“Are you paying attention?” – The Imitation Game and Benedict Cumberbatch at 92Y

benedict cumberbatch imitation game

Posted by Sage

“He’s the only person who had the power to forgive, in my mind, and he can’t. Because we destroyed him.”

That’s Benedict Cumberbatch on stage at the 92Y Sunday evening, responding to an audience question about the Queen’s 2013 pardon of World War II codebreaker Alan Turing and whether or not it was “too little, too late.”

benedict cumberbatch 92y

The Imitation Game is a fictionalized account of a victory that became a deep national shame. And Benedict is earning Oscar buzz for his portrayal of a brilliant man whose work saved millions of lives before institutionalized homophobia and fear took his legacy and his life. “His photo should be on the covers of textbooks,” Benedict told us. “Not just Maths, but History books.” It’s not, though. And most students won’t hear from their teachers how Alan Turing’s brilliance managed to crack the Nazi’s code and cut the war short by at least two years. Or how the “universal machines” he envisioned and built would become commonly known as “computers.” I first heard of Turing on a This American Life episode that aired right around the famously tardy pardon of his conviction for “indecency,” and like Cumberbatch, I was thunderstuck by the fact that his was not a household name. An “aching need to serve his legacy,” Benedict called the draw he felt to the project. All that Oscar stuff is a bonus.

benedict cumberbatch imitation

The screenplay for The Imitation Game was a first time feature by screenwriter Graham Moore and sat on the top of the famous “Black List” – an industry-voted survey of the most promising undeveloped scripts out there. Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) joined the newbie writer to make up an unlikely team to churn out a Best Picture frontrunner. Soon after, Benedict was on board or, in his words, “On board with the idea of being on board.” His Skype chat with Tyldum was followed by an in-person meeting, and soon enough, director and star were in “a beautiful marriage, really.” Don’t say “marriage” in front of your fans yet, Ben. We’re still adjusting. (But seriously, mazel.)

imitation game interrogation

The film is a pretty accessible one – its boldness is focused on portraying Turing as he was, without being particularly concerned that the audience will like him. The story is told, as moderator Annette Insdorf described, “in concentric circles.” Three eras of Turing’s life are layered on top of each other and we move between them steadily. In reverse chronological order, they are: his arrest and interrogation in 1951; his application and acceptance into MI6 and his work at Bletchley Park; and finally, a formative year at school with his best and only friend Christopher. The title of this post is the first line in the film – it’s Turing speaking to his interrogator – and the narration is snippets from their interview. “I have an aesthetic nervousness about voiceovers,” Benedict told us. And I’m with him – more often than not, they are evidence of laziness. Very rarely, they’re Goodfellas. Benedict softened to this one because it’s used sparingly, and because it’s actually dialogue in disguise.

benedict cumberbatch 92y

Beyond the jumps in time, character takes precedence over fancy filmmaker showboating. Benedict credits Tyldum’s steady hand for saving the film “from potential cliches.” In other hands, Turing’s story could have been milked for melodrama. Instead, the director lets the twists and turns of his life dictate The Imitation Game‘s shifts in genre. Benedict has significant experience portraying socially awkward genius; some of his lines in this film could fit comfortably into a Sherlock script. There’s a lot of humor in the movie and even in Turing himself. Early on, he meets with Commander Denniston (Charles Dance – what up, Tywin Lannister?), the old-school military heavy of the piece, for the most disastrous interview that’s ever resulted in an offer. You can’t tell where his inability to read social cues ends and his delight in throwing this blowhard off-base begins. Turing has difficulty working in a team (his first successful project is to go above Denniston’s head to Winston Churchill and get his superior fired), and his co-workers react to him with a mixture of annoyance, amusement and fear. One of my favorite scenes involves Turing trying to make nice with Hugh (Matthew Goode – still fine), John (Allen Leech – still Branson), and Peter (Matthew Beard) by bringing them apples, explaining why he’s bringing them apples, and then telling them a joke he’d memorized. They come to be very protective of him and their support ensures that he can continue his work to solve the Germans’ Enigma machine. And Mark Strong steals all his scenes as Stewart Menzies, a spy who clearly delights in his man-of-mystery persona. On the other hand, The Imitation Game is a thriller. Strong’s character tells Turing early on that British soldiers are dying at a rate of three per the length of their short conversation and that urgency persists through the rest of the film. Turing describes the Bletchley project as a war against the passage of time rather than a war against the enemy. The Germans change the settings on their encoder each day, so every midnight means that the previous day’s work is essentially meaningless. If I remember correctly, we don’t see the face of a single German soldier throughout the movie. But see an abundance of clock faces and ticking hands.

benedict kiera imitation game

Platonic though it is, the richest central relationship of the movie is the one between Turing and Joan Clarke, a mathematics student who served as the only female codebreaker in MI6 and my new life hero. Let it never be said that I don’t change my mind. It took me years to get all the fuss about Keira Knightley, and I still think she used to confuse looking petulant with acting. But between this and her role in Begin Again, she has me eating crow this year. There’s a lack of vanity and self-consciousness in her acting, and I think aging out of the ingenue category has a lot to do with it. It’s Joan who convinces Turing that he’s made stronger by having allies. And it’s Joan who completely accepts his otherness. One of the benefits of his overly analytic mind is that he doesn’t see hers – or at least why her gender should have any effect on what she can accomplish. They understand each other and they make each other better. I wish we’d had a chance to hear Benedict talk about how he and Keira found that relationship, but…you’ll see.

