Monday, August 9, 2010

Gaining Leverage at Comic Con

No clue what Wil Wheaton is doing here but it's cute!
One of the Comic Con panels that I was most looking forward to was "Leverage". I’ve seen every episode and I’m completely in love with Christian Kane, who plays Eliot on the show.

This was one of the few panels that I can honestly say – even sitting in line was fun. The Community panel was going to be in the same room much later in the day, and while we sat in line, Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Chevy Chase each walked past us.

When we finally got into the room, my friend, Maxii, and I made it for the second row at the front of the room. I think it’s Comic Con’s cruel joke on its attendees that the entry doors to every room are ALWAYS in the far back of the room so that everyone has to run and jostle for position once the doors open.

Soon after we got into the room, the Comic Con staff started walking the rows to hand out T-shirts. The shirts were labeled for the parts of the characters, as identified in the opening sequence to the show. In other words, there was a shirt for “Hitter,” “Hacker,” “Grifter,” “Thief,” and “Mastermind.” Eliot is the Hitter, so I knew what I wanted. They handed it out first, and it was my favorite color, red. It was meant to be. By some strange turn of events, I ended up with two, and with the help of one of the ladies sitting next to us, I managed to swap the extra one for a Mastermind shirt. Now I had two Hitter shirts and a Mastermind shirt, and Maxii had a Thief shirt, so I gave her one of my Hitters. We were happy people.

Then the staff placed the name placards on the table in front of us. The panel attendees were Tim Hutton, Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge, and … Wil Wheaton! It was already announced that Wil Wheaton was going to come back to the show, but it was a surprise (to me anyway) that he was actually on the panel.

The panel was moderated by producer Chris Downey, and was great except for some sound issues. At one point during the questioning, Chris asked Beth something and she just cracked up laughing and sputtered “I can’t hear a word you’re saying!” They showed a sneak peak of the episode that was going to air the following Sunday but the echo in the room was so horrible that we could hardly make out the dialogue. We gathered that Eliot and Hardison were going to be handcuffed to each other running from militia men in a jungle. Hijinks were afoot.

Note the hair. (This pic was from the projector screen)
If you’ll allow me a moment here, I’d like to discuss Christian Kane’s hair. Let me just say, I love my men clean cut. Short hair, no facial hair, very clean. Authoritative…that’s what gets me going.

CK is the opposite. CK is an enigma to me. The man has long, flowing, magical hair. For the show, the staff straightens it and it really is a thing of beauty. Christian Kane is the exception to my hair rule. For Comic Con, apparently, the hair department did not travel with them. His hair was not straightened. It arguably was not even brushed. He pushed it back from his face with a bandana and it floofed out like a lion’s mane. If you’re reading this: not attractive, CK. Not attractive. I will mail you a hairbrush. They cost $3.00 at Wal-mart.

*ahem* So back to the panel…

Overall, everyone on the panel seemed a little nervous. It was the first year that Leverage has been to Comic Con, so that’s no surprise. The panelists were all very short-spoken to begin with, and only a few of them opened up as the panel progressed. Beth never really seemed to open up. She was talkative, but pretty much stayed in character, if that makes sense. The one question that she was seriously responsive to was about the theory that Parker has Asperger’s. She stated that, while Parker’s “condition” has some hallmarks of Asperger’s, it was intentionally vaguer than that. They preferred to consider Parker as “quirky,” because they did not want to limit the range of her character to only the symptoms of Asperger’s.

Christian Kane looking directly at me like, “What?!”
Later, someone prefaced a question to Aldis with the notion that “one character on the show is a little more like us [Comic Con goers] than the others.” He responded sort of like he didn’t know what the question was about. He certainly didn’t answer the question, then other people on the panel jumped in and fielded the question for him.

I felt a little cheated. I wonder if Aldis, more than his co-workers, might feel more of a need for separation between his real life persona and the character he plays on TV. After all, Aldis doesn’t get to be the badass or the comic relief (most of the time) and he is the only African-American member of the cast. In the first season, when his computer hacking skills were showcased and he got to pronounce “Age of the geek, baby!” every third episode, he may have enjoyed being identified with his role a little bit more. This is complete postulation on my part. All I’m saying is he seemed uncomfortable being identified as the geek of the panel.

The panelists were also asked about their own real-life skills that they got to bring into the show. Aldis confirmed that he was indeed playing the violin in The Scheherazade Job and Christian was able to plug his song, “Thinking of You,” that was featured in The Studio Job (now available on iTunes). When asked if Beth was able to bring any of her real-life talents into the role of Parker, Beth responded that she had always liked to steal things as a child…

As for the future of the show, the panelists teased that Hardison is not going to get his own crew any time soon (but maybe in 27 seasons…) and Eliot’s background is going to remain a mystery for this season at least. We’ve gotten some insight into Parker’s past life this season, and later we will get to meet Nate’s dad and learn more about Nate’s origins as well.

I started out feeling a little sorry for Wil Wheaton because he’s only been in one episode. I figured he must have felt like an outsider on the panel. Turns out, he could hold his own pretty well. He was knowledgeable about the show and what direction it was taking, and other panelists even deferred to him on some of the questions. Aldis asked the audience if we were looking forward to Wil coming back to the show, and of course the audience cheered like crazy. Then, as Chris turned to Tim Hutton for the next question, Wil slipped Aldis some money. The audience laughed and Chris and Tim just stared at each other trying to figure out what was so funny.

At the end of the panel, they took audience questions as usual. There were some good ones, with one fan asking about the Leverage RP game. The panelists (not for the first time) lamented that John Rogers was not in attendance, as he was the man behind the game. Wil Wheaton, surprisingly or maybe not so surprisingly, was right there on this one. He told the fans what he knew about the game, assuring us all that it was going to be great. He said that John Rogers was involved heavily in the theory of the game, and is very much “one of us.” By us, I’m sure he meant geeks.

It was obvious by the end of the panel that the Leverage group had hit their stride. They were asked one more question and the Comic Con staff told them no, and they replied “we’ve got time for one more question!” When the Comic Con staff insisted that they end it, they made up their own last question and answered it. It was pure gold.

I think the Leverage group was all incredibly candid and accessible to the fans. They were clearly moved by the fan support in the room and they reacted humanly. When they (finally) stood to make their departure, the audience saw them off with a well-deserved standing ovation.

Our "Leverage" T-shirts!!
Thanks to @RealFastTlkr for the pics and this blog contribution!

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