Kristin Dos Santos was the moderator and did a fine job leading the discussion. As a sidebar, I’d like to note that Ms. Dos Santos moderated a few of the panels I attended and really handled the task quite well. She was organized and her questions were thought provoking and professional (umm, well, let’s just ignore the "69" question during the Chuck panel – just know that there was a position displayed by Zach and Joshua last year at Comic-Con that they deftly avoided repeating again this year). And though I have not always been a fan of hers in the past, she surpassed my expectations. I think I might be a fan now — which is good, because she covers all of the shows I really like!
The first question from Kristin, for Josh Schwartz, was a general query about the second season and how it will differ from season one. He pointed out that, because of the writer’s strike, it has been so long since the last episode aired, that the premiere episode of next season will almost be like a second pilot. After a quick recap of the basics of "who’s who", for old viewers and new, the plan is to get deeper into the mythology of the show – what is Chuck’s history, why was he chosen for the brain enhancement, and what is this mysterious, and possibly evil, spy agency that Chuck, Sarah & Casey are involved in all about anyway.
Joshua Gomez (Morgan), Zachary Levi (Chuck) and Yvonne Strahovski (Sarah)
There is also the promise of lots of romance for next season – and lots of kissing. There is the impending wedding of Captain Awesome and Ellie, to which Zachary Levi quipped, "Who wouldn’t want to kiss Ryan McPartlin?" Adam Baldwin tapped loudly on his mike and replied, "I wouldn’t want to kiss Ryan." Enough said. The romance also continues with Morgan and his girlfriend on the show, Anna. And of course, there is the sizzling undercurrent of passion between Chuck and Sarah. But the relationship on everyone’s mind seemed to be the years-long, solid "bromance" between Chuck and Morgan – a bond that will always be there ("the pilot light is still lit"), but has been under some strain since Chuck’s new "friends" have come into the picture. Though there was no promise of kissing, there was a hint that there may eventually be some nice, intimate male-bonding moments of video game playing. They’ll leave the yucky kissing stuff to the Chuck and Sarah relationship. One little blind item here – rumor has it that there will be a same sex kiss sometime this seasonÖ between two of the people sitting on the panel. Mum was the word on whom, but there were several questioning looks aimed at the producers from the actors on the panel.
Adam Baldwin was asked if we would see a softer side of his character, John Casey, to which he replied, "Yes, my lips." (This panel was lip obsessed!) Josh expanded on the topic by saying that Casey will be faced with the task of eliminating Chuck now that it has become possible to remove the intersect (computer program) from his brain. As a result of the assignment to "make Chuck disappear", Josh states, "you will see Casey develop a feeling." Apparently, just the one feeling. The good news is that, without the computer program in his brain, Chuck is free to date Sarah; the bad news is that now Casey has to kill him.
Josh Schwartz went on to say that although most of last seasons’ shows were stand-alones, this season would see an arc that will start with a catastrophic event at the end of the first episode and build over the year and will "drive us to a completely insane season finale". There will still be some stand-alone episodes, though. And, for all of you Nerd Herd fans out there, all of the Herders will become series regulars this year.
Ryan McPartlin ("Captain Awesome") and Sarah Lancaster (Ellie)
While we’re on the subject of casting, some interesting guest stars will be making appearances this year on the show such as Tony Hale (from Arrested Development – as Chuck’s new Buy More nemesis), Nicole Richie (who has a shower fight with Yvonne Strahovski), Michael Clarke Duncan, John Larroquette, and Jordana Brewster (in a multi-episode arc as the girl from Chuck’s past who broke his heart). We will also get to finally meet The "Awesomes", Ellie’s soon-to-be in-laws! Though they haven’t been cast yet, the panel took off on a casting suggestions jag by throwing out names like Jerry Stiller, Rue McClanahan, and even The Hoff, David Hasselhoff, himself (apparently Yvonne’s favored choice). Oh, and yes, folks, Matthew Bomer (Bryce Larkin) will be showing up again – at the most inopportune time, of course.