Before I tell you more about the Q&A, I have to mention Alex Lawther, the young actor who played Alan Turing during his school days. Benedict called him “the real discovery” of the film and it’s a phenomenal performance. He doesn’t look particularly like Benedict Cumberbatch (TV Mouse Kelly: “No one looks like Benedict Cumberbatch), but he mimics him like a champ. In emotional moments (and trust me, he’s got emotional moments…Turing doesn’t name his machine after Christopher for nothing), Lawther’s mouth trembles and works, like he’s tasting every bit of heartbreak and disappointment that’s coming for him.

Unfortunately, the experience of seeing this work and hearing the artist talk about it afterwards was marred by some brazen rudeness by the patrons of the 92nd Street Y. As Benedict and the moderator were speaking, droves of audience members had no qualms about loudly collecting their things, crawling over their neighbors, and making their way to the exits. The house staff did nothing to curb this behavior or to minimize its effect on other patrons. I had been concerned that my fellow Cumberbitches (I’m owning that term, deal with it) would react to him in a way that was…inappropriate to the setting. However, fans were perfectly behaved and engaged. Many of their hands were still raised with questions when the discussion was abruptly cut short. The situation was so bad that Benedict himself made a self-deprecating comment. I sent a lengthy email to the venue’s customer service email (because of course I did) and got a reply that thanked me for my feedback and hoped I’d come again soon. I guess this is how we treat people now. But I don’t want to end this post on a massive downer, so here…look upon him again:

benedict cumberbatch imitation game 92y

Tidbits from the Q&A:

  • Benedict started to explain, in detail, the cell mutations that Turing was studying at the time of his death and must have seen the overwhelmed looks on our faces: “I’ll keep it simple, because trust me, I am quite simple.”
  • Eddie Redmayne came up, as Benedict also played Stephen Hawking once upon a time. He had nothing but praise for the actor he described as a dear friend. “Everything he does is profoundly investigated and realized.”
  • He talked about feminism for a while and I may have cried tears of joy.
  • Moderator: *mentions that screenwriter is also a novelist who wrote a book called The Sherlockian.*
    Benedict: “Yeaaaaaaaah….” (He was just sheepish because he hadn’t read it yet.)
  • Benedict sees this film not just as a biopic, but “something we can carry forward.” Alan Turing was broken down by “the very democracy he had saved,” thanks to judgement and fear mongering. And those concepts have yet to go out of style. However: “Prejudice in any form cannot be excused.”

Are you looking forward to The Imitation Game, readers? And what are we gonna do if Ben wins an Oscar?

“Soul of the Fandom” – CommuniCon 3

community celebration

Posted by Kim and Sage

The lead up to the third officially unofficial gathering of Community fanatics and the creatives who love them filled me with trepidation. Don’t get me wrong – I was counting the seconds until I’d be reunited and, in many cases, united for the first time with members of this small internet army. But despite watching the show since Jeff Winger hastily put together a “study group” to get into Britta Perry’s pants, I didn’t know if I’d quite meet the super-fan requirements for CommuniCon. It’s common knowledge that Kim is the Greendale authority in our partnership, and my casual live-tweeting has nothing on the hours and hours she’s spent promoting the show. What if I couldn’t hang? Cue Hulu and a mainlined, full-series rewatch.

I shouldn’t have worried. (Zero regrets for that marathon though.) CommuniCon isn’t about some established fan hierarchy. It’s the Greendale of cons, free of standards judgement. You love the show? Well then, you’re already accepted.

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Let me back up for the benefit of the n00bs. CommuniCon is a fan-run convention created to celebrate and support Community. Like last year’s, CommuniCon 3 was held at the Embassy Suites in Glendale, CA. (And the hotel will hopefully will remain its home, because we’re now thoroughly spoiled by the nightly open bar.) Organizer and dear HOF friend Gillian Morshedi packs the itinerary with panels and meet & greets. Other features include a mini-Artists Alley to assist you in emptying your wallet; the full-size DARSIT, available for photo ops; and even a game station where you can Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne, 8-bit style. Basically, it’s a Communie playground.

We escaped rainy New York City and landed in sunny California the Friday morning of the con. Thanks to the careful pre-planning of the abundance of Monicas in our hotel room, we quickly rounded up Communies from a handful of different terminals and headed out to Glendale together. (Shout out to the SuperShuttle and the family we rode with. Sorry we talked about the finer points of the Mindy backdoor episode the entire ride.) After the obligatory In-N-Out meal and gas station wine run, our first show-related act as a unified fandom was to take on a Community trivia that just happened to fall on the same weekend. I was ready to back out when I learned that the cafe hosting us didn’t have a liquor license. (Whoever heard of a dry trivia? That’s on par with a dry wedding. Why do you hate your friends?) But Kim had already sorted us neatly into cars (Monica), so fine.

Team Precocious Little Bitches reporting for duty.

Team Precocious Little Bitches reporting for duty.

