Jewel’s innocent comment about getting on so well with the Firefly cast, "We were like family", was met with ribbing from Chris Judge. Ben Browder hopped in with an encouraging "I’m partial to the Firefly cast myself." She went on to applaud the good-looking men on Atlantis, to which Chris shook his head saying, "It’s too late now."
They went on to discuss future projects and, for the Stargate: SG1 cast, the uniqueness of spending summers with their families and being able to make it to football practice.
Whedonopolis’ Alison asked Jewel: "How does it feel to be replacing such a popular character as Carson Beckett?" Before Jewel answered the question, Ben jumped in emphatically with:
"Here’s the answer to this. You can’t replace a very popular character on a series." Laughter. Undaunted, he went on: "Carson Beckett was part of the mythology. It’s just that the story changed and they needed someone else to come in, and you can never replace someone popular like him -" Joe Mallozi pointed out, "As you well know."
Back to Jewel, Alison asked: "Is there a place you see yourself taking that character?"
Amanda: "To Firefly."
David: "Serenity 2."
Jewel: "In season 9, the city will fly somewhere and come across Serenity. And we’ll all get together…"
Chris: "Nope, you’re still in the hole."
The session wrapped up with the two casts having group photos taken with their respective posters. Many of the press took the opportunity for personal photos with the actors, who were gracious with their time. Wanting to show Jewel that there was Firefly love and support for her in the room, after taking this image of her.
I called her name and flashed my Whedonopolis shirt at her. She responded immediately with excited squee and held up a small palm for a high five, right in front of a bemused David Hewlett. There was an immediate understanding that we must spread the Firefly love.
The press panel wrapped and we all reconvened in Ballroom 20 for the back-to-back Stargate Panels to attend the Gary Jones Comedy Doubleheader. The actor who portrays the usually taciturn Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman was a Moderator Master Craftsman, presiding over both panels with energetic and witty aplomb. After the introductions, Ben Browder hopped up on the chair, flung open his arms, and bellowed, with Browder-esque ebullience "HELLO, SAN DIEGO!!!"
To which, Gary responded: "Great, Ben, now the rest of us have nothing to say. How ’bout you, Chris?" Chris leaned into the mike. "I’m way less hung over than I usually am… Hello, Riverside!!"
One of the first questions asked was "What have you got against doctors?" referring to the demise of numerous doctors on both shows. Joe Mallozi responded with "The trouble with doctors is that when they get mortally wounded, there’s no one to save them."
A young woman in a military dress uniform stepped up to the mike, clarifying that she was a petty officer, to which Gary pointed at himself and said, "Master Sergeant." She asked what positive aspects there were of the military’s support of the show.
Gary tells the story of his characters numerous promotions ("for Typing Under Duress") through to Chief Master Sergeant, and on one occasion, Daniel referred to his character as "Sergeant". An instant memo came down from the Air Force, saying "this guy is a Chief Master Sergeant. Please give him the respect that his rank is due." He later shoved the memo in Ben’s face, and that’s why he’s now only called ‘Walter’ or ‘Chief’.
Both Ben and Amanda had returned from shooting in the arctic, armed with dire warnings about dealing with polar bears. The next person at the mike asked: "Chris I know you didn’t go because you have an aversion to bears…" To which Chris immediately replied, "I have an aversion to be eaten by bears! I mean, look at me, I’m seal colored!"
Ben talked about how incredible it was to walk over the pristine arctic ice fields with natural ice sculptures everywhere, listening to the deep crackle of ice floating over 4,000 feet of 28-degree water. Amanda cut in with – "and then the third time the helicopter flew over Ben and I were lying on the ice making snow angels."
The session ended with Chris calling Michael Shanks on his cellphone, only to find out the man was in his bathroom, while 5,000 people in Ballroom 20 yelled "HIIII!" to him. Chris left him with the fond hope that "everything came out OK."
The Stargate: Atlantis session was ushered in by the waving of many small blue-and-white Scottish flags. This was followed by a question to Jewel about how it felt to be on Atlantis after Firefly. She said that she still felt very new, but "the ship’s a lot fancier, so I’m really glad I don’t have to fix it."
When asked about their favorite episodes, David Hewlett replied: "I like the one where I got to work with myself."
Joe’s favorite episode was Common Ground, "Because I also wanted to work with myself. That’s when I really started to dislike myself. I’m really hard to work with."
Gary then asked Martin what was the most difficult episode to shoot, and Martin replied, "The most technically complicated one was the one where McKay got to work with himself."
When asked whether any of the actors wanted to direct an episode, Amanda offered this missive: "Martin Wood is just a directing hog, and he told me once that every time an actor directs a show, a kitten dies."
Gary pointed out that Martin had dressed up as a soldier more than once in the show, and everytime he did, a puppy died. Joe, the opportunist, quickly and unashamedly solicited help from the fans with "By the way, you guys, I’m dying to direct. If you guys want to apply as much pressure as possible at this very awkward moment on the producers, I’m all for it!" This was met with predictably loud and enthusiastic support.
Jewel was asked about the difference between playing the two roles on Firefly and Atlantis. "The biggest difference has been all the doctor stuff. Kaylee was very innocent – well, not so innocent. Seemingly innocent and sweet. Dr. Keller has more of an edge to her, and she’s very, very smart. I think she’s smarter than she actually knows."
When asked what other shows the panelists would like to see Stargate crossed over with, "Star-crossed" was thrown out by Joe Mallozi. Jewel’s choice was Lost and Joe’s was The Daily Show.
Gary wrapped up his double-moderator gig with a populist observation: "These are Sci-fi fans. They’re, like, eight steps ahead of you." This was met with much applause and approval from the responsive crowd. On stage, the cast and producers dispersed as quickly as the audience from the friendly confines of Ballroom 20. The Eisner Awards were slated next for that venue, and, as fans know, other shows must go on.