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San Diego Comic-Con 2011: Sunday

Traditionally, Sunday at Comic-Con is a subdued affair. Most of the AAA panels have already come and gone, exhibitors have run out of their exclusive merchandise and the schedules and audience is focused on family fare. But this year was a bit different – Ballroom 20 was closed, we still had some anticipated television panels, and the 2012 pre-registration saga would come to an end.

So how did everything go on Sunday then? We can say for certain that Sunday consummated SDCC 2011 as “The Year of Television”

As the lines for Ballroom 20 were worse than rush hour on the 405 throughout the weekend, the same trend held true when the panels moved over to Hall H on Sunday, the first year it was open on the schedule for the last day of the con. And what a schedule it was. Fans camped out overnight for three major television panels – starting with Glee in the morning, continuing with returning favorite Supernatural, and then Doctor Who a few hours later – and packed Hall H to capacity throughout the day. It was reported earlier in the day and confirmed when we arrived later, that staffers removed nearly 1,000 seats from Hall H. We have no idea why they did this – maybe they were expecting lesser crowds – but the hall still filled the seats to capacity and then ushered in awaiting fans to where the seats used to be for a standing-room only section. Even with the addition of the standing-room section, there was still over a thousand fans in line and unable to get in.

At the same time, lines for Nathan Fillion and the Castle panel in room 6BCF, which holds about 1,500 people, started to form before the show opened, and by the time the exhibit hall opened the line had stretched outside, winding under a tent and then extending all the way down the side of the convention center, nearly to the Marriott Marquis next door. In a strange programming decision, Castle wasn’t even the first panel of the day in 6BCF – that distinction went to the George R. R. Martin-moderated Wild Cards panel, about a series of sci-fi/fantasy books written and edited by the Game of Thrones author. The good that came out of this, is during the Wild Cards Q&A, many fans who were there for Castle mentioned this was their first exposure to the series and wanted to learn more about the best book to start reading, and where to buy them. We always said the best takeaways from Comic-Con are those when you find yourself somewhere you didn’t expect to be, and are able to gain some memorable or magical moment as a result. From the sound of it, a lot of Castle fans had this moment.

That’s not to say the Wild Cards panel eclipsed the Castle panel, because judging from the huge roars of applause from the audience it was all about the “Mayor of Comic-Con”, Nathan Fillion. He’s a great showman and a con favorite, and it’s evident he loves the Comic-Con crowd. Throughout the Castle panel he embraced the audience and gave them exactly what they were expecting from him – a lot of humor, some great planned gags and rewards for fans lucky enough to get a chance to participate in the Q&A with Fillion and the cast.

Navigating through some good family-focused panels (Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated, Yo Gabba Gabba‘s Behind the Music among the standouts), we ventured over to Hall H for the afternoon block of FX shows, where we participated in a well-attended It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia panel that screened the premiere episode and followed with a Q&A that had the audience in stitches and ended in a rousing rendition of Dayman among the cast and crowd. Following, cast and crew of Sons of Anarchy were also greeted by a near-full house crowd as they were treated to the first scene of the upcoming season.

Traditionally closing out the con but first time in Hall H, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode, “Once More With Feeling”, had its annual sing-a-long and Dawn-bashing. Sorry Michelle Trachtenberg, but you were never really Buffy’s sister anyway…

It wasn’t an official Zombiewalk in the Gaslamp, but one could tell by wondering the outskirts of the convention center that this year’s SDCC had gotten to the best of them. Feet sore, bodies depraved from sleep, and minds blown by what they saw over the four days, Comic-Con 2011 spared those in attendance and finally came to a close.

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