Precocious Little Bitches wasn’t just a name, it was an attitude.  Being a trivia host myself, I firmly believe a) that the job of the host isn’t to show off his own obscure knowledge but to facilitate fun-times and friendly competition, and b) that anyone who carefully watches a show should do reasonably well on that show’s trivia, even if they don’t spend their spare time scouring the IMDB pages of anyone who’s ever been involved with it. So maybe we were a little vocal about calling bullshit on a whole round on the cast’s various connections to obscure horror movies. While our wife-friends trounced the rest of the competition and walked away with some extra-rare crew hoodies, we were given prizes by the hosts, I swear to god,  just for complaining. (Those guys were total sports.) “Don’t be so negative!” you might say. But I didn’t get this Joel McHale-signed “Modern Warfare” script for being a positive person, so.

modern warfare talk about luck

CommuniCon officially kicked off the next morning. When we hit registration to get our badges, we were each handed a swag bag from Yahoo Screen. The streaming service saved the show after its cancellation by NBC and has already been treating Community like the asset it is. From SDCC to NYCC and all the internet in between, we’ve seen Yahoo reaching Community fans and would-be fans where they live – the nerdiest reaches of the culture. It almost goes without saying that NBC never showed its network-y face at any CommuniCon event. Yahoo Screen was there with us all weekend, recording panels, engaging with the fandom, and making sure we all had our official Greendale student IDs.

Also there all weekend: CON RIBBONS. We borrowed stole this idea from Gallifrey One and it’s a keeper. Dozens of CommuniCon attendees jumped on board and had their pre-ordered ribbons ready to trade. A few of our favorites:

  • “It’s like a thought with another thought’s hat on.”
  • “Oh, the Koog approves! That’s a five!”
  • “Lava Joust?”
  • “Technically Jeff, you ARE about to get screwed in the biology room.” (Kim’s)
  • “How long does peyote last? Just…asking for a friend.” (Mine)

After welcoming everyone, Gillian played for us what Kim and I consider our contribution to the con. The week before we left for LA, we saw Danny Pudi in the original musical Found Off-Broadway. We caught up with him at the stage door and talked showtunes and Community for a good while. He was so jazzed to hear that we were going to the Con and graciously (nay, enthusiastically) recording a greeting for us to take with us. He wants you all to know that he loves you a lot, and that musicals are more exhausting than sitcoms.

communicon no small parts

Vicki, Garrett and Dean Spreck

The very first panel of the con was a fan favorite: No Small Parts. The Community universe reaches far beyond the Greendale 7, and this hour gave us the chance to find out what it’s like to be a guest star, a recurring character, or even a stand-in. Our panelists were Erik Charles Nielsen (Garrett), Danielle Kaplowitz (Vicki), Brisco Diggs (Black Hitler and Donald’s stand-in), Jordan Black (Dean Spreck), Brady Novak (Richie), Dominik Musiol (Pavel), Deanna Moore (Alison Brie’s stand-in/photo double), and Ben Zelevansky (Postman).  We learned the Jordan doesn’t exactly watch the show – how very City College of him (“I told you I was going to come off as an asshole. You can relax, I already know.”); that Dominic spent 2.5 hours pouring water over Danny Pudi’s head to create Abed’s romantic ’80s movie moment; and that Deanna’s favorite moment on the show was getting to act with Alison Orphan Black-style in the Darkest Timeline episode. The actors hung way longer than they were supposed to in order to sign and take photos for everyone who wanted to meet them. The Meet & Greet line uncovered a few more revelations: my favorites being that Ben also played the ranger who asks to see Ron Swanson’s permit for roasting an entire pig in a park (“This just says, ‘I can do what I want.'”) and that this very blog is one of the top 10 Google results for Erik’s name. (It’s cool, Erik. We all Google ourselves from time to time. Also, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, HI. YOU ARE GREAT.) You can watch the entire conversation online at Yahoo Screen (our favorite streaming service EVER) even though Charley Koontz (Neil) is making that CSI money now and is too famous for us.

communicon no small parts collage

At any given break, you could find us buying up Artists Alley. My own haul included a gorgeous set of paintball postcards, a PayDean button, framed Brittabot print, and an activity book and one-of-a-kind commission from THE Julieta Colas. My only request was “something Jeff/Britta” and THIS is what she handed me.

communicon julieta jeff britta

…how?

From small parts to smaller on the outside telephone boxes, we rolled right into the Inspector Spacetime panel. Travis Richey and the gang were there to clue us in to their progress on the crowd-funded Untitled Motion Picture About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time. Honestly, the work so far looks impressive and expensive. The Spacetime team were adamant that they approach their Inspector spin-offs as high-quality standalone stories. And that’s why they were able to court Star Trek‘s Robert Picardo and Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy, both of whom contributed painfully adorable videos to the fundraising campaign. Check those sweet old motherfuckers and the rest of the panel here.

inspector spacetime panel communicon

darsit wives communicon

DARSIT poses at the ready.

Since the Inspector’s panel led right into the annual CommuniCon costume contest, I should mention that Kim, myself, and our friends Mary and the Shannons had been, for the entire day, in full “Geothermal Escapism” mode. When the floor is hot lava, there’s nothing to do but Mad Max it out. We’d been plotting cosplay domination remotely for months. And even though we lost our Abed, we made quite the BAMF study group when we were finally together. (Kim: I was the first member of our group to make an appearance on the con floor that morning, and BOY did I make an entrance.  Everyone was lined up to register, and I was one of the first cosplayers there, so I was met with raucous applause.  “WELCOME TO SHIRLEY ISLAND BITCHES!” I declared, because all I need in life is for people to applaud me where ever I go.)

communicon modern warfare cosplay

To those looking to achieve my Britta hair: Sleep in foam spiral rollers, stick a thousand bobbie pins into your skull, and attack that shit with an entire can of hairspray.

