Saturday morning, I was there bright and early. The “big” guest of this year was Nathan Filion. He would have been the official guest-of-honor but he confirmed late in the process (only a few weeks before). While I enjoy his work on Castle (and was disappointed before that when the show Drive was cancelled after only a few episodes), most of his fans are from the Joss Whedon universe — seeing him originally playing the villain Caleb on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and then the more memorable Captain in Firefly (TV series) and Serenity (movie). The show only lasted part of one season (15 episodes, I think?) but it is by far the largest fan base per capita at geek conventions. I’ve watched the show, it was okay, I really never saw the huge appeal…which by itself is weird, since there is space travel involved, and it’s not a horror flick, so I’d usually be watching. But Nathan is attractive, and it has been suggested that many of the female fans of sci-fi got their feet wet worshipping at the feet of Captain Hotpants.
The opening session was him on a Firefly panel. In addition to Nathan, there was also supposed to be Jewel Staite (from Firefly obviously, but also from Stargate: Atlantis which I had watched) and Summer Glau (Firefly, cameo on Big Bang Theory, and as a terminator in the TV version called The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Unfortunately, Summer was a no-show — she apparently was getting ready to go and realized she had lost her passport somehow. She sent a video message to apologize profusely and did join briefly by Skype (her first time using the program), but Jewel and Nathan carried on bravely without her. Some highlights of the panel:
- They were asked if there would be a second movie, to which they basically replied “not their department to answer”, i.e. not up to them;
- Nathan was asked a nerdy question about which of the women in his on-screen life were his ranked choice to spend his life with, to which he replied #1 would be his spaceship (because it would get him chicks) and #4 would be Kate Beckett from Castle (since he kisses her all the time already);
- They were asked what ringtones they had on their phones currently (????) and Nathan told a funny (!) story about his brother and him having the same ringtone for each other that sounds like a banjo followed by a voice singing “your brother is calling”…apparently they also do this weird “hehehehe/hahahaha” routine where they laugh at each other to say hello, so one time Nathan’s brother was house-sitting, called him and so phone rings, ringtone goes off, they do their routine for several laughs each, and then his brother said, “Your cat died”;
- A guest noted that he identified with Nathan’s character and his wife liked Jewel’s character, so did they think the two would ever have hooked up on the show…to which they both responded an uncomfortable-ish “no” since Nathan’s character had been Jewel’s guardian on the show (insert sound of crickets chirping);
- Someone asked if Castle would ever have “grumpy cat” on Castle, which Jewel vetoed until she gets to be on the show first; and,
- Nathan answered a question about “on-screen contributions to his real life” experiences by noting that people told him gyno stories after playing a gynecologist, and concluded with telling a joke (that has gone around the net about a woman who goes to gyno after accidentally putting glitter on her private parts), pretending it happened to Dana Delaney’s best friend (which was weird), but Jewel was laughing at the end, not because of the story, but because the guy asked a simple question and ended up “discussing vaginas with Nathan Filion”.
Overall, I enjoyed the panel, but as it was my first convention, I was surprised that the panels were not moderated, it was just them up there like a stand-up routine. I know that is also designed to make them seem more accessible, but from a production perspective, that accessibility comes with a risk — what if they completely suck at self-hosting a panel? Ever seen actors go on Letterman or Leno and watched them BOMB? We all have lots of times, and while I know they do these panels frequently, it still surprised me they weren’t moderated.
However, despite not being a Firefly fan, I did enjoy it. However, I found Nathan’s way of answering questions very off-putting. He was very polished, but I never got the impression I was seeing “Nathan” so much as seeing “Nathan playing a role as public Nathan”. For example, his story about gynecology is an old joke, but he told it as if it was a “real event”, which is doubtful. Equally, when answering the question about the movie, he gave a very circuitous, abstract answer that no one would ever use in real life. Almost like a politician dodging a question … he asked Jewel if she did the craft table or mark the scenes or an artificial list of other activities, and she was like, “Where are you going with this?”, giving him the cue to say, “Not my department.” A simplistic response, and not genuine at all. People get asked this question all the time at conventions, it’s a no-brainer, but Filion seemed to be going way out of his way to make it not only a long answer but also no answer at all.
Don’t get me wrong, Jewel was amazing. Jewel didn’t have as much to say, but she did seem more like a real person (maybe because she talked about her friend Cindy accompanying her to the show and her reactions to some of the guests). I’ve included some photos from the session and from the Comic Con FB page showing Jewel and Nathan doing signings.
Hope you enjoy…next up — Batman 1966!