Comic-Con 2009: Kick-butt women, Bruce Campbell and dirt on “Dexter”

By Stacey Harrison

The king surveys his subjects
The king surveys his subjects

As if the power of Twilight needed another demonstration, the line outside of Hall H this morning was insane. The 6,500-seat venue was housing Comic-Con’s biggest event, among those a presentation of new footage from New Moon, the second installment of the boffo teen-vamp saga. But that wasn’t until 1:45. This was just after 9, and we had to get so far back in line that we couldn’t even see the front of the convention center. Hell, the ocean was a lot closer.

Since you don’t have to leave between sessions, it’s easy for people to arrive first thing in the morning, then play squatter until it’s time for the one you want. That meant that the 3-D panel featuring Tim Burton and Robert Zemeckis, along with footage from Alice in Wonderland, A Christmas Carol, and the upcoming Tron sequel — Tron: Legacy — would be filled with young girls who probably didn’t give a darn. There might have been chance to get in after Twilight let out, when James Cameron would be there to unveil some of his revolutionary Avatar, but there was too much else going on to wait.

First up was a panel on kick-ass women in science fiction, featuring Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse), Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar), Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost, V), and the quintessential female action heroine, Sigourney Weaver. Weaver explained how her signature role as Ellen Ripley in the Alien movies was originally written as a man. Alan Ripley, maybe? But her approach is not to play roles as women, but as people, and to keep her character’s objective the focus of her performance instead of her gender. While movies are slow to adopt change, Weaver said TV is a more accurate reflection on society. Mitchell agreed, saying that her roles on Lost and the upcoming V have allowed her more diverse, “juicy” roles all after the age of 30 (she’s 38). Dushku spilled a little tidbit on the upcoming season of her Joss Whedon show, saying that Echo’s original identity, Caroline, will play a part in the new episodes.

Next was the first-ever Comic-Con appearance for USA’s Burn Notice. Lead stars Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar were no-shows, but truthfully, they would have been superfluous next to the force of nature that is Bruce Campbell. Though he plays a supporting role in the spy series, at a gathering like Comic-Con, Bruce is king. His roles in the Evil Dead movies and countless genre projects have given him royalty status among the geeks, and he didn’t disappoint. When a compliment was appropriately fawning, he would summon the fan up to the stage, give them a buck, then hold his hand out for a handshake, only to take it away at the last second.

As for his character, Sam Axe may have more screen time with main character Michael Westen’s kid brother, Nathan. Showrunner Matt Nix said pairing the two is an idea that has long intrigued the writers. Campbell used a novel approach to address the persistent questions he gets asked regarding another Evil Dead movie. Tongue placed firmly in cheek (just north of that legendary chin), he pitched a spy-horror smash-up called Dead Notice.

Magic Head!
Magic Head!

Another USA show made its Comic-Con debut next when the stars and producers of Psych met the crowd. James Roday, Dule Hill, Maggie Lawson, Tim Omundson and Corbin Bernsen shared plenty about the upcoming fourth season of the comedy about a man who makes his living as a fake psychic private detective. Sean and his good buddy Gus actually end up solving some crimes, however, while cramming in tons of ’80s references and themed episodes. Guest stars you’ll see once the new season begins include James Brolin, Christine Baranski, Cary Elwes, Tom Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future), Robert Patrick, Rachel Leigh Cook and David Naughton.

Other morsels for viewers include meeting Juliet’s big brother, emphasis on big, and that Sean and Juliet will continue to become close, but are in no danger of taking the next step. Maybe in the series finale, whenever that is. Also, expect to see plenty more of Little Sean and Little Gus, perhaps even in animated form. The show also has a comic book coming. As for themed episodes, expect a Twin Peaks episode, and the producers say their ultimate pipe dream is to do a musical.

dexterDexter brought out Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter and this year’s new big bad, John Lithgow. The Season 4 trailer showed everyone’s favorite vigilante serial killer as a new suburbanite father struggling to adjust to a more normal life while still fighting his urges to kill those who need killing. Lithgow’s Trinity Killer is a truly menacing figure, a far cry from his last major TV role, that of friendly but manic alien Dick Solomon on Third Rock from the Sun. Five episodes into filming, Lithgow said he has yet to work with any of the principal cast. He had probably the panel’s best quote, saying “I play a serial killer, and his first victim is High Commander Dick Solomon.” Though Lithgow is an extremely sunny guy, he’s played his fair share of baddies in movies like Cliffhanger, Raising Cain and Ricochet.

James Remar and Keith Carradine return this season as Dexter’s father and Deb’s ex. Trinity is the most successful serial killer to never be caught, and a challenge that proves irresistible to Dexter. As for the new baby, his name is Harrison, and when the new season begins Sept. 27, he’ll already have been born. Beyond the screen, Dexter also is branching out into video games, with Dexter: The Game coming to an iPhone and iPod Touch near you.

1 Comment

  1. Awesome Comic-Con adventures. I’m completely jealous. Dule Hill tap-dancing! And thank heavens for keeping the Shawn/Juliet romance on the back-burner until the series end! That’s great. The new season of Psych starts Aug 7, can’t wait.

    I heard Johnny Depp made a surprise appearance at Tim Burton’s Alice and Wonderland panel! Is it just me or does Depp’s Mad Hatter look more like Elijah Wood?

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