Because Kim has fancy staff privileges, she had also had intel on a couple of surprise judges. Gillian Jacobs and Yvette Nicole Brown became three-time CommuniCon veterans that weekend and we love them for it. They both thanked us all for staying so passionate and Yahoo Screen for believing in the show. And Yvette went on to assure us (to huge applause) that even though her family concerns prevent her from being a part of the cast, she will always be a part of the family, on social media and everywhere else. After bemoaning the lack of Shirley cosplayers last year, Yvette geeked out over Kim’s Shirley Island outfit in the green room (Kim: I had tweeted Yvette a picture of my costume earlier in the day (as I was super proud of it)and she flipped out over it.  I popped into the green room not long after she and Gillian arrived, and Yvette FREAKED OUT over seeing my costume in person.  “It’s YOU!!” she exclaimed.  “THIS is how you cosplay!  You have just made my life today!”  She also offered her condolences to the teddy bear I had beheaded the night before to make my scepter. Honestly, I don’t know how I didn’t burst into tears.)  Because people listen to Yvette Nicole Brown (and also because she made no bones about being a biased judge),  there was also small parade of Shirleys in the costume contest finals. (Glinda Shirley, Sam Jackson Shirley, Security Shirley, etc.) So well done on all of us for making Yvette feel loved and appreciated.

Shirley and Shirley

Shirley and Shirley

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“Are You Drunk Already?” – NYCC 2014, Day 2

CHAMPIONS

CHAMPIONS

Posted by Kim and Sage

Sage:

We’re running on little to no sleep. We’re already planning the yoga/massages/full on spinal realignment we’ll be getting after this thing is over. And Kim clued me in yesterday to a handy little tip: preemptively pop the Advil. Your lower back will thank you. Those concrete Javits center floors are unforgiving.  (Kim checked her iPhone fitness tracker last night and it showed that we walked 6.8 miles yesterday.  No wonder our feet hurt.)

But I took the subway into the city in full Peter Quill cosplay yesterday morning while everyone else was commuting in for work, so who can complain? Comic Con is a marathon, not a sprint. And we’ll sleep when we’re dead. DAY TWO.

– Entry was considerably more organized on Friday morning, so points for improvement. Without a main stage panel on our must-list, we were spared the Queue Hall lines for a day. Instead, Kelly (the TV Mouse), Kim, and I walked the floor, pretending to look at merch but actually mentally preparing to be in the presence of Gillian Anderson, whose autograph session we were heading to later. We failed.

We did snag this variant cover of the FIRST Sleepy Hollow comic ever though.

We did snag this variant cover of the FIRST Sleepy Hollow comic ever though.

– We’d all wracked our brains to come up with the perfect item for Gillian to sign. The price of the autograph usually includes a nice glossy photo for those who haven’t come with anything from home. And of course Gillian’s table had some gorgeous shots (including my personal favorite: Bedelia and her wine), but glossy 8×10’s are for amateurs. Kelly brought a “Mulder, It’s Me” print; Kim brought a gorgeous Mulder and Scully fan art; and I brought the “I Want To Believe” poster I’ve had since I was 14 years old. It was literally the first thing I ever ordered from the internet.

We are not ready/worthy.

We are not ready/worthy.

– She looked stunning, obviously, and was poised, relaxed, and friendly. Rules are strict about photos in the autograph line, but that’s alright. We each had our moment. Kim told Gillian about the X-Files license plate she had in college; I told her she was fabulous in Streetcar (AS IF SHE DOESN’T KNOW) and asked her if they were bringing it to New York (“We’re trying!”) But new X-Files convert Kelly maybe won this session. Because Gillian signed her “Mulder, it’s me.” print like so:

Mulder, it’s me.

-Scully.

aka

Gillian Anderson

By the way, if you haven’t checked out Kelly’s “Times Mulder and Scully Should Have Made Out This Week” posts, you must. I’ve been eagerly anticipating them every week, because I enjoy watching my friends fall apart in real time over the ship-of-all-ships.

– The temporary barricades in the Javits are the opposite of sturdy, so they hit the ground all the time. (And everyone cheers, like in high school when people dropped chairs in the cafeteria.) Anyway, a showboater tried to swoop under the barricade to join Gillian’s line. As soon as he grabbed the pole, it went down and so did he. Apparently Gillian’s response was “Are you drunk already?”, which Kelly and Kim failed to tell me until the end of the day. We are no longer speaking.

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– Then it was back to the floor. Thursday was busier than ever this year, but Friday felt like the real kick-off of the Con. The Exhibitors hall was packed with cosplayers, us among them. Kim got lots of love for her “Fires of Pompeii Donna Noble” (and should seriously consider going red for a while); Kelly was a screen-accurate River Song; and, going rogue and deviating from the Who theme, I went for a femme-y Star Lord. It’s ironic, because neither Donna nor River would stand for any of Peter’s nonsense. Imagine River and Star Lord in the same room though. The flirting. The galaxy can’t even handle them right now.

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– And now, a Day 2 cosplay photo dump!

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BABY IRON MAN

If you've failed this city, look out.

If you’ve failed this city, look out.

Tragedy strikes NYCC.

Tragedy strikes NYCC.

 

Consider this my missed connections post, because I think this Chris Pratt lookalike and I need to get married yesterday.

Consider this my missed connections post, because I think this Chris Pratt lookalike and I need to get married yesterday.

One of the little boys in the picture asked to touch Khaleesi's dragon and she said, "Yes. Because you asked." #cosplayisnotconsent

One of the little boys in the picture asked to touch Khaleesi’s dragon and she said, “Yes. Because you asked.” #cosplayisnotconsent

BENDER

BENDER

An excellent Bob Belcher

An excellent Bob Belcher

– After a refuel in the food truck lot (yesterday, Greek), we went searching for The Mary Sue lounge. I’d gotten the scoop from a Mary Sue editor that the lounge was relatively chill and not at all busy, unlike the Press Lounge which is a little more frantic this year. It’s kind of a heavenly respite. There are bean bag chairs, charging stations, a reading nook, free wi-fi, and CRAFTS.

