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Episode 27 - San Diego Comic-Con 2014

We're back, but our hearts haven't left San Diego. Rob Piontek and Dwight Tejano, with guests Krys Lewis, Claire Rudolph, and Vicky Bartolo, talk about their time at San Diego Comic-Con 2014.

   

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10:00AM

NYCC 2014: Mark Gagliardi & Hal Lublin Talk "Thrilling Adventure Hour"

Our convention season comes to a close with New York Comic-Con, an event that never disappoints, and always presents great opportunities for meeting cool people and seeing what's on the geeky horizon for the next year. NYCC 2014 was no exception.

Kicking off our coverage from the Big Apple's premiere pop culture event is an interview with two of the Work Juice Players, better known to most as the cast of The Thrilling Adventure Hour. Following the recent development of my TAH fandom, I had the fortuitous pleasure of sitting down with Mark Gagliardi (Croach The Tracker) and Hal Lublin (Phillip Fathom) at the TAH booth at NYCC to talk about their convention experiences, the popularity explosion of the podcast, and their live show on Comic-Con weekend.

Check out the interview below! 

If you're a fan of old-time radio, clever comedy, or just plain fun, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, follow @ThrillingAdv on Twitter, and be sure to visit thrillingadventurehour.com to learn more about the live show and podcast, as well as enjoy a preview of the upcoming comic book series based on fan-favorite segments Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars and Beyond Belief.

Check back soon for more from New York Comic-Con 2014!

10:00AM

Review: The Flash

To quote a friend of mine, "DC just whipped their dick out onto the table." Following the series premiere of The Flash last night, I’m inclined to agree.

Following the amazing success of two seasons of Arrow, Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment have gone for broke with their ambitious plans for television. We have Gotham airing on Fox, Constantine arriving on NBC at the end of October, and Supergirl touching down on CBS next season, but we can’t ignore the fact that this particular trail has been blazed byArrow on The CW. And who better to continue along that trail than the Fastest Man Alive.

Among the aforementioned titles, The Flash has the distinction of being the first spinoff that is officially part of the shared DC universe on the small screen (the jury is still out on the others), thanks to Barry Allen’s debut on Arrow last season. With that being the case, the bar was already set pretty high for the Scarlet Speedster’s return to television, so the question really has been if WB/DC/CW can capture lightning in a bottle for a second time (pun very much intended). I believe they have.

One reason is Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, the perpetually tardy CSI who, when struck by lightning and bathed in the right combination of chemicals, is imbued with super-speed. Gustin captures the driven, yet innocent nature of Barry, who struggles with his crusade to solve his mother’s murder, his romantic feelings for childhood friend Iris West (Candice Patton), and his inability to ever be on time. Gustin’s Barry also provides a stark contrast to his counterpart in Starling City, the vengeful Oliver Queen, in many respects. Oliver, having honed all the appropriate skills, chose to begin his life of crime fighting to extinguish the flame of corruption in his home city, whereas Barry is thrust into this strange new world of powers and villains, and quickly adopts the heroic sensibilities that will help make him a symbol of Central City. It’s a much lighter tone than Arrow, thus providing something that isn’t just a transplant of what came before.

However, the two are not entirely dissimilar as our titular hero receives the support team treatment, only this time, instead of an ex-soldier, and skilled hacker, and a trained assassin, the Flash team consists of a group of S.T.A.R. Labs brainiacs more interested in exploring (and perhaps exploiting) the nature of Barry’s abilities. Heading this squad is wheelchair-bound Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), a seemingly well-intentioned humanitarian who may or may not have ties to a Flash villain, Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), whose cold demeanor comes off as a heavy-handed way of letting us know she may become the villainess Killer Frost, and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) aka Vibe, a lower-tier DC hero whose status has been elevated significantly in recent years.

The DC Easter eggs don’t stop there, though. Viewers will catch a not-so-subtle reference to villain Gorilla Grodd, Ferris Air gets a shoutout with some signage, the episode leaves us with a very clear acknowledgement of the famous “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, and, of course, we can expect The Reverse Flash/Professor Zoom to appear as he is clearly being set up as the main antagonist. Plus, if the promotional poster for the series is to be taken at face value, expect some appearances by several other DC characters. Even the original Flash series from 1990 gets some love as John Wesley Shipp, the original Flash, appears as Barry’s father, and Amanda Pays, while not present in the pilot, has been tapped to reprise her role as Dr. Tina McGee from the original CBS series. We know he's busy shooting Episode VII, but can the original Trickster himself, Mark Hamill, be far behind? We’ll keep an eye open for that one.

While treats like these will keep the fans happy, the elements that make it a good TV show are strong. Barry’s likeability is clearly the anchor, but the hour pilot does an excellent job of telling an origin story without dragging out the details or cramming too much in. The youthful cast members like Gustin, Patton, and Valdes are complimented by the gravitas brought to  the table by Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin’s Detective West, which makes it a show the whole family can enjoy as it delivers equal parts humor and drama.

Arrow has established a hero who relies on skill and bad-assery, occasionally dipping into a darker element, but sooner or later, combat proficiency and seedy dealings give way to superpowers and lightheartedness. That being the case, The Flash winds up being entertaining because it knows exactly what it is and what will work for itself. Flash Fact.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8:00pm ET on The CW!

10:00AM

The Thrilling Adventure Hour: A New Fan's Reaction

Hi. My name is Rob Piontek, and I’m a fan of the Thrilling Adventure Hour.

I wasn’t always like this, though. There was once a sadder time when I wasn’t aware of such wonderful things as Martian onus and the sprawling rogues gallery of Apex City. But now, my commute is made light years better by the auditory antics of such colorful characters as Sparks Nevada, Frank and Sadie Doyle, and Captain Laserbeam. And I owe it all to my sponsor, Dwight “Fridgemaster” Tejano.

For those of you who don’t know, Thrilling Adventure Hour is a live stage show and podcast created and written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, and starring such talented funnypersons as Marc Evan Jackson, Mark Gagliardi, Hal Lublin, Paul F. Thompkins, and Paget Brewster, to name a few, as well as guest stars ranging from geek heartthrob Nathan Fillion to comedy musicians Paul & Storm. Tearing up audiences and the airwaves since 2005, TAH parodies/pays homage to radio shows of the 1930s and 40s with segments like the space western “Sparks Nevada: Marshal On Mars”, the overtly-patriotic “Amelia Earhart: Fearless Flyer”, and the fan-favorite suspense-comedy “Beyond Belief.” As a fan of old time radio, I am truly amazed that I went as long as I did without exploring the worlds of the TAH, but thanks to a suggestion by the aforementioned Fridgemaster, that all changed during San Diego Comic-Con back in July.

Prior to the con, Dwight pitched the idea of seeing the live TAH show for an evening activity on the Saturday of Comic-Con. Adopting a “Sure, it sounds like fun” attitude, I accepted and tickets were purchased. Fast-forward to Saturday July 26th, and our group is taking our seats at the Spreckels Theatre. At this point, we learn that this is no ordinary TAH performance, but a crossover with fellow podcast Welcome to Night Vale. Like TAH, I had heard of Night Vale, but knew next to nothing about it up to that point. What transpired in the following hour and a half was more than enough to covert me to the ways of that which is thrilling and adventurous. Quick-witted humor coupled with utterly absurd situations and colorful characters made for an incredibly entertaining evening and spurred a curiosity for both podcasts.

As a follow-up, Dwight and I partook in the Conversation for a Cause at Nerd HQ the following day, which featured a panel consisting of the Bens and most of the TAH actors and guest actors we had seen the night before. In a room that was doubtlessly full of fans (much like the Spreckels Theatre), we were clearly the newcomers, not quite getting the inside jokes and references, but enjoying the off-the-wall humor nonetheless. The experience furthered my desire to dive right into the podcast.

Upon returning to the east coast, I promptly subscribed to TAH on iTunes and began at episode #1. To date, I have plowed through the entirety of the 200 episodes, fake commercials, convention panels, and fan Q&A sessions (I have a long commute, don’t judge me), and am completely caught up just in time to meet several of the Work Juice Players at New York Comic-Con this weekend. Sadly, the two live performances on Saturday October 11th at the Bell House in Brooklyn are sold out, but I hope to be present for the TAH panel on SundayOTF even has interviews lined up with cast members Mark Gagliardi, Hal Lublin, and Marc Evan Jackson during the con, so expect some inside info on what to expect in the future from TAH!

In addition to the monthly live performances and weekly podcasts (released every Monday under the Nerdist banner), Thrilling Adventure Hour can be experienced in many other forms, including a graphic novel, a behind-the-scenes web series, and a forthcoming concert film DVD! See you next time, Adventurekateers!

7:08PM

The Fridgecast Lives: San Diego Comic-Con 2014 Wrap-Up

Did you miss us? We missed you!  Now that our SDCC coverage has finally wrapped up, we sat down and talked about it, because that's how much we miss it.  It may only technically last 5 days, but it's actually some kind of magic time compression that actually shoves about 3 months of events, activities, giveaways, and things-to-do into a single extended weekend.

This is a super-sized episode that's broken up into two parts. In the first part, Rob Piontek and I talk about our weekends during the event and all the cool stuff we got to do and see.  We took a blurry photo with Phil Coulson. We got to play video games. We met Batman (again) and found out what's in store for Master Chief.  It was pretty great.

In the second part, the other half of OTF's SDCC attack force - Krys Lewis, Claire Rudolph, and Vicky Bartolo - talk about their time at the Sleepy Hollow press rooms and more.  Krys, Claire, and Vicky came through in a way that I cannot express.  The schedules this year prevented us from doing so many things (we called this one "ConflictCon 2014"), but their help allowed us to get some great stuff.  Thanks a bunch, ladies!

So, like a phoenix from the ashes, listen to the Fridgecast podcast!

10:00AM

SDCC 2014: Marvel's Agent Carter

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has definitely blazed a television trail for Marvel Studios. Its success has proven that the stories and characters of the MCU can and do translate to the small screen. Couple that with the popularity of the Agent Carter One-Shot featuring Captain America: The First Avenger's stalwart Peggy Carter, and you have the studio's next long-form project.  

