand the writers wanting to give a definitive glimpse of what they had in mind, and one last reminder that their premise and guiding principle was always, “All Roads Lead To Wayward Pines.”
Wayward Pines aired in the US on Fox Network, and is available on Video On Demand. Hulu currently has 5 episodes available for free, and all 10 available as part of Hulu plus.
A quick edit to add the Wayward Pines trailer for those who have not yet seen it: