Comic-Con 2010: Showtime’s Anti-Heroes

The Panel: Californication star David Duchovny (who forgot to brush his hair but still looked dead sexy) and creator Tom Kapinos, Nurse Jackie “star” Paul Schulze and creator Linda Wallem, Weeds star Mary-Louise Parker (flawless) and writer/producer Victoria Morrow, and Dexter star Michael C. Hall (I think you already know how I feel about him) and producer Chip Johannessen. Moderated by Geoff Bucher of the Los Angeles Times.

What They Talked About: Since Comic-Con is all about superheroes, Showtime decided to make itself relevant by looping its main characters into the “anti-hero” category, a fitting label for the likes of Hank Moody, Jackie Peyton, Nancy Botwin, and Dexter Morgan (who was the clear crowd favorite). The resulting panel was a mix of next-season trailers, deep discussion about each character’s personal journey, really terrible questions from the audience, and really hilarious answers from the panelists.

Most Valuable Panelist: My default answer would be Michael C. Hall, because I love him and he was (as always) witty and insightful. But I’m going to give this one to Linda Wallem, because she was so genuinely thrilled and enthused to be there and made more random, charming comments than any other non-actor I saw today.

Best Question From the Audience: I’m going to interpret “best” to mean “worst” or “most amusing,” because most of the questions from the audience were either repetitive, hushed, or nonsensical. Poor Duchovny had to explain twice that Fox Mulder and Hank Moody were two separate characters. (Let go, guys!) And when one audience member asked Parker if she had a favorite nude scene, she turned the awkward question back on her interrogator. Of course, the dumbest questions elicit the smartest responses; one person asked Duchovny and Hall what it was like to transition from movies to television and the two decided to answer word-by-word: Hall said “It’s,” Duchovny said “pretty much,” and Hall said “the same.”

Missing in Action: Edie Falco. Sorry, Paul Schulze, but you are not an anti-hero. That said, having Falco on stage with those three other superstars may have been sensory overload.

Most Exciting News: Eh, nothing that you haven’t heard already. Weeds is returning on August 16, Dexter on September 26, and Californication are coming back “in January,” and Nurse Jackie “next year.” Like Dexter, Californication is welcoming quite a slate of guest stars next season: Peter Gallagher, Rob Lowe, Tommy Lee, and Carla Gugino.

Quotables: Plenty. Duchovny, on his reaction to Kapinos when he read the Californication pilot script: “A ‘fuck you’ from me usually means I’m about to do something.” Hall, after a long explanation about how, as an actor, he should identify with Dexter instead of sympathize with him: “But yeah, I sympathize with him.” And Wellem, on her early acting days: “I got laughs in ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ that no one should get.”

But Wait, There’s More! Those sex-capades on Californication are borne out of the experiences of the twentysomething writers—and their wish fulfillment, too. We’re probably not going to see any more of Romany Malco or Elizabeth Perkins on Weeds. Mary-Louise Parker wanted to be on Flight of the Conchords. And Peter Schulze wants to get killed by Dexter.

The Big Picture: A great idea in theory, but a little underwhelming in practice, especially considering how charismatic and famous the panelists are. Next time, eliminate the producers and stupid crowd questions. Just let the Big Four shoot the breeze. Oh, and invite Toni Collette next time, too.

Follow writer Stefanie Lee on Twitter: @StefAtTVDotCom

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