This fall will see the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but in January, Agent Carter will star in her own 8-episode season, following her adventures in a post-World War II/pre-Cold War world. Actress Hayley Atwell reprises her role as Peggy, and will be joined by Dominic Cooper, Enver Gjokaj, and Chad Michael Murray as the series explores the origins of S.H.I.E.L.D.

At San Diego Comic-Con, we joined the roundtable discussions with series co-creators Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Executive Producers Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, and Louis D'Esposito, and star Hayley Atwell to talk about what we can expect from the series, and what this era of the Marvel Universe can offer.

Check out the interviews here!

Agent Carter is currently set to premiere in January 2015!

10:00AM

SDCC 2014: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2013-2014 TV season was definitely Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A year ago we were asking if a television series was the next logical step for a studio that had produced a wildly successful string of movies, and at first, it could've gone either way. However, as the show's inaugural season pressed on, took shape, and found its legs, the loyal viewers who stuck with it had their faith rewarded.

At San Diego Comic-Con, OTF took part in the roundtable discussions with many of the people behind the success of AoS. Producers Jeph Loeb and Jeffrey Bell, co-creators Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon, as well as cast members Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, and Agent Coulson himself, Clark Gregg sit down to talk about what went down last season and what we may or may not see in season 2 as Marvel's premier spy ring begins the healing process.

Check out the interviews here!

Season 2 of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres on September 23rd on ABC!

1:01PM

SDCC 2014: Ashley Eckstein and Her Universe

It's Comic-Con, so naturally we had to reconnect with the always delightful Ashley Eckstein!

Ashley and Her Universe were particularly busy at this year's San Diego Comic-Con.  They launched the R2-D2-inspired "My Hero" Jewelry Collection, teamed up with Nerdist to sell the Ultimate Convention Hoodie, and, most impressively, hosted the inaugural Her Universe Fashion Show at the Manchester Grand Hyatt to kick off the weekend.

At the LucasFilm booth on the convention floor, we caught up the wonderful Ashley Eckstein to talk about the continuing expansion of Her Universe, the Fashion Show, and what's in store for Ashley on the voice acting front.

Check out the interview here!

Head to Her Universe now for your geek girl apparel, and be on the lookout for the "Cloak and Dagger" episode of Ultimate Spider-Man later this month!

10:00AM

SDCC 2014: Sunset Overdrive

Now that the new generation of consoles have finally been released, this year's E3 was devoted entirely to games.  Quite a few were worth keeping an eye on, but the game that piqued my interest the most was Sunset Overdrive -- by a large margin.

Compared to most of the games shown, Sunset Overdrive was a breath of fresh air.  In a world of first person shooters set in monochromatic backdrops, Sunset Overdrive revels in color, activity, quirkiness, and fun -- the type of game you'd hope for from the house of Ratchet and Clank. Being a big fan of the Lombax-Robot series, I was excited to see Insomniac Games back with a game that celebrates just being loud, fun, and unique.

At this year's SDCC, we were invited to the festivities at the Xbox Gaming Lounge.  After partaking in the free food and drink, Tek rushed to see what Master Chief was up to and I found my way to Ryan Schneider of Insomniac Games for the details on Sunset Overdrive.  Check out the interview!

Sunset Overdrive crashes onto the scene on October 28, 2014!

10:00AM

SDCC 2014: Batman: Assault on Arkham - Part 2

In Part 2 of our roundtable disussions at San Diego Comic-Con with the talented people behind Batman: Assault on Arkham, we focus on a handful of the stellar cast members lending their voices to some of DC's most iconic characters.

Batman himself, Kevin Conroy, is joined by Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds), John DiMaggio (Futurama), and Troy Baker (Batman: Arkham Origins) as they discuss everything from Batman fandom to voice over technique as we talk about this latest animated adventure. We'll even throw in Troy Baker's uncanny Sam Elliott impression. Enjoy!

Batman: Assault on Arkham is available now! Also, be sure to check out Part 1 of the roundtables if you haven't already!

10:00AM

SDCC 2014: Batman: Assault on Arkham - Part 1

Last week saw the release of Batman: Assault on Arkham, the latest animated adventure from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. However, while the Dark Knight’s name is in the title, the true stars of the movie are the members of the Suicide Squad, the villainous group of DC villains whose roster seems to change every time they appear.

As one of three animated films to be released in 2014 from WBHE, it’s no small feat to bring Assault on Arkham to audiences, but it’s accomplished by a core group of talented people who have done it many times before. At San Diego Comic-Con, we got to sit down with Assault on Arkham’s Co-Director Jay Oliva (Justice League: War), Producer James Tucker (Son of Batman), and legendary Voice Director Andrea Romano (Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League) to talk about what it takes to bring this project to the small screen. Check out the video below!

Check back soon for Part 2 of our Assault on Arkham roundtable discussions with some of the film’s talented voice actors!

Batman: Assault on Arkham is available now!