Let me tell you how soothing it was to just sit and color for 15 minutes.

Let me tell you how soothing it was to just sit and color for 15 minutes.

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“I’m A Really Big Star, You Guys.” – NYCC 2014, Day One

"On Thursdays We Wear Scully."

“On Thursdays We Wear Scully.”

Posted by Kim and Sage

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!  Convention Season (because that’s what it is…we have THREE conventions in the next 5 weeks!) kicked off this morning with the first day of New York Comic-Con.  For the second year in a row, we’re proud to be accredited members of the press (we’re so fancy!), so we’ll be bringing you all the scoop, cosplay, celebrities, and panel highlights from all four days of the con.  And this time, because we believe in spreading joy, we’ve got friends with us. TV Mouse Kelly is covering the con for the Entertainment Weekly community (so be sure to look for her posts there) and several friends from Twitter came in for the party as well.  Because NYCC is always better with friends!  Day One was jam-packed, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

– We arrived at the Javits Center bright and early this morning to queue up for main stage panels.  NYCC is trying something different this year with the main stage.  Unlike previous years, they are clearing the room between panels, so there is no camping out in the main room all day just to wait for a panel late in the afternoon (a BIG difference from the famous Hall H at SDCC).  This is good because it potentially allows more people to see the marquee panels, as there are separate lines for each panel, and then wristbands are given out once the line is capped, so you are free to leave the line and then come back for your panel later in the day.  The BAD thing about this new policy is that it makes it hard for you to do more than one panel in the main room, so you are forced to choose which one you want to do the most.  And then things like THIS happen:

Sage all alone in the Bob's Burgers Panel Line.

Sage all alone in the Bob’s Burgers Panel Line.

That’s right.  The unthinkable happened.  As I wanted to do the Disney Studios panel and Sage wanted to do the Bob’s Burgers panel, we were forced to separate for a big chunk of Day One.  It was terrible and can never happen again.  Until it happens tomorrow.

– Once our wristbands for the panel were acquired, Sage went off to the press session for Bob’s Burgers while I did what I do best…I got seats on the third row in the center for the Big Hero 6 and Tomorrowland panel.  2014 marks the first time Disney Studios had a major panel for New York Comic-Con and they did not disappoint.  The first half of the panel (moderated by everyone’s favorite Nerd, Chris Hardwick) focused on the latest project from Disney Animation, Big Hero 6.  We were shown several EXCLUSIVE (until they released them on the internet moments later) clips from the movie, which looks FANTASTIC.  I had seen the trailer several times and had always giggled at the lovable inflatable robot Baymax as he tried to squeeze his giant belly into a suit of armor or when he would cover his punctures with scotch tape, but I did not expect to be as DELIGHTED as I was by all the footage.  It was so clever, and it had all the visual gags for the kiddies and the super sharp dialogue for the grown-ups that we’ve come to expect from Disney.  If you were a fan of Wreck-It Ralph (that movie is a GEM), you’re going to love Big Hero 6.

The Voice Cast of Big Hero 6

The Voice Cast of Big Hero 6

– One of my favorite moments of the Big Hero 6 panel was when Scott Adsit, who voices Baymax, expressed his sheer delight and awe that he was on the main stage at New York Comic-Con.  “I always come to this con,” he said. “And I can NEVER get into this room because of crazy people like all of you…and now here I am ON the stage.  It’s amazing.” Stars…they are nerds just like us.  (And my heart grew three sizes in that moment.)

– When asked about the arc for his character Hiro, Ryan Potter said, “He’s a kid who is on a wrong path until he meets Baymax and all these weird and cool geniuses…and they help him find his way and realize the good in him.” So what you’re SAYING is that this movie is going to leave me a blubbering mess, right?

– Up next was Tomorrowland, directed by Brad Bird and written by Damon Lindelof.  The movie is so super secret, I still can’t even tell you what it’s about.  And that’s not me smugly lording Comic-Con secrets over you (I’ll tell you when I am doing that, I promise).  That’s me saying that even with the footage they showed us, I STILL have no real idea what the movie is about.  But I know it looked awesome.

CURSE YOU LINDELOF!

CURSE YOU LINDELOF!

– When trying to describe her character Casey, Britt Robertson (RIP Life Unexpected) said “She’s a girl…(looks at Lindelof, terrified she’ll say something she’s not supposed to) and that’s all I’m going to say about that.”  Adorable little Raffey Cassidy literally recited a character description (“She’s full of Hope”) that Lindelof whispered in her ear.  And world treasure Hugh Laurie said “I’m a GOOD guy…or BAD…I just don’t know.”  It was amusing and ridiculous and everything you want Comic-Con to be.

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On Being Cast: “I had dinner with these two. I don’t remember that dinner…just that suddenly I was in the movie.”

– Talk inevitably turned to Mega Movie Star George Clooney and what it was like to work with him.  Raffey and Britt sung his praises, but Hugh was having none of it.  “The thing no one is talking about is all of his shouting…and his drinking…JUST AWFUL HE IS.”

OMG

OMG

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11 Ways San Diego Comic Con 2014 Ruined Our Lives

Michael Scott The Office Hurt Like a Motherfucker

Posted by Kim and Sage

Another San Diego Comic Con, another four days that most of us spend in abject agony, knowing that we’re (yet again) missing the fandom event of the year.

We know, we know. The Hall H lines are misery. But frankly, a 4am wake-up call doesn’t sound so bad to those of us watching it all go down through the lens of Tumblr and Twitter. (Especially when one of the Supernatural men brings you your caffeine fix.) Anyway, Kim and I are New Yorkers. We majored in line waiting.

Until we can finally make it there for Sesame Street panels and running into DanRad on the floor in full Spidey garb, we’ll have to settle for live tweets and dispatches from the TV Guide yacht and hope that a little bit of stardust from the lucky bastards who were there can rub off on us. For now, here are the eleven ways that SDCC completely ruined us.

1) The Avengers assemble for a massive lovefest.

Avengers Group Photo

Not since The Lord of the Rings have I been so obsessed with a group of men (and bonus ladies) so genuinely in love with each other.  Every member of Team Marvel is a delight on their own (don’t even get me started on my feelings for Mark Ruffalo right now) but something magical happens when the Avengers assemble.  Lots of hugging and kissing.  Lots of rough housing and shenanigans. Lots and lots of fangirl hearts exploding. It’s all just too much.  It’s going to be a sad sad sad sad when this group no longer has legitimate reasons to all gather with cameras everywhere to document their love.  I think Comic Con should just have a panel with them every year from here on out…even after the movies are done, because we should never live in a world without them together.  –Kim

Evans RDJ Hug

You probably heard that RDJ took the Hall H stage to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” and thew roses into the audience (“Playing” Tony Stark? Who’s playing?), but you may have missed it when he told a reporter the real deal about his castmates: “We don’t just hang out on press lines, you know. They’re like family to me.”

Evans Ruffalo Boob Grab

Of course the unapologetically bright Marvel-verse would cultivate this type of cast camaraderie. And maybe it’s not totally necessary for the protectors of our planet to be so damn lovable, but it certainly helps. I’ve got little use for dour superheroes. Dour superheroes aren’t gonna dub Chris Evans “Dorito” for no apparent reason or launch a full-scale assault on their fellow male friends’ pecs or publicly shame Mark Ruffalo (who we like, very much, just as he is) with their inhumanly large biceps.

In addition to flaunting their enviable friendships in our faces, the Avengers were in San Diego to drop an Age of Ultron teaser. Which certainly didn’t leak and which we certainly didn’t watch. Contraband trailer or no, we anxiously await that movie…and the kindergarten press tour that’ll come with it. –Sage

2) Community celebrates a new life at Yahoo Screen

Community Gillian Floor Bitch

There wasn’t much information at this panel regarding the miraculous sixth season of Community that will be airing on the internets (where most Community fans watched the show in the first place…hey-o!) mainly because I think contractual details are still being hammered out and writers are being hired, as much of the current staff has already moved on to new projects.  We DO know that Yahoo Screen is raging against the Netflix model by planning to release episodes weekly (THANK YOU JESUS cause you KNOW that it would all get binged and therefore spoiled for the people like me who can only binge on weekends) and that the show will probably be returning in early 2015.  As for how it will be received?  I think it was summed up perfectly when the panel said “Ratings?  Where we’re going, we don’t NEED ratings.”  It seems like Community was always destined for this and I think it will feel right at home in its corner of the internet.

It was a little sad only seeing 3 of our principal cast on the stage, as previous Comic Cons have featured almost the entire cast.  But Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, and Jim Rash were delightful as always and clearly still in awe that they were even THERE celebrating a sixth season.  A SIXTH SEASON you guys!  We did it!!! The most overwhelming thing to me about Community at this year’s SDCC was the sheer amount of promotion that Yahoo gave it.  All the bathroom signs were the Greendale Human Being.  There were banners everywhere.  The local Subway turned into Shirley’s Sandwiches for the day on Thursday.  It was more promotion in a weekend than 5 seasons on NBC combined.  My heart swells with gratitude.  Thank you, Yahoo.

Also, Joel McHale?  I CANNOT WITH YOUR FACE.  How DARE you, sir.  –Kim

What she said. — Sage

3) Benedict Cumberbatch attends. Against all odds, not ripped to shreds.

sdcc benedict armSDCC Benedict Shoe Size 2
What’s miraculous is not that Benedict escaped Comic-Con in one piece but that he seemed truly delighted to be there.  It’s always the fear when a megastar comes to their first mega-con…that they will have no idea what to do when surrounded by that much love and adoration (we had that fear when Billie Piper went to Gally) and that they will freak out and never want to come again.  It was wonderful to see Benedict just drink it in.  He was delightfully cheeky in all of his Q&A’s and gleefully selfied with his Hobbit castmates (we’ll get to that later).  It was a joy.  Come back again, Benedict.  And next time…bring Sherlock with you.  –Kim

SDCC Benedict Gentleman

While he did sit on The Hobbit panel too, Benedict was actually at SDCC to promote The Penguins of Madagascar, of all things. Attendees were strictly forbidden from asking any Sherlock-related questions, so it was up to Ben to entertain a gathering of adoring Cumberbitches, none of whom had any idea Dreamworks was still making Madagascar movies. How’d he do it? Dick jokes, obviously.

Meanwhile, half of me is convinced that Benedict braved the San Diego beast just to have more things and people to point at in pictures. –Sage

SDCC Benedict Penguin

4) Stephen Amell’s got abs and he knows how to use them.