Adam Baldwin, no surprise, was a big hit at the panel. When Kristin brought up Adam’s former role on Firefly, the crowd erupted in thunderous applause and cheers (which I, of course, completely participated in). Adam looked a little shy and overwhelmed and bowed his head in thanks to the audience. He was asked if Joss wanted him to, would he be willing to guest on Joss’s new show, Dollhouse, to which he replied with a devilish laugh, "Ah, hell no! I’m on Chuck now!" Later in the panel, a fan asked Adam if his current character, Casey, had a name for his guns just as his character, Jayne, did on Firefly. His answer was so very Jayne — "I like the name Shiny." As the crowd cheered and Kristin said, "Adam Baldwin can do no wrong!" Adam smiled at his co-panelists and replied, "you just gotta know the buzzwords, you gotta know the buzzwords."
Joshua Gomez gave us the lowdown on what to expect at the Buy More this year. The biggest event seems to involve his character, Morgan, turning the storage cage into a makeshift "Thunderdome" and organizing a fight to the finish for the new assistant manager spot. It sounds intriguing and so very, very Morgan. Nerd Herd!! One fan asked if Big Mike was going to get a love interest this year, to which Josh replied, "Big Mike may get a love interest this season, and it may be Morgan’s Mom". And he wasn’t kiddingÖ
Yvonne Strahovski, speaking in her native Australian accent, talked about how great it is to play a character that "kicks butt" on a regular basis. Josh Schwartz said that when Yvonne first read for them, they really liked her but heard that she was also reading for a role on The Bionic Woman. So, they snatched her up before she got cast on the other show. It looks like their fast moves gained them a great leading lady.
Zachary Levi (Chuck)
and Yvonne Strahovski (Sarah)
The first question from the fans asked the producers, Chris and Josh, which character they like to write for the most. They both were diplomatic and denied favorites, but the crowd sensed a conflict of interest as Chris reached out and rubbed Adam Baldwin fondly on the shoulder. Josh then busted on Chris by saying that he has caught Chris making "mean Casey" faces as he’s writing. Grrrr Arrrgghhh!
Another fan question brought up the fact that the show can often be hilarious one moment and heartfelt the next. Josh credited the superb cast with being capable of such a range that they are able to do that. In an offbeat way of showing off that fact, the next fan question had Joshua Gomez doing a dead on impression of Ryan McPartlin as ‘Captain Awesome’. Before the panel was over, Zach Levi had also done an impersonation of Yvonne Strahovski’s Aussie accent and Joshua later followed with an impromptu impression of Jerry Stiller. And I believe I even heard Adam Baldwin do a David Hasselhoff riff circa his Knight Rider era. I wonder if they could work some of this schtick into the show?
Zach Levi was asked how it felt to have his face plastered all over one of the most popular (gift) bags at Comic-Con. He said it was "pretty freaking awesome". He waxed poetic about it for a bit, using "awesome" about 4 more times, until Ryan took umbrage to him using Captain Awesome’s word and Joshua fined him a quarter for each illegal usage. At every turn, wackiness ensues with these guys.
And in keeping with that Chuck style, toward the end of the panel the group went from hilarious to heartfelt as Zach thanked the fans for all of their support starting with last year’s Comic-Con panel and continuing throughout the year. He then teased Adam about the crowd’s automatic positive response to all things Adam Baldwin, to which Adam took a moment to say, "You know, the thing is, I’ve felt this love — and you guys were here last year — and I’ve felt this love from a lot of you guys, a lot of you sci-fi fans. I have to express my heartfelt thanks to you guys because it comes back through me and back out to you and I just feel it all the time and I want to say thank you for embracing Chuck into your world because I know what wonderful fans you are and it’s really great to see these guys enjoying that."
Adam Baldwin can do no wrong!!
The Season One DVD of Chuck will be available for purchase on September 16th. The Season Two premiere of Chuck will air on September 29th on NBC.