REVIEW: Prime After Dark House — A Tale of Two Parties

Prime Video surprised fans this year with a new offering at the con — a series of late night parties surrounding some of their biggest hits, including Jury Duty and Good Omens 2. In theory, this seemed like a great offering. Outside of Fandom (which is probably the hottest and hardest to get ticket at the con, even more so than Funko Fundays due to its limited nature), there just aren’t a lot of late night options for fans at the con, so we salute Prime Video for trying to program some options later in the evenings.

In practice, though, the first year was a bit of a mixed bag. Leading to the con, there was a lot of confusion surrounding both events. Next to nothing was known about the Jury Duty party outside of its location, and while the Good Omens 2 party had a tiny bit more information, the ticket releases were muddled at best, as tickets dropped on both general release (and stated first come first served) and 1iota (which were given priority, something many assumed but which was not really made clear).

There were also Priority links to both intended for Press and VIP, which leaked and spread through online communities, meaning hundreds if not thousands of folks who should not have received that link signed up. Prime told us they were going to weed through those, but at the door no one ever checked names that we saw for Priority. They simply looked to see if your email said Priority or not, and if you were 21, and gave you a wristband. That meant that for both nights, lines were around the block for both Priority and General, and we hear few non-Priority folks made it in at least for Jury Duty as they let in more (though not all) of Priority. As always with Comic-Con, you’re never going to be able to accommodate everyone and space is limited, but we wish they’d done a better job with the ticket releases and information leading up to the con, and we especially wish they’d done a better job at the door of checking names if they did weed through the lists. It’s not enough just to say you had long lines at the con. You need to provide the actual fans with an experience that doesn’t involve waiting four hours and being 100th in line, and still not making it in, in a venue with a decent capacity.

But we’re hoping this was simply first year bugs to work out, and that if Prime Video returns, they’ll prioritize line management and ticket releases in the future. It does matter.

With that out of the way, how were the actual parties?

Freevee’s Jury Duty was Friday night, and Venue 808 (808 J St, just across from the north side of Petco) was decked out to look like Margarittaville, a location the cast and Ronald visit in the series. Fans at the event received two free drinks (with beer, wine, and themed cocktails available) and free food, which included three kinds of tacos to choose from, cupcakes with the different juror’s faces on them, and even the iconic cake from the series.

Best of all, though, there was no shortage of things to do at the actual party. You could take a quiz to find out which juror you were (and be rewarded with a Jury Duty pin and a sticker for that juror), a photo op that allowed you to dress up as a judge with actual props and a Jury Duty background, and even a caricature station. The highlight of the evening though was a giant prize wheel which you could spin, which included swag for various Freevee series, including everything from Jury Duty (a t-shirt), Primo (a large stuffed unicorn that was probably the most coveted prize of the evening), Judy Judy (a mug), and more. It was all great swag, and there was enough to do that lines for most things didn’t extend past about 30 minutes at their peak.

Plus, there was seating. In the world of Comic-Con, seating is HUGE. It was a great night for fans who managed to make it in, and Freevee did a fantastic job of offering experiences for fans with swag and fun theming.

Saturday night’s party was for Good Omens 2, and let me preface by saying that I’m a huge Good Omens fan, and that my #1 want all year was for Prime Video to do something with the property at San Diego Comic-Con this year. When the series was announced as dropping in its entirety on July 28, the timing seemed perfect.

So when the party was announced, I already had high expectations. But after how much fun we had at the Freevee’s Jury Duty party, surely Saturday’s Good Omens 2 party would be even bigger, right? We imagined just some loose theming changes — perhaps cupcakes with Crowley and Aziraphale’s faces, or the prize wheel swapped out with Prime Video series. At the very least we’d get a pin, right?

When we made it into the party, we hurried around to find the activities like from the previous night, and were confused to find there weren’t really any. We were informed they’d forgotten to give us our scavenger hunt sheets, so after going back to claim one (and having to argue to even get that), we started piecing together what this party was.

The space had been loosely transformed into locations from the series, with a bookshop for A.Z. Fell & Co., a Give Me Coffee or Give Me Death station, and a record shop that took up about a quarter of the space and was just crates of bits of cardboard to look through (more on that in a moment). There was a scavenger hunt for the party, where you were supposed to take photos throughout and then post and tag them on social media.

And what did you get if you completed these tasks? A “chance” to win. Win what? None of the staff seemed sure. When would you win it? None of the staff seemed sure of that either.

In the end, we hear that they gave out three suitcases full of Good Omens swag towards the end of the night (and we were told by those who stayed that Prime initially announced the giveaways as happening around 11:50 at night but wound up doing them at 11:15 because so many were leaving early, but we can’t confirm that). It’s a cool prize, for sure, but with no indication beforehand of what you could actually win, many quickly abandoned the scavenger hunt.

The highlight of the evening was the performers. Part of the scavenger hunt involved taking a video of a wandering magician (obviously meant to look like Aziraphale in his magician getup), who was delightful and great. I also spoke to an amazing Madame Tracy, who read my tarot cards and gave me a bag of lavender, but many who I spoke to later had no idea she was there and not just a cosplayer (which I’ll admit I also thought she was a cosplayer at first and complimented her on her outfit, which is how I got the extra experience).

The one activity of the evening was an elevator that took you down to “Hell”, where some demons would ask you about Gabriel, and you’d get a shot of tequila on your way out. Because it was the only thing to really “do” at the party outside of the scavenger hunt, the line for this extended to two hours at its peak.

The food, compared to the night before, was pretty lackluster. Meat pies, eccles cakes, and (very cold) “chips” aka french fries. You got two free drinks as well, and they had a very limited number of embossed Good Omens 2 posters they gave out early in the evening before running out, but it was the same as the poster from the panel, and most fans had already received it.

So why am I complaining about a party that included free food, free drinks, and some theming? Typically, that’s all you could really ask for from a San Diego Comic-Con party.

But after the high of Jury Duty, everyone we spoke to for the rest of the week felt a bit let down by the Good Omens 2 party. It was “fine”, but it felt like they’d spent their entire budget towards the decorations (and they looked good, but particularly with the record shop we wondered all evening why it took up a HUGE section of the floor, when the records you needed to find for the scavenger hunt seemed to be in the crates by the hundred’s) and the performers (who again, were fantastic, but not as well publicized as they should have been). Many were also disappointed by the lack of swag compared to the night before, and the fact that the posters ran out so early made us question if they’d simply brought the leftovers from the panel (which we also hear they forgot to give tickets to an entire section).

For me personally, Jury Duty was among my top two things at the convention this year… and the Good Omens 2 party was the most disappointing. Two wildly different experiences, unfortunately.

Still, we’re always grateful when studios try to do something different at the convention, and we love that Prime Video offered a late night option for fans at the con. Here’s to hoping for an even better 2024.

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