Stephen Amell SDCC No Regrets

We’ve seen our friends live-tweeting and screaming about Arrow for two seasons now.  Sage and I both held out on watching though…for reasons neither one of us can remember now.  What we DO know is that we’ve both watched half of season one since Comic-Con ended.  And that Stephen Amell wearing a shirt is a crime against humanity.  –Kim

SDCC Stephen Amell Abs Close-Up

Part of the reason I embarked on the Arrow marathon is that Stephen Amell is already a confirmed guest for New York Comic Con in October. And now I know what I’m asking him to do in our photo op. –Sage

SDCC Arrow Cast Clapping

5) No one is safe from the charm of the Sleepy Hollow cast.

SDCC Sleepy Hollow Marry Fuck Kill

I spent most of the weekend in the Tom Mison tumblr tag yelling “OH MY GOD I HATE YOU SO MUCH” at my computer screen.  Our reigning Sexiest Man Alive and Best Actor in a Drama was in rare form all weekend from playing MFK with historical figures to constantly expressing his love for John Noble to having the world’s SASSIEST eyebrow (how does it NOT have its own Twitter handle?).  The Sleepy Hollow delight didn’t stop with Tom though.  Nicole Beharie continued to prove that she has the world’s best facial expressions, Orlando Jones expressed his desire to be a unicorn (don’t we all want that?), and the rest of the cast gushed with love for their show and for each other.  I need this show back on my eyeballs post-haste.  Is it September 22nd yet? –Kim

SDCC Sleepy Hollow Orlando Jones

Sleepy Hollow is a show that was surely conceived with the Comic Con audience in mind. And if the concept wasn’t enough to hook the fandom, Fox went ahead and cast it with actors who seem born to sit on an SDCC dais. (“Hashtag Ichabbie!” – Tom Mison) I don’t anticipate a second season slump, but it’ll still be interesting to see where Sleepy takes its season one momentum. SDCC brought us new artwork, which seems to indicate that this new crop of episodes will be heavy on both the mythology and the scares, and a new clip of Crane in a bank, which seems to indicate that Ichabod has made little progress in conforming to the little inconveniences of the modern world. We wouldn’t want it any other way. –Sage

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Discussing Rose and The Doctor on CrashChords!

Posted by Kim

Earlier this week we sat down with our friends at Crash Chords to record a podcast in which we narrowed down our mammoth 49 Hour Rose and the Doctor Playlist into a more manageable hour-long mixtape.  It was not an easy task and Sage and I spent a good deal of time debating what songs we felt MOST signified the OTP that truly launched this site.  We were quite happy with our picks though and we sat down with the boys and discussed the songs themselves, both musically and how they fit into the playlist as a whole.  And then of course we discussed our feelings about how we felt the songs fit within the Doctor Who universe as a whole.

You can find the episode here.  Enjoy!

Podcasting Delirium!

Podcasting Delirium!

“Always the lead, darling.” – Falling All Over Paul McGann at Gallifrey One

Paul McGann Gally1 Panel

Posted by Sage

We GET it, Paul McGann.

You’re smooth and suave and enormously talented and infuriatingly nonchalant about all of it.

We’ve been double-teaming our Gallifrey One recaps with Kelly of The TV Mouse, our travel buddy and most direct “pay-it-forward” Whovian creation. She’ll readily agree that we destroyed her life with this fandom in general and David Tennant’s face, specifically. You can read part one of our adventures at the largest and longest running Doctor Who fan convention in the US here. Part two is here. If you read those already, you might have noticed that Kim and Kelly skimmed over all McGann (full name: Sexy Beast Paul McGann) specific happenings. Why? Because Paul deserves his own post. Always the lead, darling.

Paul McGann Whatever It Is You're Planning

Also, if he ever finds this, I’m moving to Karn.

Here at HoF, for better or for worse, we fall hard and we fall fast. It was 6am and I was still bleary-eyed from sleep when the BBC posted a pre-50th Anniversary webisode that finally opened my eyes to everything the Eighth Doctor could be. (For more waxing poetic on “Night of the Doctor” and Paul’s performance in it, check out our picks for the Best Performances of 2013.) So we’d been giddy about being in his presence at Gally since the day he was announced. We weren’t the only ones. A couple hours into day 1, we’d already swapped for handfuls of Eight-specific ribbons, including “The front crashes first, think it through,” and the two-fer of, “This is a ribbon,” and “But probably not the one you expected.” But there were at least two people in LAX Marriott that weekend who hadn’t yet had the experience of watching that 6-minute shove straight into womanhood. One was our friend Gillian. The other was Paul McGann.

So: Saturday morning, right after we watched “Closing Time” with live director commentary and willed Eleven to really french It’s-Always-Been-You-Craig this time, Paul came out on stage and settled in for his spotlight panel. And when I say he “settled in,” I MEAN IT.

Paul McGann Gally 1 Lounging

“Loungin'” – LL Cool J ft. Total and Paul McGann

I’m not fully convinced that Paul McGann has bones (though he’s free to prove it to me, hey-oooo), because he practically liquified himself onto the Marriott’s blood orange couches at every opportunity. My camera’s got a fly zoom, as you can see, but by the end of each of his panels, he’d sunk below the heads of people in front of us. This poor man’s bald spot was not supposed to be the focus of this photo, FYI.

To prove my point that Paul is half Irish/half the silver goo from Alex Mack, see this highly sophisticated time lapse photo series.

Paul McGann Is Sinking Gallifrey One

Paul McGann is Sinking Part 2 Gallifrey One

Paul McGann is Sinking Part Three Gallifrey One

Sidebar: Is that Bald Spot I see again in photo #2? Who did he screw to get an assigned seat?

