Hey, all. Having sprinted from the "Chuck" panel to the mammoth Hall H for the final "Lost" panel, I'm going to camp out here for a while so I can see the "Iron Man 2" panel in a few hours. (Though if the movie panels in between seem particularly bad, I might bail before Tony Stark and company show.) So while my laptop battery lasts, I'm going to write up some thoughts on the day's first two panels: first "Chuck," then "Lost."
"Chuck" stuff coming up -- and full credit to Fienberg's live-blog of the panel for all quotes -- just as soon as Chris Fedak gives me back my pen...
As you might guess from the above photo (h/t to ChuckTV.net for the screencap) -- or as you might have assumed ever since the Comic-Con announcements started hinting at a special surprise from the cast -- the panel opened up with Jeffster! themselves, Vik Sahay and Scott Krinsky, rocking out to Queen's epic "Fat-Bottomed Girls."
UPDATE: Thus far, this is the best version I've seen of the performance, shot by someone up close.
Actually, no: it began with a season 2 highlight reel, followed by a very funny pre-taped video with Josh Schwartz and Fedak in their office a month ago, asking Zachary Levi what he's going to do since they're going to be canceled. Levi is floored by this idea, but Schwartz and Fedak are adamant, when Josh gets a call from the NBC executives. (Fedak tells Josh to say hi; Josh: "They don't know who you are.") Amazingly, they have been renewed, and as Levi bounds out to tell the rest of the cast, Fedak and Schwartz begin to panic: they don't have any ideas for a third season, and in fact only did the "I know kung fu" gag because the assumed they'd never have to follow up on it. As Chris gets his head stuck in a Stormtrooper helmet, Josh suggests one thing they can do that they know will work: Jeffster!
The video cuts out, Sahay and Krinsky (with keytar in hand) storms the stage and the crowd goes bananas for "Fat-Bottomed Girls." So does the cast, who first sprint around to the side of the hall so they can watch themselves, then go on-stage to dance and clap along with the performance. Sahay got incredibly into it, as you might expect, with all the faux-Mick Jagger moves, and by the time I came on stage, the crowd was whipped into such a frenzy that I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get in a few questions.
We opened with a little Jeffster! chat, as Sahay joked that people would probably pay him not to sing in the future; someone in the cast -- I think it was Adam Baldwin -- then slipped him a twenty to confirm the theory. Levi sang the virtues of all the fans who were so passionate about helping to save the show -- Wendy Farrington, who came up with the Subway Finale Footlong campaign, was in the audience and got singled out (and got to pose with the cast for pictures afterwards) -- and Schwartz listed a bunch of media and/or blog types (Mo Ryan, Fienberg, Ausiello, Joe Adalian, Televisionary, Give Me My Remote, ChuckTV.net and me) for their own efforts on behalf of the show.
Schwartz and Fedak were predictably non-commital on what's coming up next season. Schwartz said details on Subway's involvement within the story is TBD, and later said, "Something very emotional and traumatic is going to have happened between Chuck and Sarah" -- and, as the crowd groaned, added -- "But it's gonna be really really good. Is that vague enough?"
Zachary Levi did get dispensation to reveal one thing about the nature of Chuck's new kung fu powers. Since spoiler-phobe Schwartz okay'ed it, and because it's going to be so long till the season three premiere (though Schwartz said several times that they might come back sooner than March, depending on NBC's needs), I'm going to say what it is, but not till the end of the post. So if you don't want to know about that -- or about a couple of other vaguely spoiler-y things -- stop reading before you get to the italics.
There's a new official site, ChuckMeOut.com, that's going to be the place for all "Chuck" news, behind-the-scenes info, etc., that went live this morning. Fedak also talked a little about the season 2 DVD (which right now is tentatively set to come out in early 2010, I guess because they want it to be close to the season three premiere) and said that one of the features would be Baldwin/Casey teaching How to Be a Spy.
I tried not to ask a lot of questions, since I knew the Jeffster! performance would take up some time and the event was for the fans. Schwartz and Fedak kept up the running gag from the clip by acting as if every suggestion the fans offered would be used in the season to compensate for their own lack of plans, and Fedak borrowed my pen to dutifully jot down ideas like:
• Chuck's powers now come with the catch that after he uses them, he can't walk for a half-hour;
• Chuck's dad may have also programmed him with language and other skills. The crowd started throwing out language suggestions, and when several screamed out "Klingon!," Levi (who had the crowd predictably eating out of his hand) said, "Chuck already knows Klingon! Duh!"
• Someone asked if there would be a musical episode, preferably featuring Jeffster! "Now there will be," Schwartz said.
There were also a lot of running gags on the panel: Baldwin took great pleasure in discussing, and eventually goading Josh Gomez to reveal, his bright pink boxer shorts. Baldwin also played into the crowd's predictable "Firefly" love, joking that his internal monologue whenever Casey grunts is "Joss Whedon," and, when a fan asked if there would be "Chuck" action figures, noting that he already had his own action figure. (Levi then did a pantomime of a Chuck action figure beating the snot out of a Jayne Cobb action figure through the use of his kung fu grip.)
Again, not a lot of news (save for the stuff below), but this was largely an excuse for the cast to shower its love on the fans, and vice versa, and everybody seemed to have a good time. Frankly, it seemed like the crowd was livelier for the "Chuck" panel than for the "Lost" panel that followed (though that may just be the hugeness of Hall H swallowing up a lot of the noise).
Anyway, a few things you won't want to read if you're 100 percent afraid of spoilers. Since I'm posting this, it's okay to discuss them in the comments. Stop reading if you don't want to know. Seriously, stop. Now. Stop.
Okay. We all good?
So, the nature of "Chuck-Fu," as one fan dubbed it earlier at the Con: the kung fu abilities and other physical stuff is there, but there's a glitch in the program that means they don't tend to last for very long in any circumstance. Fedak added that the software was designed to be installed in cold, remorseless Bryce Larkin, not big ball of emotions Chuck, and this will also cause problems.
Also, as Ryan McPartlin discussed Captain Awesome finding out Chuck's secret identity, Schwartz added that "Awesome will start to be submerged into the spy world as well."
And in other spoiler minutiae, "The Buy More will still be a part of the show," per Fedak, and Corina, the rival spy from season one's "Chuck vs. the Wookie," will be back, and that Morgan will again try to seduce her.
UPDATE #2: After the panel, Mo Ryan got more out of Schwartz and company about the limitations of the Chuck-Fu.