ComicCon: Stargate Panels

MGM and SCI FI Channel kicked off their ComicCon presentations this afternoon. MGM was promoting their straight to DVD Stargate SG-1 movie Continuum. SCI FI was there to support the SG-1 spin-off, Stargate Atlantis, soon to enter its fourth season on the network.

The back-to-back panels were held in one of the largest convention center rooms available with an official capacity of 4,500. The hall was filled for Stargate SG-1 but there were a few empty seats in the back during the Atlantis panel (but not many). That said, ComicCon itself doesn’t feel quite as manic as last year. Crowd control is better. I was told that a decision was made to sell fewer tickets, although this is unconfirmed. (ComicCon 2006 was chaotic.)

Some of this afternoon’s Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis panels might have been rehearsed or even choreographed. (It’s hard to say just how much.) But who fraking cares. Everyone had a rockin’ good time anyway.

How can you not with Pied Pipers Chris Judge (Teal’C) and Gary Jones, SG-1’s loveable, ever-present GateGuy, Walter Harriman. You know, the guy who counts down the chevrons - those symbols that click into place when the stargate spins. Jones has parlayed self-deprecation and his “tertiary role” into a career. Jones moderated the panels. With his quick wit and instant comebacks, GSN should sign him to host some wacky game show.

Oh, yeah - and DON’T call him Sergeant Harriman. You’ll be getting a fax from the U.S. Air Force. That’s Chief Master Sergeant Harriman. (It’s true. In one episode, reports Jones, Ben Browder mistakenly addressed Walter as simply “Sergeant” and the Air Force took umbrage.)

Nevertheless, beneath the good times veneer, panelists were tight lipped. During the Atlantis panel, an audience member asked about the Ninth Chevron, a question which panelist and executive producer Rob Cooper successfully deflected by saying he was “hoping to find it.” Jones moved matters along by playing up his GateGuy schtick. “Chevron Nine encoded,” he announced and the subject was smoothly shoved to the shoulder.

A SCI FI executive within earshot indicated to a colleague that answers to the Ninth Chevron question had been mapped out. “We knew it would come up,” the executive said.

FYi - Stargate executive producer Rob Cooper is incubating a third Stargate series which involves the ninth chevron. For further clarificationgo here to GateWorld.

During last year’s Battlestar ComicCon panel, cast member and series star Edward James Olmos thrilled the press when he tossed spoilers like confetti, so it wouldn’t be surprising if SCI FI Channel decided to exert a little more control over the panels.

Nevertheless, we did learn one thing. Chris Judge (and probably Michael Shanks) may have a life beyond Stargate. Judge reported that his television pilot in development, Rage of Angels, is a “go with MGM. We are full steam ahead. Be looking for it.” Recent reports say that Shanks is attached.

Jones asked how everyone on the panel was feeling. Quipped Judge: “I’m way less hung over than I usually am. Hello Riverside!!!”

Jones tried to bribe the audience with promises of free Stargate SG-1 Season 10 boxed DVD sets in exchange for the best question. Jones also reported that the season ten boxed set is “the #2 best seller on Amazon.” But the bribe was no match for the fans who had traveled great distances to be heard by the producers. One took the mic and asked, “what do you have against doctors?” (Doctors are Stargate’s red shirts - they get offed.)

The crowd roared and hooted and cheered and gayly waved little Carson Beckett flags distributed earlier by Michelle from the San Francisco Bay Area, in support of returning Paul MGillion to the Stargate Atlantis cast. His popular Scottish character, Dr. Carson Beckett, was offed last year. Fans are hoping Atlantis producers will resurrect Beckett if the series is renewed for a fifth year. (To be honest, I sympathize with the fans on this one. I liked the Atlantis doc and so did Maureen Ryan, the Chicago Tribune television critic who called the decision to kill off the character “boneheaded.”)

The Stargate producers took the polite and almost cheerful protest in stride. Said executive producer Rob Cooper, “the problem w/ doctors is - when they get mortally wounded there is no one there to save them.”

“It’s not doctors we have a problem with,” continued Cooper, “it’s Scottish people.”

The crowd played along with Cooper’s humor and hissed on cue.

At the end of the panels, several people dressed in kilts played bagpipes in honor of the doctor.

Their Savecarsonbeckett website is here.  Click here to see photos of the flags and the bagpipes.  (Be sure to click on thumbnails to enlarge.)

At any rate, the antics are far more interesting to listen to, than to read. So click here to listen to the 45-minute audio file of the SG-1 panel which features lots of fun snippets including:

all of Jones patter, the Beckett protest, chatter about the role and participation of the military in the series, shooting Continuum in -58 degree Arctic temperatures, Chris Judge and Amanda Tapping doing American Idol after a fan’s cringe-worthy attempt to sing a Stargate parody.