Paul is just as chill professionally, since he didn’t even need to see a script before signing on do the webisode. Good thing, because Steven Moffat hadn’t written one yet. Paul told us that Moff was waiting until he got his actor on board before he penned the Eight to War Doctor regeneration story. No time for Moff to waste. He’s a busy man, what with all the character assassination he had to work into Sherlock series 3 and the Who Christmas special this year.

McGann Moffat kick

Let’s not mock Moffat too much today, especially because he and RTD were always allies of Big Finish and the audio dramas where Eight embarked on most of his adventures. There’s even a shoutout to his audio companions in NoTD. Cass, very un-companion of that story, was also with us at Gally 1. Emma Campbell-Jones joined the panel halfway through and got to be on the receiving end of Paul’s aggressive informality. In other words, his head was almost in her lap.

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It’s Raining Tens – A Weekend at Gallifrey One

Waiting to meet our Queen.

Waiting to meet our Queen.

Posted by Kelly of The TV Mouse

FRIDAY. FEBRUARY 14. LOS ANGELES.

“They always throw it on Valentine’s Day because Doctor Who fans are available.”

That’s what actor/ writer/ comedian Toby Hadoke said on Friday night to a packed room full of Whovians. Fair play, Toby. But if you’re not going to surround yourself with people who love something enough to fly across the country and talk about it, what exactly is the point of Valentine’s Day?

And it’s not just the fans who love talking about this show. I’m still not over the fact that Billie Piper, sick with the flu, got on a plane to Los Angeles anyway. Flawless queen. Our first major Gally event was our photo op with her, and as we took our places, she draped her arm around Gillian, who was standing where Billie was looking, and asked the staff about medicine–some beautiful sounding medicine that we don’t have in the States, which led to a conversation about what she needed and an extra long time in Queen Bil’s presence. (Gillian: “That flu is the best thing that ever happened to me.”) Then she apologized for keeping us. Billie, you can keep us forever.

IMG_5970.JPG

To be clear, this is how gorgeous Billie Piper looks with the flu. It would have been my honor to catch a cold from her, but my immune system had to pick this weekend to work perfectly.

Next up was the Big Finish panel, featuring Eighth Doctor/ professional life ruiner Paul McGann (or “Sexy Beast Paul McGann,” copyright Kim and Sage).  Last fall, the man stole our hearts in just six minutes with his 50th anniversary prequel, but being in a room with him takes it to another level entirely. This was such a world-shaping experience for us that we’ve decided to devote an entire post to him, which Sage will be bringing to you shortly. Just know that he ruins people’s lives.

The benefit of sitting in on Paul’s interview, aside from quite literally everything, was that it gave us great seats for the next event: the Companions’ Panel. Everyone at Gally who’s ever traveled with the Doctor was up there, from the adorable Deborah Watling—whose Victoria traveled with the Second Doctor, and whose every comment was just overflowing with gratitude for the show and its fans—to Arthur Darvill, who was wearing a t-shirt with a cat on the pocket. Arthur would later comment that he didn’t plan to pack so many cat t-shirts, but I’ve seen him sing “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” with his girlfriend and I don’t believe him.

These Two…

They seated the companions in order of their appearance on the show, meaning Arthur and Billie shared a couch and reacted to everything in tandem, like siblings. Billie Piper’s reaction faces are golden. When Frazer Hines said of Sixth Doctor Colin Baker that they’d “shared a woman,” her eyes grew so wide that I think she was trying to summon David Tennant into the room with her just to share the moment.

The cast of Classic Who was loose and fabulous all weekend. They sassed each other freely, but they were very serious in their appreciation of the show. Rose Tyler got a lot of love up there, obviously. My favorite comment came from Nicola Bryant, who played Peri in the 80s, who still looks exactly the same, whose Twitter bio is “Who girl—always, all ways,” and who needs to start some sort of charity where in exchange for a donation she comes to your house and tells you stories over a plate of pancakes. Nicola explained that after her requests to go over her character’s backstory were denied, she just wrote up a bio for herself, a whole history of everything that mattered to Peri. Even if no one else ever read it, she wanted to know that her character was someone. She said she felt like all of her homework had been read in Rose.

 It hurts how proud I am.

We carried all of our Doctor Who emotions to a panel by Graeme Burke and Robert Smith?, authors of Who’s 50—The 50 Doctor Who Stories to Watch Before You Die. Kim already befriended them at L.I. Who last year (check out her write-up), and I can now echo her recommendation. Buy this book if you enjoy the show, if you think you might want to start the show, if you’d like to be better versed in the classic series, if you enjoy crying in public places, and/or if you like arguments. No two people can have the same list, and part of the fun of the book is in reading the authors’ dueling opinions and considering what your own list would look like. Mine would be heavier on Tennant, as would my life.

Fortunately, the hotel lobby made up for what my life has otherwise lacked, aka people dressed up as the Tenth Doctor. All weekend, there were pinstripe suits and long coats. Friday night, we found Ten in his tux and black converse sneakers. Because it was after 6, and he’s not a farmer. (And also because it was Casino Night.)

Allon-sy!

After mingling, we popped in on Toby Hadoke’s show, “My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver,” which turned out to be a celebration of the way TV shows in general, and the Doctor in particular, can bring people together. Then we decided against the casino room, because who wants card games when there are Rent songs to be sung at karaoke opposite Mickey Smith and Captain Jack? Priorities.

Read the Rest Over at The TV Mouse…