Con Man – the wonderful webseries from Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, and PJ Haarsma – is back for season 2, chronicling the continuing misadventures of sci-fi actor Wray Nerely (Tudyk) and his quest for respect in Hollywood for anything other than “sci-fi.”
As season one showed us, Nerely’s big break was on a short lived sci-fi show, Spectrum, as the pilot co-star to ship captain Jack Moore (Fillion.) While Moore went on to be a wildly successful movie star, Nerely was relegated to making money on the convention circuit for Spectrum and hating every minute of it. Finally, Moore told Nerely that he wanted to do a movie together – to Nerely’s delight – but that movie was, of course, going to be Spectrum: The Movie.
Wray’s disappointment is palpable, but it only drives home what we’ve known since day one: Wray has no idea how good he has it. He has throngs of fans, some good friends (albeit more successful ones), and, with the Spectrum movie, the ability to work on an actual movie with Moore. He’s simply unable to see past himself to appreciate any of it. For what it’s worth, it’s easy to sympathize with someone trying so hard to garner respect while maintaining artistic integrity, but just about any other person would see that his life is not that bad.
The season two premiere, the first two episodes available today exclusively on Comic-Con HQ, picks up a few months after the season one finale, and not much has changed. Or, more accurately, plenty has changed, but Wray still can’t see it.
He is in a long-term relationship with Jack’s assistant, Faith (Alison Haislip), who by all accounts seems to be a pretty rad girl, but he can’t muster the courage to actually tell anyone that they’re dating. He has an opportunity to audition for a gritty drama (the brilliantly named Doctor Cop Lawyer: “One man is a surgeon, a policeman, and a prosecutor on a mission for justice”), but doesn’t want to do a commercial even though it would let him meet the show’s director and net six figures.
It might seem unappealing to keep watching a show about a miserable sad sack, but frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Everyone in Con Man, especially Tudyk’s neurotic Wray, is just too damn funny. Right from the opening scene with Wray’s landlord reliving his glory days, the jokes come at a constant clip. Tudyk’s delivery in this exchange in the very first scene is priceless:
Wray: Those outlets don’t work.
Faith: Is that clock right?
Wray: The clock? No! God, no.
There is also, of course, the delightfully literal example of that hospital patient “not having her shit together,” and perhaps the easiest contender for best gag so far is the ever-shifting personnel at the Middle Talent Agency (“It’s a volatile time.”) All legitimate belly laughs in 12-ish minutes per episodes. It’s just too good.
The cameos were always a point of glee from the first season – because majority of the season took place at conventions, you never knew who was going to turn up. The premiere episodes do not have much opportunity to feature recognizable faces, being separated from the con circuit, but the ones that do show up stand out. Arrow’s Echo Kellum, Chuck’s Vik Sahay, and Once Upon a Time’s Merrin Dungey round out Jack Moore’s agency team, and they seem to be having just too much fun satirizing the stereotypical agency meeting that they themselves are probably all too familiar with.
There’s always a fear that a show you enjoy will reach a sophomore slump after a strong first season, but then you get a stunt lady-man’s octogenarian balls in your face and suddenly you think everything’s going to be fine.
Rating: Highly Recommended. Season 2 of Con Man starts out strong, and I found myself wishing the episodes were longer than they are. The one-liners are amazing, and the actors that deliver them are on point. Wray may be a miserable sack, but damn it, he’s our sack.
- The grass isn’t always greener: Wray thinks Jack has everything, but even Jack’s starting to feel the actor’s struggle as all of roles are being taken by various Hemsworths.
- We do know that at least one lost Hemsworth is Girth Hemsworth, played by Liam McIntyre, who is apparently so Australian it hurts.
- Doctor Cop Lawyer’s main hero is named Dr. Officer Blade Slater, Esq., which is just fantastic.
- So far, Middle Talent Agency has had Stephanie, Gordon, Daniel, Pascal, and Pascal’s unnamed assistant.
- For a show about a convention man, there is a distinct lack of conventions in the first two episodes. I like where this season’s currently heading, so it’s not a complaint, but one has to wonder if the original conceit would be dropped so soon.
- Speaking of distinct lack, where’s Bobbie? I need more Mindy Sterling in my life. At least it looks like we’ll be getting a lot more of her based on the phone call that ends episode 2.
Con Man is available for your consumption now exclusively at Comic-Con HQ. All of season 1 is currently available, while season 2 will release 2 episodes per week starting today. The Con Man video game is available on iOS and Android, and the Spectrum comic book is available to download here. All photo credits to Comic-Con HQ.